I followed Jenny of A Fine Flourish on Instagram for awhile before finally meeting her at Christina Leigh‘s Tinsel and Tables workshop last winter. She was teaching the attendees calligraphy, and I was seriously mesmerized with her perfect script. Her handwriting is truly flawless, but what really stuck out to me was how genuine and sweet she is.
Flash forward a few months, and I was running on our regular path with Isla when I saw Jenny outside her parent’s house. We stopped to chat, and I realized she was the real deal – she’s one of those people whom you meet and just cannot help but like. Soon after, we met again with three other talented ladies to discuss how to foster community in the creative community of Houston. And the rest of our friendship is history!
So, the second #GIRLBOSS interview (first here) is with this gorgeous mama (I die over this photoshoot with her gorgeous daughter, Bailey). Happy reading! After seeing her photos and scouring her Instagram, you’ll know whom to contact if you need any hand lettering done! I’m not going to lie, I cried while reading her post. It’s very motivational!
WHERE WERE YOU BORN AND WHERE DO YOU LIVE NOW?
I am a born-and-raised Houstonian! Sometimes I get an itch to move, but Houston is home, and I love the new wave of culture and amazing food we have to offer!
WHAT IS THE NAME OF YOUR BUSINESS?
A Fine Flourish. It started as ‘The Left Hand,’ then changed to ‘A Fine Hand,’ and then to ‘A Fine Flourish’ – Flourish having double meaning for me. Not only is it a calligraphy term, but it also means to grow, to thrive and to prosper. Calligraphy is just that for me, and my business has been a way for me to flourish in all aspects of my life. I strive for my work and purpose to flourish beyond just the technical meaning.
TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND. HOW DID YOU GET INTERESTED IN CALLIGRAPHY, AND WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO LAUNCH YOUR OWN BUSINESS?
Oh goodness – where to begin? My story is funny when I look back on it, but it is crazy how each circumstance led me to exactly where I am today. I wasn’t always interested in calligraphy and stumbled on it almost by accident. I’ve never shared this whole story, so I’ll try and give you the quick version! In college, I was working as a law clerk for a firm when I began to gain interest in Interior Design. I decide to quit the great job I had in order to go and work at the front desk of a design firm, which meant I was making a lot less and doing things like stocking the kitchen and answering phones. From the outside, it probably looked like a crazy move, but as time went on, I expressed my interest in social media, which has always fascinated me. They started letting me run the firm’s social media accounts. From there, I was given the task of writing and sending the newsletters, and from there, designing the flyers. This was my first introduction to graphic design. I began to love it and got into a good groove.
Then, I walked into work one day and was told that the company was closing… effective immediately. The door was slammed shut. From there, I attempted to get a job in graphic design, given that my interest in this was piqued. I was jobless and confused – I’m sure my parents thought I had crazy career ADD! ‘What in the world did I want to do with my life?’ I thought. I decided to get a part time job as an assistant, again just getting coffee and doing mundane things, but at least it was with a graphic designer. It was here that I was introduced to design in much more depth. Illustrator, vectors, fonts, lettering – you name it. I could not get enough of this amazing world of design. I started designing birthday party invitations, first day of school signs, sippy cup labels, etc. and so I opened up an Etsy shop, and decided I was on my way. Shortly after, I was let go from my job working from the designer. With no warning. Door slammed again. ‘Was I not cut out for any of this?’ Not to mention my marriage was suffering all at the same time- it was not a personal high, but now looking back, that was probably the best and most defining moment of my career. Around that time, a client on Etsy asked me to design her daughter’s first birthday invitation, purchase the envelopes, address them and mail them out for her. It was then that I started paying more attention to the way envelopes were addressed. I began pinning different and fun ways to write the same words, and the snowball effect took over. Lettering, envelopes, calligraphy… I wanted more! After a few failed self-taught attempts, I contacted a calligrapher in Houston and began studying with her. After the first class, I knew I had found the missing piece. I had desperately wanted to discover my calling and my purpose and finally, I had found it! I practiced and practiced, started posting photos of my work, landed my first client, and A Fine Flourish was born! The rest is history.
WHO IN YOUR INDUSTRY INSPIRES YOU THE MOST?
WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE BEST PART ABOUT OWNING YOUR OWN BUSINESS? THE MOST CHALLENGING?
The best part is the joy and fulfillment it brings to my life. When a bride emails me to tell me how many guests called her to say how beautiful the calligraphy was, and they couldn’t throw away such a beautiful envelope – it fills my soul! Without a doubt. The most challenging is staying focused on the end result and seeing the bigger picture when you’re in the trenches by yourself. There is so much to do and juggle, that it’s easy to get burnt out. I have some awesome supportive people in my life when I haven’t slept more than 4 hours in a week and my hair is dirty and my sink is full of dishes that will remind me to keep my eye on the bigger picture. Success doesn’t come easy, so stick it out, and it’ll all be worth it when you are doing what you love!
WHAT PIECE OF WORK ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF?
The collection of work I’m most proud of is a series of online calligraphy classes with Scarlet and Gold. I have loved sharing and teaching the art of calligraphy in local settings, and online courses was on my business bucket list for sure. But i thought it was years down the road. The owner, Megan, the art director, Koral, and I put our talents and hearts together to bring my curriculum to the masses in a free introductory webinar, with supplemental courses available to purchase afterwards. The response was HUGE and the feedback, so positive. Not only was I proud of my introverted self to step in front of a camera, but my curriculum is my baby! It’s unique and has taken me a long time to develop so to share it with so many people and hear such positive feedback on my teaching style made me a really proud mama.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO OTHER WOMEN WHO ARE INTERESTED IN STARTING THEIR OWN BUSINESS?
Get off the computer, get inspiration elsewhere and just start making and doing! Its so easy to look at what everyone else has going on and where they are in their careers but everyone has started from the beginning, and eventually the ball will start rolling. Offer to do things for free or for trade. Talk about what you are doing. Post photos. Get out there and into the minds of others! Follow the “If you build it, they will come” mentality.
I always laugh when people ask me this. Eat Pray Love. And I watch it probably once a week. It’s a very insightful and introspective movie, so I gain something each time I watch it.
I am a huge foodie, so I can’t even pick three (ha!). My two latest discoveries are Ninja Ramen, amazing brothless ramen, topped with pork, hot sauce and an egg, and Sweet Paris Creperie. They have the best Chai Latte in all the land, savory crepes, sweet crepes, and amazing decor. Sold.
My favorite clothing store is a local Houston boutique called Pomp and Circumstance. They will post stuff on Instagram, I can comment and ask them to put something on hold, then drive over and try it on! They have really cute and trendy clothes!