Growing up on the move, Anne Briggs has always bounced from one thing to another, both literally and figuratively. From travelling internationally to homeschooling, she has had the opportunity to learn from non-traditional educational experiences and choose her interests from an early age. Now as an adult, “Anne Of All Trades” continues to build her skills with the same curiosity and self-directed learning style. In this special re-airing of one of our favorite Bucket Talk episodes, Jeremy sits down with Anne to learn about her incredibly diverse background, from homeschooling, to blacksmithing, to woodworking, to farming, and much more.
From an early age, Anne Briggs has learned in a non-traditional educational setting that is different from most Americans. Anne’s parents were part of a missions organization for a majority of her life, and as a result she was exposed to a wide array of cultures and ways of living.
“...I had a really cool upbringing, getting to live all over the world with a group of people… That's kind of, you know, I got exposed to a lot of different cultures and a lot of different things as a kid. And I've had a vast array of interests over the years as a result. And that kind of basically led me to what I'm currently doing with the ‘Anne Of All Trades’ thing is basically giving a name to my utter and complete lack of direction and short attention span”
While her unique upbringing made schooling difficult in some regards, it also brought many crucial formative experiences which helped to shape the person Anne is today. For instance, instead of sitting in a public school classroom, there were points where she spent her days in a 19th century museum as a homeschooled student, or in her grandfather’s workshop. This helped her to develop an early interest in woodworking, hand tools, and farming.
“So it was kind of at the back of my mind, always from, you know, from that living history museum and my experience with my grandfather that someday, if I ever lived in America, I wanted to have my own farm. And I wanted to have my own workshop where I could do and fix anything that I wanted.”
Fast forward many years, Anne moved back to the U.S. from Taiwan to pursue a tech job in Seattle, WA. On the side, she continued developing her hand skills and engineering mindset by buying cheap tools, reverse engineering them, selling them, then buying new tools until she eventually had a full workshop to use.
“...I had no intention of ever, you know, doing all this stuff for a living. But the more tools that I acquired and the more hand skills that I learned, the more passionate about it I got, and the more dissatisfied with my job that I got. And I basically realized then that I wanted to figure out a way out of that lifestyle.”
Eventually, Anne leveraged her workshop to start woodworking. After a while, she quit her job to build furniture full-time, ended up failing, and learned from her mistakes to bring her to the next opportunity. She recalls:
“I quit my job working in tech because I wanted to spend less time working at the computer. But then all of a sudden, I had to figure out how to make a website and I had to become my own accountant and I had to market my stuff. And I had to send invoices and all those things that like, took all this computer time. And suddenly I was actually in the shop even less.”
After this chain of events, Anne eventually was lead in the right direction through connections she made on Instagram. One thing lead to another, and she landed a job at a Fine Arts Center, where she entirely revamped their woodworking program.
“...I ended up getting a job running a woodworking program at a Fine Arts Center. And so that was basically my ticket into doing this full time for a living again. And through that they basically needed someone to revamp their entire education program. So I got to hire new teachers and right new course curriculum. And basically, I created the woodworking school that I always wished that I had been able to attend, and then used that job to attend it.”
With a solid foundation for her business which she had been building in her free time, Anne eventually left her job when the time was right. Owning an organic farm, Anne has been able to focus on a variety of different trades such as woodworking and raising livestock. Having learned in a non-traditional setting her whole life, Anne continues expanding her knowledge with the same curiosity she had in her childhood. She recalls learning to milk a goat:
“I just literally like got this goat and brought it home. And just, like, assumed that it would just stand there and let me milk it. So I like you know went out there like proudly with my little milk pail that first time and like bent down to squeeze that little teet and I got kicked in the face.”
Fast forward to today, Anne has been running a successful business and recently bought a new farm. She continues to grow her skills through various projects, from restoring a 1953 Chevy, to modding golf carts, to building a new workshop for woodworking and teaching. From start to end, “Anne Of All Trades” has come to fully embody her persona through years of dedication, curiosity, and self-directed learning.