By Joan Robbio
This periodic series of three images and responses to questions tells the stories of people of the Valley who love what they do. As Confucius once said, “Choose a job you love and you will never work a day in your life.”
This article features Jillian Marie McManus, artist and owner of Kids Creations in Waitsfield, Vermont.
How long have you lived in Vermont and where did you grow up?
I grew up in, Holbrook, south of Boston, MA. As an adult I lived in Boston for five years, New York City for five years, and then moved to Vermont in 2011 and never left.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
When I was little, I imagined being an archaeologist and exploring Egypt and discovering new artifacts. As I got older, I imagined myself owning my own art store selling supplies and having an art studio in the back.
What was your first job and how did you get it?
My brother had a paper route job and I took that over when he was tired of it. I delivered 42 newspapers on my purple, banana seat, Huffy bike at age 12.
Who was the biggest influence in your decision to choose the work you now do?
I don’t have a who, I have a what -- being around children came so natural to me and when I was having difficulty having my own children, I knew I needed to change from being an accountant at Sugarbush to a caregiver for children in some way.
What steps did you take to get where you are today/what sacrifices have you made to get to this point in the work you do?
I don’t think I would be able to do what I do today if I had my own children. It takes a village to raise children, and I like to think I’m part of the village piece for helping other families.
What is the best job advice that you’ve ever received?
“Don’t turn your passion into a career.” My high school art teacher was not very supportive of making art into a career. So, I kept my passions very close by my jobs but never pursued a full-time career out of art until now. I totally disagree with her that’s why I opened up Kids Creations in Waitsfield in 2017.
What are you most grateful for in your life?
Other than my Willow, who is the BEST Dog evah! (Boston accent) I’m grateful for all my past job experiences. I can tie them all together now. From a professional framer at an art store; to a camp counselor at art camps and adventure camps; to an accountant at Pace Art Gallery in NYC.
How do you give back?
Being able to teach children how to express themselves thru art. When we create art, we elevate our mood, we improve our ability to problem solve, and open our minds to new ideas.
What do you do in your free time?
Depends on season and the weather: Mountain biking, golfing, snowboarding, paddleboarding, yoga, hiking, gardening, educational reading. I like to do it all and keep improving myself by learning new activities.
Do you have a favorite quote that you live by?
I have so many…. These are my top three:
“Always do what you are afraid to do” Ralph Waldo Emerson -- Helps me embrace the uncomfortable moments. The more uncomfortable I feel, the more I know I’m breaking barriers within myself and growing.
“And this, too, shall pass” -- My constant reminder to celebrate the good days when they here and not to dwell on the bad days.
“Gratitude consists of being more aware of what you have than what you don’t” -- I tackle depression on a daily basis and this quote is my mantra. Staying focused on gratitude keeps those black clouds away.
Thank you to the very talented students in Jill’s class: =Steele and Preslee Mazer, Ewan Lewis, Oscar Robinson and Tyler Hilton.
To suggest someone who “Loves What They Do,” email Robbio at