We had the good fortune of connecting with Jacquie Wheeler and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jacquie, what principle do you value most?
The value that matters most to me is customer satisfaction. Hands down, period, mic drop. My brand’s success is not measured monetarily but instead by customers’ smiles, the high pitched giggles, and the five star reviews. I don’t want to simply meet the customers’ expectations, I create to exceed expectations. It’s not just about adorable fiber art in pretty packaging. I consider the customer in every step of my process from selecting fabrics, to sustainability, to delivering the final product, In reality it is the customers who have shaped my most popular items. Over the years I have incorporated customer feedback, sewn in suggested features, and brought to life their custom orders. Each interaction improved my process organically. My early customers are still with me and have become my unofficial design team; their input has pushed my growth as an artist. I love sharing with them the excitement of new products imagined from their suggestions. The customers will tell you what they want and if we listen and deliver, our businesses grow exponentially.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I am a fiber artist working in reclaimed fabrics. I make wee whimsical animals, traditional American Folk Art, and experimental modern pieces from discarded clothing. My craft is unique in that I work primarily in cashmere and wool ~ fibers that would be expensive if purchased new but I buy my supplies at thrift stores so that I can keep my prices low. I believe luxury can be affordable and I love that using reclaimed fabrics supports charities in my community and spares local landfills the extra waste.
I have always been a creative but getting to where I am today was not an easy straight line. Having my own brand was my dream when I was younger but pursuing art was not encouraged by my parents. I was going to be the first child to graduate from college on my mother’s side. I was instructed to choose a practical field. Back in 1987, coming from a small New England town, I didn’t know enough about textile careers to steer myself down the right path. I believed art careers were for painters and people who could sketch out exact renderings of landscapes. I chose to study communications and worked in crisis intervention for many years but the drive to produce art burned deep inside me. For many years I created for friends and family because there weren’t many craft fairs in the areas where I was living. In 2006, my husband’s job was moved to Texas. I was burnt out on social work and wanted to be home with my teenager so I decided it was time to take my creativity seriously. I began offering my work on Ebay where I met like-minded artists and a whole new world opened up! I struggled finding my place as my work fell between the cushions of craft and art. Then Etsy appeared and the world really embraced the handmade movement! I could see exactly where my work fit in!
Along the way I learned to listen to that inner voice. If there’s something you love and you always return to it, there’s a reason for that. Go for it!
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
My bestie and I are nature lovers so I would pick her up from the airport and head straight to our Air BNB in Galveston! My bestie and I love to thrift so we will stop along the way at my fave thrift shops: The Guild, Family Thrift, Goodwill on 646, and RCC in Galveston. No doubt this will take us until about 8 pm on our first day so we will quietly wrap up night one with dinner on the Strand at Brews Brothers Pub. Day two is all about the beach! A quick stop at Mosquito Cafe for breakfast bites and a take away lunch and we are headed to Surfside for sand in our toes and a picnic on the shore. The afternoon is dedicated to shopping on Strand and Post Office being sure to hit Hendley Market, The Witchery, and Mod Coffee. Day two wraps up with dolphin watching from the ferry and a seafood fest at Shrimp-n-Stuff. By day three wanderlust sets in. My bestie is from New York and loves iconic Texas so we hit the road and head west with no agenda other than backroad trippin’ all the way to Fredericksburg. We route ourselves from antique stores to thrift shops to unique eateries along the way, stopping at every wildflower field and ghost town for photos! We completely lose track of where and who we are for day 3 and 4 but on day 5 we are back in Houston to wrap up our visit at Graffiti Park and the Menil. The best Houston souvenirs are by local artists so we shop Space Montrose before making our last pit stop at the Guild to be sure we didn’t miss any treasures.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My shoutout goes to Cheryl and the team at Hendley Market in Galveston! She was the first one to carry my work. It was there that the Purrfect Pet Cats launched! Her shop is legendary on the Island and has supported local artists for over 30 years.