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Meet Julie and Nay Schuder of Just Right Decor in Antelope Valley

Today we’d like to introduce you to Julie and Nay Schuder.

Julie and Nay, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
Nay grew up in west Texas and I was raised in Northern California. When Nay was young, he studied and worked in several art mediums including leather, graphite, pastel, metal and wood. Coincidentally, I loved art as well and took ceramics, stained glass, welding, woodshop and graphite classes. We met and became close friends in 1995. At the time, Nay was in the Air Force, stationed at Travis Air Force Base and I had just started a small business that assisted people with intellectual disabilities. We started dating in 1999 and got married in 2000. In 2003, Nay got out of the Air Force and began his career as a stay-at-home dad for our two kids, while I continued to operate my growing business. We had an amazing family and life, but between a stressful career and raising a family, let’s just say we were BUSY. It had been years since either of us were able to focus on meaningful art.

That all changed in 2011. We had just moved to the Mojave Desert in North Los Angeles County when Nay went back to school to study art at the local junior college. Just for fun, one semester in 2012, we decided to enroll in a pottery class together. Long story short, we went on to take every pottery and hand-building class that they offered over the next couple of years. Then we bought the kiln that we had used in class, and continued to sculpt and throw at home in our spare time.

Fast forward to today. Our kids are grown. Nay is working as a fabricator at a special effects company, and I still run the same business. We recently opened a small business together called Just Right Decor, which is the first step toward our dream of transitioning from our current careers to a situation that allows us to create and teach art together.

Has it been a smooth road?
I think our biggest struggle has, for a long time, been the fact that I have an extremely high-stress career. For over 31 years, I have had the ultimate responsibility for the health and safety of more than 60 people who have severe to profound disabilities. I love my work but the related stress really takes a tole, and I’ve finally decided that I need a change.

Just Right Decor should, in theory, allow me to make that change. Although the business is growing, we’re not yet able to transition over, so, for now, we’re still working full time and spend as much time as possible on Just Right Decor. We hope to retire from our careers within a year, and pursue our dream of creating and teaching art together full time.

Please tell us about your art.
Our studio is located in a small unincorporated town in the Mojave Desert about an hour north of Los Angeles. We work independently and collaboratively, primarily in watercolor, graphite, and clay. Recently, Nay has been specializing in slab-built sculptures and I recently started working on a collection of abstract sculptures created by adjoining swirl-shaped coils. We take commissions and sell our work on consignment. We also teach sculpture classes, and we offer private pottery and sculpting lessons and studio space/potters wheel rentals.

I think one thing that sets us apart from other artists is the fact that our ability to work so unusually well collaboratively allows us to utilize our differing strengths and styles in conjunction, to create individual pieces highlighting the strengths of two people.

Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
We appreciate the vast quantity of opportunities and new experiences that are available in and around the city. The cultural diversity and the quality and variety of events, attractions and restaurants keep us coming back, but we also stay close to LA for the career opportunities that are available to our children. As much as we enjoy spending time in LA, we also appreciate the fact that within an hour or two drive, we can enjoy a variety of activities at the beach, in the mountains, or the desert. Our location is perfect for us because we’re a short drive away from everything that Los Angeles has to offer, and we can come home to the serenity and wide open spaces of the rural Mojave Desert.

We’re deeply saddened by the homeless crisis that is taking place in and around LA. The problem is massive and complex, and we definitely don’t have the answer. We have facilitated the annual homeless count in our area, and we’re excited and optimistic about work that is currently being done by our Cities and LA County to decrease homelessness.

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