Today we’d like to introduce you to Jen Johnson.
Jen, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
It all started when my husband (then just a friend) decided on a whim to drive West to Los Angeles. We began dating which quickly became serious, and after almost two years of long-distance, I decided to finish my credits at School of the Art Institute of Chicago through an internship with an incredible artist (Kim Fisher) here in LA. I also began working at Anthropologie, where I soon became a Display Coordinator. For 6 1/2 years, I was display at Anthro while my husband was Store Manager at Urban Outfitters. He soon felt the call to pursue Art Department in the production world. Soon after, I felt pulled to pursue the event design world, working with a great friend who had started her own company, then called K8Vision. It didn’t take long for my husband and I to combine forces and start our own company, Dutch + Finn Design. For about five years, we worked large-scale events, helping to design, hand fabricate, and install decor pieces, as well as working together in production. Feeling the need to create on a smaller, more intimate scale, I began creating wood decor pieces such as planters and pendant lights. I would also create custom fiber art pieces and add leather and woven elements to prefabricated furniture for one of our clients.
In the midst of everything moving so quickly, we were suddenly about to celebrate our ten years wedding anniversary and realized “family” and “kids” had been in the back of our minds. So finally, we decided it was time.
Our kids invited a new season into our lives; one that has put “business” on hold for me. It is a privilege and path that my husband and I both chose together, and one that I have loved every minute of; even the challenges.
I currently take on choice projects here and there, however I’ve found that my creativity has been lovingly wrapped around my kids and become an important way for me to nurture them and myself; whether that be through curating crafts for their preschool, fort building that would blow your mind, or “over-the-top” birthday parties with all hand-made decor.
This season is temporary and I’ve been holding onto every moment as they grow near to school age. And someday, I will find myself in the quiet after dropping them both off to school, and I will start making.
Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
I would love to meet someone whose had a smooth road! My road has definitely had its obstacles. It was scary when my husband and I both decided to leave our full-time jobs and eventually start our business together. It helped a bit that my husband took the “leap” first and did his searching for work in production while I was still at Anthropologie. Then when he began to thrive, I followed suit. We were so blessed to have had the people we did, surrounding us and supporting us at that time! And now, I would say I am in the midst of a different “struggle”, as my kiddos near school age and I am feeling the pull to figure out what I want to do next. It’s both a good and frustrating struggle. Having kids has changed me and my mindset. Before, things would move so quickly and I would happily fly into whatever happened next. But now, I want and need to be more intentional with my time. So far, I’ve purposefully centered my creativity around my kids, which has been so nourishing for them and for me. We’ve grown from each other in so many ways. But I am starting to feel the pull to begin caring for my own art. The balance of nurturing both my children and my creativity is something I will soon need to find.
Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I feel I’ve never had a “focus” in my work, there are too many amazing things to learn! So I’ve become a “Jill of all trades”. I studied painting in college but also loved and dabbled in fiber art and sculpture. I’ve always had a love for woodworking as well. Working display at Anthropologie introduced me into installation art and creating beautiful environments for people to interact in, which then lead me into the event design and the production world. In my work, I’m inspired by people/relationships and nature; both through form and material. I’ve also become inspired by what my children play with; whether that be classic toys or sticks and rocks. I love recreating them into elevated home decor, which you can see in my wood pieces.
We all have a different way of looking at and defining success. How do you define success?
Success to me is being able to experience life with my family and good friends first and then nurturing a career in art where I can support community and give back.
- Email: Info@dutchandfinn.com
- Website: www.dutchandfinn.com
- Instagram: @dutchandfinn