Juliana Kissick, NSS exhibitor and co-founder of Good Juju Ink
Approximately two and a half years ago, below the boughs of 100 sleeping redwood trees, and inside the walls of a semi-endearing-but-mostly-dilapidated 1950s ranch cottage, the idea for Good Juju Ink took tangible shape, plopped itself in my lap, and demanded my complete and undivided attention. “Your life is going to change now,” it said. “It’s time.” And then, just like that, it did.
You see, I was raised a performer. I’d spent the entirety of my childhood, adolescence, and young adult years in Hollywoodland. By the time I was twenty-eight years old, I was exhausted. Utterly. Exhausted. While I had often defended the acting world, I found myself unable to defend any longer. My joy for performing had become lost amidst my playing by the rules of its game. And I was done.
So, with my self-worth stuck to the bottom of my shoe and a bank account the size of a booger, I moved to Northern California. I made the move alongside Ryan, the boy next door (a boy who would later become my husband and cofounder of Good Juju Ink), with the hopes of finding the beat of my own heart again. And then, somewhere between “I’m dying” and “I’m dead”, I picked up a pencil. I picked up a pencil and literally could not stop drawing. I was drawing through to all hours of the night-turned-morning. I drew my family. I drew things that made me laugh. I drew stories from my childhood. I drew…elephants. I drew a LOT of elephants. Why I was drawing elephants, I HAD NO IDEA. But I was. And I couldn’t stop.
And then about a month into this adventure, it dawned on me: I was drawing elephants because their existence looked as impossible as my existence felt. I was drawing something that reflected, tangibly, what I could not put into words about myself and my current circumstances. These elephants, and their little stories of joy and despair that I was crafting---were actually different iterations of myself. I was using the imagery of animals and nature to teach me about my humanity. I needed to share the magic of illustration immediately. I needed to spread good vibes! I needed to----I NEEDED TO MAKE CARDS!
As far as my advice to others…no one can do anything alone. Don’t try to be a hero/martyr/mad scientist/artist/accountant/brand expert/marketing guru party of one. I know. It’s so, so, SOOOOO scary and embarrassing and awkward to ask for help, especially when you don’t always have something to compensate for other peoples’ time besides a super awesome hug and maybe a cup of tea. I never thought my cofounders Marina or Ryan would be interested in joining Good Juju Ink. They went to one of THE top business schools in the world, they had enormously successful careers in tech and consulting before they went to Stanford, why would they want to help out a teeny tiny, artsy fartsy, burp of an operation like mine? Well guess what: YOU LITERALLY DON’T KNOW UNLESS YOU ASK.Want more Stationery Stories? Read them here.