November 15th, 2009
The next person in the hot seat is Jenny from Junky Chicken who works with recycled materials to make and assortment of goodies for all.
1. What is the name of your business and how did the name come about?
My business is called Junky Chicken. I used to work under the name Jenny’s Textiles but didn’t like the fact that it limited me to working in textiles. I also wanted something that stood out more and which hinted at the fact that I work with recycled materials. One of the main items that I make is chicken doorstops which are made from recycled fabric and so the name Junky Chicken came to be!
2. Tell me a little about your business – what is it that you make and sell and where are you based
I make all kinds of things ranging from doorstops and paperweights, to voodoo doll pincushions, upcycled envelopes and paper beads. Everything is made from pre-loved materials and I try to keep every aspect of my business as ecologically friendly as possible. I use non-toxic glues, send out my goods in recycled packaging and my sewing machine is even powered with green electricity! At the moment I am based near Devizes in Wiltshire.
3. What inspired you to start your business?
I have always loved making things and after finding myself unable to get a job I started dreaming about making money by selling my art. My husband and I were living in Brighton at the time and decided to run away to the countryside and try to start making money from our crafts. I started off by making textile art pieces but gradually transitioned into making the things I do now. After finding Folksy and starting to sell at craft fairs, things really started to look more business like and hopefully my business will continue to grow!
4. How long does it usually take for you to complete a piece?
It varies quite a lot depending on what I’m making. For example, one of my chicken doorstops can take around 2 hours, a paperweight takes about an hour and a half, and a keyring probably takes just under an hour.
5. Where do you work?
I work from home, and pretty much use the whole house as my work space! I have filled our small second bedroom with fabric, my sewing machine is in the kitchen, which is the best room in the house for having plenty of natural light, and computer based work is done in the living room.
6. What would be your dream project?
My dream project will be building our own house, which we plan to do in the next couple of years. We plan to literally build it ourselves, with our own hands, using cob (which is a mix of clay, straw, and aggregate). I can’t think of anything better than to hand make your own house!
7. What is the most challenging piece you’ve ever made?
The most challenging thing I’ve ever made is probably the giant converse shoe that I made for A-level art, which was around 2.5 metres long by 1 metre high, and which was inspired by Claes Oldenburg. Working out a pattern for something is always my least favourite part of new designs and working out the pattern for a giant shoe was definitely pretty challenging!
8. What is your favourite thing to do when you are not crafting/working?
My favourite thing to do when I’m not crafting is reading, or going for a walk with my husband.
9. Who are some of your favourite crafters/artists/designers?
I’ve just come back from doing a course at Sylvantutch where they make amazing wooden furniture from locally sourced, reclaimed wood. They make beautiful things and I love everything that they do. I also am a big fan of my husband, who is the Joe Hurry of Joe Hurry Creations and my sister Jess, who does photography & graphic design. They both do great stuff!
10. What inspires you / where do you get your inspiration when you are designing/creating your products?
Anything and everything can inspire a new product. A lot of times, new product ideas have come about because I have wanted to come up with a way of re-using things that we get a lot of such as junk mail and envelopes, or things that we often see in charity shops like old, out of date maps.
11. What are your favourite blogs and what online site do you visit a lot?
One of my favourite blogs is http://craftingagreenworld.com/ although I enjoy reading loads of others too. I also spend a lot of time on Folksy and have recently joined Twitter, which I used to hate the idea of, but am now finding to be annoyingly addictive!
12. Where do you source your materials/supplies?
All of the fabric that I use comes from charity shops, Freecycle and friends and family. Anything else that I need such as paper and glue usually comes from Eco-craft, a brilliant online stationary shop, and who I can highly recommend.
13. How do you balance your day job [if you have one] and your crafting enterprise?
I am lucky enough to have a wonderful husband who allows me to focus on Junky Chicken full time. Hopefully one day soon it will provide me with a full time wage!
14. If you could have any super power what would it be?
Hmm, it would be great to be able to stop time. Like Bernard in Bernard’s Watch, only without the watch, just my mind. Then I could get loads more done. Or I could learn to play piano incredibly well and things like in Groundhog Day. That would be a good super power.
15. What is the last book that you read and enjoyed?
I always have at least two books on the go. Usually one book for reading upstairs and one for downstairs! The last truly amazing book I read was ‘The Idle Parent’ by Tom Hodgkinson. I love all his books equally and this one is about his take on parenting.
16. What is the last film you watched and enjoyed?
I re-watched ‘The Nines’ at the weekend, with Ryan Reynolds, which is a brilliant film.
17. If you won a million on the lottery tomorrow what would you do with the money?
I would tell my husband to hand in his notice and then we would move to Wales, buy some land and build a cob house.
18. Where can we find your products for sale or see you products online?
I have my own website, a blog and a shop on Folksy. You can also see photos of my stuff on Flickr. In the real world, you can find some of my chickens at the BrooksSmith gallery in St Ives, and I am going to be doing Handm@de Oxford in November.
19. Any advice for other crafters out there who may want to start their own business?
My advice would be to just go for it. Believe that nothing is impossible and be happy to accept that running your own business is going to be a constant learning curve! Read as much as you can on running your own business, from tutorials on taking better photos to how to market yourself to writing good product descriptions. Most importantly, enjoy it! I am still in the early stages of getting Junky Chicken up and running and I find myself thinking of and doing business related things nearly 24 hours a day at the moment but I’m enjoying every minute of it.
20. What is your favourite recipe – savoury or sweet – care to share it?
Here’s a sweet AND healthy recipe for raw food bars. We have these for breakfast every day and for snacks (good snacks are very important for running a business!).
125g Pitted dates
Approx 180g mix of your choice of nuts & seeds (we usually add oats, linseed, sunflower seeds, cacao nibs and almonds but you can pretty much add whatever combination you want)
2 tsp Cocoa powder
1-2 tbsp Honey
Blend the dates until you have a big sticky blob, and then add the raisins and blend a bit more until you have an even bigger sticky blob. (I could totally write a recipe book!) Weigh out the nuts & seeds, add the cocoa powder and mix it up a bit before adding this to the sticky blob and blending until it’s all mixed together. Lastly add the honey to help it all stick together well. Now that you have everything nicely blended together, empty it out into a tray and press it all down firmly. Put it in the fridge for a few hours and then it can be cut up into bars. It should make enough for 10.
Many thanks Jenny for taking the time to answer all my questions.
All photographs taken with kind permission from Jenny’s online shops/blogs.
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Do you want to get featured on this blog? ‘Milomade 20 Questions’ is going to be a regular spot on my blog which will showcase other crafters/designers/artists who work predominantly with recycled, upcycled and reused materials. If you are interested in getting featured then please get in touch.
Posted in Friday Finds |