This month's featured #bloomgirl is Jessica Joy! Jessica is an accomplished artist and total #girlboss! After meeting Jessica last summer in 2018, we knew we had a larger story to share together. We've partnered with Jessica Joy of Project Joy and together we've created the Project Joy Planner which is part of our give back line!
8% of all proceeds from this project are donated to this team, who has chosen to give back to Women in Transition which helps women move forward from domestic violence and substance abuse. Jessica believes that engaging in the creative process can give you the power to connect with yourself, understand your purpose, and develop the courage to make difficult decisions in order to live that purpose.
We are so inspired by Jessica and we know you will be as well! Read more about her below!
Tell us a little bit about yourself!
I was born in Guyana 36 years ago and given the name Jessica Joy by my dad who proclaimed that I would bring lots of Joy to the world. I was a very sick child and was hospitalized over 50 times in my first 15 years. I have been drawing since I was four years old and used it as a coping mechanism to help me in those moments and to plan my future. Most of the plans I made while dreaming and drawing have come true. I went to college and earned a BFA in fine art, showed my work in big museums like the Smithsonian and the Grand Rapids Art Museum, earned a master’s degree from the University of Michigan, made friends with scientists and visited biomedical labs for inspiration, had gallery representation, sold lots of art, gave birth to my amazing son, mentored younger artists, created a beautiful studio space where anybody can come to make art, and bought a house against all odds.
How did Project Joy get its start?
In the last 3 years, I discovered that the accomplishments that I imagine people would be most impressed with on the list above are not the things that fulfilled me. Showing in museums is something I aspired to do because I thought it would make me successful and happy. That may be true for many people, but showing my work in museums didn’t fulfill me. I believe that is because it isn’t my purpose. About a year and a half ago I realized that I needed to let go of a big fear I had. The process I developed to make the work I was showing in museums is really very easy, and because of this, I was afraid that somebody would steal it from me. I realized I had to shift my mindset. Instead of fearfully saying “anybody can do this”, I had to enthusiastically say, “anybody can do this.” Once I put my fear in the backseat and was open to sharing, the right people started coming into my studio and I began teaching via workshops and developing Project Joy Kits so people could participate anywhere. Looking back at the path I took to get here, it is very clear that I was always trying to make the creative process accessible to others.
Making art saved my life and allowed me to develop an imagination capable of dreaming up a life for myself that I would not have believed possible otherwise. Project Joy is about finding clarity in a world full of distraction and developing courage through creativity to follow your unique path in the face of those distractions.
Who or what is your biggest inspiration?
I don’t have many memories of him, but my Uncle Ronnie was a beautiful man who made stained glass pieces that hung throughout the apartment that I grew up in. In particular, I remember a rainbow hugged by two clouds that hung in the window. I noticed how it would illuminate when the light would shine through. It was a wonder that stood out in grey times and lifted the weight of the world long enough for me to dream. All of my work and specifically my aesthetic has been touched by my experiences staring at his work.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced, personally or professionally? How have you overcome it?
The hardest challenge I still face is believing in and valuing myself. The script that was written for me growing up was filled with scrutiny and fear. That script became an inner dialogue that plays in my head and tries to convince me I am not capable. Even those that loved me unknowingly projected their fears on me. They told me what they thought I was capable of based on what they thought they were capable of. My resiliency came from being still with myself while I was making art. During times when I was engaging in the creative process, I was able to stand back and see the bigger picture. This is what allowed me the space and time to mindfully plan for my future. I held onto these plans like a lifeline and it helped me weather the storm no matter how severe it became. This is why it is so important for me to make the creative process available to everybody, especially those that tossed aside their creative potential at a young age.
If you could talk to yourself 5 years ago, what advice would you give yourself?
As recently as a year ago I was working on Project Joy from a place of fear. My ex-husband did not value what I was doing and I was afraid he was right so I became a workaholic to prove him wrong and to make the money I needed to be independent. If I could go back five years in time I would say,
“Jessica Joy, be patient with yourself and trust that you are already on the path you need to be on to do all the amazing things you are meant to do. Make your decisions from a place of trust and belief in yourself and not because you are scared that you won’t be able to fulfill your potential. Lastly and most importantly, you are NOT alone. The universe will help you by sending all the right people to help you when you start doing the things you are meant to do instead of the things others have lead you to believe you should do.”
Luckily, while I was going through my divorce I started practicing some serious self-care and became a much calmer person. I realized in the midst of my calm that the right people started coming into my life and helping me with Project Joy as soon as I let go of my fear of sharing my painting ‘secrets’. Two weeks after I wrote my first lesson plan for Project Joy I went to a private art opening at Azavea, a company in Philadelphia. During the opening, I met Ross Bernet, who was super enthusiastic about a 10’ x 10’ piece I had hanging on the wall. I invited him into my studio to share my process. During the studio visit, he told me that I should consider doing workshops. I told him I had just planned my first workshop two weeks ago! Within the next month, I had done my first two workshops and then I started developing Project Joy kits for all those that didn’t live close enough to attend the workshops. I have been able to keep my calm going forward because I don’t feel so alone anymore. My greatest fear, that I would not be able to fulfill my potential and help others with the gift of creativity, has faded away...and here I am today stronger than ever.
What are some key books/learning experiences that helped shape you/your business?
In 2017 I had the distinct pleasure to be part of the Philadelphia Fashion Incubator. I did not think I was qualified, but the director, Elissa Bloom, saw something in me that I didn’t. During my time in the incubator, I was given the chance to attend countless business workshops that covered supply chain management, SEO, sales, and so many other subjects that I didn’t know I didn’t know. Most importantly I met so many amazing people that have become part of my community. They come into my studio to meet with me after my year in the incubator and I am so grateful. In particular, I have become close friends with Karen Randal, a wonderful spunky woman 30+ years my senior who has been a constant reminder of my power to do good in this world. I just want to thank both Elissa and Karen here for everything they have done to help me get to where I am right now.
A little more than a year ago I went to a women’s entrepreneur conference and during a panel discussion somebody said, “the mission is greater than the moment”. This mantra has stuck with me. Starting a business is hard and there are so many moments where you get stuck, but when I remind myself of my why, which is my mission to give everybody access to the creative process, it helps me push through.
What are your favorite bloom products, and why?
Oh man, this is a really really hard one! I LOVE the Encouragement Cards
and I keep the one that says “ You Are Straight Up Magic” next to my computer screen at my studio.
I have given them away at shows and keep others placed around my studio as well so visitors run into them as they are looking around. I also love their Magnetic Bookmarks
that are so functional and gorgeous. I remember being blown away when I discovered them, and since they come in a 3 pack I gave one away to another avid reader that I know.
It's not only beautiful but a portion of the proceeds for every planner sold, go to Women In Transition (www.helpwomen.org
) an organization that I deeply identify with because they empower women during challenging times in their lives. Working with the bloom team to create our beautiful Project Joy Planner
has been a game-changer for me and my business as well. The kindness that they have treated me to and their belief in our shared vision has been a powerful experience that will stay with me forever!
We hope you loved getting to know more about Jessica Joy! Want to learn more about Jessica and Project Joy Studio? Check out her website here: https://projectjoystudio.com/
Do you have a #girlboss story to share? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for a chance to be our next featured bloom girl!
the bloom team