Jumping Head First Into Small Business with Melissa Galbraith
Today I’m talking with embroidery designer and soon-to-be author Melissa Galbraith of McreativeJ. We’ve loved getting to know Melissa over the past year as she was an early maker on the Making app, joined many of our online gatherings, and has shared her love of embroidery and passion for teaching others. Next spring she’s releasing her first book, How to Embroider Texture and Pattern : 20 Designs That Celebrate Pattern, Color, and Pop-Up Stitching, so make sure to keep an eye out! I love Melissa’s down to earth approach not only to embroidery and crafting in general, but also when it comes to building a business. I think you’ll feel encouraged and inspired. You can find Melissa on the Making app @melissa-mcreativej and on Instagram at @mcreativej
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You can also listen to our podcast directly on the Making app, Spotify or on Apple Podcasts.Click to show transcript.
Ashley [00:00:05] Welcome to Making Conversation, a podcast where we celebrate making in all its forms from amazing stories of inspiring makers and people to behind the scene piece of building a startup in the tech and craft industry. I'm your host, Ashley Gosling. Today I'm talking with embroidery designer and soon to be author Melissa Galbraith of M Creative J. We've loved getting to know Melissa over the past year as she was an early maker on the making out. She's joined many of our online gatherings and shares her love of embroidery and passion for teaching others. Next spring, she's releasing her first book, How to Embroider Texture and Pattern toe designs that celebrate pattern color and pop up stitching. So make sure to keep an eye out for that. I love Melissa's down to earth approach, not only to embroidery and crafting in general, but also when it comes to building a business. I think you'll feel encouraged and inspired. You can find Melissa on the making app @melissa-mcreativej and on Instagram @mcreativej. And with that, here's Melissa.
Melissa [00:01:09] The first thing that I think of is me dressed up in these fabric scraps from my mom's like fabric. Then standing in front of our fireplace. And I am dressed up like a cave woman. Like it's this, like purple and black spotted fleece that I have, like, wrapped around my waist and one on my arm and around my head. And I think I'm like, maybe five. Like, I just love getting into all of my mom's craft supplies and playing around. And we have this photo of and it's really funny. It hangs up on their wall and it makes me smile every time I see it. But my mom is like the biggest maker crafter, so or she does all the things and she growing up has like this giant room at our house that was always like, don't go in there. But if you do, we can do stuff, but you have to have supervision, you know. So we would get to like do all these really cool projects, like we did embroidery and quilting and bobbin lace and papier maché and like literally probably anything you could think of we did as a kid, and it was just so much fun. Like looking back, I am like, Wow, I was really fortunate to have a mom who wanted to do that with me because I as an adult, I'm finding that not everybody had parents that were super crafty and or like family members that wanted to do that with them. So I just like every time I come home, I'm always like so thankful my mom has this giant. So I am filled with just like magical supplies that we got to use as a kid. And my sisters and I got to make things together and learn these skills that like, as a kid, you just thinking, you think you're having fun, but as an adult, you're like, Oh, these are actually really practical skills that are helpful. Not only for like if I need to sew on a button to my shirt, but also to like, you know, feel like I can have fun and relax and don't have to, like, just be working all the time. Like, it's a nice creative outlet. My mom is like the best. Like, she had my sisters and I doing everything. I have two younger sisters, one of them as a year and a half younger than me, and one of them is eight years younger than me. So I think it was like an easy way for her to have us like have our hands on and get dirty without like getting into too much trouble.
Ashley [00:03:24] So take me more through that journey from kind of this upbringing that was very incubated in craft and making and how that followed you as you went through kind of your formative years on into high school and college.
Melissa [00:03:40] I guess like it was always a part of everything we did. So when I was in like elementary school, my mom always made me this really cool dresses and my sisters and I had like fun matching outfits. Like if I had an outfit and like Pink, my sister had like a similar one in purple and like, my mom made us backpacks in elementary school. And I so wish that I still had mine because it was this like cool jean patchwork but backpack that had our names embroidered on it. And like, I wore that thing to death. Like, it's gone now, but I so wish I still had it. But then even into like later elementary and middle school, we made Halloween costumes, we did fun projects together, we did Girl Scouts, and I was still very hands on with a lot of stuff in there. And then in high school, my mom and I actually designed all of my dresses for dances and things like that and made those together as well too. So I got to like really be hands on with that process and designing a lot of fun stuff that I could wear for special occasions and build those memories that way as well too. And then, I don't know, kind of in college I didn't really make a lot. It just didn't quite fit in. But after college and getting back into the workplace. So I got a degree in digital technology and culture. It's kind of like about how the web works and what people do online and like a little bit of graphic design and things. And I found that I was just sitting behind the computer all day, like every day, and I wasn't making anything really tangible. And so I wanted to give back to like hands on crafting. And after kind of dabbling in a couple of different like art forms, I fell back into embroidery and just really loved it because it was small, it was portable. You could it's almost like coloring with red and it was just so relaxing and I could do it anywhere, like while listening to a book or watching TV and just it was the one thing that really stuck and was so funny because when I was telling my mom after, I was like, really, really got back into it. But she kind of looked at me and goes, You hated that as a kid. I don't know why you'd want to do that now. And I was like, But it's so relaxing now. Like, I have more patience for it. So it's just I feel like making has always been a part of like. What I do and who I am, even if it's just been in little bits here and there and a bunch of different things. But it always is something that makes me happy and smile and like, think of my mom and like the cool things we got to do together. So. Yeah, I just love it. And that's also why I love sharing and like teaching and making that way as well too, and like passing those skills on to other people who want to learn.
Ashley [00:06:21] At what point did it become your own.
Melissa [00:06:24] Making has always been a part of my life, just here and there, bits and pieces. And I think once I really found a craft to focus on, so found hand embroidery and I kind of started getting back into it. I just found that it was something like really meditative and relaxing to do at the end of the day. And then I ended up getting a job in Seattle, so I would commute in and out on the bus. And so it was nice, something like relaxing to kind of like do on the way in. So I wasn't like super stressed about the hustle and bustle and then like on the way back home on the bus as well, just as a restful meditative like craft to kind of work on. It's kind of like taking a breath and letting it go and just being like, You're here, it's okay. Like it doesn't matter what else is going on. Your brain can noodle on it in the background if you want, but we're going to work with our hands and just like create something beautiful, play with like texture and pattern and color and like focus on that for a minute and not have to worry about anything else outside of what's in your hands right now. And it was just for me and brother just has like such a calming effect. It's like that nice way of doing that. And thankfully I would say like, my life is a little less stressful now, so I don't have to like rely on it as heavily. But there was a point where I was very much like, Oh man, I just, I need this right now. Like I need to like focus and sit down and like work on this because everything else is too much. Like, I feel like it's, I've always been there, which has been nice throughout my, like, I would say adult working life, which has been good cause obviously I would say like work always has its ups and downs, ebbs and flows, and like sometimes it's crazy chaotic and sometimes it's very slow. But embroidery is like a nice constant to kind of get you through all of that.
Ashley [00:08:17] At what point did this become something that wasn't just your own, but something that you wanted to share?
Melissa [00:08:22] Yeah, that's a great question. So when I first got back into embroidery, I kind of like fell into like a small business and selling my craft because I lived in like a tiny 600 square foot apartment with my then my husband and boyfriend at the time. And we just like I made so many things. So we didn't have room for these things. And I was like, okay, I either need to sell these or give them away or do something or like find something else to do. And I had already fallen in love with embroidery, so there was like no way that I was just like not doing it anymore. And I also like, you know, when you make something, you have like an attachment too. It's kind of like, I don't just want to, like, give these away to people. Like, I put a lot of work into these. I want them to be appreciated. So I kind of ended up going to like farmers markets and like selling my embroideries. And I really like, I would say after maybe like a year and a half, two years just found that like I didn't love the act of like selling things to people. That was not my strong suit. I'm much more introverted and I just wasn't like. I also find that like fiber arts are not like as appreciated as an art form, as other arts are, which is also the struggle when you're trying to sell things to consumers. So I like being at these fairs, though I did find that a lot of people would be like, I want to learn how to do that. How do you do this? Oh, so-and-so could teach me how to do this. I could teach you how to do this. My mom taught me. I feel like I know enough now that I could share this with other people. So I had a really good friend who kind of was like, you know, just see if somebody in the area wants to, like, host a workshop for you. So I ended up finding a wonderful space and we hosted a couple of workshops and it was really fun. Like, I was of course, very, very nervous at the time because I hadn't like actually taught in-person, but it went really well. People were like so appreciative and happy to like make with their hands and learn a new skill and kind of dove into something. And from there, it just really took off because I found that I loved being able to share how to embroider with like other people who wanted to learn to give it a try. I loved seeing that like aha moment when something clicked in their face when they were like really excited about what they were making and just like it was such a joyful experience and I really loved that. So I would say it's been maybe like three or four years now since I taught my first workshop, and it's just so much fun. And I love like trying to come up with new designs for classes and like different skills that we can learn. But I think at the same time you also kind of learn like what you could actually fit in like a two hour time period and like what's really approachable and like all sorts of these like tricks and things you like think of along the way. Like, I ended up getting like a hoop stand that sits on the table to make it a little easier so I can, like, demonstrate. And then when the pandemic hit, we weren't doing anything in-person. And I actually pivoted to online classes. And so I had to kind of like then learn how to use like Zoom and teach that way. And I ended up being able to like hold my hoop standing in front of me and then like stitch like from the back to the front. So people could see that without having to like do all sorts of like camera adjustments and things. So like it was, it was challenging to do virtual, but in the end I was so, so glad we did it because it was a great way to connect, especially, um, and we're all stuck at home. So I feel like teaching is where I really found my passion and what I love to do with this craft. And also just, just like been an amazing way to connect with the maker community.
Ashley [00:12:11] You have quite the brand. You walk me through what that was like building all of that.
Melissa [00:12:16] Well, when I kind of really went headlong into embroidery and decided I was going to do this as a business, the first thing I was like, Okay, well, I need a name. Like, I just have to figure out what I'm going to name this thing. And there was kind of like a joke that I think my husband started that it's like creative is your middle name. So that's where I am Creative J came from because my last name used to be a jay before I got married, so it was like a nice sandwich in between there. And I was like, okay, this is like an all encompassing name that like, forever, like it would be great for anything. Like if I, you know, say I wanted to change what I do, then I would still kind of like fall into that, like. Brand, which is nice and it's not like specific to embroidery, which is kind of helpful because and you can add to it if you wanted to. So I had a name and then I was like, All right, well, I kind of had to figure it out. Like, I kind of like look to other brands to see like what they were doing for like branding and building up their brand and like tried to add some of those pieces to things that I was doing at like farmers markets and other stuff. So like I have an Instagram, I have a website. I actually started out with Etsy first and I still have an Etsy because it was like a nice way to like dabble into figuring out how to sell online without like having a background in that, which is nice. I feel like a lot of things when you start a small business, it's like you really. Kind of just have to figure out what works for you and go from there. Like it's a lot of trial and error and sometimes it's like very expensive and sometimes it's just like, okay, well, I just don't need to do that again. Like, I learned my lesson and like I moved on or like this was an amazing experience. I should do it again. I feel like it's hard as an introvert to be like, I just, like, went out and tried these things and like, did it, but like, even so, like, you have to be a little more like willing to take risks as a small business and see, you know, it's like, I don't want to say you have to be extroverted, but you have to like just be willing to like go for it and see if it works out. So that's like I like I did some farmers markets for a while and found that like it wasn't quite my target audience, you know, like I found that people were really coming for the fruits and vegetables and flowers in the morning and they're not really there to buy art or craft kits. So then I like looked for other like craft shows in my area. So we have like thankfully Seattle has like an abundance of craft fairs and like small art shows and things like that, which is so amazing and wonderful that the community can support it. And there's so many like awesome options for makers like myself. So I ended up kind of dabbling in a couple of markets, like seeing what kind of worked and then being like, okay, this one was a great one and I learned from it and like, okay, maybe next time I need to try X, Y and Z to like see if this one will work better. But you just kind of like, see how that goes. And then I found that like a lot of markets, like you make connections and like that lead to something else and something different. So that's actually how I ended up finding the first place to teach at was I met them at a renegade craft fair in Seattle and she had stopped by and been like, Oh, like your stuff is really cool. Do you teach? And I was like, you know, I haven't, but it's something I'm like kind of interested in. So I made that connection that way and we ended up doing workshops there. And like after teaching with that space for a little while, I kind of learned like how to like set up a class and the materials I need and then like felt like I could then approach other spaces to teach as well too. And so then I have like looked up other craft spaces in the Seattle area and kind of reached out and was like, Hey, would you be interested in having me teach a embroidery class with you? And like some of those connections worked out really well and some of them didn't, and you just kind of learn. And then from there, I've just really built some really like amazing friendships and like places I get to craft with. And I think I do anywhere from like 1 to 4 workshops a week now, which is really fun. And yeah, we just get to do all sorts of fun things together. And another thing about small businesses like there's so many, everyone thinks like when you run a small business, you just get to make things all the time. But I feel like that's a very small portion of what you do. Like I, you know, like work on the website, do newsletters, social media, like you are basically a content creator at this point. Like I have to like build inventory and like buy things for like kids and stuff and then like put all my kids together and like all these things that you don't like, think about that actually take up like a ridiculous amount of time. So even though I like get to do this full time now, I would say like it's I stitch probably like only in the morning or like late at night, like after I'm done with all my other work stuff.
Ashley [00:17:18] We believe that the simple act of making can transform your life and in turn change our world. This is why making exists. It all starts with inspiration. We are inspired by people, by places, by experiences. A beautiful photo, a soft wall, a kind heart. These are the things that motivate us to make. Making us here to disrupt systems. Systems of oppression. Systems that only benefit certain groups of people. And systems that extract. We are here to challenge the narrative of profit over people. We believe a company can be founded for the purpose of good and change the world for better, while also creating opportunity at scale. Makers are tired of the monolith. The few companies that comprise our only choices of how we can act, how he transact, and how we learn. Makers are ready for a better alternative, and that is what we are building. Becoming a break collective member helps us accomplish this. Visit makingzine.com To learn more.
Melissa [00:18:28] We think that making has kind of found that nice, sweet spot where it's like you just get to share what you love and like talk about cool things and like build a community. And it's not like I have to create a video and like find the nice trending sounds that go with it or like throw a link in there or like create a blog post. Like it's just like it takes you back to, I think the very like early stages of like Instagram when people could just like throw up a photo and be like, This is what I love, you know, like this is what I'm working on. And like start connections and conversations that way, which is, I think what we really need. Like I feel like people are sometimes so focused on like the actual, like making and finishing of a project or like whatever they're working on that they don't stop to like talk about it and like, you know, share that progress and like connect with other people who are maybe working on something similar or, you know, just like build that community. And so for me, it's like I love having those conversations and connections and I think that's what's most important. And what a lot of like technology and like all these different apps and things are missing, they're all trying to be like the next trending viral thing. And for me, I just wish we would like slow down a little bit and like take a step back and say, like, hey, let's just let's just talk, you know, like, share what you love.
Ashley [00:19:54] You know, there's a lot of things that we're doing that are not normal for a tech company. And one of the things that we were talking about that we've somehow all adopted this pressure to post every day, to consistently update, create content and really centered around everything we're doing, thinking about like how we're going to share that or like how we're going to do this thing. Whereas app making, we really want people to focus on the craft itself, the joy of sharing that and remove the pressure. And there's a really interesting podcast that I had the team listen to because we there's a reason that we've been trained that way and we want to encourage metrics and like people coming to the app as like a celebration of what they're doing off the app as opposed to spending so much time on the app, you know, where it takes away from this thing that they're doing off. And it's a big reason why we introduced the teaching platform first, because we felt like that's a value add. You know, that's something that's adding to your experience as opposed to just taking away, you know. And so. Again, like we're so in the early beginning, about to launch the marketplace. It's not a pure social network. It's not a pure teaching platform. It's not a pure marketplace. All these things kind of come together to create a like, beautiful experience of discovery that if you're a maker, whatever you're looking for around, whatever craft you're into, you're going to find the support or the connection or the ability to buy or learn in this place that feels expansive as opposed to extracting. I mean, how many times have we sat there looking, I'll be having fun for like something inspiring or something, or go down the rabbit hole, finding supplies and realize, Oh, we're out of time. We don't have time to make right now.
Melissa [00:21:57] Yes. Oh, yes. And I feel like it's also a nice breath of fresh air, because a lot of times, like with social media, it's always like, what's the next thing? What is this person doing? And then gives you like a little bit of FOMO, to be honest. Like you're kind of like in a little bit of anxiety. And I feel like people are just like, it's a little bit of competition there, you know? And like, you're always trying to be like, How do I get more followers? How do I get more people to engage? How do I get more views? And really, it takes away from like the act of like making something, sharing something really cool that you're, like, passionate and proud of and just like want to put out there.
Ashley [00:22:34] What is it that appeals to you about what we're building at making that is different than Etsy? I mean, obviously I know like how we're building a different than Etsy. I want to hear more about how we can support you really, you know, because that's where we're building. This is to give maker sellers another avenue that's a better alternative to what exists out there today.
Melissa [00:22:56] Yeah, I mean, I look at Etsy kind of like a search engine at this point. Like I don't drive traffic to it, but it's a place people go to to look up for things. And if they find me and want to buy things, that's that's amazing. That's like in a way, I pay fees on there. That's why I have a storefront, because sometimes people are like, I want handmade. I go to Etsy, that's the only place I'm going to go. But then I can introduce them to my brand and take them back to my website hopefully, and then be like, This is who I am. You can learn more about me here. You can like read my blog, you can like check out all sorts of other cool things I have on here. But at the same time, like it's very cluttered, it's very like intense. You have to learn all these different systems and just like there's a lot going on there, there's a lot of noise. And the reason I was really attracted to making is because it's like a little bit of like a quieter, calmer space. It's like less like in your face, less like ads, less all sorts of stuff. It's more like true to the craft and like showing the process of like what people are working on, what they're passionate about. They aren't all these like highly staged photos. It's like just like, you know, this is what I'm working on. It's on my lap right now. Here's my cat. Like we're having a good time, you know? It's, like, very real. And that's kind of what I love about it. I just feel like Etsy, social media, everything is so, like, highly polished at this point that, like, you just don't it doesn't feel as attainable. And I feel like with the making app, you get like a real slice of life and that's what you want. Like you want to feel like, Oh, they're working on that. And that looks like something I could do like that. That looks like myself, you know, like I love to cozy up and work on a project as well too. And I just feel like having those like extensions with them. They're like, you know, somebody is working on this pattern and you're like, they're like, Oh, well, I actually designed this pattern and you could find it in the shop. Like, that will be so freaking cool because then you get to really talk with a designer, have like a stronger connection and conversation and like see them working on it. You know, you don't just get all these like, you know, like flat, like super nice photos of like, you know, this is what I design. Do you get like, it's more intimate, you know.
Ashley [00:25:14] Really? We built this to try and meet designers, sellers, makers, where they're at. And and that's a few different places. There's people that have built a brand, have their own site, like are able to drive enough traffic to their site that they're less reliant on things like Etsy and even eBay. But then there's people that that feels like the biggest mountain to climb. Or, you know, you were talking about all these different parts of your business that you do like and how stitching is just like one part of it. And part of the vision was. For those people that want less to do, like funneling traffic to their platform and want to focus more on just like having a well-oiled machine that they can sell on and connect with. People can do that. And I think the other side of it is. Not just having to only sell goods, whether they're digital or physical, like being able to say, okay, well, there's other ways to diversify your income. Like, you can teach classes and there's a fun product category that we created called Services and that'll be launching when we launched the marketplace. And that's like, maybe you don't teach a class. Maybe you don't have a physical good to teach. Maybe you have both. But what if there was a way to kind of monetize your skill? It's really cool to see you on the app early, which I'm super grateful for, by the way, because all of our kind of early people, I mean, they really see the sort of like gritty side of like building a company, but it feels really supportive and it'll get better and better over time for sure.
Melissa [00:27:04] Oh yeah. I mean, I feel like the early adopters you get are the people that are the most passionate and don't really care if it's not like 100% polished. They're like, they're because they love the idea and believe in the vision and want to like they know it'll get better. Like they know that like you're still working things out, but they're like ready to jump on board anyway. Earlier this summer, I hosted a craft camp with my friend. It was like an in-person event and you guys kindly sponsored something. But we like, I was so nervous. We're like, Oh my gosh. Like, it's not perfect. It's not like exactly what we wanted, but like we went ahead with it anyway. And the feedback from everybody was like, Oh my gosh, this was amazing. We want to come back next year. Like, we were like day two and people are already talking about next year, you know? So it was like you get those early adopters that people are so passionate about, like what you're doing, what you're into, like what you love and like that's how you build your foundation and like grow from there. So I definitely see like what you guys are trying to build and what you want to build and like of it, you know?
Ashley [00:28:08] Yes, everything you just said and this is one of the struggles of having a brand that's existed for seven plus years. There's like this certain expectation of finished product, but also people are so used to Instagram like y'all do remember what Instagram was when it first started? Like, I was on there like the first month and it was fast forward, you know, God, 15 years or whatever, how long or 13 years. It is what it is today because of all that time. And so we we have we have like our timelines like this, like we got to reach that level like sooner. But we're getting there and I'm so excited completely switching gears. What is your mom? Think about everything that you've done. Like when she looks at you now and. Tell me a little bit about that.
Melissa [00:28:56] She she's so excited. Like, you could just see her face light up and she's like, so, like, oh, my gosh, this is so cool, you know, because, like, my mom has always been like a, I would say, like a hobbyist maker. Like she has like all the giants I know and all the really cool things. But she always just did it for her, like family and friends and like for the passion of making it. And I think, you know, when I first told her I wanted to do this as a small business, she was kind of like, Oh, really, you're going to do that? Like, I don't know if you're going to make money, you know, like that that doesn't like, you know, I think that was just like a switch that had to happen in your head. I think for a lot of people, you know, most people are like, oh, you you craft. That's what you do, you know? But like, I think over the years, I've really been able to, like, build this up and like do really cool projects and like make really cool connections. And I think you can just see like both my parents, I face light up, they're so proud of me and happy and it just like it's very exciting to see that, especially so both my parents have like a chemical engineer background. They're very like math and science oriented. And I was like the arts child, like my other two sisters are also very like math and science. So it's like I'm kind of the odd one out and they're like, it's just exciting to see. Like, they still recognize and like, appreciate, like the time and energy and passion I have for this, even though if it's not like. Exactly what they really thought it would be, you know? And I think with everybody, it's like a journey and you're not 100% where you're going to end up. And sometimes, you know, you got to, like, figure it out. But it's been really exciting. And I think the thing my mom is most excited about is so earlier this year I wrote a book and turned it into the publisher in July. So they'll be out in the spring of 2023. And my mom, like every time I talk to her, is like, So have you heard anything about your book? When is it coming out? Like, I need a copy, so it's really cute.
Ashley [00:30:52] Okay, well, this is a perfect segue way. How much can you share about your book?
Melissa [00:30:55] Yeah, so I don't have, like, as many details as I would love to be able to share, but I can say it is a like, landscape inspired book that will have around 20 patterns in it that kind of range from like desert to mountains to beach and like all sorts of fun stuff. And you get to really play around with like a bunch of different stitches and create texture. I use a lot of different fun fabrics in there and just really it's like a. Celebration of like 3D stitching and like, nature. And I loved making it so much. It was so much fun. And I like it's actually on my wall over here, like all the pieces I did for it. So it, like, I just, I want to be able to share them so much and I just have to wait.
Ashley [00:31:43] I know. And the publishing cycle is so long. I know about this. By the time we would release the magazine, we'd already be working like over a year ahead. And I know all the designers would be like, yes, after we all that time, which I know is really hard.
Melissa [00:31:59] Yeah. And it's like I think when you're so in it though too, you're just kind of like, okay, this is like your heads down. This is that I want to like share it because I'm like in it like up to my eyeballs and then like once you like send it off to the publisher and like, you know, you're kind of hanging out. You're like, okay, like I did that thing. Like it's, it's hanging out there now. But I think once, like, I actually get to see like the book laid out and it put together and things like that, it'll feel more real because right now it's just kind of like this really cool project that I got to work on that basically lives and hopes and hangs up on my wall. But I think once I like actually see it look like a book, then I'll be like, Oh yeah, I did do a book thing. It's like the whole process of writing a book is a lot because it was like, I want to say like six or seven months of me, like pitching and finding a publisher that actually wanted to say yes before I even got to the book portion. And then you're like, heads down in the book portion for like, I think it was like four or five months and then like you just kind of wait after that. So there's like all this work and then it's like, okay, just hang out.
Ashley [00:33:01] I'd love to hear a little bit more about that process for you, like the pitching coming up with an idea. Just walk me through that journey just a little bit, just to give people an idea.
Melissa [00:33:12] Yeah, I'd be happy to. I mean, I feel like the publishing world is like a mystical, magical place that a lot of people don't really know about. And breaking into it is actually really hard. You have to, like, find the right people. But I would say that like embroidery and craft books have been like, you know, popping up left and right. It feels like everybody on Instagram is like writing a book these days. And I was like, you know, and I had sort of you'll be like, Why don't you just write a book? And I was like, Oh, yeah, I'll just write a book. You know, like, you can just, like, do that. But it's like finding it took me a while to, like, actually figure out, like, what I wanted to write about, what, like I was really passionate about. And then it's really a lot of research, you know, like you have to figure out, like, is your niche like something that's already been written about, something that's already really been like explored? Or can you add to that like your voice to that? And when I was originally thinking about what I want to write a book, I had originally focused on like desert landscapes because like the desert, just my happy place I grew up in like the desert of Washington. So it's just, it was an extension of that. And then so like I kind of figured out my idea, did a lot of research on like what's in the embroidery field and different publishers and things like that. And so I had like this giant spreadsheet of like different publishers and the books they had. And like you basically send them like pitch letters that you're like, Hey, this is who I am. This is what I want to write about. Like, this is why you should want to publish my book and then you kind of give them some of the research you've done your like, this is why my book will stand out in this crowd. This is like what I want to talk about and you can give them some examples or show them some like comparable titles, but share like why yours would be different and all sorts of things. I mean, I didn't like send out pitches every week. It was like kind of a process where you kind of have to like for me fit it in between everything else. And that's why it took I want to say like seven months where you're kind of like slowly sending this out and like pretty much just trying to figure out who the editor or the publisher is at different places and like emailing them. And then you just kind of like wait and see like, Oh, is anybody going to buy it? Am I really going to hear back? And maybe like 80% of the time you hear nothing and you're like, okay, well, maybe they got it, maybe they didn't. And then like occasionally her back and you're like, Oh yeah, well, we'll pass this on to so-and-so. Or like, you know, this isn't quite the right fit for us at this time. And I had a couple conversations with publishers that were like, Oh yeah, we'll pass this on to like the pitch meeting. And then you just hear nothing. But thankfully, when I was on vacation in January, I had a publisher emailed me back and was like, Actually, this is really cool. Like, we do want to do this. And like I was like emailing her, I was hanging out by the pool and I was like, Yeah. So this is kind of like what I'm thinking. And she was like, we had kind of decided that like, deserts maybe was a little too niche, so we expanded it to like broader landscapes. And I was able to like show some of like my previous work that I'd done that actually tied into that nicely to say like, Hey, I actually can do this. Like, here's some proof that you can show to like the people who need to say yes to this book. And then from there it's kind of like a little bit of like negotiation and being like, hey, this is like, you know, like what I can do for the book or like, I would need to. Help with X, Y and Z. So I ended up taking all the photos for my book and like kind of deciding like what actually goes into it, like the layout and like the number of stitches you use and all the patterns and everything. But if you need like more guidance or like somebody to help with those kinds of things, then you can negotiate that in your contract basically, and like what you would get us like in advance versus like royalties and different things. And if you have like an agent or like a somebody, to look that over like that would be helpful. I did not go the agent route because I didn't want to like a figure out how to find an agent and be like basically give them a portion of my royalties because they would get that in perpetuity. So I kind of just like figured it out and went with it and like based it on like think, well, I have other friends who have like written books or like done stuff size at least be able to get like a little bit of a temperature check from them based on like what they were willing to share and go from there. And then once we basically said, yes, I was like, all right. And then like just hit the ground running. A lot of the, I would say like pieces from my book. So even while I was like pitching my book idea, like I was still working on the book, working on like patterns and different things because I was like, even if some I don't get it. Yes, I'll still have like all these really cool desert patterns that I could use for something else, you know? So it wouldn't be a loss. It would still be something that I could, like, use and share and like, I'm proud of these work, so I can, like, create them and enjoy that process. And then when we kind of pivoted that idea of what was in the book, then I was still able to use some of those designs and then obviously like figure out what else was going on and then finding that right balance of like, you know, is it too mountain heavy? Is it too desert heavy? Do I need to add some more like beaches or waterways? Do I need to have like, you know, some fun meadows in between or like, you know, not every piece can have like a moon or clouds in it, you know? So, like finding that like right balance there too, and like what inspires you and what you can, like, draw from? I had some really cool opportunities come my way, but I have not been one of those makers who was like, you know, found on Instagram and got a book deal. Like, that's very rare. I would like it might seem common on Instagram, but it is not the same with like a lot of other projects or things. You just have to put yourself out there and see like that's how I like got to be on some other podcast, got to like work on really cool collaborations just by saying like, Hey, I'm interested. Like if you want to do something, let me know. And like following up, you know, because sometimes people just don't know you're there. You kind of build it as you go and figure out what works. But also you have to know like what works for you. And sometimes some things your audience wants or like is really popular, might not be what's best for you and trying to figure that out. And you don't always have to hop on the latest trend or something like that. You just kind of stick to what resonates with you and your brand and how you can like add to and like stand out in a positive way. You know, you don't always have to be trendy. You can just you want people to like know the real, authentic you.
Ashley [00:39:33] I think everyone builds companies and businesses for different reasons, you know, but at the end of the day, what's going to give me longevity? Like in what I'm doing, the reason that I've been able to do making, you know, for seven years and will be able to do it for the next ten, 15 years. Is staying true to my authentic self and. I think we need to remind ourselves that. We don't have to be all the things for all the people. And there's this idea that's been heavily forced on us that. There have to be these unicorns, which they call it, and like in tech, like there have to be these like single monopolies almost that exist that usurp all the. All of the energy, all of the light, everything. And that's just not the way it is. It's like, not how we've existed for time immemorial. There can be many things and there's actually enough people, there's enough infrastructure, there's enough money out there to support all the things and all the ways. We don't need just one, you know, and we don't need this consolidation of power or money or influence. What we really need is. For people to have space to share and connect and. What you're doing is going to meet so many people where they're at and it's going to either be on one of the parts of their timeline of their creative journey, or it's going to be totally like the niche of embroidery that they want. And so I love that you came to that same conclusion because I think there is so much pressure today to be something else other than not just yourself, but more. And being just yourself is enough.
Melissa [00:41:24] It is, yeah. I feel like a lot of especially in the last couple of years within the making community, the phrase like community over competition has been really strong since I've been on like social media and started doing hand embroidery. I would say that there have been so many people that have also joined and started doing embroidery because they fell in love with it, found it approachable, wanted to like create kits and patterns. I mean, I could look at that and say like, Oh my gosh, they're taking up space that I could be in. And, like, I need to, like, you know, be better than them. Or I can just be like, oh my gosh, you are making amazing things like, this is so cool. And I want to like, you know, have a conversation with you about this and feel inspired and not feel like you are my competition. And I think that has been one of the things for me within like especially the past year has really helped me when I've been on social to be like, you know, this is fun. Like this is a fun place. And it's not like me constantly being like, these are all my competitors. These are like just other small business makers and people that are just passionate about what they do and like, you want to, like, uplift them.
Ashley [00:42:36] The biggest of thanks to everyone involved in this week's episode. I hope you'll join me each week as we talk and learn from more fascinating makers for podcast notes and transcriptions. Visit our blog at makingzine.com. Have a wonderful week.
Ashley: [00:00:05] Welcome to Making Conversation, a podcast where we celebrate making in all its forms from amazing stories of inspiring makers and people to behind the scene peeks of building a startup in the tech and craft industry.
Ashley: [00:00:19] We're in the middle of a series here on the podcast where we get to know everyone on the making team. If you haven't already caught up on some of these more recent episodes, I definitely recommend you do. Making is what it is because of a small and very special group of people, people that I feel incredibly lucky to work and experience life together with. Today I'm talking with someone I absolutely adore Jen Joyce, our head of marketing. It's likely you've seen or heard Jen as she is everywhere and does many things, including all of our TikTok and Instagram content. Jen has the biggest heart of anyone I know, and that comes through in our conversation many times in our team meetings, we all find ourselves in tears with Jen leading the charge. She is a cancer, after all. I feel incredibly grateful that she said yes when I asked her to join the making team. And I'm thrilled that you get to hear more of her story today. You can connect with Jen on the making app and Instagram @knitpurl. And with that, here's Jen.
Jen [00:01:19] My making journey started kind of unbeknownst to me. It is. It is in my blood. So my mother's mom did lots of different kind of needlework. And apparently it was you know, she always had a project going. There was always something happening sitting around the house that my mom would see. And unfortunately, she passed away when I was very young. So I never got to know her. But you know, her her work definitely was around in our house growing up, and I inherited some of the things that she made, including these really awesome coasters that she embroidered. And like, there's like glass over them and they have like wood written around the outside of them. And, you know, we very carefully use them as they're very delicate, but they're so, so beautiful. And I actually have one of her project bags. It's kind of it looks like a carpet bag with like the two, like, legs on either side. And I keep yarn arm in there and it's in my living room. And it just makes me think of her because I know she was such an amazing woman, even though I did not know her very well. And on the other side of that, my father passed away recently, and my mom and I were going through some photos from when I was young. And we saw these photos of me with my mom and dad when I was very small and we were all wearing yellow sweaters. And my mom stopped and was like, Oh my gosh, I totally forgot. You're known to knit those sweaters for us. And so it was kind of a forgotten thing that No-No was a knitter, but it's just kind of come down through generations and it's in my blood and my creativity kind of came through different ways as I was growing up. When I was in elementary school, I would host craft camp for the kids in the cul de sac and I would make shirts for everyone using puffy paint, and they would come over and we would do paper crafts and drawing and painting and kind of, you know, the things that the crafts that kids do. So we did that a few years in a row. And, you know, also, art, our music was very, you know, very much kind of art for me growing up. And I played the flute in elementary school and I was in choir from elementary school through the end of high school. We actually got to sing at Disneyland, which was kind of cool. And in high school, I was in musical theater, just theater in general, but I definitely did a lot more of the musical theater side of it and marching band as well. I played the trumpet and the tuba. Tuba was very short lived. That was a situation where I just wanted to be in marching band so badly that I like learned how to play trumpet within a month and joined marching band. I don't know. It was very ambitious, but very much me as a human. I think that that story kind of embodies me pretty well. My fiber arts journey kind of started happening when I was dating this guy and his mom was a knitter, and I asked her to teach me and she was wonderful human and we had so much fun knitting together, but that's where it all started. And it still amazes me, even to this day, years later, that as fiber artists, we can sit down with a stick, you know, sticks or a hook and fiber and create art and clothing and an array of different things. It's just such a beautiful act and it's kind of an honor to be able to know how to do that stuff. It's very cool.
Ashley: [00:05:35] Where else did your creative journey kind of show up?
Jen [00:05:40] You know, working at making and learning all of these new crafts? Because when I first started working at making, I only knew how to knit. And now I know how to like crochet, embroider, like glass art. All of these classes that I've taken, I've like had to purchase storage for all of the new craft supplies that I have, but. It like even taking their embroidery class that I did and practicing and. Revisiting, you know, like seeing those coasters. It's like whether you believe even in somebody's spirit still being around or not. I think that I definitely felt like my grandmother was with me in one way or another, learning some of these things that, you know, she knew how to do. And same with my Nona. It's just been learning that she was a knitter, especially after learning of my father's passing. It just made me feel closer to her and and my family. So it's it's a beautiful thing. At making we talk a lot about how what we do as makers is so healing. And I think that that was the message she was trying to remind me is you have this you have all of these things around you that are going to help you get through this hard time of your father's passing. And I'm here with you while you do them. So it's just it was very special. Yeah.
Ashley: [00:07:06] Almost like she sent you a little message in that way. She's like, it's going to be okay now. Like, she knows. She knows what you're going through right now. So you have this amazing background that not everyone knows about, but. And just knowing you and seeing what I've seen of your journey. Creativity is a part of everything that you do and have done in your career, too.
Jen [00:07:35] When I first graduated high school, I actually was going to I what? I went to college for six months. I thought I was going to be a high school theater teacher. But, you know, after revisiting some of this and therapy, I think I bought myself out trying to get scholarships and get into the right college, you know, do all the things that they tell you to do in high school. And I bought myself out and just couldn't like it. I just couldn't do school at that point. So I moved back home, just kind of started working random jobs and. Then the opportunity presented itself to move to Seattle. It was kind of out of nowhere. I had never been to Seattle before, but I kind of was just like done with Phenix, Arizona. And, you know, I loved my family, but I needed I felt like I needed to do something to take that next step. And maybe that was because I didn't finish college or wasn't going to college as everybody else. You know, society tells you, these are the steps that you need to take as a human in this capitalistic society. But I needed to do something, and I think that that was a big thing. So I told myself if it if if it was meant to be, it was going to be easy. And the fact that I sold my car, found a job, found an apartment online, you know, all of these different things. Within one month I was in Seattle. It was very much meant to be. And I think that this city and the people in it that have kind of I've met and have influenced me along the way. There is a reason that I that I moved here and I still say that it was maybe one of the best decisions I ever made in my life. I started working at a hotel downtown, and any time that there was anything that was links to creativity, I was asked to do it. So, you know, creating packages for the hotel, writing copy for the website, that type of thing. And finally, one day, the president of the company, Providence Hotels, Bashar, came to me and said, hey, so we want to try this social media thing. You're the creative one. How would you feel about testing it? And this is back when Instagram was not even a thing yet. I'm maybe showing my age a little bit, but that's okay. Instagram wasn't a thing, and it was like Facebook and Twitter, and that's kind of where my marketing journey started. You know, I never went, you know, didn't go to college for marketing anything. Everything that I have learned through, you know, is through doing, which I don't know. I don't have college debt, so maybe it's a better way of doing it. No way. But utilizing the creative side of my brain definitely kind of got me to where I am now. And from the hotels, I made lots of connections, including you and David. That's kind of where we first started for first met, started our friendship. And, you know, tweet ups were a thing back then where they were meet ups from that you would have people from Twitter come together and that is David attended, actually attended quite a few of the events that I threw, which was it was awesome. And then I started working for a little company called Uber. There was this amazing woman who is still my one of my mentors today. Michelle. Hi, Michelle Broderick. And she sent me an email one day and I was like, so there is a new company starting and we are looking for a community manager and it's called Uber and I would love for you to come join us. And so it kind of ended you know, I ended my career in hotels at that time and. Started my startup journey. It was wild. It was very wild. Everything that the community managers did was everything related to the writer side of marketing, especially in the beginning. So I was employee 31 of Uber and Seattle was the third city to launch. So I was definitely there like not from the beginning, but fairly close. And, you know, all of the creative, all of the creativity that I had went towards recruiting writers to try out, you know, this new thing where you pushed a button and a car showed up to take you somewhere. So that was pretty that was pretty incredible. I definitely learned a lot from from those first few years especially and for Michelle. Very thankful for her.
Ashley: [00:12:54] We have this new series that's going to come out where you and I sit down and we talk about startups and our experiences at Uber and all these other tech companies. I'm really excited to do that and I'm excited for everyone to hear about that. But when I hear you share about your journey, I think the thing that stands out to me the most is you just get in there like you learned through experience. There's not really much that holds you back in terms of thinking that you can or can't do something like. You just get in there because you've taught yourself everything. And I think there's a lot of people that are mentors to you, but. That is who you are. At the very core, I think a lot of our team is like that and that's kind of the beauty of us all coming together. Self-taught in many ways, but also learning through experience.
Jen [00:13:47] I think that going back to not being somebody who. I mean. Let's just, you know, let's just start let's kind of start with like how I feel like our generation is like the first generation. And I'm not saying it never happened before because it definitely did. You know, there's an entire feminist movement that had been going on before. You know, we were even the thoughts in our parents minds, but I think we were the first generation that really kind of looked at what society was telling us we needed to be as women, you know, or even humans that can have children and. Decided that it was okay to not go down that specific path that everybody else, you know, went down. And especially growing up in a religious household or even in the church, I would say, you know, my my family is still all religious. And, you know, we have a great relationship. So we respect each other. I'm not religious anymore, but especially growing up in in the Christian church, it is you get married and have babies and you know, in the middle of that, you maybe go to college or you, you know, you kind of choose your own path. And I. I'm not married. My babies are my dogs. I did not go to college. You know, I moved away from my hometown. All of these things that, you know, if people didn't do, you know, if people went to college and they had babies and they got married and they stayed in their hometown, that's great. You know, that's what they want to do. That's great for them. There's nothing wrong with that at all. But I felt like I needed to do things different. And I think that kind of stepping outside of how society. DE has been directing us kind of played a little bit of a role in me. Just knowing that I kind of had to just do, you know, I just had to do because I was making my own story and I wasn't going to allow anybody else to. Write that for me. And whether that was, you know, within work or within just my own day to day life, I think that that kind of played a role in me just being like, okay, we're just going to do this and we're going to try it and we're going to test it and we're going to, you know, and again, that was a lot of what I learned in in doing what I did, as, you know, in marketing. Like like I said when I first started out, it was. Here. Let's try this social media thing. I didn't even have a Facebook at that point because I was like, I just have MySpace, you know? Very proud of that. And so it was like, okay, now I have to make a Facebook account my own because I need to figure this out and I need to know what I'm doing. And then it was just like testing and doing. And if something didn't work, that was okay. Because it was. It was just something that you didn't have to give your energy to and pay attention to. And that kind of, you know, just kind of followed me through my career and through my life.
Ashley: [00:17:17] Our experience in tech was very different and very similar, but very different than, I think what people are starting to experience today, or at least what is beginning to come out as like a bar of how women non-binary are treated and and put in places of leadership. Then stepping into emerging technology, there's this, I guess, feeling like we have something to prove. Somehow there is this idea in our heads that the people around us, predominantly men, somehow somehow had more experience or like knew more because they've been the pillars in business for so long. Or upheld as that. Oh, who are we? We don't. We have so much more to prove because we don't have a college degree or, you know, we don't have this other experience. And that's been a real mind shift for me over the last I mean, it's been really happening since the beginning of my own tech career, but. I feel that when I hear you talk about how that is that is part of it, how we kind of get down and figure things out.
Jen [00:18:35] The reason that I started working for Uber is one like I think, you know, I felt it was like time for me to do the next thing. At that point, I had been managing the social media for all of the hotels in that company, and there was really no other place for me to go. And not that I was like trying to climb to the top or anything like that, but it was like, okay, I've learned what I what I have learned here, and I'm not sure that there is a next stop for me, especially with what I was really wanting to do, which is fine. And I still, you know, I love the people who I worked with in that company and so grateful for for everything that I learned there. But I think that I needed something new. And the fact that this was all very new to me, I mean, I wasn't going into Uber being like, I'm going in to work for a startup and I'm going in because of shares. And like all of these things that I saw people joining the company, you know, starting with a very, very tiny team, you know, not just in Seattle, but like Uber overall and seeing all of these people join that just wanted to be there because it was the next big thing. And I was just wanting to be there because a I did like some of my coworkers, most of them at that point, and we just had a lot of fun. But it was a challenge, you know, I mean, especially here in Seattle, where people were not like town cars were not a thing like in New York. Their whole marketing strategy was focused on luxury and, you know, not having to carry cash or like have a car service and but, you know, town cars and black cars in New York, that's like a normal everyday thing where Seattle, it's like, what? Like, I don't want to show it. Like we had like CEOs of companies here that told us that they did, that the only reason they didn't use Uber was because they didn't want to show up in a black town car, like roll up anywhere. And I was like, Why? I love showing up to Linda's, you know, to hang out with my friends and a black guy that is so cool. But we had to change our marketing strategy to focus on the tech. I mean, it was just it was the challenge of all of that. And and, you know, learning from also learning from these people, just mostly men, but learning from the other community managers around the country, different marketing techniques and things that I, you know, I had focused a lot on social media and some of these other people hadn't. And so it was kind of a group effort in a way, and it was very cool to put all of our skills together and grow together in that way. And I was very lucky because most of the people, you know, who I worked with on the marketing side in the beginning of Uber were just like very caring and kind people. And I'm still friends with a lot of them to this day.
Ashley: [00:21:31] So where did you go from there? What happened next?
Jen [00:21:35] You know, it's funny. Most of the people who left Uber, especially around the time that I did that, had worked there. As long as I did, it was just a little around five and a half years. They all took like a year off. And I was like, I just wasn't ready for that. And financially I also couldn't do it. So we're kind of tied to having to go back to work. But I worked for a fintech company called Simple Again, Michel. I got an email from her one day and she was like, What are you doing? I'm on down. And so I worked for Simple for about a year. And then it kind of got to a point again with that, with simple that it was like I knew that there wasn't going to be any more learning that was happening. Like, you know, it was, it was just a point where I just needed to, like, jump into something else that I hadn't done before. I had done all of the things that I was doing at that company before. And, you know, it's like I needed a little bit more. I needed more of a challenge. And to be honest. Agency life always like kind of scared me a little bit, and especially because I never wanted to go back to working 60 to 80 hours a week. And that was kind of like a thing that I had heard about agency life and also the fact that, like, you don't really get to pick your clients and like what you do because that was always something that fueled me. Like I loved the brand of the hotels, which are actually all art inspired. Every hotel. Every hotel was art inspired, which I just realized is another connection to making. And then Uber, it was like this brand new thing, super, super big challenge. You know, it's with agencies you can't pick like your client, you can't pick what you're doing. You're kind of just like, this is the problem and you have to solve it. But then I realized that could actually be really interesting. And so there is an agency here in Seattle and now it's worldwide. But at the time it was seattle, agency called Wong Doody. Mr. Wong and Mr. Doody came together and made an agency and I had a few friends who had worked there for years and they loved it. They loved it. And the people who worked there and I mean some of the people who had worked there had been there for like 20 years. So I knew I was kind of stepping into. Another space where people felt appreciated and loved what they did because. Know what I mean? It's very rare that somebody would stick around in a place for that long, for years and years and years if they didn't feel those things. So I bugged my friends who worked there and got an interview and started working there. And it's funny because I automatically started working for local credit union. So it was another, you know, banking linked thing. And, you know, worked at one day for three years and got their social media back up and running and made my dog Marcello, a star in many commercials. And one of the things that I really loved to about that is Tracy Wong, who was based in the Seattle office, would be different clients, even though even if they weren't clients that I was directly working with, we would all come together and do these big brainstorming sessions and he would present the problem that the client had. And we would all go in and just like throw out all of these ideas and get together and just like, I don't know, I do that same thing in our marketing meetings a lot at making good stuff falls out of those. So that was one of the things that another thing that I really enjoyed about that place is just the creativity ran through everything. It was very much appreciated.
Ashley: [00:25:31] We believe that the simple act of making can transform your life and in turn change our world. This is why making exists. It all starts with inspiration. We are inspired by people, by places, by experiences. A beautiful photo, a soft wall, a kind heart. These are the things that motivate us to make. Making us here to disrupt systems. Systems of oppression. Systems that only benefit certain groups of people. And systems that extract. We are here to challenge the narrative of profit over people. We believe a company can be found in for the purpose of good and change the world for better, while also creating opportunity at scale. Makers are tired of the monolith. The few companies that comprise our only choices of how we can act, how we transact, and how we learn. Makers are ready for a better alternative, and that is what we are building. Becoming a break collective member helps us accomplish this. Visit makingzine.com To learn more.
Jen [00:26:41] Because of, you know, the pandemic and everything that had been brought to part time. I want duty. I started my own consulting business and it was all fine and dandy. And then one day I see an email from you in my inbox and basically like asking for help with social media for making magazine. And I'm going to be fully on it, fully honest with you. I had never heard of making magazine and I don't know why. Like, it was just not on my radar at that point. I wasn't like I was following some, you know, I mean, I was following like people in the knitting community, but I don't know why it never crossed my path. It's like there was zero reason why it shouldn't have, you know what I mean? And so I like, looked into it. I was like, Oh my gosh, how have I never heard of this? This photography is beautiful. Like, the magazine seems really cool. And I knew, you know, I kind of knew you and David from before and I was super stoked. And so we started chatting. I put together a social strategy for making zine Instagram account first, and then you were like, So we're also doing this other thing. And I, you know, let's talk about this, too. And so you told me all about the app, and I was just like, Oh, my gosh, this makes so much sense. Like so many people that I know are starting to get, like, so tired of Instagram and like all of the different changes that it was having. And not that we're trying to be Instagram making, but like there was so much room for a new place for makers to be together and share and just, you know, pull creativity from each other. And so I got really excited about all of that that you, you know, that you had told me. And so we talked about how the go to market strategy was to start a TikTok account. And I was like, I don't even have my own. So again, going back to me, just jumping in with two feet, I started my own TikTok account just because that's like the best way with social media. I mean, the best way to learn is to do. And I felt like I needed to get comfortable on TikTok with my own account before I could even start doing anything for making. So I started my own account and we continued talking. You were just like, I feel like this is meant to be. And I felt the same way. And it was just two things that I love marketing and crafting and knitting coming together in one. And, you know, you were just like we I want you to be our head of marketing. It felt so meant to be the timing. The. The process of how we got from, you know, me consulting to actually, you know, working for making it just everything felt like it was happening at the right time in the right place.
Ashley: [00:30:00] And it's funny because I remember feeling like taking on the app and having the magazine and everything. It was just a lot. It was like so much. And I am a firm believer in finding people who are a really good culture fit and whose heart is in what they do and believe in what we're doing. I think it's so important. Making is more than just a job for all of us. We kind of need that. That crew on our spaceship. I was saying this to Jerry last night. Every single person on our team right now is like the Ride or Die crew. This is like the core group that spring this to fruition. David said to me one day, I said, I need help. I need someone who gets this space. It has to be someone who can understand what it is that we're trying to do, which is not just sell people. Things like this is really about someone who has a heart, like who believes in what they're doing and applies whatever their skills are to this space and can be an extension of what already exists at making. This is a common thing that David does. You know who you should reach out to. And then I'm usually like, What? I haven't talked to them in ten years. You need to reach out to Jenn. And who? Jenn Joyce. I'm like. Like, maybe talk to her on Twitter, like, 12 years ago. And he was like, I think she would like what you're doing. Like, how does he even know? Like, didn't even talk to you, you know? And so that's what started it. He knew everything. She started an agency with her partner and he, like, just knows these things. It's like who he is and. I sent the email. I was like, She's not going to reply. Like, I don't know why I'm sending this.
Jen [00:32:04] Oh.
Ashley: [00:32:05] And you did. And we hopped on and I remember feeling in that very first phone call, like I remember vividly, I was like, Oh my God, Jen needs to be on our team, but it's going to have to come from her first. And I think after two or three months or something like that, we were on the phone and I remember, I think we were almost like both thinking the same thing but like didn't, didn't want to be the first one to say it. I love, you know, I love, you know.
Jen [00:32:31] Yeah, exactly. It was like we were like two, like, teenagers on a date and it was like we both wanted the same thing but didn't know how to say it. And yeah, that was very much how I remember the moment exactly. I was sitting on my bed and I had just presented you my tech talk strategy. But because I remember before that I had told Lars I was like, I she wants to ask me something and I think she wants me to work for making. And I really hope that that's what it is. And I don't even know what she's like, what the position would be or anything. But I'm hoping that it's, you know, that she wants me to work at making and then you're you were just, you know, I was sitting here and you were just like, will you be our head of marketing? And I was like, I do.
Ashley: [00:33:21] And it's not unlike me to just say what I think. In the very beginning, I always make my intentions known, which is hilarious, actually. It's got me into a lot of trouble too, but I've known with every person on our team that they were meant to be a part of making. We're at this like very interesting part of a startup that not a lot of people get to be a part of. Like it is the very, very, very beginning when you hear startup stories on podcasts or blogs or, you know, years later after they've become much larger, whatever. These are not the beginning parts that you hear of often. What I mean by the early, early days is it's taking an idea out of someone's brain, this vision or whatever it is, and trying to create a reality out of it. And one of the thing that I have to remind myself constantly is like, everyone is not me. Everyone cannot think or do or be me. And it's not like they need to be. But I needed someone who understood as close to possible what we were trying to do as someone who understands vision. And you got it like you got it so quick. And I think that's the thing that excited me the most was not only that you got it, but you were so excited about it. And that gets me excited because and we were working really hard, but we're having a lot of fun. We all come with a lot of baggage too. I mean, I won't say all you and I, you and I come with a lot of baggage from our past experience and tech and making is trying to rewrite that story of what it means to be a tech company, what it means to be a women non-binary, diversely led team and. A lot of that is a personal journey. We talk about all the time that making is as much a personal journey as it is our job. It's like making this playing this role. So I have a few questions for you. How has making influenced your personal journey?
Jen [00:35:35] Oh, boy, we only have 15 minutes because I have therapy. Gosh, where do I start? There are so many things flying around in my head. First of all, I think one of the things that really has come out of all of my different career paths is that I love creating community and I'm pretty good at it. Like being able to say that I'm good at something is not easy. That is also something that, you know, I've definitely become more well versed at over the last few years of therapy. But that is is one of my favorite things. And, you know, I think that. Rewriting how we are creating community not only within a space of craft space, but also within a tech space where we're not just focused on a certain person, you know, we're we are focused on building this beautifully diverse community of people and art. It's just different. It's different than anything, you know, that I have done. And it's beautiful. But also rewriting all of the things that were taught to me while working for a new start up that kind of didn't have guardrails or bumpers, not having to work 50 or 60 to 80 hours a week. That is we have work life balance, that making. It's beautiful. The guilt, though, that sometimes I feel when I close my computer at five, you're nodding your head right now. I just want everyone to know we got this and it still comes through. Is it less and less the more that I work at making? Yes. But is it still there? Of course, because I mean, with Uber, I would bring my computer to brunch. My friends hated it, but that was how much we were working, you know? And I think that tearing that down within something that's been so ingrained in you connected to startups is difficult. But it's happening. And it's it's again, it's so beautiful that we are we are changing what a startup looks like, acts like and feels like. And it's so important that we are doing this because everything is going to be changing within the next few years. I mean, you kind of already feel it, right? Like everybody is like opening their eyes to the fact that we are all controlled by capitalism and we are totally allowed to love what we do. And it can be our you know, our job at making is so much to each and every one of us, but that doesn't mean that it has to be our entire life and it can have connections and, you know, and things to our life. But it doesn't have to be a morning to sleep, time to even waking up in the middle of the night, which I still sometimes do with ideas. And that's amazing that we are changing that. You know, you and I talk a lot about how we have a lot of things to rewrite with our story of working in tech, and we have started rewriting a lot of that. I'm so thankful that we kind of we have this together because I think that the people who we work with are absolutely amazing. But none of them have worked in the areas that we have and they all have. You know, they I'm sure, you know, everybody has their different things and everybody has things that, you know, trauma through work and and and life and all of that that they bring. But it's it's a it's just a different beast. When you've worked in tech as a woman, especially small startups that get big. And the fact that we're we're rewriting that all and that we have each other to like lean on during that. It's a beautiful thing. I've said it's a beautiful thing a lot during this hour. So, you know.
Ashley: [00:39:52] It's hard not to dig deeper into that now, but that everything you just said is exactly what we're going to be extrapolating on in our kind of special edition podcast episodes is rewriting that and what that means, setting a little bit of the stage of what has existed for those that don't know in tech and not just tech like any company environment really, I guess, but from our perspective within tech and as women and how we're attempting to do it very differently and kind of all the different layers of that, I think it's really important. But I will say it, it is the hardest thing I've ever done. It's getting up there with as hard as being a parent. I mean, it's just different. It is different. And I guess being a mom of three now and ten years under my belt as a mom, I feel like, okay, I got this a little bit figured out just a little bit and but trying to do things differently in kind of these very big standardized ways of how startups are run or how they raise money, the people they hire, the culture they create, the product that they create, how they work with their users or customers. All these are how they market. Like all these different things, it's hard to be one of the first because there isn't a lot of. Examples. And honestly, there's not a lot of support for doing things differently. So to close this out. When you think about the future of making. What excites you the most?
Jen [00:41:36] I think the thing that excites me the most about making the app and the marketplace and what we're building is that I mean, it's kind of goes along with what we just talked about. We're doing things different. We're breaking out of the mold of what social media and marketplaces have been since, you know, all of these things started. I mean, if you look at the people who have been running these these companies and why they're doing it, it doesn't have anything to do with the people that are using the product. We have an opportunity to uplift and create something that is for our audience and with good intentions and with heart and with love. And I'm not saying that as a company we don't care about making money because, well, that's bullshit. Of course we do. We have to, like, pay the people and build the product, and we have to be able to put food in our mouths and all of that stuff. But when you set your intentions from the very first moment that you start building something differently than what every other company has, you know, within social media, within marketplaces that you see now, you're bound to change something for the better and in a very big way. And I it's it's hard to see that because it's I mean, I don't know, has it ever been done where the intention is set at the very, you know, get go that this is what we want to do and we want to build a beautifully diverse, you know, community of makers and then this social app that, you know, and give all of this, you know, give opportunity to all of these people through a marketplace and then more, I'm sure, as you know, I mean, our app is going to build and grow and we're going to learn new things. It's never been done. And that's that's the most exciting thing to me.
Ashley: [00:43:54] We're talking about creating something. This way at scale. Like big.
Jen [00:44:00] Yeah. Big. Big.
Ashley: [00:44:02] If there was a message or an intention you want to leave people with. What would that.
Jen [00:44:06] Be? This one's hard. There's so many different things. Never forget that making can be healing. What we do when you know, whether it's every day or when we have time is so beautiful. And, you know, crocheting, knitting, class, art, dyeing, yarn, you know, all of all of it is just it is so beautiful and good for our souls. I feel like every time that I have an off day or my anxiety is just through the roof or I miss my family or I'm sad about my dad or, you know, just something didn't go right. I can sit down and pick up my knitting or another craft that I'm working on. And it just brings me the sense of peace, whether you're listening to this and you have, you know, no idea how to knit or crochet, and you just kind of stumbled upon this podcast. I highly recommend learning, learning something. And anything that is art is healing. And just don't forget that.
Ashley: [00:45:25] The biggest of thanks to everyone involved in this week's episode. I hope you'll join me each week as we talk and learn from more fascinating makers for podcast notes and transcriptions. Visit our blog at makingzine.com Have a wonderful week!