Janelle Pietrzak's first experience with desert came while driving cross country from Philadelphia, to a new job in LA. Traveling with her partner, Robert, it was July and they made a stop in Marfa, TX, then on to Joshua Tree for two nights – most of which was spent at an aquatic center in Palm Desert (40 miles away from Joshua Tree) to escape the heat.
Janelle has always working in textiles and even though she spent 10 years in the fashion industry doing fabric sourcing, she knew as soon as she began working in the industry, it wasn't for her – the roles in which she found herself were did not allow her to be hands-on or a maker of things – except coffee and files.
Janelle started weaving as a hobby and became obsessed, making mostly wall hangings and art. She’s built a community of friends in weaving through Instagram as the craft fiber movement began to take off. As a result of the success of a month-long pop-up shop in LA, Janelle quit her job after 11 months and began her weaving business, having received commissions for her work from private and corporate clients.
Los Angeles was not agreeing with either Janelle or Robert, so they began looking at places where they wanted to live, which could be anywhere, since both of them work out of their home. After some searching and the consideration of Roberts children living in LA, Joshua Tree felt like the right place with the space and affordability they needed, while still remaining close to the kids.
A collaboration with women's lifestyle brand Anthropologie, designing pillows and throws, really opened up Janelle’s business. We touch a little on the time that Janelle spends running her business, versus being hands on in the creating.
Janelle has lived in many places, typically for no more than three or four years at a time - she talks about her current struggles with desert living and the ways in which she copes. Janelle would like the accessibility of a city, but doesn’t want to live in a city. To ease that feeling, she makes trips to Palm Springs, still having the desert feel without all the sand and dirt. At the same time, making the drive between her home and studio, she can’t help but feel lucky to live in such a beautiful place.
In this episode we also talk about the challenges of living in a tourist economy, the difficulty of carving out a living for oneself that pays the bills and the transient ‘community’ in which we find ourselves and the energy that brings with it.
Janelle says her work has been influenced by the colors of the desert, particularly the golden light and the spring wildflower bloom. And we talk about the wind and the wildlife of the desert and the changes of seasons we see here.
Take a look at Janelle's weaving and other products available at All Roads Studio or visit their store location in Yucca Valley at 7319 Acoma Trail - be sure to check their Instagram site for open times.