Amber Kemp-Gerstel loves a good DIY... but don't let that fool you.
"Most people see me as a crafter, but I also love other forms of making," she says. "I love to cook and bake—and I'm always game for a home improvement project. One of these days, I'll try my hand at beekeeping and give Martha a real run for her money."
"When the casting calls began for 'Making It,' I received a ton of messages from friends telling me to apply," she recalls. "I figured there was zero chance I'd be cast, but I applied anyway. At least, I'd be able to tell my friends that I'd given it a shot. Well, before my application was ever reviewed, I received a call from a 'Making It' casting producer who'd gotten my name from a colleague. From there, the process of interviews began and I eventually was selected for the show!"
Her fortuitous callback landed her on set with iconic hosts Nick Offerman and Amy Poehler for the experience of a lifetime: "'Making It' taught me that there is very little I cannot do. It forced me to grow as a maker and as a businesswoman."
As for the hosts? "Amy and I bonded over being working moms and the struggle of 'doing it all.' Nick is hilarious and has a deadpan humor that took me a minute to figure out. Nick came into the competition with a huge knowledge of crafting which made it fun to 'talk shop' with him."
But her life did not always revolve around design. She practiced as a child psychologist until her DIY hobbies slowly turned into her new career.
"After I finished grad school, I started work as a child psychologist with every intention that psychology would be my lifelong career," Kemp-Gerstel remarked. "Since we all need a little escape from our nine-to-five, I started a blog: Damask Love, as an outlet for my creativity. It was a place where I showed off my handmade cards, paper crafts, home décor... and, oh yeah, my mediocre photography skills! At the time, I shot all my own photos on my point-and-shoot camera." As her blog gained traction, she began receiving opportunities to craft for bigger companies. (That includes Martha Stewart Living.) Eventually, she was able to leave her full-time job as a child psychologist and dedicate herself to Damask Love.
Today, she inspires people across the country to decorate their homes using her unique ideas and simple techniques. As for her own home, Kemp-Gerstel isn't too different from the rest of us in some ways. "Most people expect that my home is crazy colorful and filled with pattern," she says. "I'd probably describe my home style as modern, clean and functional. We live in a condominium in Miami, Florida, which means we have to be smart with how we use space."
Case in point—organizing her craft supplies. "Whenever I need a solution for organizing my never-ending mountain of crafting supplies, I make a bee line for The Container Store," she says. "These days, I use their elfa drawer units in my home and in my studio!" After amassing a considerable collection of tools and materials, she's designed her own craft paint organizer, or what she's personally dubbed as the "craft room in a box."
In the end, she wants her projects to hit two key elements: approachable and doable. "My goal on Damask Love is to inspire people to actually make something!" she emphasizes. "Whether it's with paper, fabric, felt or wood—I want everyone to give DIY a try!"
"Making It" premieres July 31 at 10 p.m. ET on NBC and airs every Tuesday.