One midnight around Christmas, a 5-year-old Natalie Jost awoke with the urge to “just get up and make something,” she recalls, so she cut up a pile of hair ties and transformed them into a tree ornament. The San Diego native’s creations have long since matured, and today, the Evansville mother of three works from her basement studio as a Web designer and owner of Olive Manna, a company selling textiles and paper goods: journals, stickers, gift wrap, ribbon, fabric, and more.
How she got started:
Before the birth of her first daughter, now 8, Jost worked a secretarial job at a small company with a “really terrible” website, she admits. Jost was interested in learning about Web and graphic design, so she approached company leaders, asking if she could spend a few hours a week learning the ropes. She eventually left her full-time job to design websites from home.
How she got started (again):
Jost launched Olive Manna in 2007, the year she and her husband welcomed twin girls, now 3. She began her business by licensing patterns she had designed as website backgrounds, but soon, customers began requesting products that featured Jost’s patterns: notebooks, stationery, etc. Then, to complement those items, Jost began selling packaging materials such as paper, twine, and gift tags.
“Life,” Jost says. “Everything I do is sort of by accident.” Once, while painting a frame, she dripped paint onto a clothespin that was holding down the frame. She liked the look and painted the whole clothespin. After she refined the process to be more eco-friendly — hand-staining instead of painting — the colorful clothespins became a hallmark Olive Manna product.
On her personal blog, Jost intersperses reflections on faith and family with do-it-yourself craft tutorials. Learn how to crochet drink coasters, cover a book in fabric, and create wall art on a budget. (Jost painted and distressed a $1 set of oak frames from Goodwill, giving them a country cottage look.)