Happy May! I’m excited to be back with another Featured Maker interview after taking a few months off. My goal has been to have a featured maker each month but time has gotten away from me and I’ve missed some months. This month’s featured maker is Jess from Miss Lou Makes. We are thrilled to work with her on our Mermaid Kisses candle and bracelet collaboration launching today. Perfect for any mermaid or merman we made a Mermaid Kisses candle scented with Santal Coconut. Jess made a coordinating bracelet with cubed aqua glass beads. Read our interview with Jess below to learn more about her and her work. Check out our Instagram Live @saltandbranch tomorrow night May 4, 2021 at 8 pm EST to get more behind the scenes details with Jess.
Featured Maker Q &A
Tell us about what you do.
I am Jess the owner and maker of "Miss Lou Makes". I am a mixed-media artist with an obsession over bold colors and mixed textures. My shop features handmade beaded jewelry and one-of-a-kind home decor pieces and accessories.
How long have you been making your products and how did you get started?
I have been making my products since 2017, but at the time I was teaching and it was more of a passion project/side hustle. I lived in Charleston, SC and I was collaborating with my very good friend and biz mentor Rachel, the owner of Rusty & Ellie. One day she said to me, "Jess I don't want you to take this the wrong way, but I think you should consider starting your own business". At first, I was maybe a tad bit offended, but the truth is this was the BEST push and I am so grateful for her speaking up and believing in my creativity. As soon as I got started thinking about what my own "brand" would be like, I was hooked on it. Totally in love with making, marketing, and growing my style.
What is your favorite part of the creative process? Least favorite?
My favorite part of my creative process is when organic inspiration strikes. Like the time I was having cocktails with my husband and had the idea to make cocktail inspired bracelet stacks! Or when shopping for beads, I came across ones I had never seen and they reminded me of The Beatles, and I created an entire collection based on their music. My least favorite part is anything that involves me having to open my computer, such as creating Etsy listings. I usually procrastinate that stuff as long as possible and then complain to anyone that will listen while I do it.
From where do you draw your inspiration to create your products?
I am a beach loving girl and I get tons of inspo from where I live in Plymouth, MA. But I would say a lot of my products are like little snippets of my life, or memorable moments. There's a reason I call myself a maker versus a jewelry designer, painter, etc. I love to experiment and run with whatever inspo is coming my way and see where it takes me.
What values does your business embody?
Putting community over competition is a value I always strive for. Lifting up other small businesses and makers, sharing community resources, and just being my real self with people is one of the most important parts of this job!
Is your business a full time or part time venture? Do you have plans to grow/expand?
I went full time with this biz when I was furloughed at my job as an early interventionist last year when the pandemic hit. I am hoping to expand this year by doing more in-person markets (versus last years whopping zero), create more partnerships with local brands and businesses, and maybe (if I ever get my act together) create my own website with a shop and a blog.
There are many challenging that come along with running a small business. What is your biggest challenge and what is your biggest reward or success?
My biggest challenge right now is working from home with my very busy one-year-old toddler Oliver. Sometimes I have so many good ideas, or new materials that I'm dying to work with, but I typically only have about 2 uninterrupted hours in the day (nap time) and those are usually spent making/packaging orders. So I have to be flexible and sometimes work weird hours and weekends. This may seem simple, but the biggest reward is making a sale. Not only am I making money to help support my family and biz, but it is also super validating that I am not the only one that is in love with the products I've put so much of myself into!
How do you spend your time when you aren’t creating?
When I am not creating, I can be found beachcombing. I love sea glass and seeing what has washed up with the tides. I also love exploring new places with my family and I'm always down for a road trip.
Salt and Branch sells only one of your products. Where can people go to find more of your products?
I sell my products on Etsy:
Whimsical Wishes, Plymouth, MA
P&B Gift Shop, Plymouth, MA
Celebrations Cape Cod, Falmouth, MA
Salty Harbor, Kingston, MA
Pop-ups and Markets:
As I collect market dates for spring/summer/fall 2021, I will post them on my Instagram!
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I am so grateful for all of the other makers, shops, friends, family, and customers that have embraced me and my brand this past year. I truly feel supported and I am excited to continue to grow and learn!
Have a wonderful month and thanks for reading!