Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Hydrangea Hippo

1. Could you tell us a bit about yourself?
My name is Jennifer Priest and I live in the High Desert of So Cal (about 1 hour from Los Angeles) with my two kidlets and sometimes crafty hubby. We've got two dogs -- Zoe and Cooper. And Cooper has a pet feral cat (the cat won't let us pet it but he plays and sleeps with Cooper). Yes, things are crazy around here.

I love comedy and wit--I read all the jokes in Reader's Digest first, see every good comedy movie, and really get happy from seeing witty people put it all out there. I am a big fan of the Real Housewives shows on Bravo. I also garden. But mostly, I papercraft. I listen to electronica, darkwave, industrial, and 90's alternative. My fave all time artists are Orbital and bt.

I'll try anything. In my past lives I've run a music zine, photographed at exclusive concerts, had a jewelry business, sold Tupperware, was in the Army as an Arabic Linguist, have a BA in Math, a BA in English Lit, a Master's in Public Administration, substitute teacher, grant writer, auditor... and now I am a mom, scrapbooker, Etsy shop owner, papercrafts instructor, design team member, and social media guru for several companies. Guess I am a busy body ;).

2. What do you make and how did you get into this?
I play with paper. I used to be an all around crafter and then I started papercrafting. Everything changed in 2003 when I got bit hard by the scrapbooking bug, after having "scrapped" for 5 years. Within 6 months I had a business, was showing at expos, and teaching at big venues. It was exhilarating and scary at the same time.
I took a little hiatus from things in 2004/05 when I went back to work full time and in 2006 I started teaching classes again. I started my Etsy shop in 2007 as a way for me to sell off extra kits leftover from my classes. I stumbled and learned a lot along the way. I needed help with branding and found a name, Hydrangea Hippo -- I'll explain more about that later! In 2009 I started a new shop under that name and started really focusing on developing my shop.
I not only sell leftover class kits, i also sell kits for my online classes, supplies, exclusive monthly kits, and other paper crafting goodies in my shop. It's taken on a life of its own and I love it. I love that as people's lives change and we aren't able to see each other "in class" anymore, we can stay connected through my shop. And I love that I can now get my fun crafty kits out to people all over the world. It's really been an awesome journey.

3. Why did you name your shop Hydrangea Hippo?
It all started out as a joke. A group of girls and I were at a scrapbooking event and decided to caravan over to the local scrapbook store to shop during the event. We started talking about the name of the store we were visiting, Pink Pineapple, and joking about potential names for new businesses. Periwinkle Potato, Turquoise Turtles, Red Rainboots... amidst the hysterical giggling in the car, I shouted Hydrangea Hippo and it stuck. I don't even like purple! LOL. I went with the name because it doesn't peg me into one product corner -- I can do anything and change my business as time passes without changing my name and starting all over again.

4. Where and when do you like to create?
I have a scrapbook room, work room, and storage room that take up a quarter of my house. Literally, 24.2%, about 600 square feet. My husband and family are really understanding and I know I am fortunate to be able to do this from my home. That section of the house is pretty separate from the rest--when I sit down in my desk chair I actually say to myself in my head, "Now, I'm going to work." I create in my scrapbook room itself. That is decorated all creatively. 
In what normal people would use as a formal living and dining room I have work tables set up. I host events at my home about 6-10 times a year where people can come work on their projects in that work room. The rest of the time I use the tables for production. One is covered with boxes of supplies I am using or staging to create something. Another is filled with kits being "kitted". And another is filled with orders being packed and shipped. I am fortunate to have that space to spread out into and leave things out. Not having to clean up between projects until I am ready is so nice. If I were to lose this space, I'd consider renting space to fill that same need because it is so much more efficient.
I create all the time. I do a lot of design work in my head. I drive a lot to teach but I also have several health issues that require a lot of drive time to doctors as well as time in waiting rooms. Sometimes I jot down sketches or ideas of what I want to do or even email it to myself (not while driving of course!). I try to really use this time to develop ideas since I can't do much else. That way, when I can actually sit down to physically create, I can hit the ground running. I do not sit and stare at supplies waiting for inspiration to strike. I am a busy body and I just have to go. If I sit down and can't create, I do something else until inspiration strikes. Like this week I have been gardening because I am still a little burnt out creatively from creating samples for the last Craft & Hobby Association Trade Show. Absence does make the heart grow fonder! I even use permanent glue to help speed up the process. Like with test-taking, your first "guess" is usually the correct one and I feel like this with design too. Sometimes I fail epically but for the most part, I've been successful doing it this way.

5. What or who inspires you?
I get inspired a lot by color combinations. A great place to find these is Etsy, Pinterest, and Design Sponge or other decorating websites. I also get inspired by paper. Since I am a papercrafter, the paper is the basis for everything. I love bright, happy colors, and lean towards "cute" rather than elegant styles. That's what's all over my Pinterest Boards! I read a lot of magazines and browse online with my Droid phone while waiting anywhere -- even in the lines at drive-thru's! Some of my favorite magazines are Real Simple, Country Living, Sunset, and Better Homes & Gardens. Speaking of drive-thru's, I was once inspired by the seasonal menu board at Starbucks and sketched a layout on a napkin while in my car. Inspiration is everywhere ;).

6. What’s the best thing you’ve made so far? 
It really difficult to say what is my BEST thing I ever made. I have made hundreds of mini books and hundreds of scrapbook pages. My favorite changes all the time. Probably my favorite thing I made right now is this layout of my son where I used zippers for steampunk kind of thing. I have to have a little bit of whimsy and color so that's where the stars came in. I took the photos of him with my camera on the ground -- I've just been playing. The best things are created when you're having fun and stop trying so hard.
7. When you create what do you like to drink, snack on, listen to, or watch?
I drink tea, coffee, or water when crafting. A little Starbucks, maybe some hot tea. that's it. And I have to have music with a beat. Been listening to a lot of David Guetta, Ronald Jenkees, and Daft Punk lately. I don't have a TV in my craft room -- I like to just drift away and concentrate on my project.

8. What skill would you love to learn and who would you like to be your teacher?
I'd love to be a better photographer, including editing of photos. Probably Danielle Thompson would be my teacher -- I love her stuff, and though it is not my style, I can see the genius at work in it. Great photos sell product. And they sell classes. Plus being a scrapbooker, great photos help make great pages.

9. What are you working on now and what are your goals for the future?
I am working towards doing "this" in a way that can support my family. I think I will always have a combination of activities in my business (in-person classes, online classes, events, etsy shop, etc.) but I am still looking for the right combination of those to make me happy, give me time with family, and make enough money to live. As far as projects, I have a couple of big projects going on right now. One is Art-Full Horizons, an event I am working on with two other people in Palm Springs this May. We're having a vendor fair (still have space!), classes all weekend, and lots of fun. You can get more info about that here

I am also working on a new aspect to my Hydrangea Hippo business called Hippo House. We are converting a home into a weekend retreat venue where anyone can rent out the house for their weekend scrapbooking event or retreat, to work on their quilts, hold meetings or craft fairs. It's been fun finding and creating items to decorate it with. I hope to be able to open that in early 2012. The decorating is the fun part -- the business licenses and insurances etc. is a drag but a necessary step to make sure everything is done right. I can't wait for that day when I can look back and know all the hours of work, blood, sweat, and tears were worth it. For now, that's what keeps me going.

10. What are your five favorite websites?
Every morning I start my day off with visits to Etsy, facebook, and Pinterest. But everyone pretty much knows about those. So I'll take about 5 others that I think are valuable, even if I don't go there on a daily basis.

Scrapbook Update: This blog is run by Nancy Nally and a few staff members and keeps me up to date on happenings in the scrapbooking industry. I also advertise there :).

How About Orange: Always something fun being posted. When I look back through my bookmarks there's always a couple posts from Orange here.

The Graphics Fairy: She offers free clipart almost daily. So handy for packaging. But also, it is just nice to browse the colors and motifs for inspiration.

Uppercase: Just great design, always inspiring.

Craftig: Tutorials on anything and everything.

11. Where can we find you online?
Next week: Sew Indy

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