Jessica Nicholson always wanted to be a mother.
Her patience shines through her ever-present smile, she works hard to include her two children in everything she does and she has a go-with-the-flow spirit that meshes well with being a stay-at-home mom. But even though her healthy kids are a dream come true, nothing is perfect.
“I was feeling lost and like I’d lost all of my own interests,” Nicholson, of Rockland, said of life after her second was born. “It was so nice to find something I can do that didn’t exclude my kids, but was still for me. It’s like I re-found myself and regained that sense of balance and stability.”
What brought Nicholson back down to Earth was her new small business, J. Lobes, through which she makes increasingly popular polymer clay earrings. She does all of her work at a small desk in the corner of her bedroom during her kids’ naptimes and in the middle of the night – mixing her own colors in a Kitchen Aid mixer near her bed, cutting out each shape by hand and baking them in a toaster oven she keeps plugged in under her desk.
“It’s a little unorganized, but it’s been working for me and it takes the pressure off,” she said. “I really take my time and put a lot into it. I like keeping it small batch. It feels special and inclusive.”
Nicholson started J. Lobes just last year, but has already built up quite the local following through her booth at the Rockland Farmers Market. Her pieces are instantly recognizable for their warm colors, earthy designs and her signature sense of style. They even match the décor in her home.
“If it’s not something I’m really into, I don’t enjoy making it or like the outcome as much,” Nicholson said. “It works better for me to stick to my own personal style, which is very influenced by the retro eras, the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s.”
Running a business from a single tabletop while two kids run around isn’t for the faint of heart. Nicholson said she’s constantly being pulled in 10 different directions and it’s purely luck when she’s able to find even 45 minutes to actually sit down and work. She wakes up in the middle of the night with earring ideas and starts pieces that she, at times, has no idea how they’ll end up.
“I have to do brain dumps. There is always something pouring out of my head. I have a lot of lists, notebooks everywhere and ideas just come to me,” she said. “I always have to have my hand in something creative. It’s more for me than for anyone else. I just love doing it.”
Nicholson said J. Lobes it just getting started. She’s still working to find exactly what customers love, trying new techniques and taking feedback seriously. She’s working on building a website and launching an Etsy shop, and is focused right now on creating a ’70s line of earrings and Christmas designs.
For now, her earrings – which cost between $10 and $20 – are available on Etsy.
Photos in this post were taken by the wonderfully talented Greg Derr. They were originally published in The Patriot Ledger.