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Meet Trailblazer Jenn Housman

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jenn Housman.

Jenn, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
When I moved to San Diego, I was lucky enough to find a career in the museum world working at Lux Art Institute in Encinitas which hosts artists from around the world to live and work in a gallery/studio setting creating a piece from start to finish. I was the lucky one who helped manage their residency and worked side by side, basically as their studio assistant. I worked with artists I studied in college, I mean it was surreal to me. I was so inspired by each artist, close to 20+ over five years, watching the process in a multitude of mediums and helping them solve their problems of sourcing in a new place to make sure their project succeeded. It was a real-life look into the world of what its like to be a working artist, one I always dreamed of being myself but never had a clear discipline I wanted to work in. I was getting married in my last year at Lux and with the help of a dear friend and jeweler, Molly Gabbard, we designed my bridal party jewelry. I was hooked and started making my own pieces and eventually selling them in the first iteration of the Lux store. People were buying my pieces and loving them – it was so encouraging.

Not too long after that, my husband and I wanted to start a family and the timing was right for me to leave my job. In my mind, it was now or never to pursue my passions. With so much inspiration and knowledge collected from every single artist, I just had this vision and drive that I could do whatever it was that truly made me happy. My first real collection’s inspiration came from my first trip back east to visit family and instead of taking the red-eye, I flew during the day since I quit my job! I had my sketchbook in my lap, and sitting by the window, I didn’t stop sketching for five hours straight. Almost five years later, and every trip I take, I have my sketchbook with me. All of my collections since have been inspired by the textures, shapes, colors, patterns that I see from 30,000 ft. above.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
I don’t know what a smooth road looks like! I’ve always gone down a different path and liked to steer clear of what everyone else is doing, whether that makes it harder for me or not, that’s the stubbornness in me I discovered when I started Housgoods. Nothing is easy. My biggest struggle, in the beginning, was self-doubt, was I good enough, who would buy my designs. I compared myself a lot to others, to those I wanted to be like. I put way too much pressure on myself to make everything perfect – which was not a part of my personality that I knew. So, it was strange to all of a sudden start caring what other people think. As a self-taught jeweler with a few college classes under my belt, it was intimidating to take my jewelry and actually sell it and turn it into a business. Thank God, I have amazing friends who never let me quit. They were the ones who told me about local shows I should start selling at, constantly telling me “You are good enough.” It took me a while to believe in myself, and I’m a lot better now, but of course, doubt creeps in every now and then. I think the most important piece of advice I can give to other women just starting out on a new endeavor is to surround yourself with positive people. For me, it really has been liberating to join networking groups and create jewelry meet-ups with fellow artists where we can share our struggles whether the same or different and just be there to support one another. I have never felt more empowered than when I’m with fellow artists. We are more alike than we are different, and it’s ok to ask for help.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Housgoods Jewelry – what should we know?
Housgoods is a line of jewelry that I design and hand make in my home studio. My collections are very closely related to the degree I hold in Surface Pattern Design in that I study landscape and terrain to find patterns and shapes that inform my work. Instead of a 2D rendering, I now take my patterns and translate them into three-dimensional wearable art. Working with sterling silver and semi-precious stones, I use traditional metal-smithing techniques to create one of a kind pieces. I think I’m best known for my big, bold geometric earrings and pendants that resemble agricultural crop circles. I am constantly looking to teach myself new techniques to keep up with the designs that are always in my head, to make things better. I am really proud of all the work I have accomplished and the collections I’ve made with my own bare hands, figuring how to make things as I go. And of course, learning to ask for help along the way from fellow jewelers who are not afraid to share their “secrets” with me.

One of the things I don’t think most people know is that alongside Housgoods, I have also been mentoring and teaching jewelry design and business skills to low-income women through a non-profit organization called Project Concern International locally here in City Heights. A proud moment for me was when they opened up their Boutique last Summer and put all their hard work on display. They are getting real-life experience learning what it takes to run a small business. Teaching and sharing what I know and have learned is something that I will continue to do because I know the value it gives me from my tribe of artists and if I can give that back to those who really need it most, then I know I’m doing good.

Do you feel like there was something about the experiences you had growing up that played an outsized role in setting you up for success later in life?
I have been crafty and making things for as long as I can remember. I always had a pencil in my hand drawing or tools taking things apart and putting them back together. I think I always knew that I would be an artist, I don’t remember ever wanting to be something else, maybe a veterinarian because I loved animals so much, but biology wasn’t my strong suit so that question was answered for me! My parents encouraged my creativity every step of the way, indulging in my latest craft obsession. Growing up in NJ so close to NYC my mom and I would go in on weekends and explore Soho to find unique boutiques, little-hidden gems, and we would look at the craftsmanship of the work we saw whether it was seams on a shirt or the special clasp on a necklace. We’d go to the museums, eat lunch at cafes and I would just soak up the diverse styles and people and culture around us. I think that kind of exposure for me was integral for me to continue being curious and to challenge my own creative ideas. The support my parents gave me as a kid is hands down why I am able to be the artist I continually strive to be today.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Maggie Yurachek Photography, Angela McCaw Evans

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