Tell us a bit about yourself.
My first name is Jenny, my middle name is Rose, and my last name is actually kind of hard to pronounce. I was born and raised in Queens, New York, until my parents decided to move to Sarasota when I was eight. Since then, I’ve spent as much time visiting New York as possible, and I dream of moving back there some day. I’m 18 years old and I just finished my first semester of college. I have two loving parents, a stupendiferous older brother (his words) who’s actually on his way to being an astrophysicist, and a tremendously supportive extended family.
I compose the workforce behind Remember A Day, a little knits shop I started a year ago as a hopeful experiment.
I’m happy when I’m knitting, I treasure creativity and I’m fascinated by fashion-related business. Having an Etsy shop allows me to pursue all of these interests and it continues to be an unbelievable learning experience for me. Doing this on my own is my greatest achievement and most difficult challenge.
Apart from creating things, what do you do?
Knitting and schoolwork keep me pretty busy, but I like to get coffee with friends, go to movies at the on-campus theater, attend concerts and shows, check out museums, read, write letters, decorate, draw, take pictures, listen to music, eat Matzoh ball soup and potato latkes, scavenge thrift stores and tag sales, ogle beautiful wools at knitting stores, compose outfits, try new restaurants, play Scrabble, tackle crossword puzzles, and sing the tunes of such Broadway classics as Little Shop of Horrors and Hair from inside my shower (to a compelled audience of shampoo and conditioner).
I enjoy spending time with my family when I can. Given that this is my first year away from home, it’s a treat to come back for weekends and holidays and catch up with old friends and home cooking. My brother and I are only a year-and-a-half apart in age and we’re really close. We go to different schools, and I miss him a lot of the time, so when we both visit home, it’s important for us to make time for each other. That usually means a lot of laughs and 4 a.m. kitchen conversations.
What would be the title of your memoir? Why?
Sticks and Stones May Break My Bones, But Sticks and Strings Make My Living. I’m definitely too young and inexperienced to write a memoir, but if I had to write about a portion of my life so far, it would be my experience with Etsy. I’m proud that I’ve built a business around the movement of sticks and strings in my hands. I’d write to let my peers and other kids know that there are countless, exciting ways to supplement their allowances and that creativity and entrepreneurship, when combined with a strong ethic and the opportunities you make for yourself, can lead to a sense of pride and accomplishment in your work.
Where does your inspiration come from?
Ever since I was little, I’ve always put great care and attention into decorating my room. At my home, the emerald walls of my bedroom are covered by a collage of images and objects that inspire me and keep my eyes awake. Dreamcatchers, tapestries, film posters, and prints by Salvador Dalí, Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele, Vincent Van Gogh, and Monet are just a few of the things on my walls. Sketches I’ve done, paintings salvaged from yard sales, a poster of a skeleton likely excerpted from an anatomy textbook and a map of the world highlighting each country I’ve shipped to add even more color. I get a lot of creative inspiration from looking around my room.
It was a challenge to transition from my inspiring bedroom to half of a tiny, shared dorm room, but I really did my best to make it feel like home. My dorm room is my main workspace now. There’s yarn poking out of every crevice and the white walls are similarly decorated to look like a mini version of my room at home.
A more seasonal and specific inspiration comes from cold weather. Most people don’t imagine Florida being cold. But when it’s October and you have to walk a mile to an 8 a.m. class in Tallahassee’s 40-degree weather, you suddenly find yourself a believer! Or in my case, your freezing mind instantly reaches for its imaginary knitting needles and designs the optimal scarf for warmth and coziness.
What does handmade mean to you?
To me, handmade is all about care. When someone crafts, they put a bit of themselves into their work. Handmade doesn’t come from a place of icy factories and anonymous workers, but from a place of warmth and attention. I try to make sure my customers feel taken care of. I’m so grateful to be received by a community that supports handmade.
Who has been most influential in your craft?
It’s a tough question, but I’d have to say my dad is most influential. He’s always encouraged me to think outside of the box, to value my work and have faith in it. When I was seven, he predicted that I’d be a buyer when I grew up. Honestly, I was pretty sure he’d made up the job! Then, sure enough, “buyer” reappeared in my life when I saw it on a list of the potential career paths for my major!
When did you know you were an artist/maker?
I never came to a conclusion that I was an artist, because I never had a definition for one. I’ve always cycled through different artistic pursuits. From photography and making dreamcatchers, to macrame bracelets and guitar, I’ve tried on so many hobbies.
But I’ve always loved making things by hand. At some point in my early childhood, probably after the Spice Girls broke up and I realized I had no hopes of joining their group, I decided I’d be a fashion designer. When I was 8 years old, I cut the legs off a pair of old jeans and sewed up a seam, arranged the belt like a handle and suddenly I had a purse. I used an electronic label maker to create and sew in the words, “Jenny Designs.” Though it never quite materialized, the plan was to sell a whole line of denim, upcycled purses online for as impressive a price as five, maybe even seven dollars!
Almost 10 years later, I’m pretty much doing the same thing. I still have that first purse with that bold label on the inside, my first stepping stone towards establishing myself as a handmade seller.
I taught myself to knit shortly after my sewing phase. I didn’t have needles the day I wanted to learn, and my mom said she’d take me to buy some “tomorrow,” which in kid terms, if you can remember, translates to several months. Thus, my first knitting needles were sharpened number two pencils, born from impatience.
How would you describe your creative process?
Lately, there’s not really much of a master plan to my creativity. I start with notions and see what comes out. I knit with no prearranged strategy, and usually realize halfway through just how far off I am from my original idea. Most of the time I’m happy with what I end up with, even when it’s not what I’d had in mind. My most popular scarf, for example, was a happy accident, the result of an effort to knit a shawl during one sleepless marathon of The Twilight Zone.
If you could peek inside the studio of any artist, designer or craftsman (dead or alive), who would it be?
The first person to come to mind was Gustav Klimt. All his paintings are masterpieces to me. He’s my favorite artist, and I have prints of his works all over my room. To see his works in person would be enough for me.
What handmade possession do you most cherish?
Since I could write, I’ve had pen pals, and I expect that I always will. It’s possible that I’ve spent half my life in a state of owing someone a letter. I’ve kept as many of the handwritten letters I’ve received as possible over the years. I keep them in a shoebox in my closet, and I cherish and treasure them as personal forms of communication that took time, effort and love.
Where would you like to be in ten years?
Since we’re talking about the future, I might as well dream big. In my wildest fantasies of grandeur, in ten years, I’m kissing my sweetheart goodbye as I exit my studio apartment in New York City to catch a plane to some European fashion capital to meet with designers to discuss their spring collections on a fabulous, all-expense paid business trip. On the 9-hour plane ride, I’m knitting for pleasure. Once there, I send Mom a postcard.
If that fails, I think I could have a promising career as a professional thumb wrestler. Most people don’t think of knitting as exercise, but I have the strongest fingers one could ever unnecessarily need!