Tell us about yourself.
I’m Jen of Zwzzy, and I live in Northern California with my fluffy kitty and boyfriend. Ducks, burritos and carousels rock my world. If you’re wondering how the heck to say my shop name, it’s zzzwwIZee.
Apart from collecting and curating, what do you do?
I screen print. I have a second shop with mostly animal designs that either myself or my friends have drawn. I also like to take random sports lessons. I’ve recently finished archery, and now I’m onto badminton. Other than that, I like to snuggle with my cat, eat Italian, go to Disneyland, tap dance around the house, and watch sci-fi movies. I also volunteer/DJ at a non-commercial radio station and work at a local record store. I guess you could say I like to keep busy.
What would be the title of your memoir? Why?
The Cat Whisperer. I don’t know what it is, but the felines love me! I can convince any cat that I’m secretly their best friend.
Do you have any personal collections? How did they start?
I’ve noticed that I’ve started collecting vintage cat brooches. My favorite is one that’s basically the cat’s butt with his head peeking around. It’s so cute! I also have a bad habit of buying tacky art from estate sales. I have a giant 5′ puffy goose linen thing, and a hideous ’70s framed yarn lion head that’s about 4 feet tall.
What decade or style inspires you?
I definitely have a weakness for the ’70s. I’m a huge roller skating fan, and I’m not ashamed to admit I blast the disco during photo shoots! There’s something about the ugly orange, brown and yellow color combination that makes my heart flutter. The huge sun glasses, flipped hair, wild prints and dolly dresses are totally my thing. I’m also very much into 1950s cotton dresses. I’m currently hoarding all the ones I find that fit me — sorry!
What are the challenges of finding great vintage?
There’s always some sort of challenge. Sometimes you buy that amazing piece and come home to find out there’s a giant stain you didn’t see, or the buttons fall off, or the snaps are rusted, or the material crumbles right in your hands (yep, had that one happen!). I think knowing your audience and what type of person you like selling to is key. I’m into bright, fun and loud designs, and I can totally picture the type of girl or guy that my selections would please. One of the best parts is the hunt. I’m up at 4 or 5 a.m. every Friday starting my weekly trek!
What’s the most interesting backstory of an object you’ve acquired?
I recently had a bikini that the previous owner wore in a 1946 beauty parade. I even had a copy of the newspaper clipping and a photo of her in it — so sweet. The best ending to that was shipping it off to the International Swimming Hall of Fame! There was also this old costume warehouse that finally decided to let go of their inventory. It was huge and filled with sequins, feathers, fringe and cheeseball galore. I was in heaven! Everything had been locked up since the ’80s, and most of it was from the 1960s and earlier.
If you could peek inside the studio of any artist, designer or craftsman (dead or alive), who would it be?
Definitely Mary Blair’s, back in the 1950s and 1960s. Her use of color, shapes, patterns and ideas are my favorite style.
Was there an object that was particularly hard for you to give up? If so, why?
It’s always sad to see the clothing go. I spend so much time cleaning, fixing, photographing and steaming everything. It’s such a special feeling knowing that someone is going to wear it with love. I had a fur kitty cat muff that was missing one eye that finally sold and made me a bit teary. It was the sweetest lil’ thing.
How do you get out of your creative ruts?
My cat is the ultimate healer. Her purrs make me know that everything is going to be all right. If I’m in a funk, I also like to step outside. Fresh air does wonders for the brain. Staring at the clouds is almost meditative.
Where would you like to be in ten years?
These answers are always so funny. Hopefully sitting on the beach in Isla Mujeres, surrounded by my closets of hoarded 1950s day dresses, Romy kittens and my own personal roller rink!