Check out our interview with entrepreneur and designer Jess Crow.
Jess has established herself as a leading artistic woodworker specializing in one of a kind builds and designs. “Crow Creek Designs” is woman-owned and run woodworking design shop.
Jess began her business in her garage, where it currently resides to this day. The main catalyst for Crow Creek Designs was when Jess wanted a coffee table for her bedroom and couldn’t afford anything at the time. She grabbed free supplies that she could find off of Craigslist and created her very own coffee table. Although it was beautiful, it did not fit well in her space so she sold it on Craigslist. It was at that moment Jess knew she could make a career out of design.
With forays into other areas of design from beadwork photography, and print, Jess has cultivated her passion for designing and creating artwork that speaks to the heart as well as the eyes. Her designs have even caught the eyes of notable people like Team Gary Vanynerchuk. You can follow Jess’ work on Instagram at @crowcreekdesigns.
Hi Jess, please tell us a little about you?
Hello! Well, my name is Jess Crow and I own and operate Crow Creek Designs in Alaska. I have three children, ages 16, 20, and 24. I love blurring the lines in whatever given field I am playing in at the moment, and over many years I have learned to love my differences and my different approach to a lot of things in life.
Describe yourself in 3 words?
Courageous, Curious, Kind
When did you start in your field of business?
I officially started Crow Creek Designs in late 2017. I have been creating and building though since before I can recall.
Name one your strengths?
I am determined.
What is the key to your success?
Adaptability. Life has thrown me a lot of complex situations and although I have moments or days that I feel very defeated and have a good cry, I always find a way to pivot and turn lemons into a lemon cream cake.
What is fun and rewarding about what you do? And what’s not?
I love creating new things. I love always having a head full of ideas and concepts to try. This is also one of my biggest frustrations—I have way too many ideas and not enough “me!”
Now what about your company Crow Creek Designs?
Ah, CCD. What is incredibly fun is the travels I am now getting to do. Teaching is something that is at my core—helping others is at my core. As Crow Creek Designs has grown, I have been honored to be invited all over the Nation to teach and just be present at events to encourage others to dip their toes into artful furnishings. What is not as rewarding though is learning how to do all of that. As silly as it seems there is a very delicate balance that must take place, and honestly sometimes I suck at it. Do I create content or build for a client? Do I focus more on the class aspect of my desire to help those who do not have a voice? How do I blend both of those? These are things that trip me up sometimes.
Why did you decide to start this company?
It all started with a coffee table and a want. I wanted a coffee table for my bedroom but during that time in my life, I could not afford one. I was able to get ahold of some dunnage (pallet like material) and build a very rudimentary table. The key was I was able to mix paints I had on hand to create this very rad color pattern. All in all, it was great, but not great for my room. I posted it on Craigslist and, well, over the next few months I made about 100 of them and the rest fell into place in my head. Art needed to be on or in furniture design in a different way!
Any advice to entrepreneurs out there?
Learn early on how when to double down and when to pivot. There are times when you will feel like it is easier to follow the crowd and copy what others are doing, when in fact you should be learning how to STAND OUT from the crowd.
What book should every entrepreneur read?
Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook by Gary Vee
What is the toughest decision you had to make in the last few months?
Due to COVID-19 should I keep producing content for social channels? Would it be disingenuous to keep trying to make smiles and plow on? Keep the flow going? In the end, I decided to again, pivot. Keep doing my thing but be mindful that we are all in a precarious spot.
How often do you launch new products/designs?
Weekly I am working on a new design. I am working hard to niche down and create a more cohesive line for mass production.
What do you think is the secret to have a successful brand?
Be genuine! It is hard in a world that either embraces your kind of crazy or makes you feel very lonely for it. I would like to say that we are all unique and have our own thoughts and ideas, but sometimes we have a herd mentality despite our best efforts. Learn from those who have succeeded in their respective fields, but do not let your ideas become carbon copies of theirs.
What is your own definition of happiness?
At his point in my life I would describe it in one word—comfort. Comfort within my own mind that at the end of the day I helped someone. Even just one person. When I see someone accomplish something they never felt they would be able to do, from an art project, a build, or even taking a step towards personal strength, it makes me feel something inside that I cannot describe other than that. Profound happiness.
What is next for Jess Crow in 2020?
Oh, man! What’s next…” Taking over the world, Pinky.” I cannot help but snicker because I jest about that but that is in my plans. It has taken me 41 years to realize I have something to offer this world and now my mind and body are humming with how I can help others realize that sooner.
Something people don’t know about you?
Two things come right to the forefront of my mind: I am naturally a platinum blonde and I have a rare genetic disease called Ehlers-Danlos.
Who was your role model as a child?
I grew up sheltered due to the abuse happening in my life as a child so for me, I cannot really say I had one. I spent most of my time with my nose stuck in a book or creating something.
If you could meet someone living or dead, who would it be and why?
Robin Williams. Just to talk. Just to meet someone who had the ability to present himself in a way that projected (maybe) what he wished he felt like inside. The complexity that he encompassed is something that so many are facing daily and see if there is anything, he wished he had done or could have done differently.
What is your favorite healthy food?
Cheese! I love freaking cheese!
And your favorite cheat food?
Candy. Candy is always my demise.
In five years from now, where do you see yourself and your career?
I want to be the Martha Stewart of the Epoxy world! I plan on more teaching engagements, and more importantly, I am determined to mentor others.
What music do you like?
All! There is no music I do not like. I am on an Island kick right now. Dirty Heads have my channel jamming along in the shop!
Do you support any charity?
I love working in any area that involves at-risk youth or women (and men) in crisis. I am working towards ways that I can show other’s who are going through or have been through rough patches in life.
What do you like to watch on TV?
I love courtroom dramas! I binged watched “Bull” and now I am on season two of “The Good Wife”
3 things you can’t leave home without?
Phone, Notebook, Markers
Idea of a perfect Sunday?
Sunshine streaming through the windows, fluffy white blankets, hot coffee, and snuggles! Maybe a drive through the countryside with the windows down and the smell of the earth filling up the truck.
What do you think of Social Media?
I think it both connects and divides us. It is like a cake—it is delicious in moderation and when you have a fantastic baker. It can make you sick though if you have a crappy baker and then also eat the whole thing. Being able to find the good in social media instead of the ugly can be hard.
Where can we follow you?
Most of the time you can find me under “Jess Crow” or “Crow Creek Designs.”
Quote: “Just don’t f*cking quit.” I don’t know who said that first, but it is the running verbiage in my head.
Actor/Actress: Sean Connery
Drink: Gin and Tonic
City: Bristol, Rhone Island
Movie: What Dreams May Come
Sport Team: Boston Bruins
Song: Southern Cross by Crosby, Stills & Nash