Business Feature: JAM Art & Supplies
Today’s Business Feature takes us to Downtown Sioux Falls to speak with the Executive Director of JAM Art & Supplies, Jess Miller. In addition to running this incredible non-profit that provides art supplies, holds classes and workshops, and hosts events, Jess also manages to run an AirBnB, raise her daughter, have a second job, and find time for gardening and yoga. She’s an awesome example for those of us who are trying to balance work and home life.
Read on to find out more about how she does this, about JAM Art & Supplies, about how you can get involved…and keep scrolling to the bottom for a discount coupon on supplies!
- Tell us a little bit about yourself. I was born on the prairie and consider myself a horizon line enthusiast. I like the wind from the prairie as I know it’s stirring up inspiration for me and other air signs. I did my art generals in St. Paul called College of Visual Arts; it was small and it’s now closed. I finished my art studies at Augustana University here in town and then headed west for five years living in California and Colorado. Finally landing back on the prairie so we could be around friends and family while we raise our daughter. Growing up my best role models included Oprah, Martha Stewart, Laura Ingalls Wilder and my mother.
- Can you give us a little bit of background information about your business? JAM Art & Supplies was founded because in 2006 when I was going to college I spent some time in St. Paul’s nonprofit Creative Reuse Center, Art Scraps. Since then I dreamed of walking into work every morning at Sioux Falls’ own Creative Reuse Center and I jumped on the chance to start one when I was on my maternity leave in 2013/2014. There are over 150 Creative Reuse Centers in the US and I was able to travel to Durham, NC this year for a Creative Reuse Convention. The easy way to explain what JAM does is to say, “we sell art supplies like a Good-will.” However, we do so much more. Our mission is to get art supplies into the hands of people that will use them and to be a source of information to Sioux Falls about art. The Creative Reuse store, our classroom, our website, and community programming are the four pillars of JAM.
- What is a typical day like for you? As a mother, and a slow riser, mornings tend to start late for us. My daughter and I rarely have to wake up early and that’s the way we like it. Nothing happens before our cereal and coffee. My days are always best if I can do some yoga and gardening before having to be at JAM at 11. I dream of living in a garden and never having to leave. Once we leave the house, it’s off to the races. Sometimes I take my daughter to work with me and other times she goes to her dreaded daycare. JAM is mostly run on volunteers and interns, however Tana is my right hand lady making sure emails are answered, and the website is up to date. My day consists of flame juggling while running around like a chicken with my head cut off. Somehow I manage to stay grateful for my opportunity to have the perfect job and motivated to actualize the JAM mission. There is no place I’d rather work. However, Friday and Saturday nights I cocktail waitress at PAve Bar downtown on Phillips Ave to keep my hospitality artform sharp. Plus, I own a duplex and run AirBNB out of one of the sides. Then, of course, I make art and have art shows in all my free time. Artists have to be creative with bringing in their money. Diversity is super important, not just for your diet and the rainforest, but for how you make money too. Managing my calendar is another way I get to exercise my creative and strategic side. Besides having cereal and coffee in the morning, I rarely sit. We’re remodeling a school bus into an RV in the evenings and I have started my first quilt.
- Tell us something interesting about yourself that most people don’t know…Most people don’t know that I want to open a Botanical Garden in Sioux Falls someday.
- What books/phone apps/computer software programs have helped you in your business? When I started JAM I literally went to the library and rented “Nonprofits for Dummies.” It was invaluable. People think I’m kidding when I tell them that, but it’s true. If I can start a nonprofit, so can you.
- What advice would you have for someone looking to follow in your footsteps? Ask, and you shall receive. Delegate, delegate, delegate. Get really good at not being afraid to ask for help, and don’t dwell when someone has to tell you that they can’t help you today. Just keep asking. Surround yourself with people that want to help you with your goal. You have to find people that motivate you to be your best person, but also understand when you’re too tired to think straight. People will come in and out of your life. It’s the pits. Managing volunteers has been the hardest part about JAM, but it’s also taught me the most. Volunteers come and go, but when they’re here they’re the fruit to our JAM.
- If you could have a clean slate to start over, what would you do differently in your career? That’s such a hard question! I am nine months sober and have been loving this new lifestyle. I would have sobered up sooner if I had known that I would like it this much. Sometimes I wonder if I had never developed a hankering for a high if I could have been an architect. However, sometimes I think about going back to school for Addiction Studies. I like my autonomy and am extremely entrepreneurially minded so I worry that I wouldn’t be able to work for a firm. I imagine that I can pretty much do anything that I want, the hardest part is just picking.
- What are some of the ways customers can help your business? The very best way for the community to help us is for them to buy a JAM VIP Membership. Being a JAM Member allows you to support our great cause, while getting some awesome perks in return! Individuals or businesses can become a JAM VIP MEMBER for $250/year or $25/month recurring. Rewards include one in-house event or party (a $180 value), a free t-shirt/bumper sticker (a $65 value), plus exclusive invites to Creative Reuse Art Receptions, quarterly updates from the President of JAM, 25% off all art and craft supply purchases and 10% off classes, camps, and workshops! That’s a lot of perks for one great cause.
- Is there anything else you’d like people to know about you or your business? Right now, we’re looking for new board members! If you are willing to give eight hours a month and can become a JAM VIP Member take a look at our application and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to chat with you to see if this is a fit for all of us.
- Where can people find you?