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

Hi Jahje, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
Work-life balance is a constant practice for me. There have been times where I have completely been off balance but in the past few years I have really started to question and envision what I truly want for my business.

In the fall of 2019, I started to question a lot of things in my business. I created my company Baby Jives Co. as a small handmade biz in 2010, to support me while I stayed at home with my kids. Over the years, it has grown—into production partners and studio assistants, and the energy I was putting into it, wasn’t getting it where I wanted it to go. I felt drained and off balance, and the joy I once had running my company was gone.

So, I took a step back to learn what it is I truly wanted. I dug into what I wanted to create, not what others thought I should create. I realized that ease, balance, creativity, and connection was what I craved.

I started cutting away at things that felt out of alignment—the parts that took up time, and didn’t take me to that ideal place. I licensed out more of my work, instead of producing and selling it myself. I worked to create space, so I could focus on the creative design that lights me up, rather than the time-consuming spreadsheets and production that also put me to sleep.

I made many of these transitions in early 2020 and finally felt balanced again. Then, the pandemic hit. My two kids were suddenly my students. I was on my own, learning how to be a teacher,shipping orders, navigating supply chain shifts, and all the changes that the pandemic gave us.

AND I WAS FINE. I was better than fine. I was thriving.

I was thriving, because I took that much-needed step back, which gave me the perspective I needed. I was able to let go of what everyone told me “I had to do” and focus on what really excited me: the connection to my customers, the creativity of designing, and the freedom to work with production teams who supported with ease.

By tuning into my business vision, I had set myself up for success, and now, as I continue to grow, I make sure I stop and ask myself “Is this what I truly want?”

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Many of my ideas are sparked by time spent hiking and exploring with my family or on my own. The wonder and the magic of the world around me inspires me because in these spaces anything is possible. Starry clouds twinkle in the sky, butterflies can flutter into your home and children can grow in the arc of a new moon.

I think part of the reason I’ve been successful is my unique vision. My work is recognizable as mine and I whenever I have an idea I make sure it stays true to me and doesn’t get influenced by other things that I may have seen. Finding your difference and sharing your vision is the secret sauce to being an artist. No one can make what you make but you!

Starting a creative brand can be challenging because as an artist you are essentially selling a part of yourself. Your creations come from you and when something doesn’t succeed it can feel personal. But if you have the resilience to keep trying even when things don’t work out then you really can go far.

I think a big difference between people who succeed and those who don’t is persistence and passion. If you have passion for what you do you will keep going even when you might not see success right away.

I’m actually in the midst of a big pivot because of that passion.

My kids are now teens and for a few years now I’ve known that creating products for babies is not my passion anymore so I’ve been really digging into what inspires me now. It’s lead me to start a new venture teaching women to explore art making and mindfulness in an intentional way with an art membership Cultivating in Creativity and I’ve returned to painting myself.

As I often say the greatest gift we can give ourselves is permission to grow, change and release what is no longer aligned.
So I’m doing that now and actually closing the baby part of my business at the end of 2022.

Baby Jives Co has served me for 12 years but I’m starting a new chapter in the new year under my own name, Jahje Ives aka the mama J.Ives in Baby Jives Co.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Ok here’s where I”d take them in Philadelphia: The Waterworks and Kelly Drive: a perfect place to spend an afternoon with a picnic and then bike or walk along the river
The Barnes Foundation: one of my favorite museums for inspiration with more Matisse than anywhere else
Buena Onda: our family favorite for the fried tofu “fish” tacos and loaded nachos, right around the corner from the Barnes
The Morris Arboretum: One of my favorite gardens just outside of center city in chestnut hill. Go visit and then stroll Chestnut Hill nearby and eat at Cake, a great bakery situated inside a grand old greenhouse.
Mutter Museum: the museum of medical oddities, a place many don’t know about but it’s a total hidden treasure
Goldie: the best vegan falafel place i’ve ever been. Try the tahini shake and you’ll be a convert.
Smith Memorial Playground & Playhouse: the coolest playground situated in Fairmount Park with an old wooden slide and acres of playgrounds. It’s still my kids’ favorite spot to play.

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?
There have been so many people on my journey who have helped me personally and professionally that I would need pages to acknowledge them all but there are a few who stand out at critical points. My friend Kristen Ley of Thimble Press helped me through a huge big growth point – the first time I had my artwork taken by another company she coached me through what to do and connected me with the lawyer who ultimately resolved it for me (with a big licensing payment for my design – which is no longer stolen… now it’s licensed)

I think the biggest shoutout has to go to my family though. Without them it would not have been possible to create my company. IAt the start when I was a new mom raising my kids and my business, my mother Catherine would come over 2-3 days a week to help while I got work time in. Then my husband Joe has talked over every idea, worry, and decision I have ever made for my business and even spent countless hours wrapping branches and stuffing clouds at the start before I had paid assistants to do that work. Finally without my kids I would never have had the inspiration for what I create. Seeing the world through their wonder has been the spark for it all.

Website: https://www.babyjives.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/babyjives/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/babyjives

Other: https://www.cultivatingincreativity.com my other website for the art membership I teach

Image Credits
painted images: photos by me other images: Jasmine Tara

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