“Don’t be afraid to ask questions of others who are farther along than you are. People in general are surprisingly nice!” says Jessica Jones, when asked what advice she would give to others starting their own business. Jessica is a graphic designer and her fabrics and designs are hot items. She designs and lives in Evanston Ill., and loves it because there are lots of big trees and a really big lake nearby. She and her engineer husband don’t have pets, but she jokes, “[We] just have a bunch of dust bunnies that keep multiplying. They don’t have names.”
Jessica loves thunderstorms, coffee, mystery novels, Ikea, and peeling off sunburn. (Ed. She can’t be the only, right?) Her home is filled with lots of books, inspiring graphic design samples, simple furniture, green plants and because she hates being cold, a fuzzy blanket. Visit her blog How About Orange… and her Etsy store, by the same name.
What came first – the blog or the fabrics?
The blog, by about a year.
Did you sew before you made fabric designs?
Yes, barely. I got a sewing machine the year before I started designing fabric, so I was already an expert at ripping out crooked seams.
How long have you been designing?
Ten years doing graphic design (you know, corporate identity work, brochures, ads, etc.) Two years of fabric design.
How did you get into the fabric designing business?
Caroline Devoy of JCaroline Creative stumbled upon my blog, liked my work, and asked if I’d design some prints for her. I treated it just like any other graphic design project, sending a first round with several concepts, which we refined and developed into the first collection.
Can you tell us a little of your process?
If I have an idea for a pattern or interesting shape, I might spend a nanosecond sketching it on whatever piece of scratch paper is handy. Or I might not sketch it at all. I might just start making it in Illustrator. Sometimes I doodle on computer paper, or notebook pages, or junk mail. Then I put it next to my computer until it’s time to make it in Illustrator. Sometimes I find it days later and wonder what I was smoking when I made it. Once in a blue moon I try to draw something nicely, scan it, and digitize it, but usually my sketching is like shorthand chicken scratching, just so I remember an idea. Then I experiment with putting it in a repeating pattern about a billion different ways until it works, and fits within a printer’s standard screen size.
How long does it take from concept to product?
So far, in my very limited experience, it’s been 4-6 months.
Do you have a dedicated work area/room?
I have a small home office where my desk and computer live. That’s where the design happens. My dining room table is where the sewing and crafty messes happen. (Until I have to clear it off for supper.)
Is this your full-time job? Hobby? Fun?
Fabric design is definitely fun. At this point it’s a hobby; the bulk of my design work is graphic design for businesses. But I’d like to do more surface or textile design work in the future.
Where do you get your ideas for new designs and things to sell in your store?
Usually in the shower or while staring into space. I do save clippings or bookmark things I like, to keep for future inspiration.
Do you have a best selling fabric? Item in your store?
I don’t know which is the best-selling fabric, since I don’t sell it by the yard myself. But the best selling item in my shop is the green Sprig mousepad.
What is your favorite?
I have a soft spot for my orange Boardwalk fabric.
Do you do other kinds of crafts?
I’m a dabbler. I dabble in origami, glass etching, decoupage, paper weaving, painting on ceramics, appliqué, you name it.
When not creating beautiful designs, what are you doing?
Inviting people over for dinner, going for walks, reading blogs, watching movies, pondering spirituality, baking desserts, answering email
What do you see yourself doing in 5 years?
Some graphic design, some surface design licensed for textiles and other products.
Have any advice for people trying to start their own handcrafted business?
Don’t be afraid to ask questions of others who are farther along than you are. People in general are surprisingly nice.