Jess Russell is the owner of The Roving Artisan, which hosts weaving workshops in homes and private spaces. Jess discovered the art of weaving by chance, and the handicraft quickly became a passion. After the birth of her third child, she made the bold decision to start the business she had dreamed of for many years. An advocate for postnatal depression, Jess contributes a percentage of her profits to The Gidget Foundation, which supports the emotional wellbeing of expectant and new parents.
Tell us a little about yourself.
You can call me Jess; Jessica is reserved for my mother when she is angry! I am 33, I was born and bred in Marrickville and am addicted to Milo! My husband and I have been blessed with three mini humans, Sophia (7), William (6) and Audrey (2). I was smacked hard with PND after the birth of my son and am now only slowly getting out of the fog. I change favourite colours as frequently as Didi (for anyone familiar with Nic Jr) and cannot stand mushrooms!
What did you do prior to establishing The Roving Artisan?
I was lucky enough (although some days I would definitely not describe it as this) to get to spend the last seven years as a stay-at-home mum with my three kids. Life before kids looked super different with a corporate career in fundraising and marketing, a love of Pilates and a fascination with travel.
How did you get into weaving in the first place?
My incredible sister gifted me a course for my birthday many years ago, which we took together, and this is exactly where I caught the bug. Ever since that course I have been researching, experimenting and reading as much as I can get my hands on to learn about this amazing handicraft. Being a stay-at-home mum after a successfully corporate career took its toll on me and weaving became my tonic. It was my safe place to escape to and create. I will be forever grateful to my sister for introducing me to the ‘thing’ in life that I was searching for.
What services does The Roving Artisan offer?
The Roving Artisan offers private mobile ‘Get Yo’ Weave On’ weaving workshops all across Sydney. The workshops are a fun, memorable way to enjoy company while your hands are busy and mind is creatively stimulated. What’s more, everyone learns the rich craft of weaving and takes home their own beautiful creation.
We also offer a communal weaving service ‘Woven with Love’ where all of your guests at your event can work together to create one amazing art installation using different weaving techniques.
What can clients expect from a workshop?
‘Get Yo’ Weave On’ workshops run for three hours, and at the completion of the workshop everyone will have completed their own beautiful woven tapestry. We work with an array of vibrant yarns and fibres that are sourced from all over Australia. The music will be pumping (or not if you prefer). I like to provide an opportunity for women to slow down, come together and create something memorable and beautiful in the comfort of their own setting.
What do you enjoy most about teaching others the art of weaving?
My top three things about teaching weaving are:
- Meeting other incredible likeminded women. I get to hear so many stories and feel so privileged to enter their safe space with their people around them. I have met some of the most incredible women I know through my workshops.
- Seeing the transition from disbelief in any creative ability to complete confidence and ownership within three short hours. Weaving allows you to be as simple or complex as you desire and is such an amazing platform for people to express themselves creatively.
- It doesn’t feel like work at all! What more could you ask for?
You support The Gidget Foundation through your work. What does this organisation mean to you?
The Roving Artisan has been a silver lining against one of the darkest clouds of my life. In early 2018, I was admitted to St John of God’s Mother and Baby Unit. I stayed there for five weeks. I had been diagnosed with Post Natal Depression and OCD after the birth of my son in 2012. But it was since Audrey was born in 2016 that it came back with a vengeance. My admission to the MBU was precipitated by a serious acute episode. It was during this stay that I found the courage to start the business that I’ve dreamed of for years, and in that moment I knew that I wanted to keep PND at the forefront of my journey.
At this time, I was introduced to the Gidget Foundation and felt an incredible connection to the organisation and all that it stands for. The Gidget Foundation supports the emotional wellbeing of expectant and new parents by helping them get timely and supportive care. It does a remarkable job at raising awareness and encouraging us to have a conversation about this disease and break the stigma that is still there.
As a mother yourself, what advice can you offer new parents?
Buckle up and try and enjoy the ride! Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Some days will be magical and some days will be the absolute pits – but we are all in it together. Use your village and if all else fails, YouTube Kids is amazing for escaping for a five-minute shower!
Have you ever read a book that has changed your perspective or path in life?
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. Learning how to live, courage and change – this book came into my hands at the perfect time!
Favourite places in the Inner West?
- Shenkin Café in Erskineville for their incredible hot chocolates.
- Cow and Moon in Enmore for their delicious ice-cream and lack of judgement for eating it before lunch!
- Sydney Park, Steel Park and Livvi’s Place – my kids live for these parks.
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