Cat Taylor has quite a few stories to tell.
She is a self-described crafting nerd and perfect tourist, the daughter of two Irish immigrants (so she’s big on her Irish heritage) and, when we talked, was on her 94th day of a healthy-eating quest for no junk food in an effort to lose weight.
She’s also a passionate crafter.
Cat first discovered crafting at the Noel House, a local women’s shelter and community center, when she joined and soon enough was roped into the creative world of YouTube and Pinterest, starting by making her own jewelry. She now makes everything from personalized calendars to DIY rain sticks. She’s even teaching two art classes at Seattle Area Support Groups on April 30 and June 30.
Cat says you can’t mess up crafts.
“I’ve tried. You cannot do it,” Cat said.
For Cat, crafting isn’t just a hobby, but also a way that she manages her anxiety. She’ll often spend hours crafting something before she realizes how much time has passed. The way that crafting helps her is the way that she aims to help others, as a peer supporter.
“I’m used to going to counseling places where they say do this and tell you you’re crazy, and do this and this, so I had a hatred towards counselors. I just hated them with a passion,” Cat said, about what motivated her to become a peer supporter.
NAVOS, a local organization that offers mental health services to those struggling with homelessness and addiction, introduced Cat to peer support, and it was there that she first sold her art and rekindled her excitement for counseling.
She took a class, focusing on recovery and, more specifically, mental health recovery as a basis to help others. She’s close to graduating and becoming an official peer supporter, meaning she can help facilitate and lead groups. It’s important to her to look within her past to help others with their struggles.
“A lot of people just know me for helping people,” Cat said. “That’s just who I am.”
At Real Change, she’s also taken on a supportive role, becoming a vendor representative for the paper that she’s been selling on and off for 14 years, now at the corner of South Washington Street and First Avenue South.
Cat has developed a kind of attitude and advice that can inspire those whom she mentors on the job as a vendor representative.
“I tell people, don’t expect a whole lot because you have to build a clientele. … They have to see how serious you are,” Cat said.
Selling Real Change made her money to buy her son a new bike for Christmas. “The reason I’m doing this is for my son, Liam,” she said. “I love him very much, and I’m proud of him.”
Taylor was born and raised in Detroit for 31 years before she moved to Seattle after reconnecting with an ex-boyfriend via email. A three-day Greyhound bus ride later, in 2000, she found herself in a city that she has no plans of leaving.
“There is so much to do in this state. You cannot get bored in this state. It’s humanly impossible. I don’t care if you’re flat broke,” Cat said.
Cat was homeless for six years in Detroit before she moved out to Seattle, where for a few years she had no permanent housing until she found her way to a run-down apartment, where she lived for two years. Although it wasn’t her ideal situation, living there allowed her to establish a rental history, making it possible to get the apartment she lives in now.
She’ll have lived off the street 10 years as of May 28, a milestone she repeatedly beams about.
“For me, once in a while I’ll start to get teary-eyed at night and just go, oh my gosh, this is mine. Oh my gosh,” Cat said, almost still in shock at how her life has blossomed before her.
Cat is one of 300 active vendors selling Real Change. Each week a different vendor is featured. View previous vendor profiles.
Wait, there's more. Check out the full April 18 - April 24 issue.