Gennifer, proprietress of sage and mage
1. What is life like at your house? (husband, pets, children, etc)
Cramped! I live with my dad and my beautiful cat Luna in a tiny two-bedroom apartment in the inner suburbs of Melbourne, Australia. I moved into dad’s place about a year ago when chronic illnesses I had developed became a bit hard to manage on my own and I had to leave my jobs. My bedroom has boxes piled up to the ceiling with fibres and yarns, and books climb the walls in precariously teetering stacks that are taller than me. I have slowly taken over the lounge room with my art and perfumes, and the kitchen with my creams, herbs and scrubs. Every cupboard, shelf, and wardrobe has become a storage space for my supplies. Luna provides me with lots of entertainment and in return I worship her and bend to her every whim.
2. What is your morning routine?
I usually get up before 5am. I love being up to see the light change and I feel I am getting as much out of my day as I can. I write my ‘morning pages’, (see Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way). I meditate or do Reiki (for myself and others) for 20 minutes and then head straight to the kettle for a coffee. Responding to email and packaging up parcels are always on the morning agenda but it changes day-to-day according to what physical condition I’m in when I get up. I’ve never been good at routines in any case - I like to think of myself as bohemian (a kinder way of describing a difficulty with schedules) and I get distracted by shiny objects.
3. What hobbies do you enjoy?
I am currently exploring painting, sculpting and drawing. The visual arts have been calling to me for a while and the process of experimenting has been very cathartic. I love creating altars. Little impermanent tableaus of scent and stone that fill me with peace. Chocolate appreciation is an extremely well-developed hobby of mine; I am practically professional. I also adore stationery, ribbons and paper packaging, in which I indulge happily when I wrap my Etsy orders. And reading.
4. How did you become a designer?
I always had a pencil or some beads in my hand growing up. My mum gave me some cowrie shell beads when I was 2 and my passion for beads was ignited. I saved up my pocket money for months when I was 7 to buy my first set of 72 Derwent pencils (which I still use). In my mid twenties, after I finished 9 years of university in totally unrelated fields, all I wanted to do was have a handmade jewelry business. I did do this and enjoyed the creative process immensely. I didn’t enjoy the selling part because I was shy and underconfident and in the end that was why I chose to stop doing it. It took me another five years, two or three ‘serious career’ jobs (during which time I stopped creating entirely) and subsequent illness to realise that I couldn’t not create; that I had to make it a way of being rather than just doing if I was to be happy or heal.
I stumbled across Etsy looking online for handmade envelopes, had wonderful experiences with those first sellers I purchased from, and I eventually started making things to sell. My previous professional and educational background was in music performance, book editing and writing, and I wanted to use the skills I gained during that time to better support my creative output. I knew selling online involved descriptive, honest content, and the necessity for your creations to ‘perform’ through the computer screen. Etsy seemed like a good place to start.
5. How did you start your etsy business?
Sage and Mage began as a hobby, and still is to a large degree, blending teas and perfumes for family and friends. I have always had an interest in aromatherapy and the healing arts. When I first became ill I began what would become years of continuing study into herbal and vibrational medicine and spiritual philosophy. I had a strong urge to share what I was finding out - and I really wanted to send pretty parcels of love out into the world!
6. How does your creative process work…(where do you find inspiration?)
It’s quite intuitive and sometimes I don’t really know where my inspiration comes from. I feel as if it isn’t ‘me’ making things, but rather a lovely creative energy flowing through me. I read widely and I’ll often be inspired to make a scent based on a line of a poem I’ve read, a song lyric or a motivational phrase that has moved me. Or I’ll have a particular person in mind and create something for them. Usually though, it is from the materials themselves. I have hundreds of essential oils in my collection and I will sometimes sit and open bottle after bottle, feeling what they each yearn to be blended with. I love colour –all colours – and how they affect my mood, and so if I’m feeling in a ‘green’ mood, I’ll play with some green beads or stones until a necklace comes to life in my hands. I’ll sit with a piece of clay or a paintbrush or silk fibres in my hands and move them around until something tangible emerges.
7. What one thing do you keep close to you at all times?
I would say Luna but she usually doesn’t let me! I have a silver necklace with handmade charms on it that is a reminder for me to try to have clarity (a crystal), courage (a lion) and conviction (Joan of Arc), and it never comes off.
8. Since starting your etsy store, what one thing are you most proud of?My Etsy feedback. It is also what I am most humbled by. I have met so many amazing people though Etsy and I am filled with gratitude every day.
9. What is one thing you would do differently (in your etsy business)
There are a few things… I have to admit that making a profit so I could be self-supportive would be pretty high up there! But mostly, I’d get help. Even though I am delighted and quite proud that I do every aspect of Sage and Mage myself, I’d rather be able to pay someone to do labeling, marketing and shipping so I could spend more time creating. One day I will. Soon I hope!
10. Is there anything new you have an idea for or are currently working on to add to your etsy store in the future?
More of everything! I have quite literally thousands of ideas - my journal’s overflowing - that just need a time and space to manifest. More perfumes, including a custom perfume service, a line of candles for meditation, spiritual aromatherapy and more tailored skin care. I do have three new Etsy shops in the pipeline. One will be launched in the next couple of months – Altar and Mantle – as an outlet for my visual art. The others may be in the background for a while, but they will still be simmering away quietly.
11. Mickey Mouse or Bugs Bunny? (why)
12. Handmade vs Manufactured (your thoughts)
13. What is one piece of advice you'd give to other women who are fortunate not to have to work outside the home?
etsy shop listing
--Being kind to yourself is really important.
--Process is just as vital to our happiness – if not more so – than product. In the same way, loving what we do (whatever it is) can be as satisfying as doing what we love.
--Creativity is as natural and inherent in all of us as breathing. The process strikes me as very similar too -inspiration and expression are akin to inhaling and exhaling
--It is ok to just breathe.
I found Gennifer on Etsy while looking for a skin oil to help with dry skin patches, "let's call it a skin issue". When I came across her shop and browsed through her items, what impressed me the most (besides the gorgeously photographed items and inspiring descriptions), was that she was willing to work with me AND educate me on ingredients (their healing and restorative qualities)...and help me choose what would work best for me! Custom order--I looovvvveee custom!!!!!!!!!!
After getting to know to her a little through our etsy convos, I just knew I had to have her for a guest interview, and lucky for me, she agreed. After reading her answers, I just fell in "friendship love" with her. I also lllooovvveee to hear Aussie's talk,, their accent just makes them seem so down to earth (although I have yet to hear her accent).
Isn't her cat, Luna, beautiful???!!! (She says that Luna of course, knows this), just like a cat...ya just gotta love their arrogance.
So be sure to go check out her etsy shop by clicking on any of the links highlighted above, let her know you found her through me, then come back and let me know what you think!!!