Jenny, the handbag designer for Jenny N Design sells her handmade bags both on Etsy and Supermarket. She has an eye for talent and a love for arts and crafts. I hope you enjoy her interview as much as I did!
1. Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I’m Jenny Nguyen, a 24-year old biomedical engineer turned handbag designer. I am an INTJ who loves to design, cook, and decorate. I have a goofy pug named Hubert who is always by my side.
2. How did you get started with your craft?
I learned to sew at age 6 from my mom. In college during a stressful time, I found myself moving further away from engineering and closer to the things I love most: arts and crafts. I purchased an inexpensive sewing machine and a few yards of fabric and started sewing simple totes. I started sketching bags that I’ve always dreamed to have with minimal hardware (I hate bags with lots of unnecessary zippers and hardware) with high aesthetic value. I then reverse engineered those designs to develop templates with minimal wastes and scraps, and so began Jenny N. Design!
3. When did jennyndesign launch?
Jenny N. Design launched in April 2008, but became a full-time job in September 2009 after I graduated with my degree in Biomedical Engineering from The University of Texas at Austin (May 2009). I spent the summer after graduation continuing my hobby and also writing down my plans to turn this hobby into a full-time job that could support me. It has been one year since it became full-time and I managed to stay in the green zone, so I’m very happy with my plans thus far.
4. What inspires you to create?
Anything and everything. It could be as simple as a shape to food to nature to architecture. And often times a combination of all of those plus the current trends (or past trends that I would like to bring back). The bottom line is that I have to continually create in order to support myself and my dog. My creations pay for my rent, tuition debt, car payments and bills.
5. How many hours a day are you able to spend on your craft?
I spent approximately 5-10 hours being my own salesman/customer service/marketer/supply buyer/model/photographer/graphic designer and then 5 hours actually sewing and assembling my product. All together I work 10-15 hour days, every day. It doesn’t feel like work most of the time.
6. Are there any other forms of arts/crafts you would like to try in the future?
I haven’t had the time to think about it. There are so many wonderful artist and crafters that I admire and would love to learn their skills, but since I don’t have the time to learn it, I enjoy buying from them. They put much more time, dedication and love into their products that it would be far better than anything I could create myself.
7. Care to share some short or long term goals with us?
Short term goals are to expand my business beyond hand bags. I make earrings with the scraps of leather I have and get a lot of compliments and requests to start selling them. I also have made camera/phone cases, which I also need to start offering in my shop. So many things to do, and so little time.
Which brings me to my long term goal: hire someone to help. There are many small tasks that would save me hours (like cutting fabric/leather, punching holes in my hang tags, stamping my logo to sew inside each bag, printing shipping labels, packaging bags) that could add up to days and weeks I could spend doing things like designing new bags, offering more diversity in my products, sourcing more cool leathers to use, etc.
It’s tough doing everything yourself, and I have now come to the strong realization that I cannot do it all by myself.
8. Is your craft a hobby, a business or both?
It is both. I love it.
9. How many venues do you currently sell at? (online, galleries, craft shows, etc)
Two for now. I sell online on Etsy and some of my products are on Supermarket . I travel to vendor events occasionally when I want to sell in person. Because I price my products close to wholesale costs to keep them affordable, you won’t find my bags in any boutiques.
10. Is there anything else you would like to add?
I recently wrote a blog post detailing the steps that I took to make my hobby into a full-time job. I hope that this may be helpful information to those who are on the fence about quitting the day job.