In our Founder Feature series we talk to woman-identified business-owners and let them speak for themselves about their brands and life. Here we spend time with Zoe Frost and dive into learning more about her brand: Junebug and Darlin. One of a kind, modern and progressive handmade cross stitch kits are Junebug and Darlin's specialty. Zoe's business is based in Portland, OR.
What inspired you to start your business?
So when I started, I was looking at craft kits for adults as opposed to the Disney princess type of vibe. I found that there just wasn’t a lot of kits that were exclusive for adults. At the time, I had just quit my job and moved to Southern Oregon and was looking for new endeavors, most importantly I wanted a new endeavor that involved what was popular in terms of what people could do with their hands. No one was doing cross-stitch. One afternoon, I went to Willamette Falls, picked up a kit, and from then on it all picked up quickly. I’ve only ever done designs myself. I’ve never bought a pattern. I had never done this before but could feel that it was a good avenue to go down.
What’s the brand’s philosophy?
I moved to Oakland, CA for college and was an art major before moving to Klamath Falls. Very rural Oregon that can be scary and intense. I was pretty alone and was using art work to connect with people and work through my identity. I started this during Pride month (June). A driving inspiration was to consider, what does it mean to be gay and considered a nobody in the rural community? I wanted to make art that is political and queer and accessible to all. I wanted to make for myself but I also wanted to make for others. I wanted to connect with people through art and through activism. I have come to understand that I’m not the only one going through this. I’m making art that is part of a craft-ism movement. I’m never going to make something I don’t believe in. It’s for queer people and allies. It’s for acknowledging and supporting small queer owned businesses.
"I wanted to connect with people through art and through activism."
What makes Junebug and Darlin different?
Loaded question! The supplies within each kit make heirloom quality. The intention is the give all the tools needed to be as successful as possible. To do something with our hands that gives us a sense of pride that isn’t revolved around social media. It’s about getting off our phones and experiencing a sense of joy that comes with realizing that you can craft. It’s about bringing that sense of enjoyment when making something. I’m not hiding who I am and I’m giving people the power to do this on their own. Each kit is affordable, queer, accessible and ultimately donates to a good cause. I’m trying to supply resources to people. A sense of safety and community. There is a lot of political trauma that is happening right now. I’m encouraging using arts and crafts to protest what’s happening. To protest what’s happening around the world. A movement of people wanting to get off their phones and to slow down. If I can’t directly impact something that’s happening in the world, I can craft and make myself useful. I can be political in my own space and in my own home. I’m not going to scroll for hours angrily. I’m going to stab through something.
How do you come up with the designs for some of your cross-stitches?
It depends on what’s happening in my life. It can be a lot of political concepts but then there can be floral designs as well. There are a lot of moments of inspirations from affirmations, fabrics, vintage patterns and from just being outside and being in my garden. Angry liberal flower instead of angry feminist. Different sides of myself.
Why do you craft?
I craft a lot of different things. It totally relaxes me. I don’t really escape work very easily. Working from home makes it hard to shut my brain off from work. Whenever I’m crafting, I’m not thinking about work. I’m in that process of counting and keeping track of a pattern. It’s a way from me to get off my phone. It’s always easier to watch tv and watch your phone but this is better for my soul.
Can you share with us some good DIY/Craft related tips? Do you have any advice for first-time cross-stitchers?
Yes! Try not to set really strict deadlines. It will make it more enjoyable as a hobby. When you set deadlines, it takes the joy out of it. Also – good lighting! Working on something that inspires and brings you happiness. If you are trying to work on a pattern that you are making because you think you are a beginner and it’s not actually what you love, don’t do it. Go for it.
Your work focuses strongly on queer interpretations of traditional domesticity, sexuality and gender. Was this always a facet of your work? How did it evolve? What were the moments in your life that influenced this perspective?
I feel like being queer is being political. There is always going to be a place in the art world that will craft a resistance. There is a lot of advancement in the States but that doesn’t apply to everyone. Black trans women are being murder at an astounding rate. If I can make some money from being a queer person, I can use that and give to the organizations that help support these black trans women and other causes, like abortions. I’m a white cis woman and I’m making money from the crafts that I’m providing. A few Junebug and Darlin products give directly to Southerners on New Ground, Transgender Law Center and Planned Parenthood. It’s not important to make money all the time. I’m going to represent what is needed in the moment.
Do you have a favorite design in your shop and if so, which one?
I don’t like to play favorites. They are all my children. CHILL VIBES ONLY is a really nice message. It felts really meditative.
What’s your most popular item right now?
THE FEMINIST KIT. Which was created for beginners. It’s rewarding and a simple, straight forward message.
What advice do you have for other female-identified business owners?
Charge what you are worth. It’s hard to price your work. Especially art work and crafts that can be used as a relaxation tool. It’s really hard to justify telling people what you deserve as an hourly wage. I’m always shocked at how little people are charging for their work. It takes time and money to make something original.
Who is inspirational to you at this time in your life?
I listened to the Radiolab with Dolly Parton the other day. I’ve had a little folder for a while with ideas for Dolly Parton cross-stitches. She’s fascinating and does a really great job of bridging the gap between people. Maybe it’s time for a Dolly Parton series.
Anything else you would like to share?
I teach a lot of workshops. People are scared that they can’t craft and they can’t cross-stitch. Well, it’s not worth being self - deprecating until you try. It’s never too late to pick up a hobby. Everyone should try something once. It’s always worth just giving it a shot.