We had the good fortune of connecting with Jeannine Romero and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Jeannine, why did you pursue a creative career?
About nine years ago, I was at a point in my life where I was able to reinvent myself. Although I have always had a creative side, I was largely pursuing other academic interests for years (journalism, social work and public health), as well as raising two children. Finally, I was without anymore worries about my childrens’ college funds, and able to leave employment as a hospital social worker in women’s health to pursue more creative activities; in my case, I knew it would involve plants, gardens and, eventually art. I was fortunate to be able do this, to follow my heart, to do what I love (as I had heard it said), and see where it leads. And, I’m grateful for it, because the journey has been personally rewarding.

I love plants and gardens, and I have also enjoyed practicing calligraphy (off and on) over the years since high school, taking workshops and classes, spending hours practicing alphabets and composing designs. But, I decided first to lean into plants, working in my own garden, and spend time visiting public and private gardens. I started writing a small blog (Garden Envy) about the gardens I visited, and I joined the San Diego Horticultural Society and wrote about presentations at monthly meetings for the newsletter. During this time I was introduced to the succulent plants and learned how they live for some time without soil because they hold water in their leaves. I was entranced with their beauty, their color and amazed to see them in long lasting bouquets and arrangements without soil or much water. I was hooked when I took a succulent pumpkin arrangement workshop and I recall saying aloud, “I could do this all day long!” And I soon started doing just that.

I began making all kinds of arrangements with cut succulents on different surfaces. In order to keep doing so, I had to start selling them so I could continue to create more. “Outside The Pot” was born and for several years I made succulent wreaths, pumpkins and anything else that I could attach them to such as driftwood objects, and then sold them at maker’s fairs and markets. Meanwhile, I later discovered air plants and added those to the mix.

A little downtime during slow markets led me play around with watercolors to paint leaves and plants, branches and small birds. Before this, I never spent time drawing and certainly never considered painting. But, why not just continue playing around with it anyway? I watched some UTube videos about watercolor, bought a how-to book, and took a few workshops. My small paintings of plant related themes became a line of blank notecards to sell alongside my plant arrangements at markets. Eventually, I even looked into local art classes in abstract and acrylic paints and pushed myself to take a class, though I confess I didn’t know anything about it and didn’t even like a lot of what I saw.

But, in early 2020, my healthy and hard working husband suffered a stroke, just as the covid pandemic was causing lockdowns across the country. Both of these events severely impacted our lives. I had to help care for him, of course, and markets were discontinued anyway, due to covid. I couldn’t sell plant arrangements anymore, but I continued painting at home. Today, my husband’s condition has improved enough for me to make and sell notecards and small paintings at four brick and mortar stores in San Diego: Local Niche (UTC and Mission Valley locations), Mission Hills Nursery, and Seahive Station in Point Loma. I sell under my own name at these stores. but I also have a site on Amazon Handmade, where I continue to sell under Outside The Pot, for notecards as well as driftwood hearts and small wreaths with air plants.

I continue to paint on canvas and paper, and I even had four pieces recently juried into four monthly art shows at Art on 30th, in San Diego, where one of those pieces even sold! And, I am still enjoying every creative moment I spend along the way.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I’ve changed directions over the years professionally from my interests in journalism and later, when I decided to get a graduate degree to work with women in childbearing years. I didn’t grow up knowing exactly what I wanted to do but I never considered an art degree, even though I kind of loved doing more creative things. I am much happier, feel more fulfilled and authentic on the creative side vs. noncreative side of my work history, School was challenging in many ways and I don’t regret my education at all. What I know for sure is that life or your work-life is never easy, but I learned in part from my husband to keep working through the challenge and get the support you need to do it. I believe, as the saying goes, that anything worth doing in life is never easy. But if you can do the things you love, that really is half the battle.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I enjoy walking through Balboa Park and the San Diego Botanical Garden, of course. I would also include Liberty Station for the unique stores, artists and public market featuring local artisans and food. Mexican food would definitely be on itinerary, including TJ Oyster Bar in Bonita for octopus tacos and a Michelada, El Indio, and outdoor dining at El Prado are all places I recommend. Upscaled Margaritas are a must. Eddie V’s in La Jolla is also excellent, especially for dining outdoors with the view of the coast! In addition, taking in a special event like a maker’s market hosted by the San Diego Made group is always fun with local food, drinks, art featuring local artists and makers of all variety of products.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My husband, Jairo, is the greatest support I’ve had since we met in high school. He encouraged me to go to college and supported my decision to obtain a graduate degree when our children were in school. He believes in hard work and education, and he is equally supportive of my creative endeavors.

Website: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07ZPHXVPT?ref=hnd_dp_smp_text

Instagram: @outsidethepot

Image Credits
Jeannine Romero

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