A Q&A with two of Portland’s micro-business mavens
By Enid Spitz
Jena Coray and Jen Neitzel are two of Portland’s thriving DIY, creative entrepreneurs. To use Jena’s term: they’re “indiepreneurs.”
Jena is Miss Modish online, managing a PR and inspirational site for other entrepreneurs. She calls herself a “mojo-maker.”
Together, Jen and Jena founded The Maven Circle, an online resource for indiepreneurs trying to manage the hectic life of doing it all. As coaches and micro-business managers themselves, Jen and Jena know the small business scene inside and out. Here are a few tips and insights from the duo:
Biggest challenges and benefits for small creative ventures?
Jen: Learning all the necessary skills to run a successful business – marketing, management systems, product or service development – without letting their fears overcome them.
Have micro-businesses become more common recently? Why?
Jena: Definitely, and I think they are only going to continue to grow from here on out…People, more and more, are coming to the understanding that the typical point A to point B path that society lays out for us is not necessarily the right path for us all, and that’s ok…There are so many alternatives to make a living in untypical ways, in creative ways and in ways that make us feel like we’re using our true talents to serve the world, and I think that’s what more of us are aiming for in life, so micro-businesses totally make sense!
What made you decide not to take a simpler career path?
Jen: I value meaningful work more than a 401K or paid vacations…I decided a long time ago I wanted to do work that really changed things, the freedom to go at it in my own way.
Jena: Once I realized that the stability, security and benefits of my normal job weren’t enough to make me happy, I just knew I had to work for myself and did everything I could to make it happen. The freedom can be equally liberating and stuckifying at times, but it’s an amazing experience I wouldn’t trade for the world.
Do you think Etsy & the like will stick around, or are they a fad?
Jena: I think they’ll change, evolve and grow, but they’re definitely going to stick around. I think the trend toward trying to make a living doing what you love is only going to get stronger.
Why do you think Portland is such a hub of DIY and creative ventures?
1. The cost of living is lower here, so more people can afford to have a small business.
2. It’s rainy and fairly icky out…the weather encourages people to take up a hobby, which often times becomes their micro-business.
3. Positive peer-pressure…so many people see their friends starting businesses that they think, “Hmmm, maybe I should have a business too
Finally, what superpower would you want to have?
Jen: Mind Control Powers! I would love it if I could see inside of people’s heads and help them in the areas they struggle with.
Jena: I would love to be able to teleport! Does that sound dweeby? I want to travel to so many places and experience different cultures and see nature everywhere and talk to people with all sorts of different viewpoints and just take it all in.