I discovered Jennifer a few weeks ago when she commented here on decor8. Since I always click on the name of the person commenting (I’m curious), I found Jennifer’s hostess with the mostess blog. I was first attracted by the colors (obviously) and then as I started reading it I noticed her party theme and that she is brand new blogger, so I immediately knew I had to introduce her to all of you! A few emails later, and here she is, blog of the week. If you’d like a shot of inspiration today, grab a cup of tea and tune out the rest of the world for 5 minutes while you meet Jennifer Sbranti. Ready?
decor8:I can’t wait to get started today, Jennifer. Your blog and website are great, I’m sure with so many creative and talented decor8 readers out there, many doing what you do, they’ll enjoy meeting you. Tell us about yourself…
jennifer: Sure! My name is Jennifer Sbranti and I?m a 28-year old, self-employed graphic/web designer. I live in San Diego, California with my very funny and supportive husband of almost 6 years ? Sonny – and our 2 adorable and ridiculously spoiled yellow labs – Jazz and Max. I studied fine arts & graphic design at the University of San Diego and a couple years later took a short web design program at the Academy of Web Design San Francisco, which was a 2 hour commute (roundtrip) at the time on top of a full-time job (perpetual bags under the eyes!), but ended up being one of the most beneficial steps in my career-path by far.
decor8: Tell us more… What are some things that you’re interested in?
jennifer: I adore interior design and find myself wanting to re-decorate our home every time a new West Elm, Chiasso, Inhabit, or Crate & Barrel catalog comes out! And now that I?ve discovered the world of amazing design blogs, my bank account?s in even more trouble! My other big passion in life is entertaining and celebrating with friends and family. I?ll jump on any excuse to throw a party and love coming up with unique themes and finding cool tabletop and party decor. I recently found a fabulous decorative tray at Target and am currently working up an excuse to throw a cocktail party so I can use it.
decor8: It sounds like you are finished with school and have moved on to bigger and better things. Tell us about what you do for a living…
jennifer: I have a steady stream of graphic/web design business that is my main source of income. I founded Sbranti Design in 2002 after a sudden diagnosis of epilepsy at age 23 left me unable to drive to my regular job for about 9 months. That cloud definitely had a silver lining though ? because I love working for myself! I work longer hours and harder than ever, but it?s so much more rewarding both personally and financially.
decor8: Being able to work from home is most certainly a blessing! You mentioned that you live in San Diego (I stayed there last summer in Little Italy by the way, I love your city!). What do you like about it there? Have you always lived there?
jennifer: I?m originally a NorCal girl from a small town near Sacramento, but I live in San Diego now and absolutely love it here! The weather is beautiful, the ocean and beach are nearby, and the overall vibe of the city is kick-back and somehow ?happy.? Even more importantly, though ? we have a great group of friends that live somewhere in the span of San Diego to LA, which makes it feel even more like home.
decor8: Now let’s talk about your blog, hostess with the mostess, the decor8 blog of the week. Tell us what you blog is about why you started blogging. When did you start?
jennifer: I?m actually still quite new to the world of blogging and have only been on the bandwagon for a little over a month ? but I?m loving it so far! My blog is about finding and showcasing hip, modern and unique products and ideas for contemporary entertaining, and it?s actually the first step in a ?big picture? project that I?m currently in the process of developing ? which is a website called ?hostesswiththemostess.com? and is scheduled to launch sometime this October. The fabulous finds blog will be a big part of the ?main? hostess website once it launches ? and the website will also have other features like great party themes laid out in detail, a forum where fellow hostesses can share tips and ideas and featured hostess interviews, and will hopefully serve as a great source of inspiration for anyone from party gurus to the ?obligatory? hostess who finds herself needing to host a bridal or baby shower for a loved one and has no idea where to start! My style is very clean and modern, so the party themes and ideas will have a very ?mod? vibe to them ? just like the blog.
decor8: You’ll have to let us know when you launch. That sounds like a great business opportunity, I’ve not heard of a site like that out there yet, so perhaps you’re first to market! What are some things you love about blogging?
jennifer: Instant gratification! It?s great to find something amazing and be able to share it with others right away in quick bits of information. I also love the sense of ?community? that I can already see even after a short time of blogging. It seems that bloggers really support each other and I often see the same people posting comments on each other?s blogs and sharing tips and finds, which is great.
decor8: I totally agree with you on all points. What are you trying to accomplish through your blog?
jennifer: I?m trying to create a resource for people that appreciate modern design and are looking for cool products to use at their next get-together. I?m hoping the featured products and ideas will get them even more excited about their next event and will inspire more excuses to get-together and celebrate with friends and family. I also want it to be a great resource for gift ideas – I?ve found myself struggling to find unique hostess gifts from time to time, so the site will also feature cool gift ideas to give to your favorite hostess that are a fresh change from the typical bottle of wine or house plant? as well as fabulous gift wrap and thank-you cards. And, of course, being a graphic designer ? I want it to look great and serve up good eye-candy for readers!
decor8: Can you tell us about your website, Sbranti Design, and how you are using your blog to tie into your business?
jennifer: Sure. Sbranti Design is my company website that showcases some of my regular design work and helps me get the projects that pay the bills. Currently I have my blog as the featured project on my home page ? which I?m hoping will garner some interest from my clients and the prospective clients that visit my regular website. I?ve had a lot of people visit my blog after seeing it on my website ? and the fact that they know me or know of me already when they?re visiting my regular website makes them even more interested in visiting the blog.
decor8: With the many design blogs out there, what sets yours apart from the rest?
jennifer: I think the fact that it?s focused on just showcasing products geared towards social entertaining ? with a hip, contemporary style ? is what sets it apart.
decor8: I agree. I like your focus on entertaining, it encourages us to do something that really enhances our life – spending time with friends and family. I think I know already, but how would you describe your design style?
jennifer: Definitely clean and modern ? but I like a mix of vintage and modern too, just nothing that?s overly busy. If there?s a great printed pattern/textile design, I have to see it balanced out with some white space or a solid hue. As far as my graphic/web design work goes, my work definitely leans more towards the feminine side ? still clean and modern, but the feminine touch is usually pretty obvious.
decor8: How are you marketing your graphic design services, the blog, and your website?
jennifer: Well, so far for both my business and my blog it?s been mainly referrals and word of mouth ? my friends have been great and I?m starting to feel the ?ripple? effect when one person tells their friends and then their friends tell other people and the cycle continues. However, one of my good friends ? Jennifer Zankan of Jeneration PR ? is a public relations guru and she?s starting to drum up a proactive pr plan for the blog and the new hostesswiththemostess.com website when it launches! Once she gets going, there?s no stopping that girl ? so I?m very lucky to have an ace in my pocket!
decor8: With a pr queen to back you up, I’m sure you’ll be huge! Do you have any favorite designers or artists that inspire you and why?
jennifer: I love contemporary designers like Jonathan Adler, Angela Adams, Todd Oldham, Marimekko and Thomas O?Brien because of their clean product lines and ?sleek? sense of style and use of bold, modern textile designs.
decor8: We share many favorites! What advice can you give decor8 readers who may be considering starting their own business?
jennifer: Make sure you do what you love ? because you?re going to spend a lot of time not only ?doing? it but also ?caring? for it and making sure it survives and grows. Don?t stress yourself out financially more than you need to at first. Before you get started, make sure you have saved enough money to pay your bills for the first few of months so that you can make ends meet while you?re building your business. Do what you love! Be prepared to work longer hours. It?s great to work for yourself, don?t get me wrong ? but when it?s just you and everything depends on you ? there are a lot more responsibilities so prepare yourself for all the ?little? things like invoicing, customer service, taking out the trash… And I can?t say it enough… Do what you love!
decor8: You sound like a very cheery person. Let’s say your feeling really down. What do you do to lift your spirits?
jennifer: Sometimes I just have to go for a run or do a kick-boxing class and that?s all I need to clear my head or get frustrations out. Other times I need ?friend time? and love to go see funny movies of chick flicks with friends. If I feel like I want to be alone, I?ll browse the design books section at Barnes + Noble or wander around West Elm, IKEA, or Hold It Contemporary Home ? one of my favorite home decor stores in San Diego.
decor8: I’m a huge fan of Hold It myself, that shop was amazing, and I just love the image on their homepage. Okay, we’ve heard a bit about what you’re good at, let’s hear about five subjects that you’d like to learn…
jennifer: 1 + 2. Textile Design and Product Manufacturing: I?d love to make my own line of table linens and dishware one day. 3. Jewelry design: I?m a total accessories junkie! 4. Music: there?s so much to learn! I?d love to play an instrument again. I took piano for 7 years when I was very young and would love to take it up again or learn to play the guitar. 5. Entrepreneurship: I find the ins and outs of what makes a business sink, float, or swim very interesting ? plus, it?s exciting to try to introduce something new to the world or build a brand from the ground up!
decor8: What a great chat we’ve had. I’m happy to meet you. To wrap things up, what are you top ten indulgences?
jennifer: Costume jewelry, Marzipan (almost any flavor) cakes and cookies, designer jeans, designer bedding, fabric wall hangings, letterpress stationery, great hand bags, red wine, amazing gift wrap (that?s sometimes as expensive as the gift!), and HBO/Showtime (Entourage, Sex + the City, Weeds).
Best wishes on your new website Jennifer, and with your blog!
If anyone has questions for Jennifer, please ask her by commenting below – she’ll answer!
(images from sbranti design)