Tuesday, August 11, 2009

August's Featured Shop: mamasmagicstudio

This month's featured shop is mamasmagicstudio. Owner, Jen Johnson, believes that "something magical happens when human hands create beauty where there was none before." Her shop currently offers a variety of handcrafted items including: jewelry, knitting needles, dragonfly ornaments, bookmarks. Some of Jen's favorite medium are beads, semiprecious stones, and wire. She has always enjoyed crafting, taking after here mother who was a handcrafter now creating gorgeous quilts. She fondly recalls the handmade Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls her mother made to sell at a local boutique when she was in grade school. As an adult she has tried her hand at many different things: quilting, basket weaving, knitting, doll making, beading, hat making, sewing. In the future she would like to try felting, paper-making, crocheting and woodworking and it has always been her dream to learn how to work with glass.
Jen made her first sales of her handcrafted goods when she was in college....nearly 20 years ago, long before she imagined the existence of her Etsy shop, Mamas Magic Studio, which opened in July of 2008. Jen was actually introduced to Etsy through Craigslist in 2005, when she was thinking of opening an online shop for her baby friendly beads. Etsy was a perfect fit and she opened her firts shop, BabyFriendlyBeads.etsy.com, in February of 2006. This shop offered a unique line of breast feeding jewelry, inspired by her own experience as a mom. Jen enjoyed a great run with Baby Friendly Beads until late 2008 when the CPSIA (Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act) came into the spotlight. Designed to protect consumers, specifically children, from toxicity in their products, the CPSIA was born of good intentions as a result of the toxic lead paint scare from toys mass produced in China. Though, as many people know, this legislation is greatly flawed and does not take into account the difference between massive corporations, such as Matel, and the small cottage industry, including stay at home moms such as Jen. Blanket, end-unit testing is required across the board and HUGELY and negatively impacts the handcrafted sector putting many small companies and crafters out of business. So...in July of 2008 (before the CPSIA), Jen decided to open a second Etsy shop that would allow her to offer a wider variety of handmade items.
Jen refers to her primary job as "C.H.E.O. - Chief Home Economics Officer" of her family's little bungalow. Happily married for more than 12 years, the couple have a 4 year old son and 2 year old daughter. Before staying home, Jen wore the hats of high school English teacher, artist's model, college composition instructor, and swing dance teacher. Until becoming a mother, she had "never dreamed of opening my own business. But I love it!" With two little ones at home, Mama's Magic Studio is a "very part-time operation"; work gets done in small bits during the day or late at night or when her "wonderful husband" picks up the lack allowing her the free time to accomplish some work. After years of struggling with finding that elusive concept of balance, Jen has abandoned the concept all together stating that it is an overrated idea. She prioritizes and makes to-do lists, but doesn't push herself to achieve the impossible act of "juggling on a tightrope". Things "get done".
Some of the biggest challenges Jen has faced as an Etsy shop owner aside from the CPSIA, include taking quality pictures. She is also challenged to run her business on a shoestring budget. Finding ways to promote herself without "feeling like [she's] hawking [her] heart on some virtual street corner." She is a member of several Etsy teams to help with promotions. "Probably the biggest single challenge: finding time, using it wisely, not getting overly frustrated when the time i interrupted, as it so often is."
Last month Mama's Magic Studio participated in its first craft fair and Jen had an incredible time and plans to do more. Her knitting needles were also featured in a Storque article.
Jen's family is truly the joy of her life; "without them, Mama would have no magic!". She is a published poet, an aspiring children's book writer, and she can hula hoop!