• Dreamers + Doers: Jenny Rose

    To continue our Dreamers + Doers series, which highlights the work of emerging artists and designers, we're highlighting the work of Jenny Rose, an accomplished knitwear and graphic designer in Tallahassee, FL. The winner of our Dreamers + Doers college marketplace contest, Jenny Rose started out selling her knit goods on Etsy five years ago and has since expanded her business to include brand consultation and graphic design. She's also had her designs featured on the UO site—a big step for any independent designer! We talked with Jenny about non-stop knitting, her YouTube education, and plans for the future. 

    Can you introduce yourself to our readers, please?
    I’m Jenny—a native New Yorker (with the bagel choosiness to prove it) living in Tallahassee, FL. I’m a graduating fashion merchandising student at Florida State working as both a freelance brand consultant, and a knitwear designer and seller. "Brand consultant" is just one of several umbrella terms I use hoping to capture all the services I provide small businesses and individuals, which are ultimately geared towards creating a cohesive brand identity. Knitwear, as one might imagine, is thankfully more straightforward! I’ve been selling my hand-knit scarves, hats, sweaters. and gloves on Etsy for nearly five years now. I’ve learned so much from it, and still can’t believe I’ve knit over 1,000 pieces and shipped to over 27 countries. My knits are better traveled than I’ll ever be!

    You work on a lot of different things — from your knitwear to the graphic and web design you do. Do the different things you do all end up bleeding together, or do you consider them separate outlets?
    I promote and develop the two businesses as separate entities, but they do mesh in my life. I used to always marathon Netflix while I knit (a process I dubbed Knitflixing). I still do, but more and more, the sitcoms and movies I watch while knitting are being replaced by YouTube tutorials on Adobe Illustrator or Wordpress and HTML/CSS coding. So much of what I know about developing, operating and promoting a business (especially an e-commerce one!) is built upon what I’ve experienced and learned as a seller. I don’t think I’d have the knowledge I do about branding if I hadn’t had a business to brand in the first place. Conversely, the more branding skills and expertise I gain, I turn around and implement those into my knitting business. Realistically, I'll probably put knitting aside in a couple of years, or when my fingers fall off. Whichever comes first.

    You have so many different projects! How the heck do you have time for it all? What's your secret?
    I inherited both Keurig and Nespresso coffee machines from my mom and grandma respectively, neither of whom showed the machines enough love or appreciation. These miraculous devices provide the fuel for my entire operation. I also work constantly—pretty much from the moment I wake up to the moment I go to sleep. I take micro-breaks (5-10 minutes) every half hour or so. I don’t hesitate to go out to dinner or take an hour or two to play tennis, meet with friends, etc. But in general I’m always working. My office is in my apartment. I live with my boyfriend, a grad student who teaches at Florida State and also works from home most days, so I feel like my work/life balance is sort of built into the equation. I don’t mind working so much since I love what I’m doing. I generated this much work for myself because I enjoy the challenge and being busy. New Yorkers don’t idle!

    Tell us something we don't know about knitting.
    It’s so easy! But it’s even easier to knit technically incorrectly and you’d never be the wiser. There are two basic stitches: the knit and the purl. Two years into being a professional knitter I discovered that I’d been doing the “knit” stitch incorrectly. Three years into being a professional knitter, I discovered that I’d been doing the “purl” stitch incorrectly. I admit this with shame, but alas, we grow and move on.

    Tell us something we don't know about design.
    I think there’s a lot of confusion as far as logos go. In the past, when I’ve worked on logo design for clients, they often want to see everything in the logo: the name of the business spelled out, plus the initials, plus a symbol, and also the tagline or modifier, etc. If you really look around, though, logos are often just a very simple image, or just the business name, or just the business initials with fewer than four colors. This allows brand recognition whether the logo is tiny on the bottom of a piece of paper, or big on a billboard. I will now reference Don Draper, of Mad Men, who summed it up perfectly: “Make it simple, but significant.”

    What's a perfect day for you? Walk us through the itinerary.
    I wake up when my cell phone alarm won’t permit more snoozes. Coffee immediately follows. I make an effort most days to get dressed up, and this includes heels, even though I work from home. I like dressing up for me! It helps me get in work-mode, too. I spend about an hour or so going through e-mails and social media, plus making an outline to-do list of what I hope to accomplish for the day. This will put me at around 3, which is when I start packing knits to take to the post office. I put a lot of care into my packaging, so it takes a while to prepare each order. I’m never early to the post office. I only ever get there in the knick of time before they close and the people there know me by name. Once I get home, I’ll probably spend time browsing Pinterest and researching for design inspiration and tutorials. There is so much to learn! With the little free time I have, I like to decorate, do crossword puzzles or practice photography.

    What's your personal mantra?
    Since Britney Spears has dibs on “work, bitch,” I’ll say I really believe in creating opportunities for yourself. I think opportunities occur in succession like dominos toppling over, but that they’re far more rewarding when you’re the person who knocks over the first one. For me, this meant I would reach out to people I admired and wanted to work with to apply for jobs and internships that didn’t really exist. Or I’d just start a business rather than wait around for the perfect job listing to appear. Even though that put me at a higher risk of rejection or failure, it more importantly put me at a higher chance of getting to do exactly what I really want to, which I’m happy to say has been the case.

    What's something you are good at? What's something you are bad at?
    I’m good at figuring things out, which is to say I’ve accepted many projects and jobs that I really had no idea how to do, all under the assumptive hope that I’d Tim Gunn it (make it work). It forces me to learn. So far, so good! I’m tragically bad about spilling things—coffee, paint, anything—which has tested my commitment to wearing all-white outfits. When painting my office, I spilled half a gallon of white primer paint onto my kitchen tile-floor. It’s like my hands just forgot they were holding something. I don’t understand how my hands, so deft with knitting, can be so unreliable with holding objects.

    What blogs, Instagrams, artists, writers — creative people in general — are on your radar right now?
    As I mentioned earlier, I sometimes reach out for opportunities that don’t necessarily exist. Since I got into web and logo design, my biggest industry role model is Erika Brechtel, an L.A.-based brand stylist and arbiter of all things tasteful and creative. I wrote this e-mail to her, basically like a very professional love letter, imploring that she please let me work with her. Now I work as her part-time assistant and I contribute to her amazing blog, The E List. She has been a great mentor to me, and through her I’ve been exposed to even more creatively inspiring people like photographers Grey Malin and Ashley Woodson Bailey, or textile designer Joy Laforme.

    Any new creative projects on the horizon?
    I bought our living room couch off Craigslist for $50 and I’ve been dying to sew a white slipcover for it! I haven’t had a chance yet and I also don’t really know how, but I’ve got a sewing machine, and I’ll figure it out soon!

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