Today we’d like to introduce you to Jeanine Ertl.
Jeanine, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
Since I was a child, I’ve had a fascination with fiber and looms, the outdoors, and natural textures, color and composition. So, finding my way to Weaving and Natural Dye was a reunion of sorts.
On the other hand, starting my small business, ANINI Designs, was completely foreign territory, but also something that felt perfectly timed when I finally got started.
Beginning at the start, when I finally invested in my first small loom, I found myself in a funny predicament. Although super-engaged, the learning process was challenging and at times even terribly frustrating (i.e. major tangles), and yet I felt drawn to it more than I’d ever found myself with any other craft. I liken it to a past life rekindling, feeling both familiar and wholly new.
From that first loom, my journey quickly picked up momentum. Synchronistic timings led to my finding weaving lessons and a fast, deep friendship with my neighbor, a Cistercian Weaving Nun. Then my dream-loom was waiting there on Craigslist. And eventually, I found myself moving back south to San Diego with bins of vintage fiber to learn and experiment with.
One day, after driving my three kids to school, I found myself weaving and pondering my next step. I wondered if this passion, this feeling of grounded connection I’d sought for so long, could potentially play out on a new path — a small business. And as I sat at my loom and dreamed, I was overcome with tears. It was a deep sense of peace, confirmation, and ultimately, of momentous excitement.
Now, five years later, I enjoy a mix of my favorite activities; I weave, natural dye, and teach workshops all over Southern California. And truly, each piece of my work fulfills a different part of the whole. Even the meticulous finance work, process and product photography, and writing fit into the person I have been in earlier renditions.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I’m not sure if there’s a smooth road in the human experience, but that said, I’ve definitely had struggles along the way. However, most have been of my own making as a small independent solo-run business—namely isolation, waning motivation buoyed by a love for the craft, imposter syndrome, and often, too many ideas and too little time, and so many ideas and so little funds. They are struggles that, I think, many if not most others deal with daily and I’m grateful for the growth each challenge pushes me to explore, take apart and dig deeper into.
There’s been a lot of introspection, healing and new beginnings on this small-biz journey. Indeed, this self-made work that I’ve crafted has been some of the most enriching of my life and has led me to re-value myself and my potential on a daily basis as I seek to build a business that will last and provide San Diego and beyond with the tools to explore fiber and color more deeply.
Please tell us about your business.
ANINI Designs is a local small business nestled in the San Diego Mountains, specializing in modern, nature-inspired handwoven and hand-dyed goods, as well as vintage fiber and natural dye supply.
It’s a local online shop where you can shop unique designs for your space; small handwoven and hand-dyed gifts; start your own journey in either a fiber craft or natural dye; or learn hands-on weaving and natural dye at a local workshop.
I am most proud of the fact that my passion for my goods has led to the creation of my latest series of local workshops, all currently Natural Dye and Weaving-centered. I love to meet, teach and work with interesting people, sharing the knowledge that has filled my life with so much calm, nurturing, and healing opportunity.
I think one of the things that make my business unique is that I’m guided by a firm principle that most things in life should not actually be firm; that every rule and learning is shaped by a perspective that can be easily and instantly shifted by moving an inch or a mile. I encourage my own patrons and students to approach their own explorations similarly, being open to experimentation, surprise, and having a willingness to shake-up their personal expectations.
Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
I was born and raised in San Diego and have always cherished my time outdoors. Although I grew up in the city, I spent a lot of my childhood home alone, in solitude, in my backyard. A simple patch of grass, chilling with my dog, and talking to myself in the shade of our thick old Pepper Tree was my place of peace.
As much as I felt content at home though, I also dreamt of getting out into the larger world. And I always pined for the day I might be lucky enough to live “in the mountains,” as I’ve long loved the back-to-Nature movement and gravitated toward a more natural lifestyle since I was a child.
Funny enough, just as dreams are apt to stumble into reality, I married my high school love and we ended up living in rural areas for his work as a Ranger. After living all over California this past decade, I now live in a tiny town in the San Diego Mountains. And I gain much of my inspiration from the valley that spreads out before our home, the ranges that surround us, and the shift in the season that gradually treats us with Summer monsoons and just enough snow to keep the Winter cozy and exciting.
- Handwoven Wearables, Rugs + Tapestries – $50+
- Natural Hand-Dyed Goods – $10+
- Fiber + Natural Dye Supply/Kits – $9+
- Workshops – $50+
- FREE SHIPPING ALWAYS
- Website: ANINIdesigns.com
- Email: ANINIdesigns@gmail.com
- Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/ANINIdesigns
- Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ANINIdesigns
- Other: http://ANINIdesigns.etsy.com
Photos by Jeanine & Joshua Ertl