Welcome back to Tuesday Tales, Pepperberry & Co.’s new blog segment in which we meet and chat with gorgeous artists from across the globe.
On this first day of Spring, we meet with the appropriately vivacious Jay from Finki. Just like the new season, Jay is a bright, happy and sunny artist residing in the crafty city of Melbourne, Australia.
“I was born with a Lincraft club card in one hand, and a sewing needle in the other,” she laughs, and “so I was destined to be creatively driven, somehow.” The ‘how’ became apparent in July of last year, when Jay took a leap of faith and opened her Etsy store. “I had always crafted away at some project or another, but never had the confidence to believe in myself or my work.”
This is a common story for crafters at the beginning of their business journey, so how did Jay overcome this challenge? “Whilst on maternity leave with bub number two,” she explains, “I secretly worked away on a range of notepads, pen holders and journals.”
Secretly? I ask. “I say secretly,” she smiles, “because if I asked people opinions of my work, they would love it or hate it and all it took was one ‘hate it’ response for me to throw it in,” she sighs. “I most definitely cared too much about what people thought.”
Jay explains the tactics she used to keep her confidence, “I listened only to myself. I blocked my ears, so I wasn’t led or misled by outside influence, and I just worked away on a range of products to fill my little shop.” Having been a shopper on Etsy for more than two years, Jay felt comfortable making a foray into her much-loved environment. “It was also a bonus that I was somewhat anonymous!” she grins.
Jay’s work is highly eclectic, and she feels she is still finding my niche. “I guess that’s what happens when you hold off for so long,” she explains. “You’re like a kid in a candy store, and you want to do it all at once. I make notepads, journals, hand stitched penholders, bowls and baskets, all of which are reminiscent of the card craft of the 1950s where Nan would stitch up all her old Christmas cards into a bowl.”
Her talents don’t end there, however: “I also make glass pendants and rings, vintage fabric covered bobby pins and rings, and new to the range are my vintage tea towel covered stools. What a mouthful!” Jay laughs. Although her product range is so diverse, there are key elements that tie each Finki piece together: colour and a vintage feel. As Jay succinctly puts it, “If it’s a little bit retro and has a whole lot of colour, it’s got to be a Finki design!”
Where did such an incredible range of skills and the retro inspiration come from? “Mum taught me everything I know,” Jay says, and although she admits she’s spent time doing a Visual Arts Course and an Advanced Diploma in Engineering Technology (Jewelry), “the lessons from mum are what started it all!”
As with every crafty business owner, Jay faces daily challenges, “The biggest challenge in running a business is just keeping my head in the real world.” She smiles. “I’d love to have 8 hours a day where I can exclusively run Finki, but I have two kids, a part time job, and a house to maintain.”
How does she manage? “Well, quite often the house looks like a bomb hit it, the kids think I have become one with the study office chair, and my cats can’t remember the last time my lap was free for a pat and cuddle,” she laments, “but life is a juggling act. I have had to become the master of righting lists, prioritising and re prioritising, just so I can fit everything in.”
A smile crosses her face, “Truthfully,” she says, “if life wasn’t so busy in our little house, it just wouldn’t be us. We have always been the sort to be doing 10 things at once!”
Jay’s passion and time doesn’t only extend to the things she can create with her hands, however- her family, great Australian food, and helping other crafters also make that list. “I’m most passionate about doing something more than just selling craft, because it took me 33 years to build up the confidence to represent myself as a crafter.”
Born from the idea of helping other crafty individuals gain this same confidence was the Northside Makers’ Collective, a not-for-profit organisation Jay has founded with two other independent designers, Margaret from Konstant Kaos and Jennie from Cravings Frocks. “Even if we just create an environment where people can meet with like-minded souls and learn from each other, then I’ll be happy, but ideally we want to help them get their work out there into the community.”
As a mother, Jay hopes that this message will also be instilled in her children, “I love seeing my children grow into confident, creative and loving individuals. I want them to have the confidence that I didn’t have, to follow their dreams, wherever it may take them.”
With such extensive experience and knowledge, it’s not surprising that Jay has some wisdom to share with crafters just beginning their business journey: “Listen to your heart,” she states simply, “and follow not fad or fashion. Find yourself in your craft, and don’t keep it to yourself- share it with the world!”
She acknowledges that “not everyone is going to love what you do, but like-minded souls will cross your path and be inspired by what you bring.” A smile crosses her face as she says, “Open the doors for opportunity to come knocking, as it won’t find you hidden away on the couch!”
Our interview has come to an end, which is a surprise to the chatterbox that is Jay: “Oh my god, is this the end?” she exclaims. “I was just getting started!” she laughs. To hear more of Jay’s journey, track her down at her website, blog or Etsy store, or find her at some of Melbourne’s greatest markets: the Sisters’ Market in Brunswick, the Northside Makers’ Market in Northcote and the Made ‘N Thornbury Market in Thornbury.
In the spirit of sharing handmade goodness with the world, Jay has kindly donated an exclusive Finki item as a giveaway for Pepperberry & Co. readers.
The lucky winner will receive a gorgeous, hand-stitched, vintage-inspired set of four Finki Pocket Notepads in the theme of their choice: Phantom, Vintage Sci-Fi, Geisha, or Retro Cats!
To enter, simply become a Follower of the Pepperberry & Co. blog (or tell me if you already are!) and leave a comment letting me know which Finki PocketPad Set you would like to win and why.
For bonus entries, blog, tweet or facebook about this giveaway and leave a comment with the link!
I hope you enjoyed the latest installment in my Tuesday Tales! I look forward to coming up with another creative way of choosing this week’s giveaway winner...