Lis: A photoshoot in your underwear can be a daunting experience - how did you find the shoot?
Jen: Initially I was feeling a little shy about the shoot, I wanted to do it to challenge myself. By the end I was really enjoying getting around the house in my undies! It’s quite empowering to give yourself a little time to enjoy your own skin rather than quickly hiding it away under your clothes as soon as you get ready for the day. I think I’ll try to get around in my knickers more often! There is a beauty and power you find in being bare & honest for the world, I would like to try to live my life more like that.
Lis: Your beautiful daughter Manou is 3 now. How has the experience of motherhood changed your relationship with yourself?
Jen: Well, it’s a hard road having a child, but a lot of us do it and, of course, it is also a very rewarding experience for many women. After I had Manou I had gained 20kg which I have slowly lost over the last 3 years. Now, I have never felt as comfortable as I do now about my body. Having a child then losing that weight was a major achievement and has given me so much strength in everything I do. It’s cliched but I really feel I can do anything now. My breasts are way saggier than they used to be, but a very close girlfriend of mine said they are beautifully like a woman now which has shifted my feeling towards them.
Lis: Between family and business you truly must be one of the busiest people I know! What do you think is the key to achieving balance in your life?
Jen: I think its doing the right thing at the right time and being organised about it. I allocate days for different things and try to move ahead each day with a project or creative task at hand. My brain is always churning about ideas and work. When I walk in the mornings that usually gives me enough time to sort out what I will be doing for the day. If you don’t really have a “job” in the traditional sense you have to keep moving forward, keep creating, taking risks and throwing yourself into life. Who I am is what I am working on and I’m very ok with that.
Lis: Your creative journey is one that has many branches (pardon the pun). How have you made decisions around growing and evolving your practice?
Jen: I think it’s believing in an opportunity. There are opportunities everywhere but we tend to stall and say “ahh, it will never work”. Vieille Branche was really a very important growing experience for my husband and I – we just tried as many different ideas as we could until we felt comfortable with what the business was doing and it was working how we wanted it to. Depending on what we do next, those lessons we learnt are extremely valuable and will (hopefully) give us a head start. Some decisions are really difficult to make, shutting the café part of Vieille Branche was one of those. In retrospect it affected me enormously because we were shutting a lot of people out of our lives. You just can’t keep living like that if you have a young family, we were exhausted and I really fell into a bit of a hole afterwards. Again, it was an enormous lesson. Having a business with your partner is difficult when decisions like that have to be made. This is part of the reason why I also have my own practice where I can make my own decisions as well.
Lis: You’re also keeping busy with a thriving ceramics business. What’s drawn you to pottery as a creative outlet?
Jen: I always felt I had ‘an artist’ somewhere in me but I had just never found the right medium. I started pottery through a friend of ours and it has become one of the most important things in my life. It’s the perfect combination of all my interests. I can draw on historical references & theory, use my education in design to think of a suitable form and then make the object with my hands. I can experiment with making glazes using products from the earth. At the moment I’m working on a glaze using pumice stone from Straddie and limestone from the cliffs of Normandy which is a way of finding ‘place’ specific to me. There is always an element of surprise when you fire work and you just never ever stop learning in this practice. It’s extremely rewarding.
Lis: I’ve really loved watching Vieille Branche grow and evolve over the years. What’s next for you guys?
Jen: Well… there are a few things in the pipeline in Brissy but nothing is totally set in stone yet. One project that is however is @coldwatercabin. We decided to throw ourselves into a little experiment and buy an old shack on a lake in Tasmania as an Airbnb project. We will be doing most of the renovations ourselves and use furniture from the old shop to decorate. We want it to be a warm place where one can read, cook, write & go bushwalking etc. It’s a nice way of continuing the feel of Vieille Branche and welcome people to use and stay in a space we’ve created. I want to keep making ‘spaces’ which are inspiring and comfortable to the community. I really believe it’s important to have places where you feel the liberty and freedom to dream. I would like to be the person to make them. My kinda motto this year is “I want to make the places you go to in your dreams”. So that’s the plan, hope it works! :)