We talked to Jacquelynne Steves lately about her latest work. She did not disappoint! Make sure that you visit her website. We chat about all of the exciting new stuff below.
Q. You've made some changes to your business model. Can you tell us a little bit about how it came to be and where you see it going?
I’ve been thinking about it for a long time. While I’ve become best known for designing quilting fabric and patterns, the truth is, I like to do lots of different things, and I like sharing those things. I love to paint and play with watercolor pencils. I like to cook. I like to decorate my home by repurposing old stuff (spray paint is a miraculous thing!) and creating new stuff of my own. Most of my creative background is a result of my mom’s and grandmothers’ legacies of cooking, sewing, crafting, and gardening.
For quite a while on my blog, I have been sharing not just sewing & quilting ideas, but also lots of recipes and craft and decorating projects, too. But in getting some objective, outside opinions, I discovered that my blog appeared to be, at first glance, a quilting blog only. Also, it also didn't showcase my artwork at all- and that is a really large part of who I am and what I do. And in spending a really long time thinking about what I like best about what I do, I discovered it was kind of everything…. In the sense that I didn’t want to do just quilting, or just cooking, or even just artwork and painting.
Right now, I’m getting ready to launch my new website. My goal is to reach out to a larger audience than those looking just for quilting blogs. I believe we are all creative and I believe that we all like to express our creativity in different ways. Obviously, if you are visiting the Henry Glass Fabrics blog or my blog, you are probably interested in sewing and quilting; but chances are you are also interested in at least some of the other “home arts,” such as cooking, crafting, entertaining, gardening, decorating….. I believe that home is the best place to express our creativity. I would like my new blog and website to be a place where we can inspire each other and learn from each other in all of these creative areas.
Probably the most difficult part of my “re-launch” was deciding to change my business name. For a long time, I have been designing quilt patterns under the company name The Noble Wife, and doing artwork and fabric design under my own name, Jacquelynne Steves. It seemed to be a little confusing that people had to remember not one, but two names for me! So, to simplify things, I decided to change my business name to Jacquelynne Steves. It makes sense because I will probably always be Jacquelynne Steves, so no matter what I decide to do, the name will always fit. (Like, someday if I decide to open a car repair shop, I can just call it “Jacquelynne Steves’ Garage” and that will work! “The Noble Wife Garage” doesn’t seem to work as well...)
Since I am going with Jacquelynne Steves for my business name, I wanted a tag line which was really descriptive of my business and what I’m about. I spent days and weeks jotting down ideas, driving my family crazy with questions and asking their opinions. I went through a stack of index cards, writing down possibilities on each one and then looking at all of them and trying to decide on the best one. In the end, I decided on one that I just love and think works perfectly:
It’s perfect because the “art” refers not only to the artwork that I do, but also the art of being a home maker and being creative in your home and with your family.
So the last 7 or 8 months have been pretty exciting- it’s really good to shake things up once in a while and take a risk! But to be perfectly honest, it’s also really scary! It’s so easy to just get stuck in a rut. However, I firmly believe in the law of momentum-
an object at rest tends to stay at rest, but an object in motion tends to stay in motion…..
Q. We love your new book too. Tell us a bit about your digital publishing experience.
Over the last several months, when I was trying to figure out what I really wanted to do, I realized that one of my very favorite projects that I had worked on was my book, Fruitful Hands (Kansas City Star, 2011), because it allowed me to make and design quilts, make some crafty projects, develop some recipes, and then illustrate the whole thing by hand. It gave me the opportunity to use lots of different mediums around a single theme, and it was so fun to put together- I loved it! I decided that more books were definitely in my future.
My new book is called Child’s Play. I am excited about this book for a bunch of different reasons... The first reason is that this is the first book that I've self-published. (Actually, at first it was just going to be a quilt pattern... but then I started adding more and more ideas until it turned into a 55 page book with about 8 projects and 3 recipes... but that is just like me: I have said it before and I'll say it again, I am definitely a "more is more" kind of girl!)
When you do a book with a publisher, it takes a very long time- a minimum of a year. I was able to put this together and get it published in about 4 or 5 months' time. In working with a publisher there is also a loss of a certain amount of creative control, and depending on the publisher this can be a lot or a little. (When I worked with Kansas City Star for my first book, they were actually really great about including most of the projects that I wanted to do, etc.)
For Child's Play, I designed & made all of the projects & recipes, laid out the book, provided the artwork & illustrations, did the photography... being a "control-freak," it was appealing to me to be able to have everything exactly the way I wanted it (I have a bit of a rebellious streak and sometimes don't like collaboration... I just want to do things my own way...)
But there was also a steep learning curve regarding the technical parts. I had to re-do many of the pages several times. For example, when I got to the end and thought the whole book was finished, I realized that my page margins were incorrect and that part of the text on most of the pages would be cut off during the printing process. So….. I had to go and reconfigure every single page…. Yeah- I learned that lesson the hard way and you can be sure that next time I will make sure my page margins are correct from the very beginning!
Another reason I am really excited about this book is that I am offering printed and digital versions. So if you are an “I-want-to-sit-with-my-pretty-book-and-drink-a-cup-of-tea-while-I-peruse-the-pages” kind of person, you can order the printed copy (the quality of the printed book is really beautiful, by the way! I was so pleasantly surprised at how great it came out!) Or, if you are an “I’m-incredibly-impatient-and-I-want-my-book-now-plus-I-don’t-want-to-pay-shipping-charges” kind of person, you can order the digital version.
The digital version also offered me the opportunity to make the book “interactive”- it has links to my website, social media platforms, etc. But also, there are links to a few instructional videos that I did- so say you need to learn how to make a French knot, you can just click the link and it will take you to a video that shows you how. (You also get the links in the printed version, but you will have to type them into your browser, instead of just clicking.)
Finally, self-publishing really helped me to keep the cost down- just $12.00 for the digital copy, and $15.00 for the printed book. I think that customers will find that this is an incredible value for all of the content in this book.
So now I have ideas for several more books floating around in my head… I just need a few more hours in my days to get them done!
Check out Child's Play here on Jacquelynne's website.
Q. How did you choose the name of your newsletter?
For a long time, we were just calling it “The Noble Wife Newsletter,” for lack of any other original ideas! But when I decided to change my business name and tagline, coming up with a new name for the newsletter was pretty easy. I decided to call it The Art of Home Companion- because it really is just an extension of what we’ll be doing on the new blog and website. I love the digital magazine format that we’ve been using for the last couple of issues- it’s so pretty and you can “flip” the pages just like a real magazine! It also gives us (my daughter does a lot of the layout for it) a chance to do pretty page layouts, and to come up with a theme for each issue. This past issue saw lots of butterflies to herald in the late Spring/Early Summer. You can click here to see our latest issue.
It’s a free subscription- you can sign up here. [link] It comes out about 6 times a year and has projects, recipes, inspiration, new product previews, etc. I’m thinking about making a printed copy available soon, at a small cost (the digital version is always free.)
Q: Speaking of new products- do you have any new fabric lines coming up?
Yes! I have a line called Kashmir which will debut at International Quilt Market in Portland, Oregon in May. You know, we’ve been seeing peacocks everywhere and I thought it would be fun to do a line with all of those rich, royal blues, purples, and greens. I think it will be great not just for quilts, but also for home décor, tote bags, etc.
HG: Thank you, Jacquelynne!
If you want to win a digital copy of Jacquelynne's book, Child's Play, leave a comment here. All you have to do is tell her how much you love her work! Easy, peasy. For a second chance to win a copy of the book, go and subscribe to her newletter. Since most of the Henry Glass family is going to be a Quilt Market, we will leave the giveaway open until midnight May 26, 2013. Good luck!