But feel free to read the interview below too!
MaJenta Designs is the brainchild of Jennifer whose fascination with Asian papers recently led her to the 1,000 sales milestone on Etsy! She uses Chiyogami (literally “1,000 generation paper”) and Washi (rice paper) – both delicate, traditionally hand-made papers that have intricate and vibrant designs similar to fabric used on kimonos. Her aesthetic complements what she, as a second-generation Chinese American, calls her “hybrid life” by being both traditional and contemporary.
Using these papers for glass pendants? That’s a no brainer. Look how the glass both frames and accentuates the rich colors. Jennifer has an eye for how to place each piece for maximum effect.
Less predictably, Jennifer takes something functional and allows you to add beauty and style. Start with a design that you like. Then decide what you’d like her to add: Bottle opener? Key Chain? Pocket Mirror? Oh yeah, she can do that!
She has a fun line of portable purse hooks. So easy to use: just unfold, set on the table top and hang your bag from the hook…no more purse on the floor or worrying about it being taken from the back of your chair. (You know that person on your holiday list who has everything? I bet she doesn’t have one of these!)
She also makes gift tins in various shapes and sizes. How great would it be to give one of her items in a coordinating tin? Want even more fun? Keep them for yourself! Mints, buttons, coins…Violet is quite sure you’ll make it work.
Despite being a full time graduate student with a thriving Etsy shop, Jennifer found time to sit down and share her story with us. Read on!
Curator V: How long have you been on Etsy? How did you decide to set up shop there?
I started almost 2 years ago, September 2007, to be exact. I’ve always enjoyed making art, but first got interested in selling my handcrafted creations when I visited a town fair and saw all the local craft artists and their booths – it really inspired me to want to sell my own goods too. Oddly enough though, I didnt try to start selling at fairs just yet, but rather wanted to try selling on-line first. I stumbled upon Etsy and thought it’d be an exciting venue to try out, and the rest is history :)
Curator V: You’re a full time graduate student; what are you studying? How do you find time to keep your shop so well stocked?
I’m working towards a PhD in Counseling Psychology; its really busy lifestyle – I’m taking 5 classes, interning 20 hours a week, and working on a dissertation, so each day is very hectic – but I definitely work to make time for my business as it is nice to have a creative outlet away from my studies – in my profession, we’re always telling our clients the importance of self-care, so I feel it’s good to make time to do other things I enjoy too.
Curator V: I love that your work is symbolic of the hybrid nature of life that so many people can relate to. Did you set out to create in that way or did your designs naturally evolve?
My items definitely have evolved over time, as I have so many creative interests and enjoy so many mediums, such as beadwork and stained glass, but the items I enjoy creating the most are have symbolic meaning- like the cranes that symbolize eternal devotion and the koi’s symbolism of perseverance and good fortune, because I love things that tell a story behind them. Sometimes I learn things from my customers too – like one person wanted to send one of my plum blossom pendants to a friend who was undergoing major surgery, and she requested I send a note with it, and I thought it was a beautiful, so i’ve added it to the listing
“even as winter tries to hold it’s grip,
the plum tree bursts forth with
the earliest blossoms of spring”
Curator V: Where do you find the beautiful papers that you use in your designs?
I find the papers from all over, various paper stores locally and internationally – i actually first got started collecting the paper when I visited Japan and found a beautiful assorted set, and at that time I thought it was just fancy origami paper!
Curator V: Can you describe your work space to us? (If you have a picture, feel free to include it!)
Haha, alas, I live in a small apartment in Boston so there isnt that much workspace that is solely devoted to my craft-making. I generally work in my living room, on a table that triples as my dining table as well as my study space too! Here is a photo that someone took of me crafting amongst my textbooks.
Curator V: Congrats on reaching 1,000 sales! What are your next goals?
Thanks! I definitely want to keep building my business, so I’m always trying to think up new products to carry, new designs to use, and new venues to sell my work. I’m looking forwards to the holiday shows coming up this season, plus I’ll be helping to create a handmade gift boutique for the holiday season in downtown Boston with some other talented Boston-area artisans of the group Boston Handmade this will be my first time I’ll have so much involvement in an art gallery/boutique so I’m looking forward to getting involved in this venture and hoping it will be successful! :)
All righty, Stalkers, time to put on your thinking caps! Jennifer is giving away one of her funky keychain bottle openers! These are one of her most popular items – they are practical, fun and stylish too! To enter, visit Majenta Designs, then come back here and let her know what other items you’d like to see added to or sold in her shop! One winner to be chosen at random on November 8th.
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