ANNOUNCING THE WOMAN OF THE MONTH
Fort Worth women are making headlines daily as business owners, entrepreneurs, top management officers, and political leaders. So, here at Fort Worth Woman, we are selecting one of our city’s shining stars each month. These are the movers and shakers you need to know, and we are proud to honor their accomplishments as our WOMEN OF THE MONTH.
Owner & Knitter of JuJu Knits
What would I do if I wasn’t afraid?”. Julie describes the answer as simple: “Open a yarn shop and share with others how I found healing through working with fiber.
Meet May’s Fort Worth Woman! Julie Fairley is a long time publicist and owner of JuJu Knits, a local shop for yarns, fibers, and events for all knitting, crocheting, and weaving projects. She is also the kind of person who carries her heart on her sleeve and brightens a room simply by her authentic presence.
From an early age, Julie dreamed of happiness and she dreamed big. She states, “in 1974, my six-year-old dream was to be a go-go dancer”. While she would have been the most delightful of go-go dancers, as the daughter of an Air Force pilot, Julie spent her childhood moving, and often. By the time she graduated high school, Julie and her family had moved seventeen times and she had attended seven different schools.
Due to moving so frequently, she describes that she learned to preemptively detach and became quite introverted. At the young age of eight, her dad’s mother taught her the joy of creating via embroidery, cross stitch, needlepoint, knit, and crochet. In these moments she felt peace. In these moments she felt attached to something. In these moments a shy, young girl learned that she longed to create. Yarn heals.
Julie’s college experience is what initially brought her to Fort Worth and is what allowed her to establish roots. For the first and longest time ever, she lived in one place, at Texas Wesleyan University, for four consecutive years. After graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Mass Communication – Advertising and Public Relations – she decided to stay in Cowtown and eventually opened her own public relations business (specializing in copywriting, media relations, social media engagement, public speaking, production, special events management, and volunteer/vendor management), Creative Communications, in 1998.
While the year 1998 opened doors professionally for Julie, she describes this year with heartache. “My healthy, non-smoking, 54-year-old mom was diagnosed with cancer on April Fool’s Day. She passed away in early August. I was 30 years old and broken.” Julie’s mom was the person who instilled the idea to give in abundance, no matter the situation. She was an active volunteer with Meals on Wheels, no matter their constantly shifting location. She left a legacy of giving behind and despite the pain of having to do it so young, her daughter continued to follow in her footsteps with a servant’s heart.
Julie describes, “over time, life got better – I developed a tight knit family in the Near Southside and was experiencing some fun adventures in my communications career, working for small non-profits as well as large corporations.” At the peak of her PR business Julie was supporting mostly non-profit businesses but at a fair price where the non-profit was able to budget accordingly yet still keep their mission at the forefront. She became the ‘ultimate hype girl’ for others and her word alone helped businesses to flourish amongst the Fort Worth community and beyond.
Julie was healing slowly and succeeding rapidly, yet her heart still felt heavy. With a family history of depression, she made therapy a part of her self-care routine and in 2003 she found herself once again reminded of the eight year old girl, sitting with her grandmother, hands in yarn, who longed to create. When asked by her counselor what she used to do as a child that brought her joy, Julie responded with “dig in the dirt and play with yarn”. Julie describes further, “on the spot I received a written ‘prescription’ to garden or knit one hour each day. I took my homework seriously and hopped on over to a now-closed Near Southside yarn shop to take a refresher class. I jumped in with both feet first – literally! – with a lofty goal to immediately make socks. For knitters, that’s not necessarily a starter project – hence the pointy toes and uneven ankles on these – but I was committed. I began to knit… and knit… and gratefully, after miles of yarns and millions of stitches, I was healing.” Yarn heals.
Along this healing journey, Julie continued to succeed professionally and she continued her mother’s legacy of giving by delivering meals via Meals on Wheels of Tarrant County on a weekly basis. This is where she met her now husband, Bill. Julie states, “I reconnected with a kind man who intrigued me enough to set my yarn down for at least a few hours. A dream I thought was dead forever started to unfold. With a loving partner by my side, I now felt unconditionally supported to look for a more creative purpose in my life beyond my career.” Julie had a new mission: to create. She began knitting at a children’s cancer camp teaching kids the love of yarn, created a tradition by hosting an epically memorable “Camp JuJu” each year for her niece and nephew, made creative gifts for others, and began to humbly share her creations on social media.
With her thirty year PR career “spinning feverishly”, Julie found herself at crossroads when her sister gave her a plaque for Christmas in 2016 that read “What would I do if I wasn’t afraid?”. Julie describes the answer as simple: “open a yarn shop and share with others how I found healing through working with fiber.” Yarn heals. In the Fall of 2019, Julie began to teach pop-up beginner classes at the Center for the Healing Arts. In the Spring of 2020, JuJu Knits, Julie’s yarn store, launched in a mobile pink camper named “Purl” and in October 2020, just four months before a global pandemic, JuJu Knits opened as a brick and mortar in the Near Southside.
JuJu Knits is more than a shop. While you can find yarn, supplies, starter books, and even handmade goods, this brick and mortar is focused on “binding community”. Julie created her shop wanting it to be a gathering space first and a retail shop second. With an open living room in the center of the building where anyone is welcome, she created a “heartbeat” within her shop that values the importance for creative-minded people to have a safe place. A safe place where they can “knit, crochet, weave, or spin by reducing stress and increasing mindful creation within a supportive, welcoming community.” She created a place where some feel hopeful, some find rest, some unwind, some open up about their struggles, and all find peace by being intentional in the moment. Yarn heals.
While Julie still continues her PR work with Creative Communications, her heart is with the community built at her decade long dream of a yarn shop. Having proudly survived the pandemic, JuJu Knits is a place that understands that the power of creation (which requires putting down technology) can help others to remember, or sometimes even find, their most authentic selves. This community is open to everyone and continues to offer free fiber fellowship every Wednesday night with trunk shows, beginning knit and crochet classes, special events, and more advanced classes by guest teachers. Click here to view their list of upcoming events. https://www.jujuknitsfw.com/classes
With a love for the philanthropic community as well as the grounded/real business connections found in the city of Fort Worth, Julie has healed herself here. She states, “as the little girl who once had no roots, I have now lived in the same Fairmount community for 19 years – and called Fort Worth home for 32 years. I am in awe… and forever grateful… for the fabric so many have woven to help stitch my life together.” Yarn heals.
For someone who has spent so much time boasting the skills of others, she is the most humble person you can find. With that, she struggled to come up with a word for herself to match her impact as a businesswoman on our community. Julie is wholeheartedly, passionately, and genuinely intentional. Her smile shines directly from her heart and intentionally relieves the soul of the person in front of her. Her public relations talent intentionally builds up businesses others have created. Her servant’s heart intentionally gives weekly, and has continued to deliver meals for 25 years at Meals on Wheels of Tarrant County. Her yarn shop intentionally builds a community for those who need a safe place to simply be. Her soul, intentionally, makes our city a better place. Her heart, intentionally, makes others feel loved. Having healed her own heart with yarn, Julie is the epitome of intentional.
Visit her website, pop by JuJu Knits for supplies, or simply sit in the living room of her shop – just know your presence will be valued because that’s just who Julie is. Yarn heals.
Michelle has a passion for connecting, encouraging and informing about the good happening in our city. The good people, events, food, stores, entrepreneurs, and good deeds are her focus. She has created a niche for herself by using social media as a native marketing tool that has created meaningful exposure for local businesses in Fort Worth to a wide but very particular local audience.