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Opposite of Far

American Made Since 2011
2014 Crafts Finalist

Jessica Near

Ellettsville , Indiana
Opposite of Far creates unique and high quality felt animal masks and tails that foster play and expand children's imaginations.
Crafts, Toys
Finalist

Tell us about your business.

After having an emergency back surgery in 2010 that forced me to stop working for several months, and a second surgery 6 months later that kept me home even longer, I started thinking seriously about making my sketch book full of Opposite of Far ideas a reality. I took the leap by opening my Etsy shop then applying for a few craft shows. Before I knew it, Opposite of Far was real & I was living my dream! Opposite of Far started out as a business based on handmade plush dolls and animals. I created a fox and owl mask as accessories for the dolls, then added child sized masks to match the dolls. After 3 days of being posted in my shop, I realized the masks were going to be a huge hit for children (and adults too)! Since then I have expanded my collection from only 2 to over 80 original mask designs! In the coming years, I hope to see Opposite of Far inspire more children and families across the world! I'm planning on expanding the brand to include other fun products in 2015!

Tell us about your workspace, shop, or studio.

Opposite of Far is based in a small Indiana town. My studio is located in the old school building, now called Eagles Landing. There are several other local businesses in the building. I love going to work every morning- my studio so bright and full of plants & inspiration! I have space for creating, sewing, packaging, photographing products, displaying my colorful supplies, and of course a space for dreaming up & sketching new ideas! I have one employee who also happens to be one of my best friends- our work days are full of laughter and usually lots of loud singing! On the walls I have lots of photos sent by customers & photographers featuring little kiddos wearing Opposite of Far masks and tails. I also have several pieces of art by other creatives that I love. Having colorful & interesting walls keeps me inspired and fresh for creating! Opposite of Far masks and tails are made with so much love, attention to detail and come from a VERY happy studio!

What inspires you?

I am inspired by SO many things- children and their incredibly rich imaginations, first and foremost! I was a very imaginative child (I actually believed whole-heatedly I was a dog for awhile) and have observed many imaginative children as a babysitter, Nanny, preschool teacher, sister, aunt, and now as Opposite of Far. Kids are just so cool! I am also inspired by animals, the way they interact with each other, nature and humans- and how we are so drawn to them! I am inspired by other artists, crafters, makers, creatives. I am always moved by children's books and Wes Anderson movies! Colors, nature, endearments, friends, decor- all these things seep into me and come out in my new designs. I'm SO inspired by my customers & fans too- what they like, request & respond to makes me want to give them more!

What makes your business stand out?

Opposite of Far offers an experience, encouragement for children delve more deeply into their imagination and a way for parents to play with their children! I believe Opposite of Far inspires children to PLAY and EXPLORE! I also believe the animal masks and tails offer an opening for greater learning experiences- from animal recognition to learning more about a specific animal-its habitat, behavior, eating habits, and more! The masks and tails also enrich reading time, song and dance, lessons about animals, collaborative and parallel play! With Opposite of Far, I'm not only making products to sell, I'm also hoping to encourage people to enrich and enjoy the daily grind by dreaming a little. Make the normal a little playful by wearing a mask to do chores! I hope Opposite of Far masks can be a little reminder that sometimes it's okay to let the mess wait while you dance in the kitchen with your silly little fox!

What advice would you give an aspiring creative entrepreneur?

Reaching out to other creative entrepreneurs has been the most helpful and rewarding part of my journey with Opposite of Far! I did not expect to meet so many talented and kind people along the way, and I am so thankful I stayed on this path and reached out when opportunities presented themselves! Not only have I received priceless advice, but I've been incredibly inspired, supported and made some amazing friends too! My business advice is perseverance! Find that something you love and take it all the way, even when it's hard and feels impossible. Be unique and true to yourself. Ask for help when you feel overwhelmed. I was told once that the minute you start groaning about fulfilling incoming orders is when you know you need help! And last but not least - social media is your friend! Spend time building your brand and networking because this is where businesses live & thrive!

What does American Made mean to you?

American Made means pride in my ability, my opportunity and my freedom to create. Not only do I design, construct and sew all my products here, but I also strive to use all American made supplies. I support other small businesses so they too can support themselves and their families while doing what they love- working with their hands, creating something to be proud of!

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