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The Quirky Iowa Craft Emporium

static1.squarespaceReceiving submissions onto the Five Things site is always an exciting experience; not only due to the riveting and often surprising stories I receive; but also due to the fact that I get to interact with so many friendly and talented folk from all corners of the world. Chrissy Jensen from Des Moines, Iowa, is one of those individuals, who I had the pleasure of chatting to after her submission to the site. Chrissy runs a ‘quirky’ store in Des Moines called Domestica. <<< Check it out, some really lovely products on their site!

A quirky shop in the heart of Des Moines that sells handmade and print goods from all over the country.’

Stores dedicated to selling handmade products, interesting printed items and curated crafted goods are a personal favourite of mine; I only have to look at a handmade printed item and my wallet opens! Chrissy was kind enough to answer a few Five Thingsquestions so I decided to delve a little deeper into her love of all things handmade and crafted.


Tell us a little about your background?
I’m an Iowa transplant.  I grew up out east, moved here in college and never left. Most of my career was spent as a freelance photo stylist/set dresser and about 1/2 of that was spent as a production assistant – it’s hard to break into film!

Luckily, I switched over to print and worked for a lot of shelter magazines – calling in props and working on-set.  It was so fab until the internet blindsided* publishing. The year before I opened Domestica, I think I made about $10,000. I’m serious. *Sarcasm intended.


Your store looks pretty amazing. what inspired you to set up Domestica?
That’s so nice – thank you! It’s such a long story. The short answer’s that I love design. It inspires me pretty much all day/every day – color, line, ingenuity, technique. Plus, I wanted people to have as much fun shopping in Des Moines as they do when they visit other city’s quirky shops. Finding a cool shop or shopping area while on vacation’s always a highlight of my trip.

How important are hand crafted items in the modern, digital age?
Apparently very. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of the 1982 book, Megatrends. It was a huge best seller that talked about the dialetical forces affecting trends – it basically said that as globalization increases and intensifies, so does localization; and, as high tech gains ascendency, so does “high touch” – the need for tactile experience. I think it was a book meant to keep people from worrying the internet would kill shopping malls, but their theory’s basically played out. No matter what, nothing heals like human touch.

I think it also falls into the belief that anything worth having’s worth working for – once upon a time, an orange was considered a rare treat – a Christmas gift item – now that you can have just about anything and have it for little money or effort, people see the value in things that take a little longer to get.

Where to your source the items you sell?
I source from all over – some makers find us, some we find. I look in the usual places – local and national craft shows, Etsy, Pinterest, blogs, tweets from the various trade shows (so much less expensive than attending, but nowhere near as fun), Dribbble, Niice…as we’ve grown, we’ve graduated from actually begging people to let us sell their work, so I feel like we’re getting somewhere 😉

Any advice for up and coming makers/designers on how to get their products noticed?
Be different. Really refine your designs – narrow down your line to what really shines.

What’s your favourite record cover?
This one’s tough – there are just so many iconic images…the first album I thought of when I read the question was Beastie Boys’ Check Your Head.

Something else that comes to mind is I love how The Clash’s London Calling cover’s a ripoff off/homage to Elvis’ 1956 debut album, Elvis Presley (which I now own). What’s crazy is how many album covers went on to ripoff The Clash’s cover – including Big Audio Dynamite and then The Clash, themselves. I’ve just entered total geek territory.

And of course I love the whole Blue Note catalog – so many of them still inform design today. Most people think of the late 50’s/early 60’s covers when you mention Blue Note, but the art direction on some of the ’30s and ’40s albums was amazing, too.