Cut Out + Keep is an online community where members make and share step-by-step craft and cooking tutorials.
Creator Cat Morley said the site began as her craft blog while she was attending the University of Scotland. It was at a time in her life when Morley was learning all sorts of new skills from cooking to creating decorative items for her flat.
She decided to start sharing the tutorials online.
“The popularity of the site grew, and readers from all around the world started sending me photos of their versions of my projects,” said Morley.
Tom Waddington, is Cat’s fiancé and business partner. As she started posting more tutorials, Waddington decided to build her a system to upload and organize them.
“After she posted around 200 how-to’s, we realized we’d made something useful and decided to open up the site for everyone to add their own projects,” Waddington said.
By the time Morley graduated, the website had become her full-time job. Tom joined her full-time at the end of 2010.
Morley has always been creative and said she loves trying her hand at different types of crafts.
“I'm really just a regular member of the site, adding my own projects and using it to find inspiration. I've also started a new project called “Crafter to the Stars,” where I get to craft for my favorite celebrities and then share the tutorials with our members,” she said.
Morley’s latest crafts for the stars include a paper doll necklace for Twinkie Chan. She said she also has an eye patch for La Carmina and a set of knuckle rings for Princess Superstar, which will be going live over the next couple of months.
Waddington said he is less crafty but that building the site is the biggest DIY project he does.
“I keep creative in other ways - graphic design on the site, and even the music on the Google ad,” he said.
The two have been running Google AdSense on their website for awhile. Waddington said Google ran a workshop in Edinbrugh on optimizing advertisements.
“After meeting some people from Google, we got talking, and they asked if we'd be interested (in being in an advertisement)! 11 hours of filming later, our advert was done,” said Waddington.
The ad is located on YouTube. Once you’re on YouTube, just type in “Meet AdSense Publishers Cat Morley and Tom Waddington” to see the ad.
Morley said she was never sure what she wanted to do in terms of a career but found the idea of running her own business to be terrifying.
She’s definitely glad it all happened gradually, “The things I loved doing eventually grew into a job. I love working for myself now because it's so rewarding.”
Waddington agrees that it’s much more rewarding to work on something for yourself.
So just what were these two creative Scots doing in Omaha?
“When Tom was able to quit his day job, we realized that we could work from anywhere in the world. It had always been a dream to travel across America to see all the states and Omaha felt like the perfect place to start,” explained Morley.
Waddington said he used to work Saturdays in a record store and always loved the Saddle Creek releases, so Omaha had been on his radar for a while.
“We read up on a few cities, but something felt right about Omaha! The craft, tech and music scenes all have a real buzz about them,” Waddington said.
Morley said some of her favorite places in Omaha were the Henry Doorly Zoo, Hollywood Candy and Ted and Wally’s in the Old Market.
The duo stayed in Omaha for fourth months at the start of their trip, while they settled in and Tom learned to drive. The pair found everyone to be super friendly and welcoming and they soon felt like they were at home.
“We then took a gigantic road-trip visiting all the lower 48 states, but Omaha was still the place we loved the most,” enthused Morley.
One of the things that stood out the most for them about Omaha was that everyone seemed to be doing the things they loved and were passionate about.
Morley was inspired by the enthusiasm of Omahans, “If someone liked baking, they opened up a cupcake shop like Bliss Bakery in the Old Market, or if someone loved fashion, they'd start their own fashion line like Princess Lasertron.”
The duo said crafting is infinitely more popular in the United States than the United Kingdom.
“I always get a little emotional when I go to a huge supply store like Michael’s and see all of the hard-to-find supplies that I've been searching for for years,” said Morley.
Waddington thinks there’s more enthusiasm for handmade products in the US as well.
He said the popularity of Cut Out + Keep really has to do with its members. Members of the site enjoy showing off projects they’ve made to their friends.
“We've built up a really great community of likeminded crafters, so once people find it, they feel really at home,” Morley explained.
Waddington believes that’s because more and more people are turning to the Internet for instructions if they want to try something new.
With more than 60,000 types of projects, Morley said Cut Out + Keep has tutorials for making every kind of craft imaginable.
“From vinyl record bags and cheeseburger cupcakes to melted crayon art and Lady Gaga's disco bra, crafters of all skill levels share their projects on Cut Out + Keep, so there's definitely a project that everyone will love and find easy enough to start with,” Morley said.
Everyone can create something with the step-by-step tutorials on the Cut Out + Keep website. Morley said the instructions are easy to follow. She thinks people often surprise themselves by making something they never thought they could and that’s what gets them hooked on crafting.
Cat’s favorite quick project is the rainbow cupcakes by Phwarfcat (www.cutoutandkeep.net/projects/rainbow_cupcakes). She said over a hundred other members have made their versions of the cupcakes, so it's definitely a project anyone can do!
Tom likes the folded paper stars (www.cutoutandkeep.net/projects/lucky_stars_2). He said once you get the hang of them, they're addictive to make!
Morley said since the two arrived back in the UK, they’ve been offered a book deal to turn their American adventure into a craft book with a project to make for every state.
“I'm going to be busy making those projects for the next few months and then we're heading back to the US to visit Alaska, Hawaii and some of the other places we missed. A visit to Omaha is definitely at the top of our list,” said Morley
You can become a member of Cut Out + Keep at www.cutoutandkeep.net/signup.