We’re excited to welcome Jennifer of Monaluna to the blog today for another installment of our Top 10 interviews. Jennifer started Monaluna to offer a more environmentally sound alternative to traditional fabric manufacturing, so she creates the most fun, playful designs that are printed exclusively on organic fabrics. We met Jennifer at Quilt Market this spring and she was lovely to chat with – very kind and supportive of our soon-to-be-released designs. That was also the first time I got my hands on some of her fabric, and after admiring it online plenty of times before hand, I can say that in real life her prints are even sweeter and more detailed than pictures do justice and I want to make an entire wardrobe out of her buttery-soft knits. Dreamy stuff.
But on to the interview!
We’ll start out all business:
What has been your greatest professional challenge and how has it affected you and your business?
It sounds mundane, but I think time management is my biggest professional challenge. As a creative person, I spend so much of my time visualizing, and somehow I always visualize doing things much faster than I actually can. I’ve had to be very careful to plot out timelines and due dates to make sure I can realistically do what I plan to do. It’s still not always effective, but I’ve gotten much better over time!
Who or what has been your greatest inspiration? And your biggest distraction?
I am constantly inspired by nature and the environment I live in. The best way for me to feel centered and receptive to ideas is to go for a hike, or putter around in my garden. It always leaves me feeling refreshed and engaged.
On the other hand, technology is both a source of inspiration and my biggest distraction. I love the connectedness that the internet can provide, but at times I can feel so deluged by little bits of information that it’s hard to think straight. I have to work hard to carve out time away from email, facebook and random bits of electronic information so that I can get design work done.
What has been the most surprising outcome of your creative journey?
My business, Monaluna! I’ve worked in the design industry for my whole career, but I really didn’t plan to start a business like this. I had been licensing my artwork for fabric, but I saw a need in the marketplace for more organic fabric options, and I really wanted to help fill it. One thing led to another, and the next thing I knew, I was in business!
Is there one project that will always hold a place in your heart? Why?
My wedding dress. I had just started sewing again after a long break when my husband and I got engaged. I tried on a few dresses, but couldn’t find any that were right and that I wanted to pay for. I was underemployed at the time, so I had quite a bit of time on my hands, and I decided to give it a try. My husband bought 26 yards of silk in the NYC garment district on a business trip, and I got to work modifying a pattern I had found. I got to really take my time with it, and do some custom details and little rituals that made it really special. It turned out pretty nicely, too, if I do say so myself!
What’s next? Where do you hope to be in 5 years? 10 years?
THAT is a very good question! I’ve been thinking a lot about that lately, and I’m still kind of figuring it out. I love my business and the work that I do, but I do hope to have a little more time for designing and creative projects. I just hired my first employee, and already I have more time, so things are heading in the right direction.
And more personally…
What’s your favorite way to spend a day off? Any guilty indulgences?
When I really want a weekend to feel special, we’ll pack up books and maybe paints, jump in the car and drive up the coast to Stinson Beach, or Limantour Beach, a little further north. The drive is so pretty, and we sometimes stop in Point Reyes for lunch, or there’s a really great oyster shack in Marshall that’s a favorite. It always feels good to get a dose of redwoods and ocean air. Otherwise, though, just a quiet Sunday at home with the New York Times and good coffee can be a treat.
Where would you travel if you had no restrictions on time and money?
Everywhere! I love to travel, and I don’t get to do it enough. Top 3 would be Morocco, France and Thailand.
How do you balance work/home/family/everyday life? How does your family deal with all the demands on your time?
It’s really tough, and I feel like I’m always struggling to figure that out. My work fluctuates, but it really ramps up twice a year when we’re getting ready for Quilt Market. During those periods, my husband Dave really takes the lead on home and parenting things, and he helps out a lot with Market, too. The upside is that I have a lot of flexibility, so when things are less crazy, I can do more. Luckily, my daughter, who’s 4, thinks the whole thing is pretty entertaining, and I don’t feel that she missing out on anything. She loves helping out in the studio and playing with “mama’s fabric”.
What’s a typical “day in the life” for you? Are you a morning person or night owl? All work before play?
I’m definitely more of a night owl than a morning person. I usually get up around 7, make coffee and check email. My daughter gets up a little later, and Dave and I get her ready for school and the two of them head out. If the weather’s nice (which it usually is), I like to eat breakfast outside and check the paper. My work days vary so much, but ideally I try to get emails and orders and any other business stuff done in the morning, and I work on more creative projects later in the day. Often, though, the business ends up taking the whole day. I usually work until 6 or 6:30, and then we go for a walk, or work on the yard, or play with Anabelle. Then we make dinner, and rarely eat before 8:30. Anabelle goes to be around 9 or 9:30, and then we read or talk, work on creative projects or watch something on our computer.
What’s your favorite rant? What’s your soapbox?
Tread lightly and be kind.
Extra Credit: Sum up your life in six words.
I jumped and then it appeared.
Thanks so much for joining us, Jennifer! It’s so nice to get to know you better. We’ve been enjoying following along as you plan your next collection. Best of luck with Quilt Market this fall!
-Elizabeth and Kim