For the last 2-3 years, most of my time and focus has been on growing my brand and business JLOVEKNITS. I have enjoyed and I am sincerely proud and happy with the community I built there, but as I continue to share my journey outside of eco-friendly alternatives I felt like it was best to go back to using my personal Instagram @jlove_g. As I share more beyond business tips and info, I felt it was time to separate JLOVEKNITS and JLOVE.
I want both platforms to be true to me, Jay (the J in JLOVEKNITS) but keeping one about business with the occasional personal insights and the other to being personal and a bit more candid and about this blog. Both cohesively existing but in separate places.
I have enjoyed sharing with my JLOVEKNITS community but at one point I realized that perhaps not everyone who follows JLOVEKNITS is there to know me the person behind the brand but to only stay up to date with new products, launches, and release dates. Which is totally understandable, when I follow a brand I follow them to stay up to date on new products, and release dates. When I follow bloggers, celebs/people its to see what they are up to, and to keep up with them, the person.
So I guess you can say this is me slightly breaking up with using JLOVEKNITS as a space to be vulnerable and share my story and journey and the beginning of me taking back a space where I can openly and freely share my story.
Coming to that realization is what lead me back to using my personal page on Instagram. Which in turn made me realize that the people on there, more specifically the ones who followed me, were people who never engage in any posts, and who I have not had a conversation with in years (if ever!).
When I began to post on their it felt strange and uncomfortable, I had a bunch of people who either made my upbringing painful, and to be honest were just looky loos. This space lacks that community feel that JLOVEKNITS has. Earlier this week I asked those on my business page to follow my personal page and to my surprise quite a few did show up to help me reclaim this space and fill it with individuals who make me feel loved, and comfortable.
Now I get what you’re thinking, not everyone that follows has to have some sort of connection to me, nor are they obligated to engage beyond what they want to or feel like doing. But considering how at this point in time, that space is still very small and intimate. I want those who are on there to want to be there because they can either relate and/or because they do genuinely want to be apart of this community, because that is what I want to build, community. I am totally okay with people not always liking me and fully prepared to have people hate on what I am doing and trying to build. I guess the part that irks me at this moment is how there are people on there who did deeply hurt me and I don’t understand why they have chosen to be here.
But moving forward, I refuse to let people who again I hardly ever, IF EVER, spoke to dictate or control how I feel in a place that is mine! I will continue to share candidly, openly and freely. And I will let those looky loos keep watching because clearly they find me intriguing (not to sound conceited or full of myself, but if I do then…oops) and if they choose to be here then who am I to deny them that.
And as I have said before in pervious posts, my hopes in sharing my story is to find and grow a community. One where we can all relate, come together, encourage and be there for one another.
Sharing my story and parts of my life feels very cathartic and like it is part of my legacy.
Here’s to sharing, growing, and evolving together. *chin-chin/cheers*
During the months of April, May, and some of June, as I was put on leave from my job due to the pandemic in the U.S. and I got a taste of what it would be like to work full time at JLOVEKNITS
Granted I was working crazy hours as I tried to meet the high demand of face masks, but I didn’t care. I was working from home, spending the day sewing, cooking all my meals, waking up early to workout and enjoy a cup of coffee. I was living my best life and had found a nice schedule and rhythm to my days.
During these months I was able to save so much money, ironic as that sounds considering I was put on leave, but I also wasn’t spending as much as I typically did. If you’re wondering how that was possible well then let me give you a quick rundown on what I typically spend money on in just ONE week while working.
Starbucks/Coffee & Breakfast – at least 3x a week, sometimes more! Also buying some for my coworker/amiga almost every time (we would take turns buying coffee, but I definitely was the bigger coffee fiend)
Eating out for lunch – at least 2x a week (some weeks more), mi amiga and I would also take turns buying each other lunch.
I have great shame writing that out but as you can see I spent A LOT of money on coffee and food, not including groceries, and other expenses.
So yeah, I was able to save a ton of money by just staying home.
Once we were called to return, I had so many questions concerning how they would keep everyone safe, myself, my coworker and the clients/consumers. That concern would then get me labeled as “difficult”, imagine that working at a Intermediate Care Facility (ICF) with individuals who were both intellectually and physically disabled, ALL with compromised immune systems, and out of sincere concern you ask what precautions were going to be implemented to keep them and yourself safe, and simply having questions about our return, only to have upper management not giving you any clear answers but somehow you’re the one being difficult. I cared deeply about those we served and did not want to put any of them at risk. (Like any decent human being who is taking this pandemic serious) That’s just who I am though, a caring, super cautious, empath.
Between not getting any clear answers, and being labeled as “difficult” I was then informed that they wanted to place us (coworker and I) in a new home with a new client/consumer without any information or training, I was ready to quit. I was fed up, not because I’m incapable of handling change but because for the last four years this job had given me nothing but headaches. I will definitely give y’all the full tea on that later because I don’t want this crappy job to take too much space on this post.
There were so many reasons to leave that job, and I had done so in the past but I foolishly returned.
I had my resignation letter typed up since May, about a month after I was put on leave. I was so in love with the way my days were being spent working from home that after one month I knew this is what I wanted to do Full Time. I never sent it in, I told myself I should wait to see if I still felt this way if/when they called me back in and if I did THEN I should quit. Welp, they called me back in and even after all the drama, me questioning them over the safety, being placed in a new environment with zero training, I still didn’t send my resignation.
It had nothing to do with not making enough money on JLOVEKNITS, or not having enough money saved but it was a matter of fear.
Even before this pandemic, JLOVEKNITS was bringing in more money than my 9 to 5 and while producing masks did help grow my online presence grow but no masks sales were not the only reason my income grew. I have to let y’all know that no I did NOT quit my job because masks were making me money.
When I first began to make masks, I was not making ANY money. I repeat for MONTHS I did not make a profit. I was selling them at cost, meaning I only charged whatever it cost to make them material wise, that did not account for my labor. I didn’t want to profit off of this horrific pandemic, and did not want to “price gauge” especially when everyone was having a hard time getting a hold of masks, before the whole world began to produce them.
So when I first announced I quit my 9 to 5 some troll direct messaged me on Instagram asking what was I going to do when this pandemic was over and no one wanted to buy masks from me. That message made me giggle, of course I wasn’t going to rely solely on one product as a source of my livelihood. I had more than enough money saved, and while yes masks helped bring in a new audience, and more customers, I was able to convert mask sales into returning customers who would then go on to try my reusable items. I experience a tremendous and rapid growth in sales, selling out in less than 10 minutes at a time!
After being back at work for nearly 4 months and realizing that JLOVEKNITS was growing momentum and the demand for my items were so high that I felt like I couldn’t keep up. My 9 to 5 was hindering my ability to keep up with the demand. My 9 to 5 was no longer the thing that made JLOVEKNITS possible, I no longer needed it to keep the lights on at JLOVEKNITS because JLOVEKNITS was self sustainable all on its own.
My 9 to 5 felt like something that was holding me back. I felt as though if not now, that the demand is high at times overwhelmingly so in the best way possible, then when? I knew that if I didn’t do it now, then I would regret it. I wanted to make sure I maximized the exposure and momentum I had at this time. So I did, I finally did it, I sent that letter in.
It was the most liberating feeling I had ever felt, don’t get me wrong I was scared sh*tless but nonetheless I was READY! I was ready to give this little business of mine all the love, attention, care, my everything, just as it had given all the same to me. JLOVEKNITS saved me nearly 3 years ago, it helped me heal, grow, and evolve and I was now ready to do just that for JLOVEKNITS.
If you are considering quitting your 9 to 5 and pursue your small business full time, here are a tips and advice. *keep in mind I am no expert in any of this, but this is simply what I did, what worked for me may not work or be for you.
Keep your job for as long as you can, do not rely on a “good month” of sales. Let your job fund your dream, until your dream funds itself, pays your bills, AND leaves you with enough leftover for savings.
Pay down as much debt as you can prior to quitting. Obviously not talking about your mortgage, but any credit card debt, or even your car note. It will help ease your mind and you won’t be as worried on slow months.
Keep your personal and business finances separate and keep track of your business expenses, and money coming in.
Never make a permanent decision on temporary feelings.
Register your business, open a business checking account, and get a tax ID number.
Create a support system for yourself. There will be days when you feel like you’re on the right path, then there will be those days where you feel like giving up. Having people you trust, and can turn to will help you walk off that ledge when you find yourself spiraling. You will find that they are also your biggest supporters and cheerleaders. Love and cherish them!
Don’t make permanent decisions on temporary feelings. You may feel ready to leave behind your 9 to 5 but really sit with that decision. Make sure you’re like me who would have one bad thing happen at work and say “ugh that’s it I’m quitting” knowing full well it wasn’t possible to do so a.k.a me, year one of starting this business, making only $20 a month. (lol)
“Let your job fund your dream, until your dream funds itself”
Q & A
My community on Instagram had some questions that I promised I would answer on this post.
Q: Did you have monthly expenses that stopped you from quitting before you did?
Yes and no. When I first wanted to quit, I said I would do so once I paid my car off. Then when I did pay off I kept working and realized that it wasn’t my monthly expenses that kept me from quitting but fear. I was making more than enough to cover my monthly expense for quite some time now.
Q: Did you need to get yourself financially stable? Or did you just think f*ck it?
Having experienced the crash of 2008, where my mom lost her business, the family SUV, and the first house she purchased, I definitely had to make sure my finances where stable, and that I had a game-plan. I made sure I was being smart with my money as well. Not living beyond my means, saving, saving, saving, and made sure to invest in the stock market and build my portfolio.
Q:Did you have to get your own health/dental Insurance or did you already have it?
Yes, I did. My 9 to 5 provided all my benefits, health, dental, vision, and life insurance. I had to get them all myself once I quit.
Q: Did your family and friends think you were crazy for quitting your job?
No, not at all. My mom is an entrepreneur herself (I got it from my momma) so she has always supported me on this journey. My fiancé has always been there for me, he’s the one who bought me my first sewing machine. At first he was a bit apprehensive when I would talk about quitting but that was when I first started and instantly wanted to quit 😂 So thankful he kept me humble and grounded. By the beginning of 2020 and when I really started to seriously talk about quitting he definitely encouraged it and was so happy for me and the business I built. Had I quit when I first started then I am certain my friends and family would have thought I was bonkers but they have all seen how hard I have worked over the years. They definitely see that I am serious about this, and are super supportive now.
Q: How do you handle working from home? Do you have a set schedule?
I don’t necessarily have a set schedule, but I do have a routine. When I first quit I really wanted to create this super structured “work & personal” schedule. I found myself not being able to maintain it and would feel so bad about it. I had every hour counted for, i.e.: 6:45am Wake up, 7am Workout, 8am Shower 8:30am Breakfast, and so on. So on days when I didn’t follow it I felt super bad and like I had failed. More often then not I was overworking myself and not enjoying any of the perks of working from home. Now I have routines for the morning, afternoon, and night that are not time restricted.
Q: Was it scary to quit your job?
I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t. It was terrifying, well okay not terrifying but it was a bit scary. This was a big responsibility I was placing on myself, but I knew I was ready so that took the pressure off. I also knew that I couldn’t let fear stop me.
Q: Any tips on how to respond to negative family and friends who don’t believe in you?
Do not respond to them. People tend to project their own fears and insecurities onto others. Their negativity does not fund you or your dreams. Do not let what others think or say get you down, do not give anyone that much power over you. Someone wise once said to me, if they don’t pay your bills then f*ck them. Real talk, you are the one who has to believe in yourself in order to make your business and dreams happen. I am sorry if you are experiencing this. Try connecting with other small business owners, they are some of the most supportive and nicest people I have ever met!
I honestly would not be in the position I am in now without the community I built on Instagram and at pop ups (pre-COVID). I am so thankful for everyone who helps fund this dream of mine. Those who share my content, and page. To those who set reminders for every launch. I am so thankful they love and accept me, and that they make me feel safe to share my story and journey with them. I am also thankful to those of you who are here reading this. Thank you for taking the time to read a piece of me. This journey has not been easy but having a community like this definitely helps.
*I want to first and foremost acknowledge & check my privilege, and shed some light on the history of this day, I realize I am not able to do so on my own experience or by my own words. I will instead list some resources I have come across as they are truly helpful in teaching, educating, and bringing forth awareness to why we should use our voice to shift the narrative and bring visibility to the oppression and the erasure of Native Americans. I will also list some of my favorite and resourceful accounts I follow.
As I reflect on 2020, I’m seriously blown away at how much has happened in ONE year. It almost feels like I’ve lived many lives this year.
While the heaviness of this year weighs deeply in my heart, I want to simply reflect on the good that has happened month by month in this post.
This month my fiancé and I went to watch our favorite comedian Sebastian Maniscalco live at the Forum in Inglewood. It was nothing but laughs the entire day and night. We had so much fun on the drive down to LA from Ontario, and it brought me so much joy to see my fiancé excited.
During this month Australia was devastated by wildfires, causing wild life to be displaced as their homes were burned. So in an effort to try and do my part I was able to make and donate over 30 joey pouches, thanks to the incredible help of my community!
My last and final happy memory this month was being able to watch my dear friends get engaged! It is a beautiful memory that I will cherish and forever be thankful that we were able to witness.
My favorite memory this month was Valentines Day weekend. My fiance and I had a staycation, where we spent the night at our local DoubleTree where we relaxed in the hot tub at night, then went dancing. The next morning we went took a tour of Warner Bros Studios in Burbank. It was honestly such a good time and I highly recommend visiting (once it is safe to do so).
March is selfishly my favorite month, my birthday is March 10th. This year all I wanted to do was spend the day at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure with my entire family. It really was the most magical time, this would be the first time ever that my mom, dad, two brothers, my fiance and I would spend the entire day together. My parents split up when I was very young, so the child in me was absolutely happy, and the adult me was so proud and happy as well at their growth. Having the both of them at family events is something I will always appreciate and cherish. This trip happened a few days prior to COVID-19 causing the state to go into lockdown, and way before we all knew/realized how serious it was.
Quarantine/Lockdown, I was placed on a leave of absence my from job and honestly I was thankful but for all the wrong reasons. Reason number one I hated my work environment, it was full of drama, pettiness, and unnecessary cattiness but that’s a whole other post I can fill you in on later. The other reason I was glad to be on leave was because I truly care for the health of those I served. I worked at an In-Home Day Program, providing sensory stimulation and overall silliness to mentally and physically disabled individuals with compromised health. So naturally I completely understood and was glad to be put on leave if it meant keeping them safe.
This month my fiance, his family and I took a quick trip to Vegas. We played it safe, by staying in a resort that had all the amenities we needed, so we stayed there 90% of the time and took all the precautions necessary to ensure the safety of others and ourselves. This was the first time in over 10 years that we all went on a family vacation. It was really nice to be able to spend time together.
August was by far my heaviest most darkest month for me. The one thing I am thankful for this month is simply surviving it.
September was the month I finally saw my brothers and mom again in person since March. We went to have brunch together and celebrated my mom’s birthday. In this month I also finally quit my job to pursue JLOVEKNITS full time. I can’t begin to describe how liberated, yet nervous I was to take this leap of faith all I can say is I am so glad I did.
I am super thankful that October was spent being busy with JLOVEKNITS and all about learning how to work full time from home.
and at last we reach November, this month I am thankful for my fiancé. We took a short to trip to Seattle, (no need to shame or guilt trip me believe me I did that all by myself the entire time and all precautions were taken and practiced). We had planned and book this prior to ‘Rona, and Seattle has been on my Must Visit list since I was in the 5th grade! My fiancé’s birthday is on the 28th and our anniversary is on the 29th so this trip was to celebrate us both. After the heartache we both endured this year, we selfishly enjoyed this trip and each other.
Although this year is not over just yet and I left out all the bad that went on, just getting to write out all the good made feel a bit better. It can be so easy to look at the negative. At times it can even feel like we are drowning and simply trying to stay afloat seems impossible. I know a lot of times this year it certainly felt that way for me. Doing this helped me to really reflect, think back and find the good.
We also don’t need one particular day a year to do this so I ask you to try and do the same whenever you get a chance, write out a list of only the good that has happened this year. But please do not compare your list to mine, and do not feel bad if you find it hard to find the good. The fact that you are here, and you are reading this is what I am thankful for most. Your life, is worth being thankful for, as icky, as tough, as hard as it may be, you are a survivor, a warrior, and you will grow and prosper. Surviving and living through times such are much to be thankful and proud of.
My name is Jessica, but I like to go by Jay or simply “J”. I am a 28 year old Latinx small business owner, who hand makes reusable eco-friendly items, but I’m also much more than that.
I started JLOVEKNITS in 2012/13 on Instagram to showcase my handmade knitted and crocheted goods. I began this craft journey as a way to gift friends and family members presents during the holidays, birthdays, etc. I was a broke college student working PT and my family was recovering from the financial crisis of 2007-2008 (thinking back to those days still triggers me sometimes but that’s a post for another day).
I sorta kinda forgot about my business Instagram only to restart it in the winter of 2017 (after yet again recovering from some personal issues) but this time I was making it all. Candles, beanies, scarves, Cricut crafts, you wanted it, I made it anything to help supplement my income and to fill my time.
It wasn’t until 2018 when I finally found my purpose, making cute and affordable REUSABLE ITEMS. You’ll also get to hear more about how this journey all got started if you keep following.
It has been two years since I rebranded JLOVEKNITS from handmade knitted and crocheted goods to handmade eco-friendly alternatives. Along this journey I have found personal, financial, and emotional growth & success. It hasn’t always been easy, and trying to balance building a business, keeping up with a fiancé and home life, and the occasional bouts of anxiety can feel overwhelming at times but the support I have received from my peers, *community, family, and friends has helped make this journey worthwhile.
I really don’t like using the words “followers” and “supporters” because those words feels too impersonal and snotty for me, which is why I tend to say “community” instead because honestly the love and support that has been sent my way goes far beyond what a “customer/follower” is)
So if you already follow me on IG then you already know I can be what some might consider an “oversharer” for being a business page. I always knew I wanted to create a blog where I could openly share my life, not because I think my life is so great or because I want to boast about it. But because I feel like sharing, story telling, and writing has always been a great form of expression for me. It has always felt like a set in the right direction towards healing. Journaling has been a love of mine since I was a young girl, it helped put down the words of my heart and soul on paper. It was where I would write out what I wish I could say out loud, in hopes that there were others out there feeling or going through the same thing so I didn’t feel so alone or so that I could share in my excitement with. This blog has been in the making for a long time. If only I could have found the courage I now have today. I let fear and self doubt keep me from pursuing this.
I was riddled with pesky little thoughts “who would care”, “why bother”, “your not interesting”, “what about the meanies of the internet”, etc. But as I continue to grow I have come to let go fear and self doubt, and I have decided to say, stop worrying about what others might think, stop letting fear dictate what you do and don’t do. I have come to a point where my biggest fear is not doing this and letting myself down.
And to those who maybe wondering why not just get a journal and keep it private? Well, I honestly have enjoyed sharing my personal journey, business experience, setbacks, and more with my community on IG and finding so many that can relate on there that I feel compelled to continue to share my journey on here where I’m not as restricted or confided to a single square and 2,200 character caption. That this blog too continues to grow to be a place where we all find community and perhaps a place where you feel seen.
I plan on continuing to share more in depth personal experiences, lifestyle tips, and of course shamelessly promote my little baby, my business JLOVEKNITS. This blog (and a book) was something that even as a kid I knew I would do, well actually as a kid I had no idea what a blog was, but I don’t know why or how I knew at such a young age that I would share my story.
My hope is that if this blog finds you that it may inspire, bring hope, joy, or even just laughter, or that you may feel like you’ve stumbled upon a relatable virtual amiga.