Welcome to Conversations with Black Creators! This month, we're chatting with DIY queen and mother, Timisha Porcher.
Editor's Note: The Conversations series is intended to highlight Black creatives’ work in various fields. At Tako Agency, we are really proud of being creators--people who pour creativity and skill into beautiful projects that add value to the world--and we are so excited to share these creators with our audience.
To support Black creatives, Tako Agency is making a donation to the Black Art Futures Fund for every feature in this series we publish on the Tako Stand. The outpouring of funding and philanthropic giving that was initiated when #BLM re-entered the spotlight in May 2020 was a GREAT thing, but we believe it’s consistent support over time that makes the most difference.
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-- Grace, CEO & Creative Director
Timisha was a lot of fun to interview. Not a single moment of our conversation felt stilted or forced. She’s a natural communicator--self-assured. Charismatic. Badass. The fact that she can do all she does (it’s...a lot) and still maintain her sanity is mind boggling.
One thing in particular that captured my attention: Timisha’s favorite part of being a professional DIYer isn’t all the cool things she’s able to make, the fact that she can fix just about anything, or her visibility on the internet (and she deserves it, lemme tell you)...it’s the ability to empower other people. She loves to teach. She says:
“I really like the feeling of being able to help people. If I help someone tackle a project in their own home and at the end of it, they feel accomplished--like they can do it too--that's a really good feeling.”
Garnering over 30K followers on YouTube or almost 22K on Instagram isn’t a small feat, and it’d lead a lot of people into clout-chasing. That ain’t Timisha’s bag. She’s just here to fix, make, teach, and build community--all of which seem to be diminishing in our digitally drenched, socially fragmented culture. I’m so grateful to have met her. ❤️
Hey, Timisha! Go ahead and introduce yourself to our readers, however you would introduce yourself to perfect strangers.
I’m Timisha Porcher*. I am a DIY home improvement blogger, a YouTuber, and a mom.
Thanks for joining us at the Stand! OK, a bit of a warm up question: what's a life lesson you've learned recently?
A life lesson that I've learned--that it is okay to fail? Yes.
How did you learn this?
Because I failed. <laughs>
That's the way to do it! Was that related to your work or your life, or?
It was a woodworking project; it was just giving me such a hard time and to be honest, it did have me feeling like a failure--kind of like a fake.
Yeah, because sometimes you get that Imposter Syndrome going on and I was experiencing that hard. I was doing something I’d never done before, trying to improve my skills and do some fine woodworking type stuff, and totally failed.
Are you going to go back at it?
Oh yeah. I have to figure this out. It’s tackling joinery, which is probably the most challenging thing I've experienced so far in woodworking.
It's basically just creating clean, crisp joints--putting furniture together and trying to make different pieces without using screws. I just want to be more creative with my joinery because it’s a master skill. I haven’t posted it yet--[that project] really got the best of me.
Yeah, that’ll happen.
But I’ll get it right.
Hell yeah. That actually hit both of my questions because the next one was going to be “What’s a lesson you’ve learned related to your craft?” Any other lessons there you’d like to share?
There is no such thing as an easy, quick project. There's always a hiccup. Like the other day I was installing a smart lock and I was like, oh, this’ll take like, 30 minutes. I've done this a couple of times.
No. Not on my door. Whoever [originally installed the door] didn’t drill the holes [for the lock] correctly. And I refuse to buy a new door because that was not the original plan. So I had to go and patch up the old hole and drill a new hole to make the door pretty and usable. It was just a task. And I'm still pretty sure I’ll still have to buy a new door.
That's so expensive.
Right. That's why it hasn't happened yet. <laughs> All I wanted was a fancy smart lock. I thought it was smart!
Apparently too smart for your door.
So, Toolbox Divas and what you're doing with all your projects and everything--is this your dream job?
This is my purpose. So yes.
Has it always been that way?
Yes. And I knew I was on the right path because things just kept falling into place. Like, you know when you're on the right path because things are just easier. When things get to be a little too hard, too challenging--something’s off.
I assume you experienced some challenges, right? How do you decipher what's a challenge because something’s “off” versus something just being hard, you know, with growing any business?
Oh, yeah, there are always challenges. But this never really felt like a job. I work long hours, and sometimes that’s hard, but my family is supportive and, ultimately, I don’t mind [those challenges]. If all was the same but [my family wasn’t supportive] or it felt like a job--then I would know then it's time to do something different.
Got it. So the challenges you have experienced--they just always felt like part of the journey.
What do you like most about what you do?
I really like the feeling of being able to help someone. If I help someone tackle a project in their own home and at the end of it, they feel accomplished--like they can do it too--that's a really good feeling.
That would be amazing. Do you teach people how to do things like that often? Like going to their homes and actually helping to teach them?
I do! That’s what I'm doing right now!
Writer’s Note: Timisha took our call from the porch of a home where she was working on a collaborative project, which I think is so cool. Not only did I feel like I was “on set” with her, but it punctuated for me the value of her time and made me extra grateful that she took almost an hour to talk to me. ❤️
That's so cool. Is this kind of hands-on helping something you've always incorporated into your work, or is that a new thing?
I actually used to do a lot more, but since the pandemic hit, not as much. I've put a lot of things on hold. My neighbors got the most help. <laughs>
Lucky neighbors! So, I obviously browsed through your YouTube channel, and there are so many different tutorials for a crazy variety of projects. How do you choose what to feature on YouTube?
It really depends on where I’m at [in life]. Over the past two and a half years, being a new mom, I've expanded a little more into crafts because of time [constraints]. I can’t be in the middle of a big project with a bunch of power tools, running around with a toddler. So I've started doing more interior design and room makeovers lately. I really like the before and afters.
I would like that too. It's very measurable: “it was this and now it's this.”
What's your favorite thing you've ever created?
Hmm, that's a hard one. I think it’d be a room makeover--my kitchen. As for a thing, it would be my shoe cabinet. My whole family uses it; even my 2 year old knows to put away her shoes when she gets in the house.
I saw a video in your “naptime DIY” series -- which is super cute by the way -- where you talked a bit about your daughter and your family. They seem pretty supportive. Are there any tricks that help you to keep your mental health in check and prioritize your family, since you're so busy?
Yeah, I have a sassy two year old who's really a 62 year old. <laughs> We do have a hard rule: no cell phones at the dinner table.
Yeah, that's the one time where we all sit together and don’t bring in outside interruptions. Then on Friday nights, I don't do any work. It's always a movie night with me, my daughter, and my husband...so it’s usually a cartoon night. <laughs>
I feel like this is a bit of a predictable question, but I'm genuinely interested in the answer. You’re both Black and female, which feels like a pretty disadvantageous combination for somebody who decided to play with power tools for a living. Have you experienced any unique challenges as a result of your race and your gender, flourishing in the industry that you've chosen?
I would say no. In the beginning, I was like one of the only ones; nowadays there’s a ton of us!
Yeah, I think so. I could be biased. <smiles> But I remember, at the first conference I went to, I think there were three Black people there, out of like 400 people total.
Oh dear. Okay. So you feel like the landscape has changed.
Oh, it's definitely changed. There’s more balance in [the DIY community] now. But I never really saw myself focusing solely on minorities. I encourage minorities, yes. But my goal has always been encouraging women, period. So the color aspect has never really been front and center.
Sure, yeah! It seems like females are starting to gain traction in lots of different industries*. Is that true for yours?
Definitely. I know more female builders than males.
*Writer’s Note: “starting to” lol welcome to 20-freaking-21, everyone. <screams into void>
Yeah. And when I go to Home Depot and Lowe's, I don't get second guessed.
Well, OK, I’ve been going there for a couple of years now, so they all know me. They call me the “Tool Diva,” not “Toolbox Diva.” I’m like...close enough. <laughs>
Close enough. That's cute. Do you have a fairly large network online of other female builders, so you can share each other's stuff and feed off each other?
Yes. Usually you find yourself in a clique of women or DIYers that started around the same time as you did. We have master groups that get together once or twice a month, but there are certain times of the year we get really, really busy--this is one of them! So we haven't met in about a month or so, but generally we meet on the regular. And when we have a question, we have our group text messages.
And you, along with the people in your group, are obviously a bit more seasoned. Do you guys ever reach down into the next group to mentor?
Yes. Time can get in the way of really [mentoring], but I always reach out if I see someone coming up and I think they're doing a great job. Just like, a quick message saying “You’re doing an awesome job!” and encouraging them to keep doing it.
In the Internet world, you never know where you might be one day to the next. One day you could have one follower and the next you could have a million. It just takes one video. So, you never want to think of yourself as “above” anyone, and you should always be willing to learn something new.
Speaking of the Internet world...TikTok has become really big for DIY. I’ve never touched the platform because I’m a social media dinosaur, but especially for Gen Z, it’s a big deal. What do you think it’s done for your industry?
It's exhausting; that's what. <laughs> I suppose if I kept up with it, I’d be a little further -- like in a month I got to 8,000 followers or something. I just couldn’t focus on Tik Tok and Instagram because the audiences and platforms require something different. (This was before Reels, of course.) Also, I just feel like it encourages people to have a short attention span and -- you don't want to know the real words I'd use.
<laughs> Girl, you know, go ahead!
Well, it’s encouraging stupidity. How do I do a DIY tutorial on Tik Tok in 30 seconds? Or, really, 15 seconds? That was the sweet spot. Doesn’t mean I won’t go back to it; I post some here and there, but I just don't have the time or patience to deal with it right now.
What you do is very--it's not an instant thing. It's very “long haul”; you have to hone a craft and it takes patience to make things that are sturdy and beautiful and functional. Does it feel like a bastardization of that whole process to try and squeeze it into a tiny video for people to just like, tap through…?
Yeah, kind of...it’s just not a place to build a community. You basically pander to the current trend.
Yep, that’s what I would have thought! Pretty much disintegrates any interest I might have had in exploring TikTok. <laughs> Moving on! What does your creative process look like, if you have one?
I do, but I don't know what it looks like. <laughs>
It just happens and you're like, oh, look! It happened!
<laughs> I mean, I do sit and plan. Sometimes I sit and plan too long. And then I have to just say, “Let me just see what happens” and go from there. And it almost never ends up the way I thought it would.
Does that uncertainty ever make you uncomfortable, or are you just accustomed to it?
I'm used to it, yeah. Just gotta make it work!
Whew, I really admire that! Do you think that creativity is innate or do you think you can teach somebody to be creative?
Oh, you can't teach someone to be creative. Either you are or you aren't. You can teach someone a skill and they can take it where they’ll go, but you can’t teach [creativity itself]. I do think everyone has some form of creativity in them, though. It just looks different for different people.
Mmhm, and it's a matter of just like, unlocking whatever your creativity is?
Yeah, it's kind of like business--actually, I was going to say it’s kind of like business sense, but not everyone has that and it really can’t be taught. I don't care what anyone says--I know business--and I went to Hopkins and I learned nothing in grad school about running a business. They would probably not like me saying that. <laughs>
I can't even remember what I learned in marketing. Even if I could, it’d definitely be outdated; it didn't take any kind of social media into consideration. It didn't take Beyoncé into consideration!
Oh yeah. Well then you just throw the whole thing out right there. Is that what you went to school for? Business or marketing or -- ?
I went to school for -- I remember this, hold on. <laughs> I originally went to school to be an actress. I went to New York and studied acting and stuff, but then I discovered Wall Street. Came back [home], changed my major to finance and marketing, and became a commercial banker.
Then I left that and went to be a civil servant and got my MBA. It was supposed to be some kind of health information system thing, but it ended up being a regular MBA in information systems. I don't know why; I think they changed their curriculum and I didn't want to pay any more money. <laughs>
Right after I graduated from Hopkins, I started taking community college classes in carpentry, electrical, and plumbing, and I loved it.
OK...so, there were a couple of hard left turns there, but let’s focus on the carpentry thing. What made you decide, “I'm going to work with wood and plumbing now.”
I've always had a love for carpentry because I have family members who are carpenters. They live all the way in South Carolina, so if I needed help [fixing or rehabbing anything], I’d have to wait for a holiday for them to come over. Couldn’t do that forever, so I was like, “OK, let me try and figure this out on my own.” Fast forward, I started showing other people how to do this stuff!
I also didn't want to be challenged by a man not knowing what I was talking about. So I started taking classes and...turns out men don't challenge me. <laughs>
Not really... a lot of them just want to learn too. I had a couple of challenges in my classes from some ignorant people, but it's probably because they were jealous.
Maybe this is just my experience, but I feel like you could have taken any number of other kinds of classes where male counterparts would relish the opportunity to challenge you. Is the DIY community just not really like that? Does it tend to be supportive and like “everybody's here to learn”?
For the most part, it's very supportive. You do have your mean girl moments like, when some people feel challenged and stuff, but that's so few and far between, I’d say they aren’t even worth mentioning. I’ve always experienced a lot of love and support.
There are some DIYers who call each other out [for copy catting], but the thing is, when it comes to this type of work, you will always find someone who did a project similar to yours. It's more about, what's your personal spin on it? How you do it and how you teach it makes it different. No two people do that exactly the same. Honestly, if someone's copying you, that's a compliment.
...I also may just not surround myself with...whiners. I honestly don’t have the time or capacity to deal with anyone with that kind of negativity.
I feel that for sure. So, I kind of smiled to myself earlier because you touched on this and I knew the question was coming: a lot of people allow Imposter Syndrome to discourage them from really going after the things that they want. You’ve already told us that you have, indeed, struggled with Imposter Syndrome.
Oh all the time. I’m teaching some virtual classes soon and I get it all the time as I’m preparing my course schedule. I’m like...wait...I don’t know anything. <laughs>
But you clearly do!
It's like when you have to take an exam and it's like, I don't know what I know until I take the exam.
Did you do well with exams when you were in school?
School didn’t really stress me out that much--well...high school did. I went to a magnet high school and that experience was so stressful that, when I got to college, it wasn't as challenging. But [high school] laid the foundation for a lot of things. Time management for one...which has kind of fallen by the wayside, having a toddler.
It also taught me how to plan and achieve my goals. I realized it’s not as important to be an expert in one thing; it’s more important to know a little bit of everything so you can put it all together.
Yes. I love that. Our culture is so emphatic about, like, “You have to be the best at this one thing.” It makes people who are interested in a lot of different things feel inferior. That's just so unnecessary.
Yeah. I'm not one of those people that pushes the traditional type of education anymore. I've learned that it’s just not that important.
I think that idea’s getting more traction in general. More people are starting to feel that way.
Yeah. I think the things that we need--we need real skills. Encourage your kids to pick up plumbing and electrical stuff. Trades. It’s okay!
Yeah, as a single 30 year old, I’d actually kill for some plumbing skills. <laughs> OK! Back to my Imposter Syndrome question. When that creeps up on you, how do you handle it?
I just keep pushing through and see it through to the end. And I do get feedback from others.
Like intentionally--you ask for it?
Yeah. I'll ask for it from friends and from my husband. I hate asking my husband ‘cause he's the worst critic: like, “Well, if I don't say it, no one else will.” But it’s good, because I don’t like it when someone is just always agreeable. That doesn’t help me.
Where do you feel most creative? Could be with particular people, or in a specific place, maybe...
I feel most creative probably… not behind a desk, for sure. I’d say...in my workspace--oh, and honestly, around some friends; they really bring out my creative spirits--and a different personality too. Like my neighbor, if I could have her on set whenever I'm doing something, I would totally do it.
Because she has a way of bringing out my Sasha Fierce. Except my Sasha Fierce is more quirky and goofy.
<laughs> And why would it be valuable for you to have that on set?
It would make me more relaxed, and then you could see more of my personality. Sometimes when I’m videotaping something, I can be a little guarded and too focused on making sure I say everything correctly--and being politically correct so I don't offend people. Sometimes it sounds a little stiff. I don’t want to always be stiff.
So you think having somebody like your neighbor around would help to relax you into just talking.
Yup. It does, every time.
Do you explore other avenues of creativity outside of DIYing?
I try [to lean into my acting background] a little bit with my YouTube here and there. I was looking at some of my old videos recently and realized I have not been utilizing that as much as I used to. I always tried to tell a story in my videos. That’s something I’m thinking I need to go back to.
What do you mean, “tell a story”?
I used to plan my tutorials out almost like something you would see on TV. I’d write out the script and add more elements to make it more interesting than a basic DIY tutorial. I think my more recent videos have been focused on just teaching and...have you ever had one of those boring teachers? I think sometimes I've become like a boring teacher.
OK, last question--which we ask all of our guests. What's your favorite taco filling?
Shrimp. I'm the granddaughter of a Shrimper. LOL!
Mad love to Timisha for her time. 🖤 Don't forget to check out the rest of our Conversations series here.