4-H Club Leads to Successful Fashion Business

 By Danielle Dyson

As the Communications Manager of The Ashland Community Development Corporation, also known as ACDC, I had the privilege to interview and go behind the scenes with Ms. Jocelyn Parker, an entrepreneur who began her own business in a few short weeks. Ms. Parker has always had a creative mind and the urge to bring her imagination, experiences, and innovation to life.

        In partnership with The University of Maryland Extension Program, ACDC formed a 4H club, which is a community of many young people across America learning leadership, citizenship and life skills.

4-Hers participate in fun, hands-on learning activities supported by the latest research of land-grant universities that are focused on three areas: healthy living, citizenship, and S.T.E.A.M (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics). Youth can experience 4-H by becoming a member of a 4-H club, attending a 4-H camp, or joining school-based or after-school 4-H programs. 

          ACDC began their first (S.T.E.A.M.) Program during December 2018 and operated it for four consecutive Saturdays. This program was a Crochet session led by Ms. Jane Hogg. Ms. Hogg works at Northrop Grumman Corporation as an Engineering Manager of the F-22 Strike Fighter Radar Program. She has been working at Northrop Grumman for approximately 30 years as a Software Engineer on various Radar Programs and last year she became an Engineering Manager. To assist the work of ACDC, Ms. Hogg volunteered 1.5 hours on each session to teach young teenagers how to crochet. As an initial participant, Ms. Jocelyn Parker was among the young teenagers that learned to crochet under the direction of Ms. Jane Hogg. Ms. Parker took the craft she learned and used her ingenuity to perfect her pursuit of forming her own crocheting business. 

         Ms. Jocelyn Parker attends George Washington Carver Center for Arts and Technology with a focus in Visual Arts. Ms. Parker plans to go to college for Fashion Design. Jocelyn says,

     “I love to make things. I up-cycle clothing, and make little crafts for myself and others. I am very artsy. When I heard about a crocheting class, I was very interested. Starting to crochet was a tad difficult and time consuming, but I eventually got the hang of it and loved it. I got the idea of making headbands from a crochet headband I had previously and thought, “I can do that.” I found some yarn around the house and started to mimic the headband the best way I could. When I finished the first one, I made another one, and another. Soon enough, I had plenty to sell. I made three different sizes to begin with. My mom, after a while, got interested in crocheting and we had the idea to mix two colors to make the headbands. After a while, we came up with new styles and bought more yarn to make new things. I started selling my products at school and at church. Later, my dad thought it would be a good idea to put my headbands online. Thus, I created an Etsy page; Etsy.com/shop/jreneedc . This began the start of my new small business, “JRenee Designs and Creations.” 

        While I had the honor of Ms. Parker briefly informing me of the process she took to begin her own business, I also sat down to interview her and ask a few questions of my own. On January 26, 2019 at First Tabernacle Beth-El, I spoke with Ms. Parker to enlighten me on her speedy and successful journey of “JRenee Designs and Creations”. 

What is the name of your business? Can you tell me about it?

My business is called JRenee Designs and Creations. I make crochet designs which include headbands, chokers, scarves, and hats.

What do you enjoy most about your business?

I enjoy being hands on, crochet allows me to be hands on, choose any color, choose any design I feel at the moment.

Did you know how to crochet before this workshop ACDC provided?

No, I actually started with Ms. Jane Hogg. I had a machine-made headband at home and remembered it looked similar to crochet so I said this looks like the same thing, I can do this!

Did you use the machine-made headband as a model as you recreated the headband as crochet?

Yes. I already had some yarn around the house.  I just mimicked a headband I had and that’s how this came about. 

What is one thing you learned during this entire experience, besides learning how to crochet?

I learned how to talk to people and how to sell products. I also learned how to start a business and how to use my outlets, such as the internet and social media, to expand and network with others.

That is awesome. Speaking of social media, I follow you on Instagram and saw you promote your business Instagram page and your crochet brand. Did this experience begin your road to entrepreneurship or did you always have a mind to go into business for yourself?

I always had a mind to have my own business, I just wasn’t sure of what I wanted to do. My dad always pushed my brother and I to have our own business. I just didn’t know what it was and didn’t know the steps to take to get there.

 This was the perfect opportunity and you made it your own. Your innovative mindset is refreshing and simply invigorating. I would like to know, with crochet scarves and hats being more of fall and winter accessories, do you have any ideas in mind for the spring and summer months?

Yes! And thank you so much. For the spring and summer months I thought of making belts then learning how to do crochet swimwear. I also have baby bibs and blankets I am working on. Although, they are not crochet, they are products I can sell all year round.

Wow. You are on a roll! How would you encourage others to try and do something they have never done before?

I would just say, ‘Just do it. Just try it. You never know what can happen until you do it’.”

That’s perfect advice.  Straight to the point and I wholeheartedly agree. Do you think ACDC as an organization should continue with programs similar to the crochet workshop?

I definitely agree that ACDC should. There are so many artsy people out there. There are also so many people who love math and science. So many others can benefit from programs like this, especially young people.

I agree with you! I’m so glad to be apart of a growing force like ACDC. You are absolutely apart of this force and it is showing in all that you are doing. With that being said, where do you see JRenee Designs and Creations within the next two years?

Hopefully, well, since I’ll be in college next year I can expand and network within my campus. So many people from around the world can see and experience my work.

Absolutely! That’s a perfect way to network. With your new friends, roommates, classmates, they can follow you on Instagram, add you on Facebook and so much more. That’s exciting just thinking about it!  So for now, for our friends around the world, where can they find you and your products?

Our friends can find me on Instagram @jreneedc and Etsy at www.etsy.com/shop/JReneeDC.”

Awesome. This time spent has been amazing. Thank you so much Jocelyn.

Yes, this was fun! Thank you for this opportunity!

         As ACDC’s mission to provide quality community services within the community, this service, without a doubt, has surpassed all expectations as a first S.T.E.A.M program. We thank Ms. Jane Hogg for her contribution to ACDC’s S.T.E.A.M. program. The journey and experience of The Jocelyn Story allows us all to see that the true gift of community service is that it keeps on giving back.