Interview with Jamie from Scandinazn
Sitting at a small cafe on West 4th ave in Vancouver, I was able to have a chat with Jamie, the mastermind behind Scandinazn—Ethically-made accessories with a Scandinavian / Japanese design influence. Based out of Vancouver, Canada.
We talk about what it means to be your own boss and have to schedule tedious tasks. She shares her secret tip on making the tedious tasks more enjoyable (something that I will be putting into practice) and the amazing success that she is having on Etsy. Our first Vancouver maker interview is one that you will want to give a read!
How did you start doing what you do? Was there an AHA moment when you found your niche?
I didn't start off with jewellery. I went to school for fashion design, at Kwantlen. One of the main reasons why I didn't want to go into the fashion industry in the end was because of the wasteful nature of it [which is ironic] because the reason that I became interested in fashion was for the kind of “over-the-top” fun, crazy things that are meant to be consumed and then disposed of.
In my second year, we had a project where we had to choose a designer to model a collection after. We were only allowed to use repurposed materials, and that was kind of my first foray into using second-hand leather.
I was always told that leather is difficult to work with— needing a particular sewing machine, punches, etc…I found it all to be a welcome challenge. In the beginning, I started by attending markets. I had such great success in them that everything snowballed into motion.
Are there any creators in the Vancouver area that inspired you early on?
The one-woman show of Melissa Ferreira from Adhesif Clothing is someone that comes to mind. For almost ten years, she has been giving new life to wool items. She was such an inspiration for me when I was first starting out—seeing that she was able to repurpose items and make them look good.
I have noticed that over the years people associate repurposed with quirky and kitschy— It doesn’t always have to be the case. Not to mention that she was also one of my first retailers here in Vancouver.
Where and when do you find you do your best work?
I do my best thinking in the morning when its quiet. I find that I don't have too many thoughts about what has to get done clouding my mind. I work better on the construction of things after dinner with a glass of wine.
What is your most significant accomplishment when it comes to your business?
There have been a lot this year that I have been really excited about. The Etsy feature has always been a dream of mine.
They started with a little piece on their homepage and editors choice section. Then they featured me again on the top of their page, as well as in the sale section and in the newsletter.
It was a fantastic thing to happen. I am a huge fan of how Etsy runs their business and the fact that they are actually in our community getting involved.
Another huge thing for me was reaching 1000 sales on Etsy. I never thought it was ever going to happen and it makes me feel like “okay, maybe I can actually do this full-time.”
Any future markets we can find you at this year?
The Etsy market is happening on the last weekend of September. It is one of my favourites to do! This year, it’s at Robson square—there’s no admission fee, and it is right downtown.
I'm hoping for more foot traffic for everyone and a broader demographic to showcase my work to. Etsy Canada actually puts in a lot into these events. They like to target fund the markets to try and get as many people out.
Working from home, do you have a designated area for work. And how do you keep organised and productive in that space?
I do have a designated area, but it is something that I struggle with being entirely in work-mode when I am in my studio area.
I almost have to trick myself to cut out distractions and plan ahead. There are both good and bad sides to having your workspace at home. At the moment, I am struggling with enjoying my house when I am not working— It is forever a work in progress.
What is one piece of advice that you struggle to put into practice even though you know you should?
A lot of creatives that I have talked to all say the same thing— take the time to take care of yourself!!
I feel like I always binge on working and then take a significant chunk of time off. This summer, I went on a few trips. My favourite being the West Coast Trail (an unexpected perk was not having any cell service) as well as a sailing trip to Desolation Sound.
It’s difficult to give myself those breaks that I need and have earned. I am working on having a better balance of when I am not feeling a piece, to leave it may be just and move on to something different for the time being.
What do you do when you find yourself uninspired or are faced with a particular task that you aren’t fond of?
I try not to force it. For me there are usually many things in different categories that need to be done— photography, photo editing, graphic design work, jewellery design work, jewellery construction, social media, Etsy shop management, website management.
I find that when I get sick of one of those things, there is something else that I can move on to that has to be done. That way, I do feel accomplished having done something. It usually makes it easier to come back to the previous later on.
Tasks that I know I have problems with, I tend to schedule and delegate to myself. I’ll plan something that I enjoy as a reward for getting what had to be done finished.
In moments of self-doubt, how do you build yourself back up?
Every once in a while, I will apply to a show or a market and I don't get in. Or maybe I’ll send an email out to a store, and they don't get back to me. I just try to shrug it off, move on.
Everyone has something that they are looking for specifically. What makes certain stores and markets unique is the fact that they are highly curated. Just because you aren’t what they were looking for, doesn’t mean you’re not good at what you do. It just means you’re not for them. Try not to take it personally. It’s something I’ve learned along the way.
Do you have a professional motto?
It is a Japanese saying: Shikata Ganai” 仕方がない meaning “there is nothing that you can do about it, just move on.”
Aside from the Etsy Canada Market, is there anything else new and upcoming for you?
I have been thinking a lot about what needs to be done for the pre and post holiday season coming up. One of my long-term goals is to be able to do my craft abroad.
I’m working on the logistics still. Hopefully, it will come together in the new year. For the short term, I’m trying to figure out what pieces have worked well for me, and what I need to let go of.
Since I have a wide range of products, it doesn't make sense to take 100 styles to each market. I plan to scale back on my offerings and make room for new things.
If your studio was on fire, what is the one thing that you would save?
My pieces of marbled leather, so much work went into them.
Do you feel your studio and work area is perfect?
Nope, it is a work in progress. No matter if I just cleaned and organised it, five hours later it’s a mess.
In your studio what music or podcasts have you been listening to?
Lately, I have been loving this Colombian band, Monsieur Periné and a Chilean hip-hop artist, named Ana Tijoux. I’m also enjoying a Spanish NPR podcast called Alt Latino. They talk about Latin-American culture and music and how the two relate together.
What is your favourite internet black hole?
For personal interest, I would say Youtube. I am really into this series called Grandma’s Recipes.
It's very well produced and quite interesting to watch. In Japan, it is effortless to get healthy and delicious ready-made food for cheap, so many old techniques and recipes are passing away with the older generation, so I really like that they are capturing and trying to preserve these traditions. For work, it would have to be Pinterest.
If you had a secret passageway behind a bookcase, where would it lead to and what book would you pull to unlock the door?
I Married Adventure by Osa Johnson. It would lead to somewhere on the West Coast Trail— a quiet secluded beach on the edge of the forest with no cell service and below the fog line so you can have a little campfire.
Jamie has had some time to hone her business and fine-tune her passion, one of the many pieces of advice that she so willing has shared with us, that I know I will put into practice has to be her tid bit on rewarding herself when she completes a bothersome task. Everyday in life we feel weighed down by the need to complete a daunting task, this is a sure fire way to brighten anyones day.
If anyone is in the Vancouver area and is wondering what they can do this weekend, I highly suggest that you pop on over to the Brite Up Etsy YVR Market happening at Robson Square and say hello to Jamie, her items are sure to capture anyones eye!!