Are you a connoisseur of cute? Do you want to make life unbelievadorable? Do you like making things with your hands that make life special and memorable for your friends and family? If so, you’ve come to the right place.

This crafting business started a little over a year ago as an Etsy shop called Oh No, It’s Jess. My husband helped me start the shop to ease my disappointment and injured pride  after I was told not to bring the watercolor and paper collage greetings cards and amigurumi creatures I’d spent two months working on to a local art walk because my items were too “crafty.” I didn’t realize then how much personal and creative satisfaction I’d find in this crafting venture. It has been an amazing, happy project and it is time for it to move on to phase two!  I set out to rename my shop and then start a blog to help make this venture about more than just selling an item here and there. I really want Happy Handmade to be about every day creative processes, vigilance in inspiration-hunting, documentation of successes and failures, the integration of personal goals and family goals, and involvement in a crafting and art-making community.

I liked that my old Etsy shop name had “Jess” in it. I thought it made for a personal connection over the internet and to customers across the country. Nothing seemed perfect until I realized, if any branding word sums me up (and the things I most enjoy making) it’s “happy.” If you asked people to describe me, the word “happy” would probably be among the first words used. I make things that have smiling faces. I make things to make people happy. And Happy Handmade was created in five days…the five happiest days of my life:

1. The day I married my husband, Ben –  a magical, tingly, blue-sky southern California day in a glass chapel overlooking the ocean surrounded by a small group of the people who meant the very most to us (a group so creative and smart and fun and kind that it makes me proud to think of them).

2. The day my loving, sweet, curly-haired, rough-and-tumble-yet-cuddly boy, Jhonen, came into the world.

3. The day my happy, smile-crazy, big-blue-eyed baby girl, Margot arrived so quickly I could barely believe it had happened.

4. The day the first business I ever owned opened its doors and I looked at my best friend and business partner and thought to myself, “We did it! We brought an idea to life. We had the power to manifest our own destiny. We really can make our life what we want it to be.”

5. The day my husband and I arrived in Tokyo, Japan after spending all our savings on plane tickets and a hotel room. We looked at each other with fear thinking as we looked out at the massive wave of black-suited men thrusting through the streets, “what have we done?” We walked out of our hotel room that day and forgot about our inappropriate clothing and our towering frames, hurtled ourselves into the streets, and loved every single second there so much that we seriously discussed never coming home again. And that was where I discovered Cute…when the space for the souvenirs I expected to bring home in my already over-crowded suitcase (bento boxes, teapots, candy) was taken up by smiling, felt gyoza-shaped key chains, grinning plush ice cream cones, funny little hamster key covers, adorable plastic dog cell phone charms, stickers and figurines and puzzles and toys. We couldn’t stop buying cute, smiling things!

The memories from those five happiest days are why my new shop, Happy Handmade (by Jess) exists.

My shop exists because of my husband who lovingly challenges me to constantly create and produce new and better things and to believe in myself when I don’t think I can. My shop exists because of my children who I get to dote on all day every day because I am fortunate enough to be able to do this work from home with them. I love nothing more than seeing their gleeful eyes when they see that I’ve turned a bunch of yarn into a giraffe or a monster or a fat, funny dog. I think it’s important for them to see that their mother is stimulated by creativity and that I have my own personal goals that I find pleasure and satisfaction in meeting. Happy Handmade helps give me an identity besides being a Mommy and that makes those daily parenting challenges a little easier. My shop exists because, through my previous business experience with Trio Gelato and Desserts I learned that I love being my own boss. I loved nearly everything about entrepreneurship and, when the business ended, I missed the challenge and creative outlet that running my own business provided me. My shop exists because I went to Japan and discovered that cute, quirky, funny things made me happy. So when I happened upon amigurumi – crocheting cute things – I fell in love. I loved that no matter how hard I tried to make two identical creatures, somehow each one seemed to have it’s own little personality. I loved making something squishy, lovable, adorable, and three dimensional from a ball of yarn. I loved that I could think of a million different things I could make and give to people,  and that those things could be completely personalized.  I am a Humanities major who has always loved the arts. Nothing stimulates me more than people creating things, especially things that mean something personal or profound to someone else. I hope that my Happy Handmade creations make other people as happy as I feel having made them.

My handmade amigurumi friends have marked important days for others: wedding gifts, birthday surprises, contest prizes, even a preschooler’s choice for show and tell! Knowing that something I’ve created will mean something special to someone else on their special day just brings the whole happy creation story full circle.

Now that Happy Handmade’s creation story has been told, let the journey begin! This is where I will report on my creative experiments, inspirations, successes, failures, and products….all my Happy Handmade happenings. I will also, undoubtedly, end up talking about life as a wife and mother of two in Orlando, Florida and my desire to make my family’s life special and memorable without losing my mind in the process.

Thank you, in advance, for caring at all! I know my little crafty blog is one small, smiling stuffed fish in a sea full of other flashing, colorful, amazing fish. But, like my amigurumi creatures have taught me, we’re all one of a kind, no matter how many of us there are!

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