As we like say here, Painted Sidewalks is a celebration of friendship + motherhood! We're over the moon to be able share our inspiring Momma- friends with our readers here. Meet Mother + Maker, Textile Artist, Jenny Irene in California. Click for more, as she talks work + life balance and the scoop behind her coveted booties, bonnets, and play wear.
What inspires you?
I find a lot of inspiration in the landscape just outside our apartment. We live in the Presidio of San Francisco, which is basically a huge park right on the edge of the Pacific and surrounded by cypress and eucalyptus groves. At night it's so quiet that we can hear the ocean, coyotes howling and hoot owls in the trees nearby. The Pacific Ocean is our front yard. The smell of the ocean, the colors and sounds of our neighborhood are so peaceful and lovely. It's a magical place to raise a family...so close to nature, so tranquil, so beautiful. I started basket weaving with some angel vine that grows all over the trees near our house. My daughter and I just sit in this little forest and she can run around and hear the ocean while I collect vines and flowers. I can't imagine a more inspiring place.
How do you find the time to create? What is your background with design, sewing, creating, art?
I try to be very disciplined about a schedule so that I can make time for my work. Luckily my daughter is a super napper and I get 2-3 hours each day to work. I also have regular nights where my husband takes her out for a special "daddy/daughter" date and I have the evening or the day to myself.
I've been knitting for about 15 years now and love the repetition and mediation. I started sewing and making clothing about 10 years ago now, mostly because I couldn't find the kinds of things that I wanted to wear. Eventually I started selling to friends and in local shops. It was all young, fun, girly clothing....lots of sequins and tulle. And I learned how screenprint too, which allowed me to create my own textiles when I couldn't find colors and fabrics that caught my eye.
What brought you to where you are? How did you discover you wanted to create a baby clothing and nursery line?
While I was pregnant, I started to knit and sew things for the new baby. After she was born, I was trying to find a way to stay home with her and took some of the things I'd designed for her and turned them into a product line. Almost everything I make now started out as something I made for Arlan first, then tweaked and perfected until it was a solid design. I made the baby booties originally because I couldn't find any baby shoes that she wouldn't rip off in 3 seconds. The neckerchiefs were inspired by a very drooly teething phase. (And a shortage of bibs that are actually cute.)
When I decided to make a nursery and children's line, I took the designs I'd been working on and paired them with vintage, one-of-a-kind and really beautiful imported textiles that I'd been collecting for years. I'm especially in love with the Hmong batiks that I'm able to source. They are so vibrant and really great for girls or boys. I'm not a big fan of overly girly prints and patterns, so exotic fabrics and a great option. My aesthetic has really changed over the years!
And anything else you want to share with us?
So many people have asked if they can get one of the baby designs in an adult size, and I'm going to make a very limited set of women's dresses from the same collection of textiles. I'm hoping to have it ready to launch in December for a pop-up holiday event at really cute SF shop called Foggy Notion (date TBA). It will be really basic tops and dresses that are flattering both as maternity and non-maternity pieces. I'm really excited about the beautiful vintage silk saris that I've been experimenting with for this new line.
For more of Jenny, visit www.jennyirene.com