Protein catches up with Daughter of Jón's handbags designer Hedi Jonsdottir May 01 2014

Protein dropped by our studio a few weeks ago to have a chat for their special Work Report in their latest Issue. We talked about how work and attitudes towards work are changing and basically why I quit my old job, why I do what I do and why I like it.

You can read the full Interview below. (Protein's issue #12 interview with Daughter of Jón. Issue's special report.)



PROTEIN: What job did you have previously? Did you enjoy it?

HEDI JONSDOTTIR: Up until a couple of months ago I was working as a project manager/producer in a film production. We were producing feature films and documentaries and I did enjoy many aspects of the job, especially the fact that each project brought completely new challenges, situations and people to work with all the time.

Before this I’ve done all sorts of jobs, like working in costume production, fashion styling, fashion trade shows, tailoring for men’s wear and organising fashion shows for other designers.

P: Why did you decide to quit? What was the biggest motivation for leaving?

HJ: Mostly because I felt I could or actually I should get more value out of my efforts, I mean other than the salary. I felt like I wanted my efforts to focus on my own thing, my ideas, my taste and be shaped by my decisions. I also had the feeling my previous job didn’t allow me to grow much anymore so I realised it was time to pack and leave.

P: Was it a big risk? What were the main opportunities/challenges you had to work   with?

HJ: It was a big financial risk for me and it was a very tough decision to make, although I had been dragging the idea along with me for some time. I was scared, curious but ready for a challenge. It felt like jumping in a cold pool - scary but refreshing.

P: Was there anything in particular that enabled you to take the leap into your new career?

HJ: It was more about the fact that I couldn’t cope with having my full time job at the production and feeding my passion, which is making handbags, in the evenings and weekends. It was just too much. The situation was frustrating because it didn’t allow me to focus on anything 100% and then it got tougher when I had a burn out for trying to juggle everything at the same time. It was at that point that I knew I had to make a decision. I chose the route that made me happier.

P: Were there any learnings from a previous (traditional) career that helped inspire you to do your new independent one? 

HJ: From my previous work in the film production I learned a lot: the organisation behind big projects, working with a team and above all getting the business perspective of the product you are making and selling. That gave me the confidence that I could manage by my own.

Besides that, I studied fashion design and tailoring, which obviously helps me a lot now with my job. I probably wouldn’t have taken this step without my previous studies. I’ve actually done handbags for quite some time, but always beside other jobs, never allowing myself to fully invest on my passion.

P: What is your current business? Do you enjoy it?

HJ: I’m a handbag designer - I run my own label called Daughter of Jón, which is the english translation for my icelandic lastname. I love running my own thing and I love working in fashion, although there are things that I just can’t stand about it, such as the occasional arrogance of certain people in the industry. But hey, in every job you have something that you dislike. It took me a while to understand that that’s part of the game. But I think this is something that’s not always discussed a lot, specially if you run your own business. People try to make everything look so perfect and you have the pressure of having to be over enthusiastic about your work. I guess it’s because it feels so personal running your own thing. It becomes harder to divide you as yourself and you as your work.

P: Are you glad to be your own boss?

HJ: Oh yes, I am. Being able to work in my own rhythm and being the one to decide how things look from top to toe is great. Although sometimes I miss the input from colleagues and the feeling of shaping something together. In the future it will change though, as soon as the label grows. But at the moment it still feels a bit like sailing alone through the oceans. Which I think it’s an important process anyway, for anyone.

P: Was the craft/making aspect of your new business important to you?

HJ: It was a huge aspect for me. I realised that for my personal happiness I must make craft. Having materials in my hands, shaping forms and working with colors is what drives me.

But not only, I also like the organisation and the feeling to create something from scratch that then becomes aesthetically beautiful and wearable.

P: What is it about working for yourself you enjoy the most?

HJ: The freedom


P: What would you say is your main motivation for working?

HJ: Create something aesthetic and useful makes me feel satisfied. It’s like oiling my motor - it keeps my brain and my well being going which makes me stay motivated. It’s a circle.

P: Why do you think so many of your generation are forgoing traditional career paths and creating their own businesses?

HJ: I think in some way the traditional working scheme hasn’t moved along with the rest of our modern lifestyle. In our leisure time we’re already used to getting things easily when and wherever we want them. We’re able - or/and we are constantly told - to express ourselves publicly about everything. We’re more and more allowed to control/shape our own world. So sitting in an office with a 9-5 schedule, having to run with the plan someone else planned and not being allowed to express ourselves and having to work overtime for a questionable salary all of a sudden sounds completely out of synch. And I think it’s getting a bit out of hand with what companies demand these days. Reading job requirements for an open position gives you an instant anxiety attack! You get the feeling companies are searching for superheroes for positions paid as internships.

So, that probably adds to the feeling that I’m better off running the show myself, but I’ll make sure I find a good solution for my future employees.


Protein Journal issue #12

Hedi Jonsdottir - Daughter of Jón