The second installment of ‘handmade with love’ introduces Jo, the talented lady behind Jota Creations.
Jo creates beautiful, original fabric and mixed media canvases which are truly unique and make the most amazing presents (if you can bare to part with them yourself!)
Name: Jo Adshead
Company: Jota Creations
Tell me a little bit more about yourself: I have always lived in Stockport, apart from my time at Uni when I lived in Liverpool where I did a Fashion & Textile degree. I am married with 2 young boys aged 8 and 3. My work life has been quite varied from Freelance Surface Pattern Designer to Manager of an interior design shop to Admin work. Even when my work hasn’t involved creating I would be working on my home’s interior, making cushions or pieces of artwork etc – it is something that has been a constant in my life.
Describe your business in one sentence: Bespoke, unique and personalised art work.
When did you start your business and why? After I had my first son, I went back to work 4 days a week in admin. When I was on my maternity leave with my second son, my husband had a promotion which required him to be away more and so my old working hours just didn’t fit anymore with meeting the needs of my family and I couldn’t reduce my hours any further. I was able to stay on with the company working from home as and when I was needed. Over this transition I had limited funds so when 3 close friends’ birthdays were coming up I wanted to buy them something special but just didn’t have the finances to do so. I decided on making them canvases and from those three initial creations, several other friends asked if I could create something for them and each early order resulted in a new order. The growth was very organic and without making a conscious decision to do so, I suddenly had my own business opportunity that I knew I had to grab and give my best shot.
Did you face any challenges setting up your company? The natural start to my business was a blessing really. I never sat and thought to myself that I wanted to set up my own business, it just gradually grew for me. I think if I’d made the decision beforehand and thought about all the possible barriers, I may not have had the confidence to go for it. There were very few initial overheads as I already owned all the raw materials and equipment (sewing machine, fabrics, paper, wood etc) which I have accumulated over the years from my art background.
A year on, there are more challenges but not the actual design or production, that’s easy. The main challenge now is taking my business to the next level. My youngest son is about to start school and I am ready to increase my profile and take on a higher number of commissions. I know that the wonderful world of online offers me an open door to sell my creations to a wider audience – but I’m far more confident on a sewing machine than on a laptop! I have decided to get some help with this side of my business as it’s one area I find intimidating and I feel the best use of my time is creating brilliant work, not spending hours trying to get my head around promotion.
What is a typical work day for you? I tend to get up early to make the most of the peace before my boys awake! I tend to use this time to get organised and set myself up for the day. I then step into my ‘mum shoes’ for the morning. Breakfast and the school run is followed by morning activities with my youngest son. I drop him at pre-school after lunch and then rush home to make the most of the precious few hours that lie ahead. The afternoons fly by in a frenzy of designing, templating, cutting and stitching. It’s bliss.
I’m then back into mum-mode; pick ups, drop offs, dinner, homework, breaking up arguments, bath, stories then bed. Once they are asleep, it’s back to my desk to finish off what I started.
Describe your creative space: Luckily our loft space has been converted and it’s a lovely space to work in. I have gone from working on the floor (agony on the knees!) to a make-shift desk to a proper working space that includes sets of drawers, an ironing board and a couple of desks; one where I sit and design and the other for my sewing machine. Ironing is an essential part of my production process and I spent months running up and down the stairs before I realised how much time I was wasting!
I like my space to be organised and tidy. The drawers were a brilliant addition as they house all of my fabrics, templates and bits & bobs. Again, it’s a time-saver knowing where everything is.
In addition to the loft, you’ll also find me in our garage where I make the frames. in the past, my dad and father-in-law helped me out with these but I like to do everything I can so the majority are now made by me.
What and who inspires you? This is really hard to answer succinctly as I just love colour, design, furniture and architecture. I see things that inspire me all around. I read LivingEtc every month from cover to cover and have done for over 5+ years. My husband asked me to get rid of the old back issues as he was worried about the weight in the loft!
I have recently discovered the illustrator/artist Charles Harper as my son was learning about him in school. His work is gorgeous – the colours and stylised images are really inspirational. Others artists I love are Mark Rothko, Joseph Albers, Richard Diebenkorn and Jong Ro who I have recently discovered on Pinterest. The list could go on and on as I am a bit like a scrapbook, pulling inspiration from here, there and everywhere, but the main thread throughout is colour.
What has been your biggest achievement so far? I think just having confidence in myself and accepting that people like my work and are willing to pay for it! Due to the fact that I didn’t set out for this venture to grow into a profitable business, it has taken me a while to have the self belief that this is something that could actually work.
What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given? Will you ask me this again in a years time? I know that I am going to learn a lot over the coming months about managing a growing business and I am really excited about that.
My husbands advice is always “Do unto others as you would have them do to you” and we hope to instil this into our boys. Although we are not religious, I think it is a good code to live and work by.
What is your favourite product and why? This changes all the time as I am constantly growing my portfolio and introducing new designs. I work closely with each customer and aim to add something individual to each piece I create. If you pushed me to pick one, I would have to chose my family trees. They were the start of this adventure and I love how unique and personal they are.
Have you always been creatively driven? Always. As a little girl I gave my Sindy house interior makeovers and spent hours on my Fashion Wheel pretending to be a fashion designer. Throughout school and 6th Form College I knew I wanted to do an Art degree despite some teachers trying to steer me towards maths and science. I wouldn’t have done anything else.
What projects are you working on at the moment? I have a few really exciting projects live at the moment – all of them are new designs to meet specific requests from my clients. One is a Turkish themed canvas for a client whose mother lives in Turkey. Another is a new design I have created for the arrival of new babies using a stork motif. I am also having fun at the moment with lettering – either on individual letter blocks or a wedding gift I am currently designing for a new Mr and Mrs.
What has been the most interesting or exciting project you’ve worked on? Every time I get a new order I get really excited as every commission is different, the template may be the same but how it is made up is unique to the customer and their requirements. During the design process, I work closely with the customer to add in personal details and I love that I never know where each order will lead.
In terms of your work what couldn’t you live without? My beloved sewing machine.
What do you love most about what you do? I just love messing around with colours and shapes and seeing them come together to create something original and beautiful. I love the feedback I’ve had about how happy my work has made people. It’s lovely that my work enables my customers to show someone just how special they are to them. That makes me very happy!
What are your business dreams? Once I have settled my youngest son into school in September I am ready to step things up a gear. I’m starting to have the self confidence to believe that my work has wide appeal and just needs wider exposure. Things high on my “to do” list are to create a beautiful website and a successful Etsy page. Beyond that, I’d love to see my work featured in LivingEtc – then I’d know that I’ve really made it!
When are you happiest? From a work point of view, I’m happiest when I am sat at my desk with the radio on knowing that I have a couple of hours to immerse myself in my work without any interruptions.
Outside of work, nothing is more important to me than the happiness of my family and friends. If they are alright then I am happy.
How beautiful is Jo’s work?! Not only are her canvases amazing, she also creates bespoke greetings cards and we were lucky enough to receive a personalised one for Phoebe recently from a mutual friend – it is so beautiful and such a lovely keepsake I’m going to get it framed!
If you’d like to keep up to date with Jo’s news or buy any of her beautiful canvases, you can find her on facebook and twitter.
For your chance to win, comment on this blog post and then enter via the Rafflecopter widget below. Full Ts&Cs are below.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Terms and conditions:
- Entry is open to UK residents aged 18 and over, excluding anyone professionally associated with Hello Baby Blog or Jota Creations.
- The prize is non-transferable and there is no cash alternative.
- The prize draw starts at 9.00am GMT on 14th July 2014 and closes at 11.59pm GMT on 31st July 2014.
- Entry is free and must be made by commenting on this blog post and filling in the Rafflecopter widget. Entrants can gain bonus entries by following Hello Baby on facebook, @hellobabyblog on Twitter, tweeting about the giveaway, following Jota Creations on facebook, @jotacreations on Twitter and then completing the Rafflecopter widget featured in this post.
- The name of the winner will be published on this website within 14 days of the competition closing.
- Hello Baby Blog’s decision on all matters is final and binding on all entrants. No correspondence will be entered into.
- By taking part in this competition you agree to be bound by the competition terms and conditions.
- Hello Baby Blog reserves the right to disqualify any entrant and / or winner in its discretion and without any notice in accordance with these terms and conditions.
- Once the winner has been selected at random using Rafflecopter, I will inform Jota Creations of the winner’s name and address, they will then send on the prize. I’m sure this won’t happen but I cannot be held responsible for prizes being lost in the post or arriving late.
*** Jo is also offering Hello Baby readers the opportunity to purchase any of her 12cm x 12cm blocks for a bargainous £10 until the end of July. To take advantage of this amazing offer use the discount code ‘butterfly10′ when ordering. Happy Shopping! ***