Hey friends! Welcome to the first of what I hope will be many amazing conversations with metro Detroit girl bosses. For the month of August (and hopefully beyond), we’ll be kicking off each week with a fun, inspiring, and honest introduction to a real life #metrodetroitmaker.
Today I’m super excited to introduce you to an amazing girl boss that I first encountered when we both set up shop at the Royal Oak Vintage Artisan Market this past June. I’ll confess that I haven’t actually met her in real life yet, but we have become friends through the power of social media, and I’m just waiting for the day when I get to sit down and have coffee with this girl!
Whenever I see one of Jenna’s pieces on Facebook, I’m just blown away by her aesthetic, her eye for design, and the beautiful photos that she takes—I definitely aspire to have that cohesive of a look when it comes to my photos and feeds!
Without further ado, I want to let Jenna introduce herself and let you guys have so much fun getting to meet your Rue & Fox maker today. Take it away, Jenna!
#mdm: What do you do?
Jenna: I am a newly established GIRL BOSS! Going from working in a corporate setting to being able to wake up and create every day is such a huge blessing, and I couldn’t be more grateful. I didn’t realize how lonely it would be to be home all day by myself though, so I am now a proud foster momma to a sweet puppy named Cooper; he brings so much excitement and joy to my days!
#mdm: How did you get started doing what you’re doing?
Jenna: Growing up, my dad was an entrepreneur and my mom enjoyed crafting with us. It’s just what I’ve always been around – but honestly, I never – in a million years -would have guessed that this would be what I ended up doing. After spending years changing careers over and over again, it was time to listen to my heart. I started “rue & fox” while I was still working a corporate job, but when that job fell apart, it thrust me into entrepreneurship full-time. It’s been terrifying, rewarding, and SUCH a fun adventure.
#mdm: Why do you do what you do?
Jenna: I genuinely enjoy waking up every day and tapping into the creative parts of my mind; I’ve always considered myself to be artistic, and this is such a meaningful outlet for me. I love creating pieces that will become a statement piece in someone’s home – pieces that will hopefully be passed down for generations to come. I do this because it gives me a real sense of purpose.
#mdm: What does your typical day look like?
Jenna: No two days are ever the same – especially with a puppy in the house! But, it always starts the same way… with COFFEE. I usually spend my mornings coming up with a plan for the day; most days balancing and rotating between social media promotion, market research, creating pieces and juggling normal day-to-day life duties. I’m still trying on a daily basis to come up with the “perfect” schedule!
#mdm: Do you have a dedicated workspace? What is it like? How is it different from your ideal workspace?
Jenna: Thanks to my incredible boyfriend, I have an amazing workshop set up in the basement of our house. He is a fabricator, so any tool I could possibly need is there. He’s very attentive to detail, so not one thing was overlooked. I’m truly blessed. The only way it could be better is if it was attached to my future retail space!
#mdm: What is one short-term goal that you have?
Jenna: I would love to build up my Etsy page to become a well-established source of income for me, and to build up a network of like-minded girlfriends to bounce ideas off of, learn from and grow with. It’s so important!
#mdm: What is one long-term goal that you have?
Jenna: I want to create a space where people can come and enjoy a calming and inspiring atmosphere, full of good food and coffee, a retail space for my work (as well as local artists), with workshop spaces to host interactive learning events for different types of art.
#mdm: How do you go about setting goals for yourself?
Jenna: The entire journey of becoming an entrepreneur was making sure that I was being fulfilled: mentally, emotionally, physically. I have to wake up every day and set goals for the day based on how I’m feeling THAT day, to keep it all realistic and attainable. The most important thing to keep in mind when setting goals is to make them POSSIBLE – you don’t want to get deflated. Long-term goals for me are, quite simply, the most “perfect version of what my life could be”.
#mdm: What is your favorite part of being a creative entrepreneur?
Jenna: I thoroughly enjoy being able to wake up every day and express myself in a way that is genuinely fulfilling for me. I have been stifled in so many former jobs – I now get to answer to myself and get to push my own limits without hesitation. It’s wonderful.
#mdm: What is your least favorite part of being a creative entrepreneur?
Jenna: Man, that whole “starving artist” expression is NO JOKE! Building a sustainable brand is hard work, and the amount of hours don’t ever add up to the monetary return in the beginning. That will fade with time and success!
#mdm: What has been your most successful product, post, event, strategy or interaction? How do you celebrate your successes?
Jenna: I had a booth in a local market that, despite low foot traffic, allowed me a huge amount of sales and – more importantly – a lot of wonderful interactions with future customers who complimented my work, reached out for custom orders, and more. I left feeling such a sense of relief, a sense of accomplishment, that I was doing the RIGHT thing in venturing out on my own. I celebrate by spending time unwinding and relaxing with family and friends – a luxury that is hard to truly enjoy when I’m in full work mode.
#mdm: What was the least successful product, post, event, strategy or interaction (I like to call these “experiments”, rather than “failures”?) What did you learn?
Jenna: Initially, I got started on this venture by making homemade soaps. While it has been a fun way for me to try new things and create a naturally useful product, they never really gained traction. Despite my best marketing efforts, and WONDERFUL reviews, they just never really sold well. The market was far too saturated. Lesson learned!
#mdm:What is your top piece of advice for a #metrodetroitmaker just starting out who does what you do?
Jenna: Save, save, save. Before you make the leap, have a reserve ready. There will be so many unexpected expenses, and with the stress of starting a new business is hard enough. You don’t want to have to worry about how you’ll put food on the table, too.
#mdm: What is something that scares or intimidates you about being a creative entrepreneur?
Jenna: I am such a perfectionist, and I’m so afraid that I will compromise my ability to think outside the box to “play it safe” for the sake of ensuring product sales. It’s a very delicate balance between creating what you know follows current trends, versus what your soul urges you to create.
#mdm: What is something that inspires you?
Jenna: Nature! Being outside in nature gives me a sense of peace to my core – and my work tends to reflect that; color combinations that occur in nature, nature-inspired art, all of it. I like very natural, minimalistic type pieces.
#mdm: How would your best friend describe you in one word?
Jenna: I had no idea what the answer would be, and I had to ask. The word is “tenacious”. In this setting, it’s both fitting and an incredible honor.
#mdm: You have one hour of “me” time, and, miraculously, every goal you’ve set in your business for that day is complete. What do you do?
Jenna: Leash up the dog, grab my boyfriend, and head to the park. Let the dog play in the grass while we just talk about the idiosyncrasies of life. And, let’s be honest, there’s probably wine involved.
#mdm: What is one thing that you wish you could tell every customer, reader, or student of yours about?
Jenna: In this life, we never know when our last day will be. Never settle…not for a job, not in relationships, friendships, nothing. We are so programmed in today’s society to go with the flow, and to follow stereotypical timelines and expectations. DON’T. Follow your gut, trust your heart, and take the leap. Live your best life today. Not tomorrow, not a week from now… TODAY.
#mdm: What is the question that you are asked most often in your creative business?
Jenna: WILL YOU COME DECORATE MY HOUSE? (The answer is yes!) How flattering to be entrusted to create a beautiful space for someone to be in every single day.
#mdm: Where are you online, or what events do you have coming up?
Jenna: I have an Etsy shop that I just launched, and I’m focused on really getting that thriving before I do any more shows.
#mdm: What is the best way to get in touch with you?
Jenna: Shoot me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or find me on Instagram @rueandfox.
#mdm: Tell the readers one last thing about you, your business, or your philosophy that is a consistent part of how you conduct your life or business.
Jenna: We all need to live our best life now. By allowing me to create pieces for your home, you’re allowing me to life MY best life – but know this: I am creating pieces for you that I would be proud to display in my own home. I’m creating pieces that will last for generations to come – to become a small piece of YOUR best life.