You guys I am SO excited to have you meet a lady who is both an awesome maker and completely passionate about community. Nessa became a new member right at the time when we were starting a new online forum. She piped up during our annual survey and said, "I have some ideas. I'm happy to help with anything."
These are dangerous words to say to me... because then I will be like, "AWESOME! I love help. Let's do this!" And then we devised a plan to make it work. Which means she is now our "online chapter" leader. Essentially, she's responsible for facilitating community in the forums through supportive programming. I'm over-the-moon-jazzed about it. Because I hate it when good ideas don't get implemented because, hello, I am only one person! :)
Please say hello and greet Nessa in the comments.
Q: Introduce yourself. What do you make and how did you get started?
A: Hi there! I'm Nessa Jay and I'm the owner of LaLa's Party, a custom pinata shop based in Puerto Rico. I design and create pinatas for all kinds of fun events like birthdays, weddings, and gender reveal parties. I LOVE parties and party planning is just as much a science as it is an art.
I started party planning as a hobby and as a way to connect with my community when I moved to Puerto Rico in 2004. I did a lot of volunteer work fundraising and organizing events for local schools and Head Start programs as well as for friends and family. In fact, the first pinata I ever made was for a family member's son's 1st birthday party. It stuck with me and I kept making and studying pinatas for fun until years later my best friend Ginny gave me the encouragement I needed to take my hobby and build a business.
Q: Tell us about ways you've been working with makers already?
A: I've been an active proponent of building supportive and safe online communities for creatives since my teens. Back in the day it was hosting writing circles, chats, fan forums and discussions where people could feel safe sharing their writing and fannish enthusiasm. Today, I'm a member of Etsy teams and Facebook groups cheering people on and sharing experiences with others. Recently I made an appearance on Etsy Conversations podcast where I touched on how being new in business doesn't discount the importance of a maker's experiences and perspective.
Q: Why are you excited to build the Academy of Handmade online community?
A: Strong communities and safe spaces breed strong people and businesses. I'm excited to work with the amazing members in the online community because we have a new tool to build ties with each other and create a stronger community.There are going to be more opportunities to meet and connect with fellow members, to dig deep into different business topics and get a glimpse inside the minds of some fabulous creators.
Q: Share a little about what you love about the handmade community online.
A: I love how distance is not a deterrent to supporting one another. It doesn't matter how far away from each other we are, members come together and are so open and willing to give support and share their knowledge, it's amazing. Creative culture is no longer tied to metropolitan areas. You can live in the most remote places from the sleepiest cottage town to smack dab in Caribbean farm land and still be a significant contributor to the culture of handmade and artistic expression.
Q: Where can people find you online?
My website: http://www.lalasparty.com