Today we're kicking off what I hope will be the first in an on going series of profiles about the way women live their lives. A deeper look at the intricacies and complexities of the way we strive to balance creativity and Mothering. The endless tight rope of providing an everyday life seeped in love and the sacrifice and compromises that are made in the pursuit of personal goals. A recognition that nobody is achieving it all but how together we can support and hold each other up as we strive to be Women Who Do. A community based in wisdom and honesty and with it the dissolution of the notion of perfection and instead the unifying experience of raw honesty.
So today meet Jenna Wainwright, the creator behind the exquisite and thoughtful designs of East Camp Goods. Jenna lives in Upstate NY with her husband Andy and their two beautiful daughters, Juniper Coyote and Fiona Kestrel. After meeting at the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in Maine where they both trained as metalsmiths, Jenna honed her skills during her 12 years as a brass mount-maker at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City before moving up The Hudson to create and commune in it's more peaceful valley.
I sat down with Jenna one afternoon in the sunlit corner of their renovated farmhouse, nestled above their Germantown studio to talk about what Motherhood means to her, how she balances the demands of her two young children with a growing business and a creative mind. What unfolded was wisdom and grace that I carry in my work everyday.
What drew you to jewelry making in the first place?
I was a very crafty child, always making friendship bracelets, stringing beads, origami, you name it. In college, I took my first metalsmithing class and fell in love with the process and the materials and have been making more formal jewelry since.
How has Motherhood changed the way you approach your design?
Ooooh there are so many things that have changed in my designing brain since having children! I'm now always thinking about "working" jewelry, things that can be worn effortlessly and safely while snuggling a baby, changing diapers, wrangling a toddler, in the garden, in the kitchen, at the beach/sandbox.
I'm definitely much more sentimental after becoming a mother, and I think about how personal jewelry is and how much meaning can be imbued in jewelry objects. You get to share infinite quiet moments with your jewelry, whether it reminds you of a person, a place, an experience. It's a very special relationship you can have with an object, and I want to create things that are both beautiful and meaningful for their wearer.
What advice do you have for other Moms trying to balance their life caring for young ones whilst also wanting to create?
It always feels like there isn't enough time in the day, or energy left to do it all. My advice is give yourself a break. Your art and your passion will still be there if you can't do it right away. I always remind myself that my kids come first and I try to be present with them. I can make jewelry into my old age, my babies are only babies for a short time. Also, you can sneakily incorporate some aspects of your creative practice while engaging with your kids. Sometimes the only chance I get to sketch jewelry is with my toddler. We sit down at her table and she chooses the colors and I draw sketches of rings and chains, and then by request, cats, lots of cats.
What’s the hardest thing about being a Mother of young children and also a business owner?
I think the hardest moments for me are when I'm anticipating my child will take a nap, and I have a mile long list in my head of all the things I'll do the moment she falls asleep, and then she just doesn't. Those are the hardest days I have as a mother, mentally it's a huge let down and physically it's exhausting to not get a break during the day. I know naps won't last forever, but for now I'm hugely reliant on them.
I love your series East Camp Portraits, tell us a little bit about that?
I was imagining who the East Camp wearer is, and I wanted to emphasize that our clients are men and women who are working with their hands, doing their everyday thing, with effortless beauty and grace. Jewelry is a part of them, full of meaning and personal stories, not a flashy thing they put on for special occasions.
What do you hope Juniper and Fiona learn from spending time in the studio with you?
I hope that they love making things as much as I do, whatever medium they choose, because I think the process of creating makes you self-aware, critical, and patient. I'd be delighted if they became artists.
How do you keep yourself inspired during these beautiful crazy years of Mothering?
Honestly, I don't feel particularly inspired most days, being inspired sounds like a luxury for the childless (like going on long walks by yourself or visiting a museum by yourself or pretty much anything by yourself. That's not my life!) But what I do feel is hyper focused on what I want to get done the moment I get a chance to, and that is an amazing driving feeling. Having such limited time to do things has made me efficient in a way I didn't know was possible.
As a gift of generosity and love for Wandering Eye readers Jenna is offering 20% off her signature Birthstone Ring in 18k Gold with the code SELFLOVE until Feb 28th so treat yourself or someone you love to a piece of her timeless and love wrapped jewelry.