Seven questions is our spotlight of our favorite artisans. Please welcome...
Judy of JN Originals!1. What do you sell in your shop?
I have three active shops, with a fourth shop, Dancing Thimble
, in the works. At JN Originals
, I sell crocheted and felted personal accessories. At Mister PenQuin
, I sell paper-crafted gifts, accents and accessories. At 2nd Chance Treasures
, I sell recycled supplies for crafts and stitching.
2. What is your favorite thing about Etsy?
Besides the fact that I don't have to leave my home to sell handcrafted items, I think the best thing about Etsy is the comradery that is available once you join a team. You can go it alone, but I believe that the best teams provide encouragement, challenge you to up your game, and create networking opportunities.
3. What is your least favorite thing about Etsy?
You cannot sell anything, obviously, if you don't list it. Sometimes I'll look in a corner of one of my studios, and realize that finished items are sitting there, unlisted, because they have not been photographed. If anything, it is the photography that I find most tedious. Because there is so much of it to do, however, I must say that I have learned a few shortcuts along the way. Practice makes perfect, or if not perfect, then certainly better!
4. What does your studio/workspace look like?
I took over two bedrooms in the house, and will use the kitchen table for larger projects when necessary, such as when I'm cutting fabric. The smaller bedroom is my sewing studio, where I have two sewing machines and a mission-style writing desk. The larger bedroom is my paper crafting studio. When my son graduated from college and moved to the greater Chicago area, he left behind furniture that I recycled for storage. His dresser drawers now hold paper and fabric, as well as paper crafting tools. The bookcase holds more paper, inks, stamping supplies and surface treatment tools, and my husband added more shelves to one wall for my Cricut® supplies, chipboard, markers, paper cutting dies, paper scraps and adhesives. I truly think paper crafting supplies can take over an entire house if you allow them to do so! I purchased a cubby-style wall storage unit where I keep small items that would otherwise clutter any available horizontal spaces. There is a small couch in the paper crafting studio where I can do hand-stitching or watch how-to videos from a laptop. In a sense, I take my work wherever it's most expedient to get the job done. Sometimes that's down in the basement family room, on the sofa, where I can crochet and watch movies with my husband at the same time.
5. What do you do to relax?
I know it sounds like a cliché, but working with my hands is relaxing. What started as a collection of relaxing hobbies (sewing, crocheting, hand stitching, paper crafting) eventually became work, but the work never ceased to be relaxing. Does that make sense? Aside from that, I enjoy reading and writing. I take my Nook everywhere! And both my husband and I volunteer pretty much year-round for Iowa's Destination ImagiNation® program that encourages creativity, problem-solving and teamwork for young people from primary age through university level. At the very least, it keeps us young. Once a year, we do a week-long cabin retreat at Backbone State Park in Iowa, where we disconnect from the rest of the world (or at least the electronic world), grill outdoors every day, and take long walks.
6. What accomplishments are you the most proud of?
Where handcrafted items are concerned, I am self-taught. I graduated with a degree in English and Communication, but the first class I took afterward was for basic crochet. And of course I learned basic sewing techniques in a junior high home economics classroom where I sewed (like many others) a gingham apron and kettlecloth jumper. Both classes left a lot of room for self-instruction! Aside from working with my hands, I enjoy writing poetry, and published my first poem at the age of 45. It took that long because I had convinced myself I could not write poetry. One day, after I finished giving my son feedback for a poem he had written, I asked myself why I thought I was qualified to provide constructive criticism for poetry but did not think I was equally qualified to write it. So, I started writing and publishing poems, and never looked back.
7. What are some of your goals for the next year?
Many of the items at JN Originals are seasonal, including crocheted scarves, hats, fingerless gloves and felted wool coffee cup cozies. My goal is to expand my offerings beyond these seasonal items. I have already made a start with crocheted spa cloths and felted wool bowls, needle books, and bags, but I'd like to add felted wall flowers for home decor. At Mister PenQuin, I'd like to increase the number of offerings to 100 items or more. I have discovered that small specialty books fill a niche that blank notebooks do not, so I plan to offer more of these. I'd also like to have a "grand opening" for Dancing Thimble, where I plan to sell functional fabric-crafted items such as eReader cases, bags featuring the Swedish weaving I love to do, fabric sewing weights, and craft aprons. To be honest, I think all of this will take more than a year!
Where you'll find Judy on the Web: