We had the good fortune of connecting with Jennifer Kahn and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jennifer, what is the most important factor behind your success?
For me, it was adding a give back component. Finding a non-profit that I am truly passionate about supporting and knowing that my success is shared with them, makes me work so much harder. TDF (Theatre Development Fund) is a dream non-profit partner. The work they do in accessibility for the, and arts education in schools is incredible, and I am so honored that Scenery Bags get to support them.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
My company is called Scenery Bags. We make bags and accessories out of discarded theatrical waste from Broadway and beyond, and 10% of our proceeds go to TDF to take students to see theatre. Since we started in 2017 we have diverted over 27 thousand pounds of theatrical waste from landfills, and sponsored 875 students to go through TDF’s Introduction to theatre program and see a Broadway show, as well as sponsored TDF’s accessibility program that provides accommodations for students who are blind or low vision / deaf or hard of hearing to see theatre. How did I get here? Luck? I was a stage manager for 17 years, on Broadway and regionally. I hated watching our sets get thrown away. All that beautiful art and memories. I had this idea in 2015 and kept plugging away at it until 2017 when I had my first baby, and took a break for Stage Management and started Scenery Bags as a cute little side hobby while I was at home with my new baby. I didn’t think it would turn into a full time real job so quickly. I accidentally created my dream job. Was it easy, no. Would I do it all again, yes! I’ve learned to just keep at it. Even when it’s hard. Especially when it’s hard. That usually means you’re about to do something big. Growing pains happen because you’re growing. The pain teaches you, so always listen to it. Lean in. Get curious. Never lean away from the hard stuff. Untying that knot will teach you more about your company than ignoring it ever will…I think that’s enough metaphors for now. I want to world to know we are here. If you love theatre, you can keep a little piece of it and help inspire a new generation to love it as well. And help the Earth out a little too.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Ha! Well, we just moved to Houston, TX right before I had my second baby and then COVID, so I’ve pretty much only been to the children museum, the park, and my Husband’s theatre. (He is the new General Manager for the Alley Theatre in downtown Houston.) So, I hope my best friend is visiting with her kids!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Oh wow! The list is LONG! Besides the amazing people at TDF, I’d like to give credit to: Brian Wells my friend and Director I Stage Managed for for years, who gave me my Equity Card (our Union), AND gave me the first 600 pounds of drops to upcycle to start my company! Thank you Brian! Laura Cave my friend who helped me brainstorm the beginning of the company on our road trip in the summer of 2015. Krysta Rodriguez (yes, THE Krysta Rodriguez) who always encouraged me when the project was in early phases, and then put us on the map once we launched. Of course my amazing Husband, Brandon, and family who have helped me turn this dream into a reality. AND everyone who as ever bought a bag or followed us on social media, or liked a post. It all adds up to the most incredible encouragement.
First image of me: PC Marques Walls