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

Hi Jess, what is the most important factor behind your success?
I believe the most important factor behind the success of my brand has been authenticity. From the beginning, I felt a deep connection to what I wanted to share through my art: love and kindness through handmade items. I feel my perspective for conveying these attributes comes from a place of genuine belief, that if I pour my entire heart into what I’m creating, my clients will feel that love and in turn, want to share it with others. This might not allow my work to turn over as quickly as other industry leaders. But I do think for those willing to wait for the process of handmade, they really feel a genuine connection to the piece of art they purchase for their home or special event. Remaining true to this core value has allowed my business to trickle into the homes of clients across the globe, including several repeat customers and personal referrals. So, for me that feels like a success.

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 consider myself an artist, specializing in macrame and macra-weaving. I have a deep love for texture and the ability to create beautiful works of art using only my hands and materials that come mainly from the earth. Hand-selected driftwood, natural cotton fibers and recycled silk ribbon are the main materials I use in creating my art. Macrame itself came to me almost by mistake. I grew up in a home where handmade gifts were highly valued for their sentimental connection to the act of giving. But without a specific niche, I began my career by making all kinds of odd-ball things. When I decided to give macrame a try, I was surprised how easily I began to excel at the ability to take little knots and create enormous tapestries and backdrops with them. So, in between nursing and caring for our daughters, I would spend hours upon hours tying knots while I meditated on loving thoughts for the people I was creating for. I imagined where my art would go and the joy someone would feel when they hung my work in their home. It became therapeutic and so gratifying to work with my hands. That said, I must have created 50 tapestries before I felt confident enough to sell them. When I did open my shop in 2017, I gained a steady client-base that over time expanded internationally. It didn’t happen overnight, rather it took intentional marketing and genuine care for my clients before gaining momentum. Then, when macrame began to resurface in pop culture, my business took off like wildfire. I’ve since had a production calendar that books out 6 weeks on average and I’ve had my work published in several bridal magazines, online features and blogs. While taking tremendous gratitude in the inclusion of a popular art-form, my heart and soul remain focused on the authentic connection I have with my clients and their love for handmade products. In other words, I value the art itself more than the accolades. One of the most difficult hurdles has been helping others realize the value of handmade art, such as macrame. You might notice some artists price their items way below value. I think being able to convey the amount of love, labor and attention-to-detail that goes into each piece of art is important for every artist in the industry. I hope if we help one another see the true value in this craft, we can raise the value of handmade art as a whole within the community.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
This is a fun question! When my best friend visits from Seattle, I usually create an itinerary based on as much food and ocean-time as possible. I’d begin our time with a trip to Dana Point farmers market to pick out some yummy breakfast items. Dana Point and San Clemente are two local towns I love for their markets and variety of artisans. While in Dana Point we’d rent kayaks in the harbor and paddle out to see the dolphins. Breakfast at The Dish or dinner at Jimmy’s Famous are a must while in DP. From there we’d head to Laguna Beach for a mai-thai at The Cliff Restaurant before walking the boardwalk to Gelato Paridiso and doing a little retail therapy at The Soul Project. Victoria Beach is a hidden gem for anyone wanting to see a little slice of magic in Laguna. I’d make sure we go to Newport one day and rent beach cruisers. We’d start riding at Wedge and cruise the boardwalk all the way to Big Belly Deli for lunch, stopping along the way for ice cream at the pier. By mid-week we’d need a pick-me-up so Bear Coast Coffee is a must on those mornings we want to take a stroll on the beach with a delicious cup of coffee. Of course any visit wouldn’t be complete without a trip to San Clemente. We’d hit Electric for a new pair of sunnies, then Nomad’s for the best poke in town. We’d head to The Cellar for a charcuterie board and wine before hitting The Vine for dinner. We’d end our San Clemente day with a walk down Del Mar to the Pier and keep our eyes out for bubble man. Ending the day with a bonfire at sunset with friends and live music is like heaven on earth.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My business began when I hit the ground running after giving birth to twin daughters. I left a job that I loved for the opportunity to work from home and raise our girls. I wanted to be both a hands-on mother and provide for my family financially. But I had no clue how to run my own business or find balance for a healthy, thriving family. Through word-of-mouth I was turned on to a business group for start-up female entrepreneurs in southern California. So, I went without knowing a soul and quickly fell head over heels into this community of incredible women. Niko Everett became my business coach and helped me write a business plan, pinpoint my core values and execute what I believed was my heart’s desire in becoming a legitimate business owner. She even sponsored my mentorship when I was just starting off and could not afford her business course. Niko became a dear friend who I still look to often for advice and inspiration. She also co-founded a women’s networking group with Summer Meek who meets once a month at The Soul Project in Laguna Beach. It’s like a female spin on the “old boy’s network” for those seeking community and free business advise. I credit much of my success and confidence as a business owner to Niko and other friendships I’ve gained through this group of inspiring women.

Website: etsy.com/shop/oxandnag
Instagram: ox.and.nag
Facebook: facebook.com/oxandnagfibers

Image Credits
Jess Riemer, Haley Douglas, Tiffany Fleming, Chris Glenn, Phyllicia Bonanno