Spotlights & Interviews

Jenna Aliyah – Textile Designer

About Jenna

Jenna is a textile designer, artist, and cat lover living and working in New York City. Originally from Massachusetts, she has a degree in theatre with a concentration in costume design and construction. After graduation, Jenna began a career in theatre, working in costume shops and for a number of off-broadway theatre companies, before changing gears and taking the leap to follow her passion for producing her own designs.

Jenna Aliyah

Tell us a little bit about your bag, clutch, and wristlet designs.

My designs combine crisp geometric prints with natural colors and materials to create an edgy bohemian style with inspirations from tribal art. Everything is made with the most natural and earth-friendly products as possible, and all items are printed with water based eco-friendly inks on linen. Any leather used is 100% vegan.

What inspired you to open your own shop?

I have been making things with my hands for as long as I can remember. From origami to making my own clothes to learning how to cook, I love working with my hands.  A few years ago I decided to make small pouches for my friends as holiday gifts, but struggled to find the perfect print or color fabric to fit my aesthetic. After a while I decided to make my own prints and very quickly discovered this whole new side to my creativity that has carried me to where I am today.

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Picture by Jenna Aliyah

What are the most exciting things about running your own business?

The most exciting thing about running my own business is having the chance to let my creative side really blossom. I have worked in a few costume shops, and with a lot of amazing designers, and I find that having the ability to make my own design choices is really exciting!

What challenges have you found in running a small business?  How have you overcome those challenges?

My biggest challenge right now is time management. I am just starting out and in order to take the time to grow my business and still pay my bills, I need to have another job. I come home from work everyday and work on my business until I go to sleep, because I want it to work that much! It isn’t always easy, especially when my home office is actually my living room, and my husband wants to watch the finale of Downton Abbey live! Setting attainable short term goals helps me to feel productive, and work much more efficiently.

clutch3
Picture by Caitlyn Cope

What advice would you give to women hoping to start their own businesses?

Deciding to start your own business is a huge decision and it takes so much passion and focus. It also requires one to develop a really thick skin! I feel that sometimes as women we are hesitant to ask for what we want, whether it is in fear of burdening someone or because we do not want to seem desperate. When starting your own business you are your biggest advocate! Who will speak up for me if I don’t do it myself? Self-promotion is scary but is the the key to letting the world know just how special and important your work is.

All of your products are made with the natural and earth friendly materials -Any tips you would give our readers for treating our earth better?

Every little bit counts! If we are all responsible for doing our part to reduce our own carbon footprint, or to reduce how much we use on a daily basis we can make a difference. Just reading labels is a good way to learn about the products we consume, whether it is what we are putting on our body or in it.

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Picture by Jenna Aliyah

Who are some creative women that you look up to and admire?

My grandmother is the first person who really ignited my creative spark as a child. She was very innovative for her time, and was an avid knitter. She would make hats and scarves year round and donate them to a local shelter in the winter. Currently, there are so many women entrepreneurs on Etsy, and social media that are just amazing at what they do! It is always inspiring to see women of all backgrounds putting themselves out there.

What would you say is your favorite creative accomplishment?

The first time I sold a piece to someone I didn’t know, was a huge accomplishment for me. It is so exciting to know that something I made is in the hands of someone I have never met!

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Picture by Jenna Aliyah

If you could see any famous woman in the world sporting one of your clutches, who would you want it to be and why?

Natalie Portman is an advocate for animal rights and her style is one that I admire for sure. I would love to see her using any one of my pieces, and showing how trendy eco-friendly and vegan fashion can be.

What is your favorite thing about being a creative woman?

I have been a creative woman my entire life, it is how I have always defined myself. Starting my business has helped me to find the perfect outlet for all of my creative energy.

Check out Jenna’s online shop here or here to purchase one of her beautiful products – Also, get a 10% off discount by using the code: HerIdea 

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