When Jesse Spooner woke up and stumbled into the kitchen on a recent Sunday morning, he found his wife, Nicole Delma, fussing over six bubbling pots on the stove.
Except she wasn’t cooking the breakfast he’d expected.
Instead, her aromatic concoctions were walnut and turmeric, annatto, madder and osage, boiling in water to form all-nature dye baths that would consume the rest of her day — as well as the curiosity of her daughters, 4-year-old Georgica and 3-year-old Indigo-Marie — as she readied for the launch of her newest venture, Mind Offline Kits, just 24 hours later.
“I am like a giddy kid again,” Ms. Delma said during a telephone interview from her home in Noyac. “I feel like I’m reverting back to what I was meant to do.”
Known locally as a digital marketer and strategist with an office in Sag Harbor, Ms. Delma’s origin story begins on the West Coast. She grew up in Seattle, never far from the bustling Pike Place Market that helped fuel her creativity.
“In middle school, I used to make these beaded necklaces and then make my father go sit with me at Seattle Center so I could sell them on a blanket for cash. And we would do it every weekend and do it all through the summer, poor guy,” she reminisced. “And then I figured out I could pay my friends to make them and have a little higher margin, and I had this whole little business going.”
But when she left behind the Pacific Northwest for college in Silicon Valley, she lost touch with this part of herself, she said, until recently — and, even more specifically, when COVID-19 landed on the East End.
She paused her two-decade-long career and redirected her attention to her children and her burgeoning business, Mind Offline, which encourages people to reconnect with their innate drive to create — including her own. When she took up knitting two years ago, she saw an immediate change. Her anxiety levels lowered, her insomnia abated and she felt an overall improvement in her general wellbeing.
“When you produce something, you release serotonin. And as you go back and look over the work, that’s hardwired in our DNA,” she said. “So we actually feel good when we produce something good, and the higher the craftsmanship, the more the reward. The whole process becomes self-fulfilling, which makes sense — after you cook a nice meal, or many of the other things we do. But we kind of get detached from that.”
Enter the Mind Offline Kits, a carefully curated variety of at-home creative projects to encourage participants to disconnect from technology and reconnect with creating, from pottery, knitting and woodworking, to drawing, soap felting and chakra smudging.
With the help of East End artisans, including potter Mary Jaffe, illustrator Peter Spacek and Grain Surfboards in Amagansett, each kit comes complete with artist-approved and locally sourced materials, as well as a thorough list of instructions that range from simpler crafts to more complicated builds.
“The kits are a great way to light that fire because you could dabble without seriously investing and trying to figure out all the different materials,” Ms. Delma said. “I would say the intention is to get people back in that zone of making. I think we all did it when we were younger, and pre-distraction.”
Watching her daughters work with the kits has been a lesson in slowing down and staying present for the busy mom, whose longtime career had always been a mystery to them.
“They think it’s so cool that I’m actually doing something now,” she said with a laugh. “They didn’t understand. Their dad’s a teacher, so they totally got that. They were always like, ‘Mommy, what do you do?’
“Some of the digital stuff I do, I feel really great about, and I try to work with clients I’m aligned with,” she continued. “But that much hand action without producing something creates this real deficit. That is what was causing the anxiety and insomnia for me, and making is really what solved it. So many things just melted away and we got into this little cocoon of making things.”
Following her official launch, Ms. Delma is already fantasizing about future kits to come, which she expects will include embroidery, journaling, bee habitats, a sourdough bread starter kit, pet accessories and, of course, natural dying — as evidenced by the concoctions on her stove on that Sunday morning.
“At the end of the day, I’m cleaning up a new giant mess that we’ve exploded and my kids love it and our hands our stained,” she said. “I don’t know where I would be mentally if I didn’t have this channel right now because there is so much uncertainty everywhere else. You can immerse yourself in it.”