Breaking Free From ‘Normal’: Special Interview with Jenny of Elefantz

If you have been looking for a way of breaking free from ‘normal’ and start walking a path built on your own values you may have considered how a ‘job’ fits in with your equation. Perhaps you are looking for time freedom and income that still gives you flexibility. Maybe you are looking for a way to bring money in while you travel. Or maybe you are looking for extra money now so that you can start building the savings you need to make that jump. For many people this presents the question of ‘How do I make money from home’?

It is easy to start ‘dreaming and scheming’ without ever getting as far as doing something that does in fact bring in money.

So I sought out some interviews with people who ARE working from home using their skills and passions.

I’d like to introduce you to my friend Jenny. I’ve known her since I want a young girl and she has always been wise, passionate and very special. I’m pretty pleased to have been able to interview her and hear her thoughts on turning your hobbies into income!

Jenny of Elefantz

Turning your hobbies into income interview questions from Sarah Wooden

Would you please introduce yourself and your business?

Hi, my name is Jennifer Reynolds and I have been designing hand embroideries and writing a blog for the past ten years. 

What inspired you to start your business?

It was 2005, and we were a homeschool family living in a one room cabin mid-winter in the freezing highlands of NSW while my husband did his first two terms as a teacher at the local high school. Outside of lessons there wasn’t a lot we could do in the rainy afternoons so another homeschool family loaned me some craft magazines. I fell in love with the embroidery and quilts within the pages and declared to my 11 yo daughter “We can do this!” Within days we had purchased a few supplies and began teaching ourselves to embroider and quilt by hand as we had no sewing machine or room to purchase many special items.

In early 2009 we were living in Esperance, WA, and I drew up a simple design to offer on my new blog and the response was quite overwhelming. Over the next few months I shared a few more free patterns and then offered one for sale. An Australian craft magazine contacted me and asked if I’d like to send in some designs for them to publish and by the end of that year (and after moving to the tropics of North Queensland) my designs had appeared on four magazine covers and I was regularly selling patterns online.

jenny of elefantz

Were you in a place of desperation looking for money or was it for the joy of seeing your passion/skill/hobby go to good use?

My children were now in their mid-teens and I had been praying for the previous two years for a direction to follow once they finished their studies…that request from a craft magazine was the first answer. Many magazines, including a US publication, followed afterwards. So I won’t say it was a desire to make some income, but rather an organic road that opened before me and which I chose to follow. When you have a skill and the opportunity presents itself to use that gift in such a way that it brings joy to your heart, teaches others a new skill, or helps with buffering the family income (and as long as it does not interfere with the values of home and family life) then I encourage others to explore where it will lead. I had no idea at the time how popular my work would become, or how God would use the lessons He was teaching me about life and walking in His ways to increase my blog audience to the numbers I have today. He is faithful to grow us in the ways that matter if we allow Him to lead.

jenny of elefantz blog

How did you work out what it was within you that you could turn into some cash?

As I said before, the skills were there and I just needed to share them. Once I had built an audience, a loyal following, the trust between customer and designer grew and at that time personal confidence in what I had to offer was being built as well. I began with one pattern to sell, and last year I had many hundreds. From 2010 I published my own monthly e-zine for two years (as a paid subscription) before starting my own online Stitchery Club (also paid subscription) which has been running for over four years. I was one of the first designers in Australia and indeed world-wide to offer PDF patterns and being that ground breaker put me in a great position to grow Jenny of Elefantz Designs to where it is today. In March 2019 I have a new Club starting and my blog is still growing each week with hundreds of thousands of readers across the world each month.

What advice do you have for the stay at home mum out there looking at her budget, feeling like crying and wishing she could just find an extra $50 a week?

I’ll ask you this first – what can you do, and more importantly, what can you do well? There’s a lot of competition out there today in many areas of home business so copying what others have isn’t going to help you get very far. I’d suggest first of all, PRAY. Pray for ideas, pray for clarity to see where your natural gifts lie. Think long and hard about the one consistent thing others compliment you about and consider if that can become the starting point for a home business.

I don’t just design and embroider, I write as well, and my writing is very popular which has a lot to do with the popularity of my blog. Many people do not sew but they enjoy what I write, the message I share about loving this gentle domestic life, and they share my posts on social media which in turn brings more traffic to the blog, my shop and my Clubs. Having a few plates spinning isn’t a bad thing if you remember that when one plate falls leave it be and pick up a new plate. This means that if something just isn’t working let it go and pursue a different avenue – don’t beat yourself up about it, don’t waste time gluing that dropped plate back together. Be brave, be bold, be humble, and be kind.

Don’t expect things to take off overnight, but start slow and gather your confidence. Research the skill you’re about to market and see what others are doing – look for your own niche because it will help you in the long run. If you’re just doing the same as someone else you won’t get far and that incredible effort you’ve used probably won’t bring the success you had hoped for.

jenny of elefantz

Any final thoughts on creating an extra income stream?

In any business, you need to build an audience which will one day become your customer base. Visit local markets if you’re into handmade or baking or repurposing or other wonderful ideas like that, and look at what everyone in that path is making and what they’re charging for their wares. Look at how they label their work, set up their stalls, interact with their customers.

If you want to sell online start a blog and write about the things that make you happy. Truly, nobody enjoys a blog page covered in ads or one which is all about the blogger wanting you to buy what they have.

Build relationships in order to gain trust and eventually a customer base.

Be yourself, don’t try and be what you think others want you to be.

ENJOY the process and be patient as your journey begins.

Be humble. Don’t be a know it all. Don’t speak down to people. Kindness and laughter (even at your own expense) goes a long way to building a genuine following because people can relate to you. After all, we all walk the same earth.

Don’t get caught up in the competition. Do your own thing, walk to the beat of your own drum. Only look to others for inspiration and then add your own unique touches of personality and style.

Practice taking photos. Look at photos on blogs, social media etc and really study the ones that make your own heart happy or inspired. What is it about the photo you love? People resonate with a good photo…and I’m not talking about the polished professional shots. They love something that is real and beautiful. 

Follow people whose skills you admire on blogs and social media and leave comments to encourage them! In order to be encouraged we must first be an encourager.

May God bless you SO much as you embark on this journey!

Hugs, Jenny

_________________________________________________________________________7 Day Tiny Living Workshop - Meco Blue