Welcome to the Monday Morning series "Women who Create." Today's guest is Jeanne from A Bushel and a Peck. Jeanne Oliver has been blogging since July of 2008. Recently featured in the Book Blogging for Bliss, She designs and makes handcrafted items such as purses, journals, aprons, clothing, and other fabulous things. Her creations and eye for color and design are fresh and hip. She sells to retailers, does shows and fairs as well as her on-line Etsy studio. I've had the wonderful pleasure of meeting Jeanne firsthand and think she is one of the sweetest and coolest people I know. With a wonderfully deep love of her family and her faith, She's a devoted home-schooling mother and manages to support her successful business, creative-side and balance her family life.
Hi Jeanne, when do you think you truly found your creative side?
I have always been creative in some form. As a child I would put together neighborhood plays. I would be the director, producer, star....I think you get the picture. I hope my friends were having fun too!!! I remember longing to be a writer or actress. II was always writing some love story when I was younger...I would pay big money to get my hands on one of those stories now. I am sure they were hilarious. Later was obsessed with fashion and design. I was always watching Style With Elsa Klensch. It had been my plan to attend a design school in Chicago and I allowed my guidance counselor to talk me out of it. I look back now on that and I am so shocked
how easily I was persuaded because an adult told me it would be too hard. I then struggled to find what else to do. I went on to get a psychology and history degree...can you tell I was searching? I have a passion for politics also and worked in DC doing grassroots campaign work and legislative work. It wasn't until my son was born that I was able to slow down a bit and enjoy my creative side more. I was still creative in how I put our home together and threw parties etc. but not on a day to day basis. I remember getting my first Creative Memories book while I was pregnant with our son. I now look back and laugh at the stickers etc. but I was so happy putting everything together. Three children later my creativity has grown again and even my blog has allowed me to dive back into writing.
When is your most creative time and how do you find the time to create?
I don't really have a creative time. I am always thinking of ideas and writing them down. I have a hard time sleeping sometimes and have resorted to keeping a notebook next to the bed otherwise my brain will not shut off. The time that I am most likely able to follow through with my ideas is at night. With three young children I find that once they are in bed is my best time to work without interruption. There are weekends that my husband keeps them occupied so I can work on retail and custom orders. Ideally I would love to work in the morning when the light is the best and I have the most energy...but that doesn't happen much.
How did you get started selling your creations?
Everything started for me very organically. I was always making gifts for friends and famly and was being told I should sell what I was making. One of my close friends told another friend about my creations. She had a shop and asked me to make a sampling of the things I was making. She came over and bought almost everything I had made. Within 10 minutes of leaving my house she had sold one of my items for twice what she paid....I knew then that I should be selling them! I signed up for a small local Christmas fair. It was only one day and I really didn't know what to expect. I sold out of almost everything and what was left a local store wanted to carry. That was really the beginning. I can't tell you how excited I was!!! A few months later I opened my Etsy shop. That night that I was putting things on my site I was almost sick to my stomach because I didn't know if anyone would like what I had created. Even now...when I have a new collection that I am adding I get a little nervous.
What is the hardest thing for you about making your items?
I am one person trying to do so much on my own. I am fortunate to have my mom help with the sewing, but I could really use more help (I am in the process of trying to hire another person). I always wish there were more hours in the day! Obviously finding the time to make all the things in my head is a challenge. The fact is that only a small fraction of my ideas are ever created because I just don't have enough time. Another hard thing is that I might have an idea and I can't get to it for a few months and then I see it somewhere else....that can be so disheartening sometimes. I want to be original and I can't always be the one with the idea first.
You've been able to go to a few workshops here and there... what are some of your favorites?
I attended the Brave Girl Camp with Melody Ross and I am so excited to be going to Silver Bella in November. Even though I don't usually do workshops I have been blessed to sell at the Country Living Fair last fall, attend Heather Bullard's Parisian Soiree, Country Living Magazine's Entrepreneur Conference and get together with so many incredible women at the Farm Chick's show this summer. These opportunities with other like minded women has been so inspiring and encouraging. Moments with amazing women can heal your soul and truly renew your passions.
For some one who would love to go to a place to be inspired, what workshop do you feel is a good one for beginners?
There are so many workshops out there that I am antsy to attend. I think Silver Bella is a great place to start because these women are so warm, inviting and encouraging. I don't know anyone that has ever attended that doesn't come away a more creative person. It is truly described as magical. the workshops are taught by renowned artists with most of the supplies you need.
What piece of advice would you give to a mom who want's to get into her creative side, but feels a bit bogged down by the time constrained and the responsibility of family?
The best piece of advice I could give is to carve out a space in your house just for your creating. Maybe it starts in the closet, the spare bedroom, the unfinished basement. Whereever you can find a little space...give it to yourself. Once you have that space you are more likely to use it and start creating again. Who wants to start a project in an area that needs to be picked up? You are worth this! I am a better wife and mother because I create. My family sees how important this is to me and they recognize its importance in my life. They would never have know if I had never given it a chance.
What is the most important thing about art for you?
Art...no matter what form it is in......changes you! Whether it is music, a painting, fabrics, sculpture, Opera, ballet, pottery etc. ....what would life be like without their beauty?
Jeanne, thank you so much! You can see more of Jeanne's and her creativity at her blog at A Bushel and a Peck, or browse her fantastic hand-made items at her Etsy store.
Thank you all again on your kudos for my Country Living publication (yes, I have to mention that just one more time...I am milking this for all it's worth. ;) !
Join me next Monday for another featured artist.
*All pictures are used with permission and property of A bushel and a peck