Creative Women Profile: Violinist & Knitter-About-Town, Mia
Hey buddy ol’ pals! Today I’m proud to share the next Creative Women feature on videographer Kate Jones. Kate is a corporate video producer turned entrepreneur in Des Moines, Iowa. One of the first times I realized Kate had a great visual arts eye was when I saw her at the cutting table at Jo-Ann Fabrics. We were then just acquaintances so we were both very civil and proper towards each other- how things change! Kate was buying foam to redo her porch furniture, and I asked her opinion on which grey fabric I should buy. She said that the one grey was more bluey and the other grey was more yellowy… I honestly couldn’t see it, but I knew then that she was good. A little too good.
I’ve worked with some of the most creative people in Los Angeles, but Kate and her husband Dylan are still two of the most inspiring and creative makers I know. They seem to always know about a cool new company, or seem to always be making something hearty like a hand-sewn leather bike pouch or a letterpress machine. They never do anything halfway, but ruminate on it for maybe years before the execution. One of my favorite pasttimes is perusing Kate’s Pinterest account so that I can take a walk through her brain.
Without further ado, here’s Kate!
Video produced for Youth Standing Strong Des Moines Iowa
Describe where you’re from: I grew up in Eastern Iowa, but my mind was often growing up in books and British movies. 🙂
What was your favorite thing about growing up? The ability to imagine, and get to know other people. I spent a lot of time making stories with my siblings, especially my little brother John, who is nine years younger but like a twin.
Could your family see entrepreneurial or creative potential in you when you were little?
I think so. My parents always encouraged us to question and then find solutions, which created a great environment for entrepreneurial and creative potential. Being homeschooled, I felt very free to explore learning for myself, and to learn in ways that fit my brain. Since I always loved making things, I would often take concepts from school and use them in a personal project. I would use Geometry principles to help me make a model replica of a Roman villa. I would create my own movies using my siblings as actors, editing old-school in-camera on the VHS tape. I “published” comic books and magazines and turned our living room into a cinema, complete with tickets for “purchase”. And I would turn my bedroom into a library, checking books out to my brothers and sister, much to the annoyance of my sister (who shared the room). Unfortunately my business ventures rarely turned lucrative, but I learned. 🙂
What are your favorite hobbies? Right now I’ve fallen into an addiction to politics, but I’ve also grown a love for gardening as well. I have enjoyed making leather accessories for the last several years, and also dabble in letterpressing whenever I can.
My secret superpower is… Oh gracious, not sure! My hands are unable to move completely free from one another, is that a superpower? If not, I suppose my red hair has to have a superpower in it, right?
What are your main passions? I love Jesus, I love His Church (people), and I love His Gospel. That pretty much covers everything, but inside of that, I am passionate about freedom and truth, I love my husband, and am passionate about creativity.
What is the glammest thing you do? I’m pretty boring right now…I suppose go for sunset rides with my dapper husband on our vintage Lambretta scooter? At least that feels very “Roman Holiday” to me, and what’s more glam than acting like Audrey Hepburn?
Are you a farm girl or city girl? What is the farmiest (or most sustainable) thing you do? I am an acreage girl, which is sort of in the middle. Gardening is still very new for me, but creating a garden and yard that uses sustainable watering practices is something my husband and I are working toward.
What do you think about Des Moines? Any favorite spots? I have grown to love Des Moines. For food, I love: La Mie, Eatery A, Thai Flavors, India Star, The Cheese Shop, and The Continental. For nature, I love: Lake Maffitt, The Botanical Gardens, twilight walks in Beaverdale, and any country road south of the city. For city life, I love: The Art Center, Fleur Cinema, Varsity Theater for an old movie, Centro for dinner, Scenic Route Bakery for morning coffee, and Simon Estes Ampitheater in the summer.
If you could live anywhere, where would you go? Outside of the US, probably England or Ireland. I adore those countries. Inside the US, a hilly 10-acre section of land (with a creek on it) fairly close to Des Moines but with a country view. In my travels, I have come to feel Iowa is actually an amazing place to live.
What are your next travel plans? My husband and I just returned from a delightful vacation on Lake Superior. We visited Duluth first, and then camped north at Gooseberry Falls. An absolutely breath-taking part of the world.
What are your favorite things about your significant other? I love his heart, his soul, and his personality. He loves Jesus also, so we can fellowship spiritually together and that has formed the foundation of our relationship. He’s a Maker too, and I love the way he creates and sees the world. He challenges me, balances me out, and helps me expand since he has a quiet personality and different strengths than I do. He’s hilarious (especially when he does Trump impersonations), and loves film, music, and modern design. And he’s meltingly handsome, which is nice. 😉
How did you get into starting your company? Jack & Jane Studio began as an idea my brother John and I would toss around. We wanted to make films that helped our community and wasn’t just about making money. I had been feeling a loss of creative joy at the company I was working for, so Jack & Jane grew out of a passion to return to the freedom of creativity, and a desire to let it bless others.
What are some major setbacks that you’d care to share so we don’t make the same mistake? First, choose your clients well. I chose a project with a client I had no information about, and it turned out to be a very stressful experience. Second, choose projects you can get behind. In my field — filmmaking — it’s exhausting work, and requires passion to deliver an emotionally honest story. Films can be made just for money, but the stories told when your heart is involved are far stronger, and far better. Third, be honest about your limitations. Don’t try to sell the moon, be confident about what you can provide and let them know exactly what you are capable of. That way, clients will be happier and you will be less stressed.
Is there a job or something that helped prepare you for running your business? I was an Art Director for 9.5 years prior to starting my business. For about 7 years, I was thrown into making corporate films, and had to learn everything the hard way. I was responsible for all elements of video production, and built up a lucrative video department at that company. Those years profoundly helped me prepare for starting a business.
What is a profit stealer or time suck that you did not expect in your business? Editing is definitely time-sucking for me. I often want to get it just right, and my computer is not always fast enough for my liking. Also, I’d say finding music definitely consumes hours of time.
Hey pals, so the new Snapstagram right?!
Anyhoo, a little bit ago I texted my videographer friend Kate of Jack and Jane Studio if I should get a mic for my iPhone if I wanted to do my own Youtube channel (which would feature me doing slightly boring but hopefully funny homemaker this-n-thats) and she went above and beyond with the info she provided me with, because video is her jam. I’ll be doing a Creative Women feature on her very soon, so you’ll be able to know the woman behind the genius, but for now, here is everything you need to know on the basics of starting your own Youtube channel! Our text conversation:
This week is a busy one. My friend did a wedding dress upheaval and we completely changed the style of dress she wanted for her wedding. Oy vay. I’m just really glad that she likes the style we’re going with. It’s a satin twist front old Hollywood style ivory dress with a long train. I’m really excited to make it, but I kept getting road blocks in finding enough fabric to make it, and I don’t want to drive into L.A. to get it. On that note, off to the store to source the materials, and Home Depot to finish some home projects.
p.s. If you’re a typical Jane Austen fan, don’t see the movie Love and Friendship. If you’re more of a Whit Stillman fan, do see it.
Thoughts on Plants. Plants on birthdays.
For my birthday, my husband came home with a beautiful blooming pink Kalanchoe succulent plant in hand. He skipped lunch so that he could leave work early and find a plant I would like and not kill (yes, I, the plant enthusiast, unfortunately regularly kill plants. I do best when I can plant directly in the ground.) The most interesting thing about this plant is you can make it believe that it is winter so that it will bloom again in summer. You just give it some morning sunlight, stick it in a closet for 12-14 hours every day for a month and a half, and it should start blooming again. Hurrah! (side note: I think I gave it too much water and it started to wilt and turn brown. Note to you- don’t do that.)
Amazing Creative Women
I found this WeWork feature on award-winning filmmaker Sarah Gerber inspiring and insightful. I first met Benedict Cumberbatch lookalike David Gerber in Los Angeles, and while serving alongside him, was always impressed with how driven and kind he was. It makes sense then that he would marry such a compassionate, talented woman in Sarah. Read on!
I moved back to Southern California not that long ago, and I knew I wanted to start networking with creatives straight away. Natalie is one of the first people I connected with out here through a creative Meetup group. I had never used Meetup before, but it is such an easy way to get introduced to like-minded people. I was so impressed with the metalsmithing work that she did, I had to invite myself to her studio for a tour. I came away with some bacon avocados and citrus from the grounds, which made my day.
Here is a little bit on Natalie of Salayi Designs!
Could your family see entrepreneurial or creative potential in you when you were little?
My parents were big supporters of creativity. All of our family vacations involved museum visits, and art supplies were abundant in the house. I was also really lucky to be able to attend Interlochen Center for the Arts for their summer camp from 1992-2000. I went initially for violin and orchestra, but also got to take art classes, including my first jewelry classes. When I told my parents I wanted to go to an art school for college, they were pretty hesitant, but my dad mentioned later on that he couldn’t really say no given how into art I had always been.
What’s it like where you’re from?
I lived in northwest Ohio until I left for college at Tufts in Boston, where I lived for 5 years. After that I moved back to Ohio for graduate school before heading up to mid-Michigan for three years. In 2013 my husband and I moved to Orange, California for his job.
What are your favorite hobbies?
My hobbies are always changing. I love to cook, and thankfully my husband is happy to eat just about anything I put together. Gardening is also a favorite, along with reading (mostly non-fiction) and a whole host of rotating art projects. For our wedding I spent months making dyed eggs as table decorations. Right now, I’m playing around with a latch hook rug. I have also had a consistent yoga/meditation practice for the past five years that has served as a strong foundation for my daily life.
What are your main passions?
My biggest passion is living an authentic life. I’m happiest when I can continue to explore new interests and keep learning. I tend to get pretty down when I’m pulled too far into a “daily grind”, so being able to transition away from a full time day job to pursuing my own artwork has been a huge gift.
What is the glammest thing you do?
I don’t think there’s anything about me anyone would describe as glam! Thankfully our dogs, who I spend the greatest amount of time with, don’t care that my nails are never painted, or that I don’t really know how to do my hair other than pulling it into a pony tail.
How do you live a sustainable life?
After I finished graduate school in 2010, I moved to a former farm in Michigan. I was initially really hesitant to live there, but after about 8 months or so I had completely changed my tune. After years in Boston and suburban Ohio, I found myself really basking in the solitude. Before I left that house, I had learned to garden and grow nearly all my own produce, had about 10 mini-goats, 20-some chickens, and a couple bee hives. Being involved in raising my own food was a really rewarding experience, and changed my relationship with food and my own body dramatically. I wouldn’t trade that time for anything.
What is your favorite thing about Orange County?
Orange County has been a pretty big change for me. My husband and I were living in Detroit and Ann Arbor MI, respectively, before moving here and I miss both of those cities. I have enjoyed exploring the hiking in this area, and being near the ocean has been a real treat. After our last trip back to Michigan (in January!) I realized just how acclimated to the warm weather I have become.
How did you get started in your business?
I started selling my jewelry way back in high school through the Toledo Museum of Art gift shop. After that, I participated in sales through my college and after graduation approached some local stores about carrying my work. A lot of sales have come through word of mouth recommendations, especially commissions. Recently I have started to pursue selling at shows, and have really been enjoying that track. Although setting up a business in a legal sense has been a pretty recent accomplishment, I’ve really spent the last 12 years building up to it.
What are some major setbacks that you’d care to share so we don’t make the same mistake?
I’ve had so many ups and down, business wise. I think the biggest thing I would do differently is to be more confident from the start. It was hard as a fairly shy introvert to approach store owners and potential customers and sell them on my work. I’m not a natural saleswoman, but it’s a learnable skill, not something you either have or don’t have.
Is there a job that helped prepare you for running your business?
For one year between undergrad and graduate school, I worked in a craft gallery in Boston. That time was pretty valuable to me since I got to see how other artists, especially jewelry artists, put together lines and sold them effectively. After graduate school, I worked for the Ann Arbor Street Art Fair for one season, and that was another opportunity to see how artists made their living in a totally different way.
Peruse Natalie’s fanciful jewelry designs here at her online shop!
What’s up with Julia?
Hello all! Can you believe it’s almost Valentine’s Day? We just took down the last of our Christmas decorations, and the unfortunate thing about wanting to have a lot of cute holiday decorations is storing it all in a tiny apartment! This week has been a whirlwind of ideas, new projects, and new and old friends. I got to Facetime with a good gal pal- she wanted some business advice but I think we are now on the right track. Matthew and I also had a good time at a birthday party with his colleagues. I had given one of his friends, now my friend, a handmade necklace for Christmas, and now she is a professor by day, jewelry designer by night! What she is most excited about is printing her favorite book covers on shrinky-dink paper, then baking it so that it’s one inch small, and turning them into earrings. Total English instructor project! She said when she’s going to introduce the next book, she’ll wear those earrings that day, “Our next book will be…” then flip her hair back for the big reveal. Gotta love teachers.
I absolutely love this Made in the USA company, Seamly.co. Founder and owner Kristin Glenn started designing clothing that is entirely produced in Denver, Colorado with surplus materials. Her vision for the company was formed out of a desire to promote a healthier industry within fashion.
My personal favorites are the stretch blazer, stretch jeans made with surplus fabric from brands like J. Crew, and the wrap cardigan. Classic pieces that you can wear from season to season and feel good wearing because you’re supporting a sustainable system!
Read more about Kristin’s purpose here and if you like deals and behind-the-scenes insight into what running an American fashion company is like, make sure to sign up for their e-newsletters.
I read about and meet so many amazing, creative women that I decided to start a series featuring different types of creative girls and women! It’s important to affirm the gifts others around you have, especially when our culture’s norms are to compete against one another.
Introducing our first Creative Woman, Melinda Sanchez Diehl all the way from Talcahuano, Chile by way of central Iowa. Melinda is an incredible woman who loves giving out free hugs and is primarily known about town as being the “bubbly blonde” who puts a few exclamation points after your name out of the overflow of her heart.
Melinda’s photography point of view has always been intriguing to me. Her background is fine art and design from Iowa State, preparing her for her current role in doing headshots, bridal, and landscape photography. “Growing up, I was always very detailed oriented and very particular. My family definitely knew this about me, but I don’t know if they ever saw it as creative potential. It wasn’t until high school that my family saw my creativity when I was taking an art course.”
Living in a new country means finding her favorite comfort foods in her own kitchen, “Living in Chile, it is hard to find pre-made items like pizza dough and pie crust. I make a lot of things from scratch.”
Get inspired by Melinda:
What was your favorite thing about growing up?
Having an older sister.
What are your favorite hobbies?
Reading lifestyle blogs, cooking/baking, shopping, hanging out with my hubby
What are your main passions?
…I think because I love Jesus he has made passions stronger in me like living in community and loving people . Finding community has been hard here and we don’t really have it, but it is a passion of mine. I think i am still figuring out my passions too. Some other passions of mine are my husband, design, and being resourceful (even though I am not very good at it!! I want to be though and that is why I like reading lifestyle blogs about diy, cooking, saving money, ect.)
What is the glammest thing you do?
Working out, drinking water, and my nightly skin routine.
This may be a cliche question but what do you want your epitaph to read?
“Always loving, Always loved”
“When peace, like a river, attendeth my way
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.”
What is one of your favorite creative or blog or other websites that you like to frequent?
What are some tips for those of us who want to develop a keen photography eye? How did you develop yours?
Pay attention to composition and lighting. Is the composition symmetrical, a-symmetrical, ect. What is your focus? Perspective is important. Everyone can take a picture, but how you position that camera is what makes a photo interesting. Thats why to get good shots sometimes you have to get on the ground or climb on things to get the most interesting perspective. I had a really good photography professor in college who helped me train my eye to see good composition and how to pay attention to lighting. Sometimes, shadows create a powerful composition. I am still learning and I wouldn’t even say I am that good at it! Practice makes perfect…shooting all the time will help develop your skills and sharpen your eye.
What photographers are you inspired by?
I love Vivian Maier. She is a street photographer and her photos tell stories. They are raw and full of reality and that is why I like them. i am not really into photos that distort reality or are fabricated, but I love images that show reality. I like photos that are powerful and thought provoking. I would say my style is more photojournalistic. A few other photographers that I like are Dorthea Lange, Ernesto Bazan and Henri Cartier-Bresson.
Get inspired by Melinda’s artistic eye at melindadiehl.com