Today I’m pleased to introduce Jelle and Helen, the married couple behind Joug Design. After Jelle spent a year buying coffee from Helen (he worked across the street from where worked), she asked him out on a date. Fast forward five years and they have a baby named Hendrik and are partners in a creative business. Though their studio is out of a suburb of Wellington, New Zealand, where “even though the city is only a few miles away” they have “native New Zealand bush and sea views from our home and office/ studio.” The beauty of the surrounding landscape is a constant source of inspiration.
Some of their designs photographed in what looks like a FABULOUS shop.
What do you do when you have a creative block?
Hmm, good question. It usually takes a customer who wants something new and they want it in a ridiculous time frame to make us super creative. To be really creative we need to be relaxed and this usually happens while we are on holiday or away on a weekend break (and away from the office). So when we are stuck, we take a break from making the shades and go away somewhere where we can relax. It also helps to constantly think about how you want to create it. We think a lot and then create it once and that’s it for a product. We still have it in our memory and sometimes come up with improvements. I guess we do not like making prototypes and get bogged down by details that we can’t solve in our head before an actual product is made. I surf a lot and that’s my time to think.
More of their shades in another shop
Please tell us a little about what your work environment is like.
Our studio is through a sliding door from our kitchen. It’s a spacious double room with windows to the North and West looking out over a valley and tress. There are a couple of work tables and desks with computers. We work to a system that we always have enough stock in house to make the products as they are ordered and this allows us to have less storage space. We also have a office upstairs with views over the ocean. We love working up there as it’s really relaxing looking out over the ocean. Hendrik runs around the office and is always taking and hiding things from us.
Any advice for those who are working from home on how to create a space where they can be creative and productive?
You have to have a space set aside in your home that is solely dedicated to what you want to do. For us it needs to be a clean and an orderly space to be beneficial to being creative and productive. It is also sunny and open so that we can see outside and enjoy the scenery. It is only used to work in and being able to shut the door is important to us so that you do not quickly pop in there at some crazy hour to quickly do a few things.
Jelle and Helen’s Home Studio Space
Do you and Helen still make every piece by hand? That’s so amazing to me! Yes we do. We have three part-time employees who work depending on how busy we are. They are all at university so it fits in with their schedule too. The Frangipani still takes a couple of hours to assemble and we are getting pretty quick at it now. It’s all hand made!
Their son Hendrik gets in on the Frangipani action!
Any advice for other creatives who are looking to quit their day jobs and sell their creations full time?
I used to work for a patent attorney firm. My very first client whom I had brought in for the company asked me much later if I liked working in a job. I hesitated at first, but then told him I’d rather do something that I love doing. He became a good sounding board to ask questions about running a business. Having this really helped me. I think that if you love to do something it no longer becomes “work”. You jump out of bed to get cracking for the day and easily work till 10pm. I would add that having a business plan, selling skills, somebody to ask questions and to have determination are fundamentals to succeeding. Finding out if there is a market for your product is also essential. We only ask questions to people who have an answer through experience.
On to specifics: The Frangipani Shade! How did you come up with this idea?
We design a lot of products by taking known elements in nature and math and combine them to form a completely new product.
The original concept was created while sitting around a table with some friends and doodling on a piece of paper thinking how I could design a globe light shade and incorporate a flower pattern into the design.
Here’s a closer look at the Frangipani’s weave. Jelle says “ The elements of the interlocking surface are made from polypropylene plastic. Where possible we use recycled white polypropylene. The polypropylene can be cleaned with hot water and soap or if you have stubborn dirt, with a biodegradable cleaner.”
Jelle and Helen enjoy the fruits of their hard work, including this lovely glow:
Thanks so much to Jelle and Helen for taking the time to share their process with us. Doesn’t it make you want a Frangipani Shade