Interview : Jen Made This October 16 2014 1 Comment
Jen Thomas has been on our radar for quite some time. A talented writer and, as far as we're concerned, a damn hair icon, she's been adding strings to her already talented bow for a number of years. More recently she's been producing amazing bags and accessories that never fail to pique our interest. Recently we had the chance to ask her a few questions about her fledgling business and here's what she had to say.
S : Tell me about Jen Made This. When did you start and what was your biggest motivation?
J : I started Jen Made This back in June 2013, so not that long ago really! So much has happened in that time though, it's been a lot of fun. It began when I designed a horror print handbag, with a skull knuckleduster clutch handle for my lovely friend Sammi's birthday. I had a lot of interest from it and decided to give it a go, and worked on some other styles and the rest was history!
What's been your proudest moment since starting the brand? And what's the biggest obstacle you've overcome?
My proudest moment was undoubtedly when I was lucky enough to win one of the prizes from Intuit UK, £1,000 for an embroidery machine after over 4,000 people voted for the business. That and a fashion feature in the Nottingham Evening Post, and any time someone comes to a market and tells me they love my stuff! The biggest obstacle was when the most popular skull clutch frame was discontinued by my UK supplier, so I can no longer get it regularly. It's now a limited edition item for whenever I can get my hands on the frames in small batches!
Where does most of your inspiration come from?
My inspiration ultimately comes from my own wardrobe and tastes, alternative music and tattoos play a big part in it. Fortunately everyone seems to like it so far!
How do you cope juggling a full time job with your own brand?
The honest answer? I didn't. I burned myself out. The response was amazing and I'm so grateful to anyone who has ever ordered anything, don't get me wrong, but I was working 80 hour weeks with the day job and then sewing too! My friends and family didn't see me for quite a while in the run up to Christmas haha, but they knew I was there due to the ever present Christmas songs and occasional Baileys hot chocolate from October onwards to get me in the mood for it. I made a decision a month or two ago to stop doing custom/bespoke orders, just for my own sanity especially with how busy Christmas was last year. I'm focusing on doing markets and conventions and pre-making as much or as little as I feel up to. It's the only way to do it as giving up my day job really wasn't an option.
What's your favourite 'Jen Made This' creation so far?
My favourite item is the skull clutch that started it all, or a denim jacket I customised with a tattooed knuckleduster embroidery on the back. Or anything with flamingos on. I'm not doing very well at narrowing it down, am I!?
Do you have any advice for creative startups?
My only advice is to do as much as you can, but work to live and not the other way around. I know that's potentially controversial but you need to love what you do and make time to have a life as well. Social media is also a big part of the success of Jen Made This, having a strong creative voice and also an unusual image has been a big part of the brand. Finding something that makes you stand out is important.