Written by: 
Jessica DeLeon

Laura Schlegel's ('07) "marketing mind" is always on. And it helped her land her own series "Pretty Crafty" on Ellen DeGeneres' Ellentube channel.

Schlegel is a Nashville-based stay-at-home mother and avid crafter who frequently watches The Ellen DeGeneres Show. When the show sponsored a contest last year seeking "Ellen's Most Gifted Wrapper," Schlegel couldn't resist. Her creativity won her $20,000 and three episodes on the EllenTube app.

For Schlegel, crafting is a fun way to express her love for others -- which made her the right fit for DeGeneres' show.

"I feel like Ellen challenges us," she says. "How can you be kind to people … to shift the focus from yourself to other people? So it's just like when I'm crafting and creating something homemade, I'm automatically trying to think of people."

For her first video, Schlegel got her family involved. Her husband, Hans, wrote a rap song that she performed about DeGeneres' love of gorillas. He emerged out of a huge box in a gorilla suit while Schlegel and her 6-year-old daughter Annika danced along.

That video landed her a spot as a top five finalist. Her next task -- find an item in her house that would be impossible to wrap -- was due in two days. Schlegel ended up creating a prank for Hans: wrapping a snowboard so that it looked like a gym workbench. When he sat on it, it fell apart.

She made it as one of the top three finalists -- or so she thought. In January, Schlegel was whisked off to Los Angeles for the taping of the contest that would determine the winner. She and comedian Kalen Allen raced to see who could unwrap a box the fastest. When she tore off the many layers, a note revealed she was the winner.

"I was just blindsided and obviously just emotional," she says.

Schlegel and her family were invited to return to Los Angeles in February, where she taped three segments for the show.

For one video, she transformed a hard hat so that it looks like a plant and, in a nod to DeGeneres' penchant for scaring people, she popped out of the planter in a hallway -- freaking out several of the show's staff members.

In another segment, assisted by Annika, she made puffy paint, a watermelon-shaped piñata and a bookmark that looks like a gorilla.

The series is a culmination of Schlegel's skills that began at UNT, where she majored in marketing. As a steadfast student-athlete and member of the Mean Green swim team, she learned discipline and hard work with the five-hour-a-day practices. After college, she worked in marketing and as a corporate recruiter. Now she's taking care of her daughter, Annika, 6, and her son, Stein, 2.

"I am hoping I can catapult this opportunity to do some dream things and that it opens some doors for me," she says. "I am excited to see what the future has to hold."

Tips for crafting during quarantine:

Laura Schlegel's tips to crafts with kids

  • Little kids often want the chance to be creative. Gather what you have around the house -- paper, scissors, paint, glue -- and set them at the kitchen table and just see what they create. 
  • Decorate the outside of an old peanut butter jar with pieces of tissue paper from a leftover gift bag. When it's finished, spray a protective coat on it or use Mod Podge. They could use this to hold their pencils or crayons on their desk. Having kids cut with scissors and use a glue stick helps them work on their fine motor skills. 
  • Let them paint the outside of pots for plants. When it's dry, pick out a fun plant or herb to put in it, and it will teach them about patience and watching something grow. 
  • Young or old, it's easy to make homemade cards. Right now, nursing homes aren't letting anyone visit, but they do accept mail. It just takes a little time to make a few homemade cards and write in them, but it makes someone's day! 

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