An interview with artist and mosaic maker Jenny of Jenzart Creations
1. Share a little about yourself … what makes you you?
You could say that I am a perfectionist. Yes, I am definitely a perfectionist. I cringe if visitors show up unannounced and the house is in a mess. I also need to clean out my studio at least once a week or I cannot function properly. As a consequence, in my business I am probably not the most productive person but you can be sure that I have attended to all the finer details.
I have always considered myself to be more of a practical person rather than a creative one. I see creative people as these free-spirited beings, working whenever inspiration hits them, in whatever space they can find (Artist Margaret Olley comes to mind). That is not for me. I work to a strict schedule. In fact I have recently created a time-management spreadsheet to help keep me on track.
As with a lot of other creatives, I am quite the introvert. That’s why I love selling online; no face-to-face contact. One of the down sides of this is that I struggle with the marketing side of my business but I am determined to conquer this. Oh yeah, forgot to mention that I am also very determined.
2. What inspired you to create your business and how long have you been trading for?
There is an amazing mosaic mural of an underwater scene, which is mounted on the front wall of a house on West Coast Drive in Perth. My husband and I were walking past one day sometime in 2007, admiring the beautiful artwork, when he remarked “you could do that”, (I love his confidence in me) so I went about learning to mosaic. I already had a bit of creative experience selling my paintings, so I thought why not.
I began selling a few pieces at the Gold Coast Art and Craft Markets and then my daughter, who is an avid online shopper, suggested I open an Etsy store. At that stage I had never heard of Etsy but I could see that online selling was the way to go so that was how Jenzart Creations was born.
3. Why did you choose the name you did for your business?
My business is all me. It’s all my original artwork. I create the products, do the photography, promote my store, manage the listings, pack and send the products and do the bookkeeping. So I thought it only fitting that the business should bear my name, hence the name Jenzart. However, I did not want to limit myself to just one type of product so I added “Creations”, which covers any product I choose to create.
4. What do you sell and what sets them apart from other similar items on the market?
I was previously selling paintings and mosaics in my store but I have since separated the two by opening a second Etsy store, Blue Beach House Art, where I sell only paintings. At Jenzart Creations, in addition to Mosaics, I currently sell Jewellery Organizers and Christmas cards from my original paintings, although I am considering phasing these out to focus on my core business.
The core part of my business is mosaic house numbers and custom signs. The lettering, numbers and graphics are created out of ceramic tile and I also use a lot of seashells in my work. My products are designed for outdoor use so they require the use of the highest quality materials and workmanship to ensure that every mosaic I sell is fully weatherproof and will last for many years. Custom orders form a large part of my business so I am in constant communication with my customers to make sure they are getting exactly the product they are looking for.
5. If you could achieve anything you could imagine (without the boundaries of money or everyday life) what would your greatest dream for your business be?
My business goals are fairly modest. I aim to be able to earn a living equal to what I could if I was working at my previous occupation, bookkeeping. I hope to achieve this before my husband retires (in about ten years). He has supported me financially for so many years and I would really like to return the favour. I don’t ever see myself retiring from art.
6. Where do you work on your business, and what platforms are you using to sell from (both online or offline)?
The front room of my home is my dedicated art studio. I designed it that way when we built the house four years ago. The plan was that I could welcome customers into the studio without the need for them to traipse through the house. At the time I was selling at local markets and arts festivals.
Since then I have made the decision to only sell online and at present I redirect all enquiries from my website and social media accounts to my Etsy store. I find it easier to keep all my sales in the one place and I don’t have the hassles of invoicing or chasing up customers. All the hard work is taken care of, sales are paid upfront and buyers trust Etsy.
7. If you were starting again on Etsy now what would you do differently?
Oh there is so much I would do differently, where do I start. At first I thought I could put up a few listings, people would magically find me and I would get sales. Needless to say that didn’t happen so I pretty much ignored my store for two years. Then the old determination kicked in and I made the effort to learn how to sell.
If I had my time over again I would:
- Do the groundwork to make every part of my store the best I possibly could prior to listing my items. Working on just one or two areas is not enough.
- Make better use of the free resources available to sellers. The seller handbook, forums, teams and Etsy success blog are all fantastic sources of information.
- Have more confidence in my product. I now know that if I love my products then there are plenty of others out there who love them too.
- Invest more time in my store.
8. What is the most useful thing you have learned while using Etsy?
My business is a living, breathing thing that’s constantly evolving. It’s not perfect and probably never will be but as long as I continue to make improvements I am happy. It’s okay to make mistakes. I can listen to all the advice in the world but only I know what is right for me. It’s okay to be myself.
9. Outside your business, what inspires you?
I am inspired by so many of the young women today who aren’t afraid to put themselves out there and have a go at starting their own business, often while juggling family and work commitments as well. I think their dedication and passion to achieve something wonderful in life is amazing.
10. If you could inspire the world with a quote, what would it be?
In relation to my business I often keep myself motivated by recalling the words of Mark Zuckerberg:
“It takes ten years to become an overnight success”.
I think I have about two years to go.
11. Where can we find out more about your business?
You can learn more about Jenzart Creations and Blue Beach House Art at:
My website: jenzart.com.au