Friday, March 20, 2009

That's So Sweet: An Interview with Jane Joss

I stumbled across Jane Joss in the Etsy forums and absolutely fell in love with the work in this shop! I'd never seen anything quite like it: house plants you can't kill, but oh so much more. And soooooo pretty! I mean, this is some high quality home decor that's actually affordable. It's fresh and modern yet timeless and virtually goes with anything! I just had to pick creators Alyssa and Joslyn's brains and find out more about the mystery behind this wonderful Etsy shop. I couldn't contain my excitement. The idea of interviewing didn't really pop into my head, it was just a fact I was so enthusiastic about their shop. Tell us a bit about the people that are Jane Joss, what are you all about? The name Jane Joss is a combination of Alyssa’s middle name (Jane) and Joslyn. We’re former college roommates turned sisters-in-law (married to twins!). Jane Joss started with a free sewing machine and a love of cool fabric. We taught ourselves to sew and started making crafts and home d├ęcor items. Our target customer is someone who likes to add unique, natural touches to their home. Most of our customers are women, however we love designing for men, teens, and children as well. We keep everyone in mind when we are searching for fabric and coming up with new design ideas. Your line is so unique and original, I've never seen anything like it. Where did you come up with the concept for your Sweet Leaves? In our search for fabric-related craft projects, we stumbled upon leaves made of fabric. With a little trial and error, we were able to construct our own stems using floral wire and tape. From there we experimented with different sizes, including trees and potted plants. With every new creation, we found ourselves saying, “oh, that’s so sweet”. So, we ended up calling them Sweet Leaves! Describe your studio space and your inspiration in your creative life. Our “studios” are our home offices and kitchen tables. We like to imagine ourselves one day working in a beautiful studio space downtown. We are definitely inspired by nature. We love using green and brown fabric so our designs look like real plants from a distance. Also, fabric prints are a huge source of inspiration for us. It’s fun to add a modern touch to our designs by using bold colors and patterns. We are always experimenting with different textures and colors. What is your creative process like? Our creative process usually begins with a brainstorming session. We discuss new fabric options, style ideas and customer feedback. From there we are off to hunt for the perfect fabric. We have the most fun when we get to work together. Sometimes our “other lives” prevent that from happening, so we end up working separately with a kind of assembly line philosophy. For example, Alyssa will cut the fabric, Joslyn will wrap stems, etc. Assembling our product can take hours or days depending on the item. Each piece involves individually sewn interfaced leaves and hand-wrapped stems. The last step in our process involves Joslyn’s husband, Jeff. He is a talented graphic designer who has graciously designed our logo and e-blasts. He is also our photographer.
Did you try other materials or methods besides what you are currently using? Our first Sweet Leaves involved clipping the ends off existing floral stems we purchased. Although cute, that method did not produce a consistent or cost-effective product. We also tried different gauges of wire and various brands of floral tape before we got it just right. We’ve also streamlined our production process to conserve materials and increase productivity.
For being new to Etsy, you've got a few sales under your belt! Do you sell your Sweet Leaves anywhere else? We’re still new enough to get excited every time we make a sale! Etsy has been a huge learning experience for us. We’d never heard of it until we started our business. When we did, we knew it would be a great fit for us and our product. Word of mouth through our friends, families, and co-workers keep us rather busy. We have so much fun consulting with people and designing the perfect Sweet Leaves for their homes or offices. Children’s rooms are especially fun to do. Next on our agenda… craft/indie shows. Our first is the Deluxe Indie Craft Bazaar in Oklahoma City on May 9th. We are so excited to get our Sweet Leaves out there!
In what ways do you promote yourselves, online and in the tangible world? We do email marketing to friends and family periodically. We also use word of mouth, blogs, and Facebook and we’re not shy about handing out business cards. Alyssa can usually be found somewhere on Etsy, posting in forums, chatting, or making treasuries, Are there any new additions to the Jane Joss line planned for the future? We are always trying new techniques and styles. We try to stick with our basic leaf shape, but we’ve got a potted plant style that we’re almost ready to debut. We have some Sweet Leaves made from faux suede on the market right now that we just love, and we’re experimenting with leaves made from chenille and corduroy. Bridal bouquets, with a modern twist, are also on our list. Creating new styles and working with new fabrics is our favorite thing about Jane Joss, so we always have something new in the works.
What other creative projects or artistic hobbies are you involved with besides Jane Joss? We are always creating things using our sewing machines. We also both fancy ourselves amateur photographers and interior designers. We love to visit art museums and our favorite thing to do for “girls’ night out” is go see a musical. We both have children, which requires an endless supply of creativity! What would you like to see happen with your Etsy shop or your line in general? We like to envision ourselves in the future working full time on Jane Joss in a beautiful studio, expanding our product line (and customer base) and designing our own fabric. We hope to be there one day because we LOVE what we do!
A huge thank you (so so much!) to Alyssa and Joslyn! Be sure to check out their etsy shop at and pick up some sweet leaves for yourself!
Have you ever come across a really awesome and magical Etsy shop and been so amazed you just had to know more? You read the profile but it's still not add said shop to your favorites and spend hours looking at all the pretty things for sale...the mystery eats at you...who is this amazing person who made these pretty things? I must know more!!! I'm a huge fan of the Featured Seller on Etsy, but I feel like there are so many ridiculously cool shops out there, that we miss out on some great ones if we don't go hunting for them ourselves. I constantly search and search, for photography worth a million words, sparkly jewelry I can't afford, art to hang on the wall (which I also can't afford), for super lovable plush and softies. I search for inspiration in the form of color, humor, unlikely pairings, materials and I suppose to check out the competition as well. I'm often left wanting more when I come across a really great shop so I decided to do something about it! Consider this my own special Featured Seller. Here's the first in a new ongoing post series here at MarthaLand. I invite you to send shops my way too, if you find something you love! I'll ask the questions, you get all the answers you ever wanted!


Kathy said...

Hi Martha: Jane Joss sweet leaves are so wonderful. I'd like to have them as guest bloggers on my site. But having a hard time reaching them. Can you put me in touch? Kathy at Craft For Health dot com. Thanks!

Martha said...

Hi Kathy, if you haven't joined Etsy, that would be best. It's free and you can send them a personal message through their shop:

Hope that helps, if not send me a message on Etsy and I'll see what I can do.