My name is Jahje Ives, and I’m the hustling mama behind Baby Jives Co. I live in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where I make heirloom mobiles and decor inspired by the wonder of childhood and my two kids, Gavril and Elodie.
The idea for my company began when I was pregnant with my first baby, who we referred to as our “baby Jives” (I’m Jahje and my husband is Joe Ives, hence Jives). I went through some serious nesting during my pregnancy, and while planning the nursery, I looked everywhere for that perfect finishing touch to enchant my babe: a mobile. When I couldn’t find one in my taste, I went up to my studio, took out my sewing machine, and made the very first version of my bird mobile. Folks kept asking where it was from, and I thought ‘hmmm, maybe this is something.’ A year and a half later, when my son finally started sleeping, I stole his nickname and started Baby Jives Co. I launched on Etsy five years ago this August, and today, I’ve shipped more than 3,000 mobiles all over the world.
I gather much of my inspiration from the wonder with which my children view the world: the magic of a cloud floating in place, the awe of stars twinkling above, the delight of chasing butterflies through a garden – that enchantment is what I seek to capture. Most often, the idea for a new design comes to me during the day when I’m playing with my kids; I’ll scribble down a few words and images to remind me of what I want to make once I have time in my studio. Actually finding time to work on a new design can take days, if not weeks, but once I’m able to work on it, I usually have a pretty good idea of what I want to make. Next I cut, sew, and stuff in a little magic. (Well, maybe not real magic.)
I love the moment when a bit of fabric is transformed into something more. I guess that’s because sewing is in my blood: my grandmother was a quilter (I still use some fabrics I inherited from her stash) and my mother made toys, dolls, and clothes for me as a child. When I was around 9, my mom taught me how to sew at our kitchen table, and then when I went off to college, she gave me the vintage Bernina Record I still use today. I’ve never studied sewing, but I did study crafts, painting and sculpture. I have a BFA in crafts (specifically metals) from University of the Arts, and I have an MFA in painting from Tyler School of Art. I used to teach drawing and video at Tyler, but when my son was born, I really wanted to find a way to stay home with him. In fact, that’s how this all started.
To me, Etsy is the platform where I was able to launch my business without leaving my home. Honestly, without it, I wouldn’t have known how to even start setting up an online shop to sell my work. And how awesome is it that people from all over the world have bought from me, even though I’ve never met them? I still remember my first sale: I had launched my shop with about eight items, and a week later, I got an email saying I had an order from a woman in Colorado. She put a note in there to say that she was buying this for her best friend’s baby shower, and that she loved it because it was so unique. That’s what I continue to love about Etsy: the stories I hear from my customers about why they love my work, and the pictures they share of it in their homes. I also love the community here – I’ve developed relationships with other sellers over the years that have turned into real friendships.
As for the future, we just bought a new house across the river with a huge studio space that is twice as big as my current one, so Baby Jives Co is expanding! I’m also excited to start partnering up with my husband (who’s also an artist and printmaker) to collaborate on a line of pillows, prints, and more. I plan to grow my current line, and I hope to add in textiles soon and return a bit to my painting days with prints and more.
All photographs by Baby Jives Co.