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Member Profiles

Jennifer Priest: Hydrangea Hippo

Academy Of Handmade

 EMAIL JENNIFER: jenniferppriest@yahoo.com

Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself and your business: For the last 10 years I have been a professional designer in the craft industry, specializing in papercrafts, scrapbooking, and jewelry. I started an Etsy shop, Hydrangea Hippo, to sell leftover class kits and samples and it has blossomed into its own entity, a place where I offer unique and inspiring supplies for other crafters as well as a smattering of handmade goods. In addition, I operate a social marketing consulting business for other crafty businesses from artisans and handmade vendors to craft product manufacturers.

Q: What are your favorite materials to work with? I love working with paper, Layering it, decoupaging it, painting it, drawing on it, covering 3D shapes or other substrates with it or just working on a flat surface, paper is my best loved supply. Recently, I got into working with ICE Resin and I am loving the effect it has on paper.

Q: Who inspires you? From a business perspective, other designers and creators inspire me. I love to hear their stories, swap tactics, and help one another. That gives me such a high! That is why I love social media marketing consulting and coaching - I can help other designers reach their dreams and that fuels me in the business end and creatively. As far as a mentor or someone to look up to, I have several mentors and friends who have helped inspire me and who lift me up. Jen Cushman (a mixed media metalsmith and jeweler), Joanne Fink (a calligrapher and artist), and Debbie Cole CDA (Decorative Painter & Jeweler) all have inspired me over the years and remain rocks upon which I lean in times of need and from whom I pull inspiration. I hope our relationship is mutually beneficial - we help inspire each other.

Q: Name three guilty pleasures of yours:

Banana smoothies and milkshakes - mmmmm!
Instagramming my cats - I really am beginning to embrace that I have become a crazy cat lady.
Pedicures - you gotta treat yourself, even if it takes an hour, it is worth to just sit back and relax every once in a while.

Q: What is your favorite part of being a maker or supporting makers? Oh my gosh there are so many parts I love. I would say I have two favorite things. One is being my own person - I am in charge of my schedule, my destiny, of how my day looks. I cannot imagine ever going back to a 9-5 office job but I actually work much longer than 8 hour days. That is how I know I am loving it. You kinda have to beat me with a stick to get me to stop working. I love being in charge and now I can just boss myself around all day long. I listen pretty well. The other favorite part is being able to create something wit my hands and see the actual fruits of my labor. This is so gratifying. And then, taking it to another level, is the joy of sharing that creation with others, through the internet, through craft fairs, and through selling the finished product. There is nothing else like that feeling. I have had lots of "jobs" in retail and government, non-profits and even the Army - nothing is as satisfying as making, in my book.

Q: As a professional in the booming handmade economy, what part of your work do you find most difficult? Managing all of the "stuff". As an online retailer, designer, and maker I have lots of boxes coming to my door each week, be it product to resell, product for classes I am teaching, or product for freelance design work I am doing. On top of that, there is all the inventory of stuff I have already made and need to list for sale. It tends to pile up as listing and shipping items are probably my two least favorite parts of my business. This creates as a challenge as I usually have a backlog consisting of 10 rubbermaid tubs filled with stuff I have to deal with. I am a Type-A personality and like things organized and finished. These tubs drive me bonkers. One day I will get through them all or just stop using tubs to hold my stuff.

Q: What drives your creative process? Anyone can glue pom-poms to a tin can and call it "craft". I like to challenge to myself to go past my 1st, 2nd, and 3rd idea and try to think beyond what is intuitive. I want to bring you something that you wouldn't have thought of on your own. I think that is the difference between "crafter" and a "designer". We have to bring something "more" to the table. I want people to exclaim, "WOW! I never would have thought of that." My creative process always comes back to that - what value can I offer, how can I make this unique, how can I make this interesting? And then, secondarily, how can I make this teachable? Just because something is complex does mean it is advanced - I strive for well-designed, innovative, and teachable or approachable. Do I achieve that every time? No. But with that as my motivation, I achieve it a great deal of the time.

Q: Where can people find your stuff? Much of my handmade art and supplies are for sale on hydrangeaippo.etsy.com. I share ideas on my blogs hydrangeahippo.com and layout-a-week.blogspot.com. And of course you can find me on social media! @hydrangeahippo anywhere and everywhere online. I do some local So Cal craft shows but haven't ventured deeper into those waters yet .... someday. A girl can dream!