We had the good fortune of connecting with Jackie Shambora and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jackie, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
My thought process for starting my business wasn’t very organized or deep actually. I’m not one to do much in the way of planning and tend to follow my gut and my instincts. I have always been a creative…painting, sewing, making. In college my father pushed me to pursue accounting or something related to computers which I did try…and failed at miserably! I realized half way through my sophomore year that I was absolutely a “right brain” individual and that attempting to fit my square peg self into the round hole someone else wanted me to fit into just wasn’t going to work. I had been working for a local department store part time and they quickly moved me into merchandising which I absolutely loved. Thus my major changed to Retail Management/Merchandising. I worked for a major department store chain in the Midwest for 14 years out of college but always felt tugged to do more with creating. I felt I had a bigger purpose other than executing spelled out, black and white “playbooks” from corporate. I wanted to create a career with creative freedom. I was playing with mosaic art on the side and friends began requesting small items for gifts. I met another ceramic artist who hired me to work her booth at a local art fair and that’s was my lightbulb moment! She helped me pull together my first foray into the art fair world and it took off from there. Studio Shambora began in Indiana as a pottery and painting studio creating custom tile mosaics, handbuilt ceramics and painted canvas floorcloths. Always inspired by the outdoors along with a love for vintage, I began incorporating found objects and furniture into my assortment. Over the years my business has evolved into a carefully curated rustic/boho lifestyle shop with a modern twist, offering meaningfully sourced products influenced by nature and simple living. Focusing on natural materials, rich textures and a neutral color palette, products include handcrafted jewelry, clothing, home decor, vintage objects and artisan goods.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I have a very wide variety of art forms that I have practiced over the years. And all self taught. I think that is what I am proud of the most…When I have a spark or a pull to try something new I figure it out and dive right in! I have always been pulled to recycle, renew and/or reuse materials. Mosaics are where I started and I would forage for anything broken that I felt could be put to a new use. This led to a random clay class where I “thought” I wanted to learn to throw on a pottery wheel. I ended up falling in love with hand building and spent years making tiles. And my never ending pull towards the outdoors and nature showed up here. I built piles of tiles in shapes of leaves that I collected and made molds and stamps out of. I would turn these into mosaic pieces for the outdoors. After a few years I decided it was time to make a shift and I began painting again. I started creating floor cloths, selling a few at a time in my booth along with my ceramics, and the reception was so positive I gradually did them full time. I realized after a few years of selling these that I was not meant to create with the same medium over and over. It would begin to feel like production work and my creative flow would fade. I always had a love for vintage and decided to start offering some elements of vintage home decor. Then the painting and home decor led to refinishing furniture. Random right! After taking a year hiatus from my own business to work elsewhere I was desperate to get back to my creative life. This time I really did some soul searching and research, and realized I needed to find a way to offer everything I was interested in curating, along with having the creative freedom to focus on what I saw as an overall “aesthetic”. At the heart of it all was my constant draw to nature and to simple living…both with my personal life and my business. It was time to stop offering and creating what I thought people wanted to buy and instead concentrate on what I truly loved and represented. I wanted to focus on natural materials, rich textures and a neutral color palette with products including my handcrafted jewelry (did I mention I’ve also designed jewelry since college), clothing, home decor, vintage objects and artisan goods. There my lifestyle shop was born, offering meaningfully sourced products influenced by nature and simple living. My business goals are to always stay true to my own style and what I truly believe in. Always feeling tugged to the mountains, in 2017 after some major life changes, I loaded up and relocated to Colorado, embracing all the inspiration the area has to offer and which influences my brands lifestyle aesthetic today. For over 20 years now my business has evolved over and over and I am feeling pulled to evolve again. My principles and overall aesthetic will always remain, but it’s time to shift what I’m offering. I always know when it’s time to execute new ideas that feel relevant, meaningful and fresh. I feel fortunate that I have been able to learn and have success with many different creative endeavors. My business has always had success as a mobile shop, setting up at large markets and specialty events across the country. Covid has greatly impacted this so I now find myself looking for new revenue streams.
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?
Since my move to Colorado I have been immersed in travel, exploring and photography. This state is so interesting and diverse with so many activities at our disposal. I absolutely love it when friends come to visit and try to plan itineraries that I know they will personally enjoy. I always start in the mountains of course! There are many drives that take you through breathtaking canyons opening up to the vast Rocky Mountain Range. Buena Vista is my current go to where you can explore the Collegiate Peaks, hang out at a relaxing hot springs and then meander through the adorable shops downtown. Twin Lakes is my favorite spot to take visitors who love to camp, kayak and hike. Then it’s off for a day in Denver. I typically end up around Larimer Square for shopping and for a craft cocktail and appetizers at my favorite hangout, the Green Russell. I also love to show off the Rino District for it’s unique artisan businesses, breweries and a walking tour of the amazing murals in the area. You can’t visit this great state without visiting Red Rocks Amphitheater and Rocky Mountain National Park. After a day exploring the park, the town of Estes Park is so perfect for your guests to walk through the many unique shops, pick up souvenirs, dodge the occasional Elk, and I always end up at my favorite pizza joint, Bob and Tony’s. I live in the Springs which has it’s own long list of wonderful activities available. I will start the day with a hike through Red Rocks Open Space or one of the many trails along Gold Camp Road. Then it’s off to Old Colorado City and Manitou Springs with the charming shopping and local eateries. And living right next to Garden of the Gods makes it easy to take a drive or just walk through the park to do some exploring and hiking. There are so many amazing things to see and do in this state so return visitors get a different experience every time they visit, 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?
This is very difficult for me to answer. Today everyone pushes for uplifting, feel good stories behind situations, and honestly, I don’t have anyone or anything in particular to credit for my business. Of course I have friends who have supported me over the years, but I don’t have any profound experiences or certain people or family in my life who have had any significant impact. While I can’t point to any one person, place or thing to credit for my success, I am who I am today because of the good and the bad experiences that make up my life and business history.
all images by Studio Shambora