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Seek & Swoon

Name: Jala Smith-Huys

Location: Portland, OR 

Type of Business:
Home Decor

What does your business do?
I sell blankets.

When and why did you start the biz?
I started by business in the fall of 2016 after returning from a 2 month European sabbatical with my husband and two young sons. I was inspired by the beauty of the places we visited and wanted to bring all of my passions (travel, design, sustainability, textiles) together into one entrepreneurial adventure.

How Many People are in your Company?

Where's your office?
I have a small home office and my inventory is stored in another room of the house.

What's the toughest part of running your biz?
The toughest part of running my business is simply having faith that it's all going to work out. I think, as entrepreneurs, we're hit with self doubt every single day...even on the good days. So whether it's a slow sale day, or realizing that a product wasn't a hit, or committing to an event that wasn't profitable...believing that you've got something unique and special can be hard.

What's the most fun part?
I really love hearing stories of my throws in people's homes. Whether they're posting on Instagram, or I'm meeting customers in person at an event, or I'm sent a really kind email about how a blanket of mine comforted someone in the last days of their life, knowing the stories behind my throws is really fulfilling.

Anything you would have done differently?
I would have done a lot of little things differently. But the thing that stands out to me the most is that I would have trusted my gut during all of those times I questioned a decision. Although getting advice from family, friend and colleagues has driven so many good decisions that I've made, I've learned that my gut is also pretty spot on. This is something I struggle with daily but it's starting to sink in.

What's next on the horizon for your biz?
I recently completed a couple of hotel collaborations and I would love to do more custom projects like this; designing throws for hotels, events, corporate gifts, etc. I love the collaborate part of these projects and creating something for a client that nobody else will own.

What advice do you have for others?
Besides 'listen to your gut', let others help. I probably wouldn't have even made it to the 6 month mark if I hadn't reached out to my network for advice and support. Your friends, family and colleagues want to help. They want to support you and cheer you on. Ask them for advice. Ask them for feedback. Ask them to tell the world about your business. It's low hanging fruit.

How do you use Idea Cafe to help your biz?
I use Idea Cafe for inspiration. Reading others' stories motivates me to think outside the box and not give up on even the toughest days. Knowing that so many entrepreneurs are traveling this same road with me is comforting. And I also just love learning about what new and innovative business people are starting. I also use the site for funding information and tips.

School (where, still in school, degree)?
Southern Oregon University, BS Communication Journalism + PR

Prior jobs or business?
I was the Creative Director for New Seasons Market for nine years. I then went on to freelance as a graphic designer and then a social media strategist, which I am still doing.

Favorite Food?
Thai and Mexican

What are your pets' names?

Do any of these pets help with your biz?

Is there any one person or event in your life that led you to go into business for yourself?
My mother worked from home during my childhood. My parents did household things themselves. I've always been exposed to self employment so it never crossed my mind that it wasn't something I couldn't do. I've known since I was a little girl that I eventually wanted to work for myself.

Anyone you publicly want to thank?
I wouldn't be doing this without my mom, who passed away in February of 2018. And my husband who has supported me every step of the way and hasn't questioned how or why we could make this work together. Thank you.

Contact Info:
Jala Smith-Huys
6723 SE 16th Avenue #82483
Portland, OR 97202



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