5.10.18

CALIFORNIA

Since my last post: our favorite design blog featured us, a lifestyle magazine reached out to us, and some exciting stores approached us – even a hotel. I also acquired this coat that I now live in and will pass onto my children like the heirloom it is.

Amidst everything, Ben proposed to me in a grocery store which seems fitting for a sponge lady, and unlike all the time I spend navigating uncertainty and decision making, this was an easy YES.

There also came some bad news. The kind of bad news that feels too big to know what to do with. The kind of bad news that makes you slow down and take stock of things.

We went to California to slow down. And as we toured around attending conferences, visiting shops and making plans, we also re-aligned ourselves.

We breathed in redwoods, learned about natural winemaking, rode rollercoasters, made home-cooked meals, bathed in wildflowers, drove along the coast, drank whisky, and ate tacos to our hearts’ content.

We spent time with familiar people and places. The ones that slow you down, sometimes to the tune of siestas and long twilight conversations. The ones that don’t diminish with time or distance because their beauty is too practical to not appreciate, or emerge from completely changed.

Thank you California for being our tailwind.

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2.16.18

SET ADRIFT

A little late on this week’s post because it’s Chinese New Year and that means flowers.

I have this grand plan for Sqwishful and while every version of it leads to a small, bio-fuel float plane docked outside of a jungle whisky bar, there are so many ways of getting there, and it’s taking awhile. Has it only been a month?

Okay so this month there have been many directions and opportunities. And like coming across a stoop sale or any mention of free things – I have to imagine every potential.

When I learned of overseas shops wanting to stock us, I immediately imagined our sponges alighting some foreign port and being couriered away to their new, exotic homes. Then, reality caught on and I spent the next few days pouring over spreadsheets and obsessing over “what ifs.”

Ben calls this “drifting,” or when an aircraft moves slightly off course due to weather or wind. “When you learn to fly, every 15 minutes you check your tracking and if you find you’re off track, you do a quick calculation to get back on course. It’s the 1 in 60 rule.”

I have no idea how to fly but I definitely drift so it’s comforting to know it’s sort of a science, and maybe it’s okay to stop every time you see a stoop full of old, but impeccably tasteful things..

Anyways, 新年快乐! Some very exciting news soon. For now, spreadsheets.

🔗 LISTEN to PM Dawn’s “Set Adrift on Memory Bliss”

2.6.18

MORE WITH LESS

One of my goals for Sqwishful is to inspire people to see ordinary things differently. This includes me, and lately this idea has taken form in a new project for us; developing reusable and biodegradable packaging. When I started Sqwishful, making natural sponges was enough, having recycled and recyclable packaging was enough, and raising awareness about sustainable living was enough.

Now I want to do more, with less.

So last weekend I went looking for solutions at Hong Kong’s sustainability expo and ended up staring at a Green Peace wall of disposable wares on display; plastic cups, straws, containers, and spoons – a tiny snapshot of the near 2,000 tons of plastic waste that goes into landfills each day in Hong Kong.

It reminded me of an article I read on Mandy Barker’s photography (from a newspaper I may have pilfered from a business lounge). In her photo series “Hong Kong Soup: 1826” she re-contextualizes plastic collected from beaches into images that “directly relate to the traditions, events, nature, and culture of Hong Kong.” I remember looking at her images of pollution and humanity and like the Green Peace wall, seeing plastic’s potential to inspire positive change.

The new project has so many obstacles. Typically, sponges are packaged in plastic to protect them from moisture and preserve their shelf-life. I’m still learning about packaging, and finding the right sustainable solution and partner is an incredibly complex process.

But in the end it would allow Sqwishful to do more with less, and continually grow as a business. And while we can’t all make art (or can we?) my sqwish is that we can look at challenges differently, and see opportunity.

Jenn

“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” – H.D. Thoreau

🔗 VISIT Mandy Barker’s site

1.26.18

MERIDA

Finally sat down to go through photos from my recent trip to Mexico. These past few weeks have been a welcome blur of anticipation, exhaustion, and humility.

Also arctic temperatures in New York City, which is only fun if you can ride around on a dog sled like a Siberian queen, and those dogs take you to a bathhouse like the one in the royal palace of Zamunda.

So on this trip I savored every bit of sun in our beautiful hacienda, and wandered about dusty, forgotten streets. There’s hardly a soul to greet in all of Merida’s old parts, but I made sure to slow down for every Volkswagen beetle, vibrant, crumbling facade, and al pastor taco I could find.

Jenn

“One must maintain a little bit of summer, even in the middle of winter.” – H.D. Thoreau

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1.10.18

LESS BUT BETTER

I get asked a lot about why I make sponges.

One reason is seeing how the near billion dollar sponge industry leaves behind uncountable waste in its pursuit of profit.

Another reason is seeing an opportunity to transform our idea about something ordinary, by getting away from making sponges that clean but don’t actually leave the world cleaner, and going “back to purity, back to simplicity” in the words of Dieter Rams.

I think the biggest reason is that I’m an insatiable optimist and obsessive cleaner.

I get misty when I see beautifully clean surfaces especially when natural materials are being used to their fullest potential. Like the silencing effect of a perfectly marbled floor, or the draw of a striking terrazzo countertop – sponges should be the same, thoughtful expressions of the sustainable materials that go into them.

So, I’m a sponge lady now. And words cannot describe the joy I feel seeing our sponges making their way into homes and bringing with them our “less, but better” philosophy and cheer.

Best Sqwishes,
Jenn

🌊 Shop Sponges
🔗 Read Dieter Rams’ “Ten Principles for Good Design”

1.1.18

BEST SQWISHES FOR THE NEW YEAR

Today, we are launching Sqwishful.

I’m overwhelmed by the support of family and friends! Thank you for making sponges a favorite topic of conversation. There’s a special kind of joy that comes from knowing you’re the person people think of, when they see a sponge.

I’m especially grateful for the work and talents of House of 207. Thank you for making the best sponge identity, packaging, and website anyone’s ever seen.

My warmest thanks to the creatives and businesses who have helped shape us, and a special thanks to Ben Hansen for greeting my insatiable optimism with unbridled enthusiasm. This would not be possible without your love and endless snacks.

Yoko Ono said it best, “A dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream you dream together is reality.” Together, we are inspiring change, and a community of design lovers, conscious cleaners, and positive thinkers — one Sqwishful sponge at a time.

Happy new year!

Best Sqwishes,
Jenn

3.19.17

OASIS

3.17.17

THINK SMALL & DREAM BIG

1.9.13

AAKASH NIHALANI

SOLO SHOW AT JONATHAN LEVINE GALLERY OPENING SAT, JAN 12 7-9PM

9.26.12

HAVING A GOOD DAY