- 1Jill's Official Website: Elements Jill Schwartz
- 2Follow Jill on Instagram: @elementsjillschwartz
- 3Jill's Jewelry Supply Shop in Etsy: VintageGrooveJS
- 4Chelsea Market in NYC (home of Jingle Holiday Pop Up): Chelsea Market
- 5Online Wholesale Marketplaces: Faire, Tundra, Abound
- 6Philadelphia Flower Show: PHS Philadelphia Flower Show
- 7New Event for Jill July 15-16, 2023: Artisan Market at Winterthur
Jill Schwartz has always gravitated towards vintage bits and bobs and has collected trinkets and materials throughout the decades of her creative career. And now, she's leaning into her Pandemic Pivot - her intention to lean on her ample stash of raw materials and use what she has to inspire the direction of her creative process.
A creative entrepreneur for over 40 years, Jill is a jewelry maker and the CEO of her popular brand, Elements Jill Schwartz. In this interview, she shares several nuggets of maker AND seller wisdom with her longtime friend, Crispina ffrench, and of course, with all of our faithful Rags to Riches Textile Upcycling Podcast listeners!
While Jill is not strictly a "textile alchemist," that is, her main materials are not textiles, she does incorporate various fabrics into her floral pieces, and she certainly fits the bill of upcycling entrepreneur. With her penchant for collecting all sorts of sparkly and interesting things that make her happy and keeping them until the perfect project comes along (think mother of pearl buttons, vintage chains and frames, etc), Jill was perfectly poised for her Pandemic Pivot: Downsizing her production and adjusting her focus from large to small batches and a new rule that is close to her heart and to ours: use what she already has!
Using what you already have is not as easy as it sounds. It takes special creative ingenuity to work to your raw materials and develop a creative project to match, as opposed to developing an idea for a project and then sourcing the perfect raw materials. Crispina points out that if not for Jill's meticulously organized workspace and storage, where she can actually see what she has available to work with, it would be impossible to do what she's doing now! You have to be able to see what you have to work with what you have.
Crispina and Jill also touch on Jill's marketplace of materials, which is located on Etsy at Vintage Groove JS. Jill not only uses her collection to create her intricate and unique work for Elements Jill Schwartz, she also offers them to other makers as a curated collection of raw materials! In fact, Crispina has incorporated purchases from Vintage Groove JS into past Stitch-a-Long with Crispina ffrench workshops!
Crispina and Jill go WAY back, so Crispina reminisces fondly of Jill's studio of 20+ years in Great Barrington, MA, which recently she had to move from when the building was sold. Jill talks about being devastated at first, until she realized she could lean into the need for a new space to pivot her business again.
"I was able to reframe something that was devastating to me to make it work to my benefit, and I think that's great."
Jill found a small space she could purchase, and she created HER happy space in part of the building where she could exist and work for the rest of her days. The rest of the space is flexible! Jill thinks of it as endless pivot potential. She can run classes, she can rent it out to other makers, she can make it anything she needs, when she needs it! That kind of adaptability in an investment and a working space is a creative entrepreneurial dream!! Total goals, Jill. Thanks for sharing!