Today I'm so excited to introduce you to Jill, owner of The Bookerie: The Favoring Brave store. I've been smitten with her creations and her ability to turn old, unused books into beautiful prints and jewelry for a few years, so when we were in Tulsa, OK the other week, I knew I had to check out one of her brick and mortar shops.
So how did I first meet Jill?
Well, a few years ago, I was a vendor at a craft show in Kansas City (see here). My mom was my trusty sidekick, per usual, and meandered around during a slow period to check out the other vendors. It wasn't going great for me in terms of sales, so my mom did what any mother would do for her daughter who is feeling a bit deflated. She bought her a present. And we all know that's a sure fire way to perk up the spirits, am I right?
And it sure did. I opened up the small brown paper sack and pulled out the most beautiful quote on top of an old book page. Swoon. I hurried to find the booth to see what other treasures there were and was quickly enchanted with everything else, as well as Jill herself. Jill was so sweet and helped me pick out the perfect pendant. I chose a small round one with the word "make" from an old book. Being an avid lover of books and crafting, this was such a perfect combination.
Her store is absolutely lovely, full of one of a kind pieces and special meanings.
I'm always fascinated how people turn their passions into businesses, so I asked Jill to share a bit more about herself and her business.
You started your creative endeavors selling beaded jewelry at farmer’s markets. How did that morph into you making jewelry and other crafts out of old books?
Jill: You know I was always a little bit bored with the fact that I made something so common when I was making beaded jewelry, and so when I quit my first big girl job out of college because I needed to do something more creative, I looked for other areas to branch out into. I had wanted to make hardback books into journals since I was in middle school, so I finally took the plunge and did it and the rest just kind of naturally came after within the next year.
I loved visiting one of your shops in downtown Tulsa, Oklahoma and you recently opened your 2nd shop (yay!) in Sapulpa, Oklahoma. How did you make the transition to a brick and mortar store and what have been some of the highs from having a location people can come see your product first hand?
Jill: Well my primary sales method had always been craft shows and events, so I was used to having people see my work in person, but in a much more short and intense way. My stuff has always done better with in person sales because I have always been limited in online sales by the one of a kind nature of recycled work. In the shops I have maybe 700 styles of word charms, but I can't even imagine how much work it would be to photograph, upload and manage 700 one of a kind charms online. People love the shopping experience of coming to the shop and going on a treasure hunt for the perfect word. It is the best thing when my work perfectly lines up with someone's needs. I made a pair of earrings once with a line drawing of a flutist on one and violinist on the other and a few weeks later a member of a traveling orchestra came in and bought them because she was a flutist and her husband was a violinist. You can't plan these things, but they happen. And I love all the people, especially in Downtown Tulsa where we are just a few blocks from the Performing Arts Center- in the shop I have sold work to New York magazine reporters, Blue Man group members, casts of traveling Broadway shows, opera singers, and so many others. It's so fun.
What is your all-time favorite book?
Jill: My favorite book is "Gilead" by Marilynne Robinson. She studied at the Iowa Writer's Workshop just about 20 miles from where I grew up. Her book is so lovely - quiet, reflective, and so meaningful. Love it.
What advice do you have for other handmakers looking to sell their wares?
Jill: I would say that finding your niche is so important. Your work has to have it's own thing going on if you're going to differentiate yourself from the sea of handmade businesses out there. And network. Meet other handmade artists and get to know them. Get pointers from them, share your knowledge, and build each other up. Don't treat other artists like your competition, because that can seriously hurt you in the long run. I love to get to know my neighbors and craft shows, etc. and we help each other out.
I love your book pages with quotes printed on them (in fact I have one hanging up in my house). What is your favorite quote from a book and why?
Jill: Oh, definitely the first and last lines of "Their Eyes Were Watching God" by Zora Neale Hurston: " Ships at a distance have every man's wish on board." and "Here was peace. She pulled in her horizon like a great fish-net. Pulled it from around the waist of the world and draped it over her shoulder. So much of life in its meshes! She called in her soul to come and see." Hurston was amazing and sadly gets overshadowed a lot of the time. The whole book has this lovely contrast between the gorgeous, deep thoughts in Janie's head and the colloquial way she actually speaks.
If you could travel anywhere (real or only in the pages of a book), where would that be?
Jill: I think I'm going to show my true colors and say that I wish I could go to Narnia. Because who wouldn't want to go to Narnia?!
I would love to go to Narnia, too! I hope you enjoyed getting to know more about Jill and her wonderful story. This post wasn't sponsored. I just love sharing people with you who I find inspiring and know you will, too. I love the community we build by supporting one another. You can find more of Jill here and her shop here.
I'm linking up with Meg's Mingle Monday. Stop by and say hi!