I continue to meet the most interesting, charming, and thoroughly wonderful people through Made + Remade. Alana Jones-Mann is a contributor on ulive, one of DIY’s sister networks. Her videos are sweet and beautiful, teaching you how to DIY a super cute craft or baking project in just a couple of moments. And based on her answers to my (admittedly sometimes silly) questions, she’s also an all-around lovely person. Made + Remade, meet Alana Jones-Mann!
1. Hi Alana! Tell us a little about yourself, for those readers who aren’t already fans of yours. For those who haven’t seen Alana’s Craft On series on ulive, go there as fast as your fingers can click on the mouse.
Hello! I’m Alana – an event designer with a passion for crafting, baking, and styling. A couple of years ago I started my blog (alanajonesmann.com) as a way to showcase my work, while also being a place where I could post DIY tutorials for some of my projects. It all happens out of my Brooklyn apartment where I live with my boyfriend, our two beloved pugs, and one very dog-like cat. You’re sure to find some pet photos and a few pet-inspired projects on my blog as well!
2. As a fellow self-taught baker and DIY crafter, I feel like most of what I do now stems from a life formerly spent planning and organizing events for others. You have a similar background — how did you make the leap from working for a corporation to the job you have now baking, designing, crafting, styling and planning events?
After working at a large event and PR firm in Manhattan for 8+ years, I had a moment (many moments actually!) where I realized I just wasn’t happy and questioned why I devoted so much time to something I was not totally passionate about. I let my heart lead the way and knew that if I was doing work I loved and was passionate about, success would follow.
Everything I do comes from an inspired idea or thought — and because I now take on a wide array of projects, I am constantly looking for inspiration. I love having a job that pushes me to seek out inspiration, because sometimes, especially in New York City, you can get so caught up in the day-to-day that you forget how beautiful and inspiring everything going on around you truly is.
And getting to be your own boss is pretty great too!
3. It’s one thing to make a great project or gift, but it’s something else entirely to create bespoke details for a large event. How do you manage to take your crafting concepts and translate those ideas to scale?
For a large event, I look at what the client’s goals are, who the audience is and what their interests are, as well as the physical space/setting of the venue itself. Sometimes it’s just a touch of actual handmade additions, but overall, the focus is always very personalized to the person, couple, or company who is having the party, while also appealing, interesting and awe-ing those in attendance. The overall concept of DIY has really taught me that you can make any idea come to life, and it doesn’t always require a big budget. It’s all about being resourceful!
4. You have a great eye for styling, and your photos and video are GORGEOUS. How do you decide which props *make* the shot, and how do you decide where each item goes?
Well, thank you! I am a very visual person — so when laying something out for a DIY it can get changed around quite a bit before the final shot happens. However, I make sure to always keep it simple. I only add items to the shot if they’re essential in telling the story or capturing the mood I’m going for. Simple is beautiful.
5. What are your top five, must-have-on-hand crafting supplies?
Oooh this is an easy one! Definitely Mod Podge (totally obsessed), a great pair of scissors, a hi-temp cordless glue gun (whoever invented the cordless version deserves an award), and a good set of drawing pencils with a notebook. I carry pencils and a notebook on me at all times so I can sketch out my ideas right as they come to me.
6. This might seem an outlandishly countrified question, but given the number of “quick trips” to craft/home improvement stores I seem to make when working on a project, how do you manage all of your crafting/designing/styling in Brooklyn? Logistically challenging, or only to non-NYC residents?
Haha — I love that you asked this! Because, yes — there are so many trips required when working on a project. No matter how well you plan it out, there’s always one thing you forgot to get! Luckily, I have a car so I can transport the supplies, but driving around NYC is not the easiest. I like to think I’ve become quite good (or at least much better) at making very detailed lists and mapping out all my stops for one trip. But, there’s always something that comes up. Believe me, after growing up in southern California, I yearn for the ease of just hopping in your car and making a quick run to the craft store!
7. Your Mixed Paper Backdrop is one of my all time favorite finds on Pinterest. I found it last year and have been in love ever since. How long did that project take to create, and how did you pull it all together? And, as someone who creates pretty things and then hates taking them down, how long did that gorgeous display stay up on your wall?
Aww, thank you! You’ll love this — I actually made that in my office back at my corporate job. I had been having a bad day. I knew that just a few hours of being creative and putting my hands to work would make me feel better. Luckily I happened to have a bunch of paper décor in my office (as I used it as a craft closet at times). So I shut my door, busted out my paper supply, and started folding and pinning paper to the wall. I made it in a couple of hours, then went back to work at my desk and admired it for the duration of the afternoon. The next morning I snapped a photo of it, and then sadly took it down. I loved it, but I was a bit nervous my work ethic might have been doubted — I just pictured my boss walking in and sarcastically saying something along the lines of “so when did you make this??” Luckily, all of the paper was reusable — each piece was saved, and those particular paper pieces have been used for many other projects and parties since.
8. Speaking of setting the stage, you throw a KILLER themed party. For our readers who are dying to throw a themed party, but feel intimidated by the prospect of putting one together, do you have any words of advice for a theme party novice?
Get inspired! With any party you’re throwing, find inspiration for the party and let that be the focus of each element. I think it’s very easy these days for people to think of a theme and then just Google or search on Pinterest for other parties along that same theme for their ideas. But don’t do that — you’ll end up comparing your ideas to that particular themed party, which is sure to increase the intimidation factor.
Look to history and art. Find a book at the library relative to the setting of your theme and fall in love with that book — look at the fonts, the illustrations, the colors. Search through old image archives. Look through fashion magazines old and new. Get nostalgic. Take a drive. Look to nature. Just let yourself be inspired and enjoy the process.
If you are overwhelmed, focus on one or two details that you can make unique. Invites are essential. A well-designed invite that resonates with the theme will set the parties tone for your guests, way before they walk in the door. If it’s a costume party, create a photo booth backdrop and let guests know ahead of time, so they will be encouraged to come in costume. Having a photo booth also really bring party guests together and provides some amazing (and often hilarious) photographic memories of the party.
9. Finally, where do you get your ideas for the projects you design? Random burst of creativity, or midnight Pinterest research sessions?
Inspiration is everywhere! I have always been very inspired by nature and art, especially photography. The English photographer Tim Walker, along with his set designer Rhea Thierstein, are my absolute favorite. I find their work incredibly inspiring — the scenes they create are magnificent. But, on a very different side of the spectrum from fashion photography, I’ve also found a lot of inspiration for projects at the dollar store. So, I’d say just be open and try to take as much of the simple, everyday in, because inspiration will pop up just about anywhere!
A huge thanks to Alana for taking the time to have a quick chat with our Made + Remade readers today! Who else is smitten with Alana? I want to get crafty in Brooklyn with Alana and her adorable pugs. And if she made cupcakes? Pshaw. You’d never get me out of there.
The Creative Genius series on Made + Remade features fabulous DIYers and makers who inspire us. Meet more Creative Geniuses and help us share the spirit of DIY!