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Meet Jessica Galarza of JLOVEKNITS

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jessica Galarza.

Jessica, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
JLOVEKNITS began as a hobby, I was taught by my mom how to crochet and knit as a young girl. My fondest memories revolve around crafting, whether it was my dad who would make my hair bows, balloon decorations and papier-mâché piñatas for my birthdays, or hanging out with my mom watching novelas while we knitted, to my grandma try to teach me embroidery.

Crafting and creativity was everywhere growing up and thanks to them I have become a self-proclaimed Jack of All Trades. As a young adult, I began to crochet and knit gifts to friends and family, and in 2013, I began to post on social media just for fun to showcase my work. Since then I would occasionally post on the items I made, never really taking my work too seriously.

A few years ago, I had what I can only describe as a quarter life crisis where I basically had major anxiety and felt like I had no idea who I was or what I was doing with my life. While I was going through this dark period in my life, I picked up the crochet hook and began to craft again.

I found a creative outlet to help me manage my anxiety, and that helped me rediscover a piece of who I was, a creative, sensitive, passionate being who got too caught up in pleasing everyone else, and in her job, that she had forgotten about herself.  Once I began to knit and crochet again, I began to open up to those around me, and it helped me express myself through crafting and in my relationships. I found something that sparked joy in me.

So I began yet again to create knitted items, but then last year when I was at work I had ”aha moment.“ I was sitting at my desk, drinking my iced coffee that I get everyday, out of a plastic cup, with a plastic lid, and plastic straw. I then thought about how it would end up at a landfill and/or how long it would stay in this earth.

Then came lunch time, and as I stared at my fruit in a plastic snack bag. I thought about how I like many people use these plastic bags everyday. At that moment is where I began to think of alternatives that would be less harmful to our planet and help alleviate our waste problem. That weekend I began to look up “reusable snack bags,” and sure I am not the first to come up with this idea, I decided that I would make these bags to help bring awareness of our environmental impact with my friends, family and my community.

From there, what was once a hobby turned into a passion, although it doesn’t just end there, I want my passion to do a little good. I don’t want it to just be self-serving, I am eco-conscious, hoping to contribute small and alternative ways to help our environment. I am not 100% zero waste, but I am more conscious and aware of how much I waste I produce and how I can cut that waste.

Since last year I have expanded my list of reusable items, in hopes of reaching not just my friends, family, but all those who I may encounter and meet. I have participated in small craft fairs/events, and most recently at Cal Poly Pomona’s Womxns Entrepreneurship Day Vendor Fair, where I was able to share my entrepreneurialship journey and story with Cal Poly Pomona students.

And though I may be but little, I am fierce. I pour my time, energy and heart into every item and project I work on because this is what saved me during some of the toughest of times. I am a lover of all crafts and art who has turned a hobby into a passion. I hardly ever say no to a project, and I give that credit to my “Si Se Puede” Latina can do attitude

Has it been a smooth road?
It hasn’t always been a smooth road, and it still isn’t life, and work would get in the way and distract me in the beginning. Then I was involved in an m.v.a. that has caused a major back injury. That injury is what both helped me seek this as an outlet, and it also stirred up a lack of motivation and fear which made it difficult to start.

Once I got over the fear and self-doubt it made it easier. I have learned to become my own cheerleader, and have made the conscious decision to think positive and send out positivity, letting that energy be the only energy I put out into the universe.

Even now, I am currently dealing with an ankle injury that has put me on bed rest for an entire week, I am not letting that get me down and keep me down. I’ve also struggled with garnering support for friends and family, but that has only made me more thankful for those around who do support me, my vision and encourage me to keep going

We’d love to hear more about your business.
I am a Latina crafter, who specializes in reusable products such as snack and sandwich bags and all things handmade. As a small business, I am proud of the feedback I receive from customers. I am a one-woman show, I make everything myself, so I pride myself in making sure everything I make is made with integrity, attention to details, and something I am proud to put my name and brand tag on.

I think what sets me apart from others is my positive attitude, and the desire I have for this brand to be like I’ve said just self-serving to myself, I want to help bring awareness to the amount of waste we create, I want to make reusable alternatives that are fun, and that can be personalized. I believe that when people to come across my page they not only see what I make and sell but they also see someone who is pouring positivity and encouragement to all.

Is our city a good place to do what you do?
I do feel like our city is a great place like businesses like me, there are so many great events the city hosts to showcase our work and the community really steps out to support local and small vendors like myself. If you’re just starting out and you think that social media platforms are where it’s at, you sound just like me when I started out.

I used to think “Oh I’ll just post on social media and that’s where I’ll get a lot of sales and grow my business” but that’s not the case, I have found that vending at my local craft fair, or at community/city event let’s me engage with potential customers where they get to ask me questions about my products and about why I got started in the first place, so while social media is great, I definitely think our city is a great place to start your business.

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