Often it’s really difficult for the artistically gifted to originate amazing creations while simultaneously selling and promoting their work. I’ve always thought that those two talents utilized completely different parts of the brain, and not being able to do both seems to me to be such a loss for us all, since how many great artists are there out there who don’t know how to publicize themselves?

Every once in a while, someone comes along to break that mold not only for themselves, but others as well. I first met Jenny Morgan when she solely designed her own charming line, hen and barley press. But in 2010, she founded A Fresh Bunch, which as I mentioned yesterday helps up-and-coming designers get their work on nearly any conceivable product.  “A Fresh Bunch makes is easy for companies to buy and license art from our hand-picked bunch of global design talent,” Jenny told me. “(We) recruit and manage all the design talent, and curate work from those designers to ensure that clients see only the best work for their products.  Clients select the right art for their products — vs. searching for the right art — and are able to focus on their products instead of spending time managing freelancers. (In) our online marketplace, buyers can shop for, purchase and instantly download patterns and pattern collections for exclusive and non-exclusive use on their products.”

It really is a win-win for everyone involved. “Designers get a team dedicated to selling and marketing their work, as well as consistent client and team feedback on how to make their designs more marketable. Instead of having to manage production, shipping, invoicing, sales and marketing, designers focus on design, growing their portfolios and creating their best, most marketable work. This all happens within the most supportive, collaborative, creative community imaginable.  Members of the Bunch help each other with design tips & tricks, and cheer each other on with each and every success. Getting paid along the way is the icing on the cake but for me, paying designers for focusing on what they love is a highlight of my job.”

Here are a few of the many, many A Fresh Bunch patterns, all available for immediate purchase and download in the AFB Marketplace. Warning: if you enjoy design eye candy, you may neglect your other responsibilities!


With that kind of industry perspective, I had to sit Jenny down for The Five Questions.

Jenny_cropped_tiny 1. SS:  How did you get into this crazy business?

JM: After leaving my job in insurance in 1998, I knew I wanted to 1) start a company and 2) incorporate my passion for design and stationery into that company.  I toyed with many ideas, including a home-based retail business, a web-based business, and finally settled on the notion of founding my own wholesale stationery line.  hen and barley press was launched in 2001and I have been involved in the industry in one way or another ever since.

2. SS: Are there any design or lifestyle trends you are finding yourself particularly intrigued with these days?

JM: Because of the length of product development cycles, we’re always looking a year or two ahead with trends. Some design trends we’re loving right now are: Folk inspired designs; a trend we’re calling Imagination — conversational prints and patterns that reflect the world as seen through our imaginations; and the return to pretty — florals, in particular.

3. SS:What letter, card or invitation first comes to mind as the best you’ve ever received?

JM: Handmade thumbprint notecards from my youngest son.

4.  SS: What are your three favorite paper lines?

JM: R. Nichols, Rifle Paper Co., and Mr. Boddington’s Studio.

6.  SS: Is there anything you do personally to keep letter-writing, card-sending and invitation using alive?

JM: It is most important to start with what letters, cards and invitations represent: connection with friends and family. In a larger sense, that means expressing gratitude, giving gifts, showing appreciation and celebrating things big and small.  If we all focus on keep those things alive and well, there will always be room for letters, cards and invitations in some form or fashion. One way I do this personally is to host a monthly theme dinner for friends. It’s a very casual get-together that allows me to try some new recipes and friends to come together to enjoy each other’s company.

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