Notes From the Janery Studio
Behind the Scenes
How are you doing right now? Things are not easy for anyone! I hope that you are enjoying good cuddles with your four-legged friends during this overwhelming time of uncertainty, and getting breaths of fresh air whenever possible.
Focusing on a feeling of gratefulness is my current coping mechanism. I have so much to be thankful for. Janery is online only, which has less risk than owning brick and mortar stores. As for my family, we are located in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley, so we can enjoy being outside during this time of social distancing.
Here's what's going on right now:
1. I’m pausing new product development to prioritize face masks.
I just finalized a new cat bed design, but have decided to pause production and photography so I can produce cloth face masks for the hospitals and senior care facilities that are actively soliciting them.
It took me a while to come to this decision - because the scientific studies show that they aren’t as effective as N95 masks. However, if it’s dire enough that hospitals are actively requesting them, then it means it’s time for me to chip in and do my part. I’ve spent hours researching the best materials and patterns, so that I can tackle this project with integrity.
2. I'd like to spread more joy, market less:
Instagram and Facebook are important marketing tools for small businesses like mine. And while I need to keep Janery going so that we can bounce back after this crisis, I don’t feel good about constantly marketing at a time like this. I’ve decided to work on my pet photography skills, and I’ll be sharing more cute animal photos and focusing less on product promotion for now. But I can assure you that we are still shipping if you need a pet bed.
Again, I think that thankfulness is the key to surviving this crisis in the best possible state of mind. Katie Clemons, a celebrated journal author, has some fantastic gratitude resources for families of all ages.
Until next time - try to get some fresh air, take some deep breaths, and hold those kiddos (pet or human) close!
Find out why ethical manufacturing is good for business—and for you.
From the first day I opened Janery’s virtual doors, I was committed to creating sophisticated pet beds with an unapologetic commitment to quality. Some of this quality you can see and feel—the double-stitched seams, the deep-dyed patterns, the channel-sewn cushion, the impressive waterproof liner—and some of this quality is inherent in the ethical manufacturing, which includes the quality of life for the people who help pull it all together.
Not all ethical manufacturing occurs in America, and not all American manufacturing is ethical.
Picturing unethical manufacturing is unfortunately easy to do. We’ve all seen the pictures in the media of the sweatshops in foreign countries. It might surprise you, however, to learn that “American-made” isn’t a guarantee of ethical manufacturing, and popular stores, like Los-Angeles-based, fashion giant Forever21, have a long history of exploiting workers and state law. As recently as last fall, companies were found paying as little as $4/hour to workers who put in 11-hour days.
Conversely, not all overseas factories are unethical. Companies like Cambodia-based Tonlé focus on improved quality of life and safety for their workforce. Per Tonlé’s website:“We're a zero waste, ethical fashion brand on a big mission, to reduce waste generated by larger factories and change the way business is done in the fashion industry. Our process starts with scrap waste sourced from mass clothing manufacturers. Using every last thread, we create handmade clothing and accessories signed by their Cambodian makers. Our family of employees is made up of individuals with spirit, drive and dreams. Together, we’ve built a supportive environment where everyone expresses themselves freely, learns new skills, and gains confidence in what they do. We believe style is more than what you wear – it’s what you choose to be a part of.”
Everlane is another example. Their tagline, “Modern Basics, Radical Transparency” makes it easy to see where their priorities lay. I am so inspired by their transparency and their mission to improve the lives of the people who make the products they sell. They have factories from LA to Vietnam, spread across four continents. The best part? They encourage you to #KnowYourFactories, and in each product listing, you can click a link to see the actual factory where that product was produced.
On a global scale, ethical manufacturing focuses on the good health, safety, and fair compensation of the workforce. These best practices often include a commitment to minimizing waste, thorough product testing, and proper labeling. When you can source your favorite products ethically, you know you’re voting for companies that respect the time, energy, and talent that goes into each and every product. Wouldn’t this be great if it were the norm - instead of the exception?
Yes, ethical manufacturing will always cost more than sweatshop labor, because it reflects the true value of what you are purchasing. It’s a small investment to ensure the best dog beds and the best cat beds on the market.
What does ethical manufacturing mean to us at Janery?
When I bring in more hands to work on our luxury pet beds, I consider several factors before placing an order with a sewing factory:
- Employees of all levels are treated with respect.
- Employees are paid a fair, legal wage - and ideally, a living wage.
- Employees work reasonable hours and are working at-will: no bonded labor, no underage employment, the doors are unlocked, and they are free to leave at any time.
- A safe work environment where repairs are made and safety equipment is available.
- Ideally, all employees receive benefits and healthcare - though our country has a ways to go with this one.
Because of these benchmarks, I’ve been able to form amazing partnerships with manufacturers across the country, from Michigan to North Carolina and Maine.
I sleep better at night knowing we aren’t cutting corners—on style, on comfort, or on human rights, and you can rest easy knowing that your pup’s favorite waterproof dog bed has both chic, effortless style—and a higher purpose.
From the day I first imagined Janery’s existence, I knew I wouldn’t compromise: I’d hire factories employing ethical manufacturing practices, paying living wages, and providing manufacturing jobs, right here at home in the USA. It hasn’t always been the easiest commitment, and certainly not the cheapest option, but I couldn’t sleep at night if there was a chance my products were made in overseas sweatshops.
That focus has led to other efforts in my life - from ethical shopping to donating responsibly - so that my donations don’t go to a landfill or line the pockets of a “charity” CEO.
In general, I want to be a more responsible global citizen - both personally and as CEO of Janery.
With that in mind, I’m always trying to reduce the amount of scrap fabric created by Janery. Fabric waste is a huge problem in the textile and fashion industry - and there’s currently no recycling option in my area!
Here are 3 of the ways I reduce the amount of Janery fabric scrap going to landfills.
(Sidenote: turning scrap into smaller products also means I don’t have to roll the cost of scrap into the cost of a large product. It’s a win-win for any environmentally-minded business.)
1. Bigger, Better, and More Beautiful Cat Toys!
Have you seen our “new and improved” 18” long Catnip Kicker released in October 2017? This extra-large catnip kicking toy lets me eliminate all fabric that would be “wasted” in the creation of our popular Catnip Mats.
I thought an 18” long cat toy was a crazy idea - but when I tested it on my models, they were wild with excitement!
2. We make the best coasters ever
Did you even know we make a Mug Mat? They’re one of my favorite products, and one customer actually called them “the best coaster ever made” - but I always forget to talk about them!
Smaller strips of fabrics are combined with larger fabrics to make our Mug Mats - reversible, waterproof oversized coasters that provide the perfect landing spot for a mug of coffee and a snack. Can you spot the one I use in my office, below? ;)
3. We offer Free Fabric Swatches
Smaller squares of fabric are perfect for offering you free Fabric Swatches. I would offer this regardless because I want you to painlessly choose a pattern and color that’s just right for your space. Bonus points for the fact that it helps me squeeze every little use out of fabric!
Despite these efforts to use every fabric scrap created by Janery, I still have bags and bags and bags of fabric scrap in my attic that I refuse to send to landfills. I’ve tested several options for turning them into washable, waterproof dog beds for animal shelters - but haven’t hit on just the right design for comfort and durability. . . . yet.
In the meantime, my attic is getting more insulated by the month. :)
PS: If getting scrap happy gives your heart the warm fuzzies, you’ll love this wedding dress designer’s effort to turn fabric trash into wedding gown bliss. Seeing facts about waste, and how cities and other retail companies and designers are trying to combat the problem was a real eye-opener. (And if I’m honest, totally inspirational.)
I know it’s already February, but it took time to find the words to thank you for last year - for your business, for your enthusiasm, and for being you.
I learned quite a bit in 2017, and I’m most grateful for Janery customers. Not just because we had our best year on record, not just because we got great press, but because of who you are and what we were able to do together.
You bring out the best in everyone.
If last year taught me anything, it’s that anything is possible. Thanks to your support - and your patience - I closed the year with an amazing partnership: I hired a local, ethical factory to help create my products, like my waterproof dog beds. This means more skilled labor jobs for Americans. It means more opportunities for those living in rural North Carolina and Detroit. (And this year in Maine, if all goes well.)
These are some of the most underemployed parts of the country. Sharing this part of the business was difficult for me, but it was made easier knowing that other people would benefit from it. This doesn’t mean I’m more hands-off. I’ve just brought more hands in. And that means big things for Janery, for working families here at home, and for you.
We donated over $1500 to local animal rescues and homeless outreach. By supporting Janery, you helped homeless veterans, comforted a sheltered pet, supported ethical manufacturing, and showed pride in American-made products and materials. You did it with style and without a second thought.
You really love pictures of cute pets.
I can always count on pictures of adorable animals to make me smile, and I’m glad you feel the same way. Thanks for tagging us on Instagram and chiming in on Facebook - our pack keeps growing, and it’s so much fun. (Have you entered our #JaneryStyle contest?)
You love a good deal.
Well, this one kind of applies to everyone. The reason I singled you out, though, is because I have some great news.
I did a bunch of nerdy data analysis, and I’ve lowered the price on throw pillows and covers. Want to add flair to a bedroom or your living room couch in mere minutes? Save even more time and money with our new Pillow Collections, now available in chic sets of two and three - priced at 10% less than individual pillows.
You aren’t afraid of real life.
I know this because Janery makes a dedicated, thoughtful effort to give everyone a soft place to land - and to make sure that place can be easily washed on occasion. You know you don’t need to sacrifice form for function, and you don’t sweat handprints or muddy paws or . . . anything else. That’s what I love about our products, and what I like about you.
Janery is a small business with a big heart, and I’m keenly aware that making great products and doing great things take more than just one person. Thanks for being such a vital part of the adventure last year.
What adventures will this year bring? Stay tuned, and stay cozy! :)
Here at Janery, I’m serious about using ethical manufacturing for our pet beds and home decor. Yes, it costs more, but I can’t ignore the working conditions of the people manufacturing my supplies and finished products.
It’s the final day of the One Room Challenge, and I’m thrilled to be revealing two finished rooms here on the blog - my office and my sewing studio. I’ve divided the “reveal” of the finished spaces into two posts because I had so much to say about each.
But first, the background! The Challenge is hosted by Linda of Calling It Home with media partner House Beautiful, and over six weeks many bloggers work to makeover a space (or two) in their home. It’s my first time participating and it was super stressful but amazingly rewarding!
My sewing studio is the most important part of my One (or Two) Room Challenge, because it’s where I sew all the products for my home decor and pet bed business, Janery. As my business grew, our landlord agreed to expand the room using part of our unfinished basement. I then didn’t put any permanent systems into place because I wanted to work in the room and figure out the best layout, etc.
One year later it was definitely time to implement some long-term solutions and systems. Let me give you a tour!
The sewing studio is behind the french doors at one end of our large basement rec room.
As you enter the room, you see my large and tall fabric cutting table. It's a beast that is about 5 feet square, large enough for me to roll out bolts of fabric.
This was the most important piece of furniture that I built for the space, because it's customized to my hip height. Spending hours cutting fabric can hurt your back if you have to bend over to a normal-height table. (Ask me how I know ;)
I built a picture ledge to hang above the cutting table so that I could display things like my favorite photo of Charlie, who inspired the business, and the covers of magazines that my products have been in.
Oh, and see that gold border around the ceiling? I used gold Washi tape to do that! A perfect renter-friendly solution.
The wall opposite the table has large cork boards made from homasote panels covered in fabric. I use the cork boards to pin up orders, but also fabric swatches I'm eyeing and any magazine pages that make me happy and inspired. (No joke, I've been saving some magazine pages for years just for this cork wall. I also added some strong hooks because some fabrics, like velvet, should be stored hanging so they don't get creases.
The base of my cutting table is a solid block of storage, and though I was unsure at first, I'm now really happy with how it worked out. I took the easy route and built a two-tier table top that fits over a base made with four Ikea Kallax shelving units. It wasn't the cheapest approach to buy 4 Ikea units, but it was the easiest. I don't have time to DIY every single piece of furniture.
I love how the Kallax shelves make my fabric bolts so easily accessible when I'm cutting orders! And I stocked up on square polka dot bins from Target. You can't see it all, but the shelves that don't hold bolts are full of bins holding my lesser-used supplies such as quilting fabrics and materials, and extra rolls of packing tape.
The top tier of the shelves I built, and I made it tall enough to hold my tissue paper and shipping envelopes on the side pictured - while the other side holds shipping boxes.
Below you can see the wall facing the cutting table. The Elfa shelves (from my former office) were the perfect size for this wall, and they hold my bins of fabric scraps as well as my small shipping supplies and stationery.
(See the sewing machine? That's the machine that started it all. . . a generous birthday gift from my husband when we were first dating!)
Having all my shipping supplies within grabbing reach makes a huge difference. If you're running a product business, you need to make the shipping process as easy as possible. Now I can just line up my packages on the cutting table, then grab the hang tags, tagging gun, business cards, package enclosure cards - really everything I put into completing the package.
(My larger products are stored in a private nook in another part of the basement, but they are easy to grab and bring to the studio for packing.)
Psst: Look at the right side of the photo above: my cutting ruler sits on a lip below the cutting table. This is one of those tiny details that actually makes my life SO much easier when I'm cutting from large bolts!
The smaller, nook-like area of the room is the "addition" that our landlord added last spring. It turned out to be the perfect size for the sewing part of the room.
We did a little recycling here, using scraps from an old DIY table as the table tops for my serger and for my sewing machine. The serger got attached to its table with a screw (because it operates at high speed and you don't want it dancing across the table) and my husband built a dropped platform to hold my sewing machine at table height.
These are little details that don't matter aesthetically, but matter from a sewing process standpoint. (I still need to paint the dropped platform for the sewing machine, but no biggie.
Let's chat details for a minute - the pegboard wall storage is another game changer, and I'm sure I'll fill it up over time. A magnetic strip from the hardware store holds my screwdriver and sewing machine feet, and the thread and bobbins are right above it. A plastic drawer unit below the table holds all the zippers I use on a daily basis.
Let's be honest - I'm excited about pretty much everything about this room. Nothing makes work better than having everything you need right where you need it.
Huge thanks to photographer Laura Metzler who does all the product photography for Janery (and makes me feel less silly in front of the lens)!
Also, thank you again to Linda for hosting this challenge. Please be sure to visit the other guest participants - you can find them all here!