Jenny Bruce is no stranger to the art of making. With a background in photography, sewing, painting, and other trades, Jenny learned how to produce items with her hands at a young age. Flash forward to today and that love and joy of being a maker prompted Jenny to start her own online business, Ohio Handiworks, LLC. Ohio Handiworks is a website which highlights solely Ohio makers and their goods which are created in Ohio. Being an Ohio native, Jenny wishes to showcase the talents of fellow Buckeyes who make items for a living, for fun, or for charity. It is her passion for others to appreciate and understand the love and hard work that Ohioans put into each and every single item they make.

As mentioned, Jenny has been a maker for many years. With 4-H projects and a childhood surrounded by a family of makers, Jenny learned many skills and crafts. While in high school, her grandfather passed away and Jenny went to live with her grandmother. Her grandmother took fine art classes during the Depression and she passed her artistic abilities onto her granddaughter. As an adult, Jenny has painted and sold her own paintings, done hem work and alterations, and also made and sold her own woodwork to earn extra money. She worked in the health field for many years but never strayed from her love of making. One could say she’s been a maker since her childhood and she hasn’t stopped since. She knows and understands the hard work it takes to be a maker.

I wanted it to be visual and I wanted it to promote local buying. I was determined to make it Ohio based.

While having Thanksgiving dinner with her daughters and some of their friends this past year, Jenny was surprised to hear most of the guests say they would be ordering their Christmas gifts online. Jenny was even more surprised when she found out the group wasn’t sure where the items they would be ordering were made. Jenny informed the group that each of them would be receiving handmade items for Christmas. Christmas rolls around and the Thanksgiving discussion is brought to life again. One of Jenny’s friends had ordered online from a mega-distributor. When the recipient received the item, it wasn’t quite like what was showcased in the picture or by the description. Jenny was astounded her friend had been deceived in not getting what he had ordered.

By January 2019, Jenny was looking for a new work venture. One of her close friends suggested starting her own business out of her home. Jenny considered the idea but wasn’t sure what her business could be. Cue back to the Thanksgiving/Christmas discussion and also her longtime love of handmade items. Jenny talked with her daughter’s boyfriend about the possibility of running a website. “I knew I wanted the website to be about made things. I wanted it to be visual and I wanted it to promote local buying. I was determined to make it Ohio based,” Jenny said. Thus, Ohio Handiworks was born. The love of her state and the love of handmade items would all be intertwined in one locale. Jenny set to work to build her website and locate Ohio makers to showcase.

So how does Ohio Handiworks operate? There are two criteria which each maker must meet. One, the maker must be an Ohio resident with a valid Ohio address. Two, the products must be made in Ohio. The maker can contact Jenny via email, social media, phone call, or text message if interested in having his products showcased. Jenny will contact the maker after this and have a more in-depth discussion of the next steps to be taken.

I want people to see value in one collective place. I want it to be a visual marketplace for Ohio makers.

Once the final steps are taken to be featured on the site, Jenny will post pictures of the made items to the website along with a description of each item and the price. When an item is purchased, it’s shipped directly from the maker so she can choose how she wants it displayed when shipped. Most items are sent out the same day, unless it’s a custom order.

There is no sign-up fee to be featured on Ohio Handiworks. Actually, there are no fees at all for the makers. Each maker sets his own price for each item. Jenny then adds 15% to that price to cover the transaction fees associated with each product being sold.  

So what is the overall goal of Ohio Handiworks? As Jenny states, “I want people to see value in one collective place. I want it to be a visual marketplace for Ohio makers.” Jenny desires to showcase as many Ohio made items by Ohio makers in one spot. Another important note is not all the makers on Ohio Handiworks have their own website or social media accounts. Ohio Handiworks allows these makers to have a forum to promote their products. Jenny wants consumers to see just how many Ohio makers and Ohio made items there are all over the state.

Looking forward, Jenny’s goal is to one day have a physical location to display many of the Ohio made goods. “I hope to build a following through the website and then develop a physical location. The goal is to have something off the interstate, where traffic is heavy and the building will catch a person’s eye.”

I desire to see people support handmade and homemade Ohio products.

Ohio Handiworks is a work of love for Jenny Bruce. It’s a place to feature Ohio makers and their Ohio made wares. It’s a site for makers to showcase their love and appreciation of handmade items. It’s a place to display their own personal touch to each item. “Makers come from all different walks of life and they all have a unique story,” Jenny said. “I desire to see people support handmade and homemade Ohio products.”