in good company // issue no. 06 // jenna herbut
Who: Jenna Herbut, Founder of Make it! The Handmade Revolution
What: Craft lover, entrepreneur, girl boss, lover of all things sparkly, multi-tasker.
Where: Vancouver, BC
Follow: @jennaherbut and @makeitshow
Jenna Herbut is one lady who loves all things sparkly. If you even just see how big her smile is (proof is in the pic above), you will quickly realize that she brings a lot of brightness to any room, not to mention, her crafty talents.
So launching a cool, interactive and gender-friendly (yes, there is a beer garden too for all you men), local craft fair to showcase other talented, local artisans was a natural fit for Jenna. She's turned Make It! The Handmade Revolution into a 3 city touring fair and I personally think it's one of the best out there. This isn't the type of fair where you'll find dust-worthy chotchkies to clutter your fireplace mantle. You will literally find some useful, tasty and gorgeously hand-crafted pieces from beautiful pottery (my faves are Yookyoung Yong Ceramics & Haejin Lee), gorgeously crafted jewelry to local scented candles (My fave are from The Vancouver Candle Co. and Woodlot) to delicious, handmade caramels and savoury spices and salts. This is a craft fair worth buying a ticket to because you will never come out empty handed (but guaranteed, a smile on your face and some Christmas gifts).
What inspired you and your brother Chandler to create Make It!?
I was a designer myself and had a line of belts. It was a school project for a marketing class in university that I ended up doing full time after graduating. I had been selling at craft fairs around Canada but didn't always feel super inspired by them. My goal was to create an event that was fun, exciting and that my peers would want to come to. At the time Etsy had just launched and I saw a ton of growth and potential in the handmade community. I partnered with a friend of mine who was a jewelry designer and we launched our first Stop & Shop craft fair in 2007 at a small venue in Edmonton. We had no idea what we were doing, but we had a bar and live music, which was an instant hit! The event quickly grew from about 25 exhibitors to over 100. During this time, my brother Chandler, who used to help me out at the show, started a graphic t-shirt company called Ole Originals. Around this time, we had also both moved to Vancouver and decided to join forces as business partners and rebrand the show as Make It. This all happened in 2008 and we now have events twice a year in both Edmonton, Vancouver and Calgary.
What is it like working with family?
At this point in time, I no longer work with Chandler. I bought him out of Make It in February 2016 after 8 years in business together. The decision was bittersweet, but we both decided it was the right move. Chandler continues to run Ole Originals and it has grown into a very successful business. The best part of working with family was that you had the ultimate trust in one another. It was also great because we could be direct and upfront with each other. This was always a challenge with my previous business partner. We didn't experience too many difficulties, except sometimes we'd annoy one another and bicker a little bit. I think this is pretty normal between siblings. Luckily, Chandler and I have always been great friends and remain so today.
Tell us about Booty Beltz and where the name came from?
Ha! I started Booty Beltz when I was 22 years old and thought it was the best name ever. It just popped into my head one day and I instantly became excited about it. My logo had the 'B's" back to back so it created a little butterfly. After a few years, I was a little embarrassed by the name but one thing that was really great about it was people remembered it. People always ask what a Booty Belt is, and it's basically a sash belt that I made from fabric with a little buckle on the end. In the early days, I used to make them out of vintage scarves.
You studied Marketing, Law & Business Economics in school, how did you become involved with crafting? Was this always a passion of yours?
I have always been creative and enjoyed making things. I wouldn't say I was super crafty, but more just entrepreneurial and business minded. What I love most about organizing Make It is being able to create a platform where other people are able to make money doing what they love.
What are some of your favourite products you've discovered at Make It! (personally mine were discovering The Salt Dispensary & the Candid Confectioner).
That's a tough one! There are so many amazing products that I love at Make It and I get overwhelmed just thinking about it! Unfortunately it can be challenging for me to spend any time shopping so I usually miss out on buying much. Sometimes vendors give me gifts at the end of the show so most of the stuff I have from Make It is acquired that way.
Where do you see Make It! in 5 years?
Next year I'm expanding to Calgary for a spring show, and possibly Toronto as well. Once I'm in 4 cities I don't have any plans to expand beyond that, but I would like to focus on growing Make It University, speaking and writing books.
You've spoken at quite a few events including PechaKucha and Hootsuite #Hootup Craft. How do you prepare for your talks? Does it include a sparkly pep talk to yourself:)?
Ha! I absolutely love speaking so it's always very exciting when I do get asked. This doesn't mean that I don't get nervous, because I definitely do on occasion. One thing I always do is focus on my breathing and try to ground myself. Preparation also helps a lot, so I practice in the mirror before I so get really comfortable with the stories I'm going to tell.
You're the self-starter, go for your dreams kind of person. What advice would you give to someone wanting to turn their dreams or ideas into a reality?
Why thank you! I would say, if you have the passion and desire you should just go for it because there's nothing worse than the regret of not trying to so something you want to do. You will likely make lots of mistakes and fail along the way, but if you look at everything as a journey, there's no way you can go wrong.
What's your biggest turn on when it comes to selling at shows like Make It?
I think of my biggest turn on is seeing other people being able to sell what they make. It's always a full circle feeling for me because its a show that I would have loved to have participated in when I was first starting out with Booty Beltz. The vibe of the show is fun and positive, which is why I think it's continued to grow at such a steady rate.
I'm a big believer in 'ah-ha' moments and that timing is everything and things happen for a reason. What has been your biggest ah-ha moment in life?
That you can only work so hard and a big part of success is letting go and surrendering. There are a lot of things that have happened in my life that I couldn't have planned for or predicted. When you are an overachiever it can be hard to deal with this, but there's so much power when you do surrender. Showing vulnerability is not a bad thing.
What are three qualities you look for in a tribe of women you surround yourself with?
Fun, happy and conscience.
What does your average day look like?
Now that I have an office space my days are a little more structured and typical. Three things I do every morning are meditate for 20 mins, drink a green smoothie and think about everything I'm grateful for. Then I go to my office in Gastown and work with my graphic designer. Sometimes my exhibitor coordinator comes in as well, or we just correspond through email. I usually do an exercise class like Pilates or Yoga after work and often times I'll go to an event or meet up with friends.
What's been your biggest failure in life (career or personal) and what did you learn from it?
Nothing catastrophic really comes to mind, but sometimes when I was selling Booty Beltz at shows and I hardly sold any of them. But even in those moments I learned a lot and don't think of them as failures, but rather the nature of the beast when it comes to retail. Especially at craft fairs.
What motivates you to get out of bed in the morning?
Life! When it's the lead up to Make It!, there's a million little details that need to be taken care of. For ever show, I feel as though it's the first time and I always get that anxious, nervous feeling that's highly motivating, believe it or not. I never want to feel complacent or take anything for granted.
Who are your mentors?
Oprah, Tony Robbins and Marie Forleo. I was lucky enough to have Marie as a coach in 2012 and be a part of her Mastermind Group. It was one of the most incredible and influential experiences I've ever had.
Is the risk really worth the reward?
Of course! If you don't risk anything you will miss out on so many of the wonderful experiences that life has to offer.
When have you been the most satisfied in your life?
The most satisfying feeling I experience is after the show when we take the 'Makie' family photo. It warms my heart to see all of their smiling faces after such a long haul. I'm so proud of the handmade community that Make It! has created, and it's so incredible to feel their appreciation and love.
Besides Make It!, what's the single biggest achievement in your life so far?
I would say the relationship I have with my family and friends. I have such wonderful people in my life that I'm so incredible grateful for each and every one of them. Their love and support means the world to me. Because of this, I have always put relationships in my life first.
I love food and I love to cook. What's your go-to weeknight dish?
Sadly, I do not eat at home very often, but when I do I usually make really simple things that are healthy. I'm really good at making food that starts with the letter 's' - soups, sandwiches, smoothies and salads.
In your eyes, what makes a great leader?
Someone who cares deeply about the people and community that they serve. They also have to have a clear vision of where they want to go and how they are going to get there. I think being naturally charismatic is important too.
What book(s) are you currently ready?
Right now, I'm taking a little break from reading, but the last book I read was Born for This by Chris Guillebeau. I was lucky enough to host his book launch party in Vancouver a couple weeks ago. i have a lot of respect for Chris and his latest book really resonates with me because it's all about how to find the work you were born to do. This is something that I feel very fortunate to have found myself.
What word(s) best describes you as a boss lady?
What one word best describes you as a friend?
What one word best describes you as a crafty person?
What one word best describes you as an entrepreneur?