I got to know Jess Constable when the blog world really exploded with excitement about her jewelry line, JessLC. When I started reading her blog, MakeunderMyLife, I was totally blog-crushing. Not only with her beautiful new apartment, cute boyfriend, fabulously successful business at the age of 25, or her gorgeous jewelry, but (yes, there's more!) with her thoughtful intentions to live an uncluttered, valuable, and helpful life. One of my favorite features of her blog is her "Design Your Life" series where she interviews bloggers and creatives about their "life philosophies," so to speak. The result is a powerful reminder to readers to take it easy, enjoy life, treat others kindly, and in the meanwhile, shed some of that excess stuff that is weighing you down. It's a good read. So I thought you guys might like to get to know Jess a little better...
1. Can you share a little about the history behind JessLC and your entrepreneurship?
Sure. Quite simply, I began making ugly ankle bracelets next to a pool when I was 15-years-old and some women bought them. I took that as a sign that I should continue to learn to make jewelry and sell it to friends, family, teachers, and boutiques. I started with that one bag of seed beads and grew from there. At the University of Michigan, I studied business administration at the Ross School of Business, intending (most of the time) to start my jewelry business full-time after graduation.
In August of 2007, I moved to Chicago and set up shop so-to-speak in a small studio in Lakeview. Now I have part-time help, interns, and sell to over 100 boutiques across the country.
It was no easy task to start the business, but it was a gradual process over the past ten years and experience is a great teacher.
2. What is your blog, MakeunderMyLife about?
MakeunderMyLife started in late January of 2009 (this year) and was originally meant to be a place for me to record my own personal process of making under my life for an eventual book. What I quickly realized (three days after starting the blog) is that people were interested in reading about my story and sharing their own makeunders. Now. Online.
Now I write five days a week about a variety of topics like exfoliating (getting rid of stuff I don't need/use/love anymore), decorating, designing my jewelry, small business advice, and books that inspire me. And I can't forget to mention my popular Thursday guest feature called DESIGN YOUR LIFE where each week participants share their intentions for their life and actionable ways they "design their life" around those intentions.
3. If you could only wear one piece (ok, two!) from your jewelry line for the rest of your life, what would it be?
This answer might surprise some people. My two pieces would be the Madison Simple Crystal Earrings in gold and shade ($18) and the Rush St. Layering Necklace ($54). These two pieces are neutral and go with everything I have in my wardrobe.
4. You and your boy Erwin recently moved into a new apartment. Do you have a design philosophy?
Great question! My design philosophy for the jewelry is always "naturally graceful." And I guess that kind of carries over into my decor as well. Lately, I like clean lines and modern, graphic styling. Think Rubie Green or AphroChic. But I still have a bit of the vintage I used to love via the liberal use of the color putty in almost every room in the apartment. Come to think of it, I also have a lot of putty in my wardrobe as well.
5. Blogging, designing, decorating, and running a business... girl, you are busy! (She runs marathons too, people!) How do you stay organized and sane?
Hah, this one might surprise people. Since I am fortunate enough to work full-time on my business, I am also able to work the blogging aspect into my workday as well. Which leaves my most nights and weekends free from blogs and jewelry. For me, this is extremely important. I know there are people who are working overtime in their lives to make their own business take off, and I respect that so much. But I do think that the point of having my own business is also to allow me to spend time with friends, family, and Erwin.
I also recognize my natural work pattern. I am a morning person, so I get up (most days) at 6:10 and workout and begin my workday at 9am. Working from my home studio now allows me to skip the commute- leading to a more productive day as well. And for organization- nothing can get between me and a good to-do list! I make one every weekday morning and work to cross off everything on the list as I go along. Taking the time to number the tasks also saves me time asking "what should I do next?" It's already laid out on the paper or wipe board.
6. Do you have a guilty pleasure food (mine is homemade baked mac and cheese!)?
Hah! This list could get long, so I'll try to be brief. I love my Grandma's Cheesy Onions, nachos, white wine, baked brie, white chocolate, cookie dough, frosting. And since this summer's marathon training, I've randomly discovered a love of cheeseburgers. Overall, I try to eat well and make sure that I am pretty equal in my input vs. output. Exercise with my appetite, is my friend.
7. If you could have one wish for the future for your blog and/or business in five years, what would it be?
My wish would be for the blog purpose to have grown beyond just the blog to include a book, web videos, and online classes for people to participate in making under around the world.
8. Lastly, excluding the obvious friends and family, what are five things simple luxuries you couldn't live without?
This is a great question. I'd have to say:
1 - Celestial Seasonings Honey Vanilla White Chai - I have a cup of this tea every morning in the fall, winter, and spring. The flavor is light with just enough caffeine to keep me going past the 10am slump. It's so good, I often bring tea bags in my purse to use when I'm at brunch or working on the go.
2 - Blog reading - I know this isn't really a 'luxury' but in terms of my day, I see this time spent inspiring. I love meeting new bloggers and seeing new designs in other industries- especially interior design.
3 - Prisma Color Pencils - These colored pencils are the best(!) for coloring, a new/old hobby I recently picked back up. I keep mine sharpened and displayed in a pretty vintage glass on my kitchen desk.
4 - Walking along Lake Michigan in Lincoln Park - Simply living one block from the path along Lake Michigan in Chicago is a luxury in itself. But taking a weekend afternoon to go walking alone or with a friend is something I value so much. Whenever I go, I realize how much I love living in Chicago.
5 - My white marble worktable - Recently I found a white marble table at the local thrift store and purchased it for my studio. I love everything about it. The surface reminds me of my childhood vacations on Mackinaw Island where the fudge shops all have white marble slabs to prepare fudge. One day I would like to raise the legs and make it a kitchen island in my future home.
Thanks Jess! And yep, that worktable is dreamy! Readers, have any other questions? And also, is there anyone you'd like to see featured on Getting to Know You? Let me know, and I'll tell them their presence has been requested!