“Balancing Act” is a series focusing on the amazing people who run a successful business while working full-time, and somehow still manage to sleep and eat occasionally.
Today’s episode features the amazing zJayne! Not only does Jane make wonderful artistic jewelry and have a huge array of assorted upcycled functional products, but she is a marketing master. She is featured in like a zillion books and magazines, and I can no longer go through a checkout line without her “Paper or plastic?? How about neither!” slogan jingling through my head. I have admired her from afar for several years (ironic that we live only 30 minutes apart), and am thrilled to have the opportunity to interview her (and find out that she has a quote box too! How cool is that?)
1.Tell a little about your business – what do you make/ sell, how long have you been in business, and what do you love most about it?
In a nutshell, my business is focused around upcycling and recycling. I like to think I am helping to “make” a difference by creatively designing functional items that others may want, need, must have, and appreciate. I began online with my altered art heirlooms and ACEO collectible art cards. This business has evolved, and of late, recycling every morsel of material from tShirts and creating new products that are eco friendly, sustainable and not making it to landfills anytime soon, has been keeping us busy in our evening hours.
2. How does it differ from your day job (creativity, skill, autonomy)?
My day job involves administration, human resources, and a rather newly assigned area of helping to create recycling awareness opportunities in the growing community where I work.
I read something once about the best ideas come from newbies and not long time knowledge in a field. I think it was worded much more inspiring than I just stated, but the point of it helps me in my day job. I realize from my own successful recycling endeavors, that you can look at something differently to find a solution for an existing situation. Day jobs can be like that, so used to doing a job one way that finding a way to do it better is not looked into.
So, simply put, my day job does differ from my business, yet what I’m learning about myself and creating does me well in my day job.
3. What has been the most challenging part of juggling a business, day job, and family? How have you gotten through the difficult parts?
In some ways I have been lucky that what I find to be the most difficult – having a personal life – is made somewhat easier because my significant other, a.k.a. “shipping department”, and Co. and “beach glass by DET”, has played an important role in the zJayne product line. Dan (real name used) enjoys a good buy, in fact, little known to anyone, I was introduced to my first thrift store with Dan. Yes yes, a thrift store virgin I was. . . and with wild abandon I’ve become a connoisseur of thrifts throughout Ohio and, yes, when we travel.
What gets us through the difficult parts is a much needed sense of humor. If you’re juggling work and your own business, a family (and all that comes with blending them), and a personal loving relationship, heck, both of you have to have something in common and for us being able to see the oddity of it all with humor helps tremendously.
4. Our identity is often closely linked to what we do professionally. How do you identify yourself, and does it relate more to your business/ artisan side, or your day job?
I see a link professionally with my artistic side. Both are people-oriented; finding ways for management and employees (creative recycling and consumers) to work together. If a customer is happy, they’ll be back. When an employee is happy, they stay.
I have benefited from letting go (okay, I still work on this) of my preconceived notions of what others may think of my art, designs, quirky ideas and do my best to remember that if I like it, need it, laugh at it, am moved by it, then someone else is likely to see it fitting in their life as well.
5. Give one organizational or business tip (or product) that has been invaluable.
Inventory is necessary, you have to have it. If you’re going to believe you have a viable product, you have to have access to making it when multiple orders come in.
Walk away from thinking you can do it all. Something suffers when I try to do it all. So do what you can for the day and then walk away from it.
Vacation(s). Priceless. There are no excuses for not refueling your creative spirit.
6. Some people use a side business as a way to slowly change gears from employee to business owner. In the future, do you ever see yourself transitioning to full-time entrepreneur? If so, what would ultimately help you ultimately make that leap? If not, what benefits do you enjoy with your current situation?
Something certain that I have learned about myself from this side business is that I have talents that will take me into retirement. I might leap, but am careful not to jump. To make that leap . . . that’s a thinker. Right now I am happy to pay attention to the “signs” and “coincidences” and living in the present. I am open to advice and learning from what others have experienced.
7. Anything that came up while you were answering these questions that you?d like to share?
Yes, I noticed that I own and listen to three versions for the song “Crazy”, one by Shawn Colvin, Gnarls Barkley and another by Alice Russell.
8. Any additional words of wisdom you’d like to share?
Keep a happy box and fill it with words of wisdom that hit you at the moment you hear them. Jot them down on torn paper, and drop them in. Then, when you are asked for “words of wisdom” or need a “pick me up”, take a peek and see what you thought was important when you wrote it down.
Here?s a few I just pulled:
“Do what you gotta do, so you can do what you want to do.”
-Denzel Washington? (I think this was from his father to him)
“Learn to give from the overflow – not from the cup – don’t deplete the cup.”
“The fifties are everything you’ve been meaning to be.”
“What if the mightiest word is Love.”
Jane, thanks so much for sharing! You can find zJayne at www.zJayne.etsy.com