Tell me a little bit about yourself. Where you live, how many kids & pets you have. What your business is & what you are making?
Hi Candace - thanks for inviting me to be interviewed on SparklePower.
I am Jennifer, a mama + home + maker. My husband and I live in northeastern Ohio with our daughters (4 year old twins), and a very furry orange cat. Making things by hand is something I enjoy – always have. I especially love making pretty things from pretty old things, such as cutter quilts and patchwork that is no longer usable in its current form. In the Spring of 2006, I opened JCasa – my Etsy shop – where I started off selling handmade bags and accessories combining vintage, repurposed and contemporary materials to create practical, functional pieces with a touch of whimsy. In the Summer of 2008, I began selling my original knitting and sewing patterns + tutorials in my shop as well as offering freebies on my blog. I am delighted by the warm reception my work has received and find myself constantly inspired and enthusiastic about this new direction.
Ha, that’s a question I’m asked a lot. Back in the baby days of napping, it was simple – I would work while they slept. It was during this transition to mama + home + maker that I was reconnected with my creative soul and began writing my blog JCasa *handmade and was inspired by all the other creative souls in the craft-blog community. Now that we’re in the no-nap era, I make an effort to carve out some time each day to work on something – more often than not, it’s in the evening when things slow down and the house settles into a gentle quiet. Whether it’s knitting or sewing or simply doodling ideas upon ideas, it’s all very centering for me. It recharges me with an energy and joy that I can then bring to my everyday life.
Do you feel that your creative nature comes at all from the example of your own mother?
Without a doubt, I was introduced to the world of handmade by my mom. She was into it all and always enthusiastically trying something new. But here’s the funny part – she had been a math teacher for a while, so we grew up thinking of everyday situations as a series of word problems. I was encouraged to figure things out on my own, like considering the time of day vs. the position of the sun in order to navigate my bike to the 7-11 for a slurpee. The end result, however, is that rather getting a map handed to me, I developed an organic, free-spirited approach to life. This totally translated into my teaching career, my creative endeavors, and ultimately in how I now design.
How does your spouse support or help you with your creative ventures?
I’m happy to say the hub enthusiastically supports my crafting endeavors and only occasionally rolls his eyes at my ever-expanding fabric and yarn stash. We met in the mid 1990’s in a Cleveland rehearsal studio when we were both in bands - his a popular and successful national act and mine a much smaller scale indie-rock group. It was a very creative environment during an inspiring time. Our professional lives eventually led us in new directions, but we always had music as part of our mutual foundation, so it was only a matter of time before we started our own power rock duo, recorded several CDs and played out on special occasions. It is still a love that we make time for in our lives and enjoy sharing with others, including our kiddos. With my knitting and sewing, he is more than supportive, which includes being receptive to brainstorming sessions in the middle of the night. And though he is not fluent in “craft”, there are many parallels we have found among our businesses and creative endeavors that have allowed us to both support one another and progress individually.
What is your favorite album right now? or what are you listening to while you work?
I enjoy music of all genres, but like many people, frequently find myself putting on the old favorites. I haven’t updated my iPod in ages, but as long as there is some Sloan, Stereolab, Van Halen, AC/DC and Beatles around, I’m good. I did just get Adele because there is much to love about her style and the rich timelessness of her voice. Our newest kids’ favorite is Pop Fly by Justin Roberts which we all highly recommend. When I’m in work mode, I enjoy listening to NPR podcasts such as This American Life, Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, and The Splendid Table, and I’m also slowly working my way through the Craftsanity archives – in the evenings, though, I’m all about classical or jazz. How’s that for an audio jambalaya?
What is inspiring you right now?
Oh my, everything. At the moment, I do have a quite a crush on pleats and ruffles. My knitting inspires my sewing, and my sewing inspires my knitting - one thing leads to another, and I’ve come to learn many people are like that, especially with knitting and sewing.
What is your favorite household chore?
Cooking! But is that really considered a chore? The girls alternate nights helping prepare dinner, and sometimes we even pretend we’re hosting our own show.
Your least favorite household chore?
Every single one of them. Seriously. Okay, if I must then I’ll say the bathrooms. That’s just gross.
You have a very recognizable style. Do you have any tips for newbies about finding their own style?
Thank you so much, that really means a lot to me. It didn’t start out that way, nor do I think it does for many people. We’ve talked about this so much, Candace – it always comes down to doing what you love and loving what you do. Over time and with experience, your individual style will evolve and become more truly “you”.
What is your favorite nail polish color?
You silly girl. I love the rich dark colors, but when I happen to make time for a pedicure, I usually let the girls choose my color. As soon as I come home they are totally checking it out, which is immediately followed up by requests for me to paint their little toes.
Thanks Jennifer! That was awesome. Be sure to check out Jennifer's brand new knitting pattern, the Summer Crush. Which, frankly, I think would look adorable over a long sleeve shirt in the winter as well. I tell ya, I need to learn to knit!