Spring Bada Bing is less than two weeks away! We will be highlighting two vendors a day until the big day so you have the chance to get to know some of the awesome makers who will be with us at the show.
Richmond Craft Mafia’s Spring Bada Bing – at Hardywood Park Craft Brewery
April 29th 10am-5pm
Meet Jennifer Allevato!
How did you get started making your products?
I started my creative pursuits partially as a way to make money and partially just because I needed to CREATE. I had started a career in Costume Design after grad school, and when I just wasn’t feeling the passion for that, I changed directions and took a “temporary” job in retail. The job was fun and I met some amazing people, but I just felt like I had to start creating my own art or I’d burst. Since that job was more flexible than theatre (I wasn’t working on designing and creating a show for 60+ hours a week), it allowed me the time to be able to begin creating. I do miss theatre, but am happy enjoying it from the front of the house instead of backstage.
How long have you been making your products?
I started selling my creations – starting with small embroidery and watercolor paintings – in 2011 as a side business. I started painting more and more, and was able to parlay that into a full-time pursuit around the holidays in 2013.
What is your most popular product? Why do you think it’s so popular?
My most popular card, for years now, has been one with an illustration of my cat on it with hand lettering that says “you’re my favorite.” It’s just cute and funny; I had one customer who bought three to give one to each of her children, which is hilarious.
Which of your products is most time consuming to make and why?
My original paintings take the longest to make; I try to work on several at once so I can keep bouncing back and forth. But anything I have to do on the computer definitely FEELS like it takes the longest. Any design that’s been painted and then has to be scanned in (like my cards), need, at the least, to be cleaned up in Photoshop before I can put them into Illustrator and actually design the card. I have zero training in graphic design, so computer works feels cumbersome. Give me a paintbrush any day!
What drives you to continue making? Who/what is your inspiration?
I continue to paint because I don’t know any other way to share what’s inside of me. It can be hard to put yourself out there day after day. It’s like I’m just putting myself on a canvas and then selling it away to someone else, never to see it again. Every once in a while I feel a little burnt out; but inspiration in the form of a gorgeous flower, a pretty color scheme I see in a store, or a new tube of paint can just snap something in me that wants to run back to my easel.
What is the biggest hurdle you have overcome with your business?
I think the biggest hurdle I have overcome with my business is just having the guts to do it in the first place. When I was in school, this job (as far as I knew) did not exist. There was no Etsy; there was barely online shopping, and certainly not from tiny, independent artists. I went through school thinking there were either huge internationally-known artists like Damien Hirst and Barbara Kruger, or you did something else for an actual job and you just made your art on the side, if you had the time. I was told that this, what I’m doing now, wasn’t possible. I’ve learned to be my own business manager, my own marketing director, and my own artistic director.
What do you watch or listen to while you are working?
While I work, I rotate listening to design podcasts, watching Netflix (esp. Gilmore Girls or cheesy romantic comedies – anything I’ve seen dozens of times), and listening to Spotify. I am definitely more productive when I am NOT watching Netflix, but sometimes you just gotta do what makes you happy. My most recent paintings were created while listening to the Hamilton soundtrack, and I think the colors are punchy and fun.
Do you have any pets?
My husband and I have two cats, Red and James. They “help” by sitting on boxes. Red is the orange tabby featured on a few of my greeting cards.