Meet the Team
Get to know The Handwork Studio Team!
It all began with a conversation about making a quilt for Alex's Lemonade Stand way back in 2006. Julia just moved back to her hometown right outside of Philadelphia after graduating with her BFA from a small liberal Arts school in VT and was looking for her next venture. Through that one conversation, she began her 16-year journey to grow and evolve The Handwork Studio alongside CEO and Founder Laura Kelly, to what it is today.
Julia has dedicated her career to bringing the importance of learning by making to youth through running summer camps, workshops, trainings, artist-in-residence programs, developing curricula, writing patterns, filming tutorials, and leading talks on the importance of handwork programming.
One of Julia's fondest memories of working at The Handwork Studio was in the summers of 2011 and 2012. Julia traveled the country for The Handwork Studio in a Button Mobile with Miss Alisha and Sheepy. They drove, camped, and popped up in schools across the US to teach children the joys and importance of creating. Still, to this day, nothing brings Julia greater joy than watching kids have that "aha" moment when they discover what they are capable of.
Today, Julia has hunkered down in the suburbs of Philadelphia and on the road less, but the adventure is never far away. Julia still loads up the family for an impromptu road trip with her son Asher, rescue pup Onyx, and husband Dave.
Rachel is a Theatre Director, Deviser, and Educator who endeavors to create artistic opportunities through an educational lens to foster social and emotional competency, stretch perspectives on social disparity, and encourage joy.
Her ‘Handwork’ background began with a love of DIY from her multi-talented fiber arts grandmother and her 8-plus years of technical theater background in prop making, set construction, and costume construction. She has over 15 years of experience in theatre including directing, devising, curriculum development, technical theater, administration, and performance working alongside organizations such as Charleston Stage, Emerson College, DreamBig Performing Arts Workshop, Bluebird Arts, and Quintessence Theatre Group. Beyond her work in Theatre Arts, Rachel has worked in the camp world for over 10 years as a CIT, Counselor, and Program Director for organizations such as the Charleston Jewish Federation, JCC Chicago, and Lake Dillion Theater Company. Rachel received her Bachelor’s in Theater Education: Acting from Emerson College.
Rachel’s Handwork project at the moment is her bead-weaving jewelry making she sometimes (emphasis sometimes) sells through her company ‘Humdinger’.
Mike was hired as a summer Site Director for The Handwork Studio in 2022. He was overjoyed to become a full-time staff member in early 2023. Mike has always loved art, handwork, and working with children! In addition, Mike has worked in various academic settings: afterschool tutoring, managing student lead volunteer events, mentoring high school students, and substitute teaching for an elementary school.
Mike learned his handwork from his Grandmother Katherine or Nana. She taught him machine/hand sewing, embroidery, cooking, baking, and painting. Mike finds a deep connection with his Nana through the programming at The Handwork Studio. Mike hopes to encourage staff and campers to be experimental and pursue that creativity every summer!
Mike’s Handwork project at the moment is stitching on some embroidery wheel designs and sewing costumes for the 2023 Taylor Swift Eras Tour!
Sol is one of the Associate Directors at the Handwork Studio and the site director at our Sidwell Friends School partner location. Since childhood, he has always believed in the impact that summer camp experience can have on a camper and has spent his career working in various summer camp leadership role to provide camp to kids. He has lived in the DMV area for two years and joined the Handwork Studio team in 2022. He holds a degree in International Political Science and Arabic from Appalachian State University in Boone, NC.
Sol’s Handwork project at the moment is working on his Arabic calligraphy and mastering laminated dough.
Christina grew up in Reading, PA and comes from a family of artists and makers. Having always appreciated the arts, she earned a degree in music theory from Muhlenberg College and understands firsthand the value of creative exploration in a young person’s life. Christina joined The Handwork Studio in January 2022 and as operations coordinator, provides administrative support and facilitates communication between families and the Handwork Studio team. When you call or email The Handwork Studio, she will ensure you get the help you need.
Always on the go, Christina is not working on any handwork projects at the moment. She can often be found running, walking dogs, and exploring new and interesting places in the Philadelphia area.