I met Jan Cohen a couple of years ago. We both learned thrift shopping from our mothers, and have been sewing since we were little girls. She started sewing at age 11 making clothes for her troll dolls and look at her now. Her business, Janibar has bloomed in just a couple of years. Jan started by transforming a pile of interior decorator samples into purses and selling them at local craft shows.
Jan wanted to expand the mitten business but wasn’t sure how. She read some articles from the Arts Business Institute website and decided to take a business course that was offered at the Buyer’s Market of American Craft wholesale show at the Convention Center in Philadelphia. The institute is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing practical business skills for working artists.
She not only learned what it means to wholesale but was able to get some expert feedback on her mittens. She was encouraged to try their summer show, applied, got accepted and presented at her first show in Baltimore in July 2011. She was in the right place at the right time. Buyers were there to order for the fall season only months away and she was selling a winter product! She got orders from about 20 stores and was on her way. It was thrilling but terrifying, because she now had to find large quantities of wool sweaters in the middle of summer and some sewers to help fill the orders.
Jan discovered a textile salvage company in New Jersey where she could purchase wool sweaters by the pound and placed an ad on Craigslist for part-time stitchers. That first season was very rushed but she made it!
Surprisingly enough Jan does not sell online, because the mittens are a “hands on” product. They are best appreciated in real life, and tend to sell themselves once you pick up a pair and put them on. They are beautiful, soft and warm and one of a kind.
Janzibar’s product line has expanded to patchwork scarves that coordinate with the mittens and at this year’s Buyer’s Market in a couple of weeks, a Janzibar hat will debut. A tote and a cross body slouch bag round out the offerings. All made of recycled wool sweaters. All one of a kind. All eco-friendly.
I just saw Jan recently and learned that most of her business now is wholesale, with a few select retail market/shows here and there. Having those two streams of income is what makes her business work.
Janzibar mittens are featured in stores in New York, New Jersey, Maine, Connecticut, Washington DC, and Pennsylvania. Click here to see where you can get your hands ON, and IN, a pair of Jan’s mittens.Victoria O'Neill, a multiple mediums artist and owner of ArtyPantz Productions LLC has been sharing her creativity with people of all ages for years. "I love people and I love to make things. Creativity flows through me like a hose on full blast, spraying in many directions, all at once."