People and Places

Jess Anderson shares the creative process behind Get Wavey

Jess Anderson had never used a jigsaw in her life, and now she’s churning out bold, brilliant mirrors and shelving with Get Wavey Creator Jess Anderson produces her wooden pieces from a home-based studio in Mount Maunganui.

In the heart of Mount Maunganui, you can be sure that Jess Anderson is always working on something. A self-proclaimed jack-of-all-trades, her latest passion has spawned Get Wavey, a handmade homewares business of wavy mirrors and shelving.

Naturally drawn to colour, Jess says, “My house is drowned in it, my hair has been all shades of it and I simply couldn’t live without it.” Her career path has been equally as colourful, from her current work as a part-time florist to her past life as a baker and cake decorator. “I’m very much a hands-on, tactile individual. I need to be creating something tangible for me to feel fulfilled and have something to show for my day’s work.”

Jess and her partner Ben are also new parents to a baby boy, Billy Blue. When they’re not knee-deep in sawdust in the home studio, they lead an outdoorsy life full of sandy dog walks and ocean swims. In the meantime, it’s all hands on deck as Get Wavey continues to grow and delight.

How did you dream up Get Wavey?

It all started one afternoon when a friend and I were in my garage watching a flatmate build a tiled bedside table. We started drawing on some wood, getting our hands on some of his tools, playing with some paint and our first mirror was born. Looking back, it was a terribly constructed product, but the concept was there and we showed some friends and the feedback was incredibly encouraging. A friend asked me to make her a mirror for her living room and that was the beginning of making mirrors for friends. And then friends of friends. And now they’re for everyone and anyone.

Who and what inspires you?

To be honest, I don’t really have an individual that inspires me. I like what I like, I wear what I like and I decorate the house how I like. But I guess that’s come from someone or somewhere, right? I follow a lot of interior pages on Instagram, like @allthepeachesplease and @aprettycoolhoteltour and a few DIY gurus that have given me the courage to get behind the power tools.

Were you always a whiz on the power tools? Or has that been a learning curve?

Not by any means. When I first started dating my now long-term boyfriend Ben, we’d not long come up with Get Wavey. I’d whipped out a few concept mirrors and, as mentioned earlier, they were enthusiastically thrown together but without much care or precision. But I was proud of my efforts.

I had never used a jigsaw or circular saw in my life, and I was totally winging the wavy shape. They were out of proportion and all wonky. Since then, Ben has helped me refine my creative process and shown me how to use a number of power tools safely and accurately. I’ve had to step outside of my comfort area of “wabi sabi, she’ll be right, creative freedom shoes” and take on board a lot more exactness and accuracy.

At the start, Jess says, “I had never used a jigsaw or circular saw in my life and I was totally winging the wavy shape.” Luckily, her partner Ben gave her some power tool lessons and helped her refine the production process.

What’s been the most surprising thing about starting your own business?

Initially, that people wanted to pay me money for something I’d made from start to finish with my own hands. Honestly, I remember the first mirror order I ever took on and I kept making sure the customer really wanted to go ahead. Since then, I’ve had to start believing in myself and standing behind my ability and product. That’s been the hardest part for sure.

What’s the process behind making each mirror?

They definitely are a labour of love and each frame is handcrafted through a structured production process. Firstly, the frame is drawn out using one of the templates and then hand-cut by a jigsaw. It is then machine sanded, then hand sanded to perfection.

There are two choices of finishes, either a hard edge or a smooth edge. If you opt for the smooth edge, I then use a router to soften the lip of the wood. More hand sanding. Then I will apply a wood sealer to the edging and front facing of the frame and allow that to dry over a couple of days. Once it’s completely dry, I’ll hand sand that too.

Next is the primer application, which I do over a several days to ensure an even and consistent coat. Once both sides are dry, yes you guessed it, more hand sanding.

Then I’ll clean our studio for any dust and fluff and start the painting process, which again takes several days in between coats and sides of the frames. Once the frame is dry and I’m happy with the quality and standard of workmanship, I take it to a local glass shop who fit the mirror for me.

Each mirror frame or shelf is hand cut and sanded in Jess’ workshop. Each product has been a labour of love for the past couple of years.

When did you decide to add shelves to your Get Wavey offerings?

The shelves came into play about two and a half years into Get Wavey. I have always wanted to grow our product offerings, but being such a small business and creating each piece individually, it’s been difficult to find time between orders to work on prototypes.

The shelves are a fun way of adding a pop of colour and a playful element to a living space without committing to the full impact of a mirror. And I wanted to create something that was more cost-friendly and appealed to a larger market. I’ve had a huge number of businesses buy them for shop fitouts too, as custom-coloured shelves are few and far between.

Is it harder than people think to take pictures of your mirrors without also appearing in the shot?

It is so tricky, but I also love the challenge. Often, I’ll rearrange a room in my house and have all the furniture and mess in one half of the space so I can capture the mirror as well as a balanced reflection.

I’m also running out of rooms in my house to rearrange and style for frames. I’m often knocking on flatmates rooms asking if I can play around in their space for a mirror shoot. I do try and capture the mirrors out in public spaces too, as I really like the absurdity of a mirror being outside a fish and chip shop or sitting in a cactus garden.

For people hesitant to add bold colour and shapes into their homes, Jess advises buying an interesting plant or a coloured shelf. “Dare to be different. Be brave and play with textures,” she says.

What’s your dream for Get Wavey?

I would love to get into furniture design. I would be so jazzed to introduce a couple of small furniture items into our range. Being able to offer something versatile and functional yet still a little offbeat. Maybe start dabbling in some different materials? It’s so hard finding time in between filling orders, maintaining my other jobs and being a mum that I haven’t been able to find the time to properly dive into this process. But soon — once I’ve got Billy Blue behind the tools, we’ll be all go.

Any exciting things in the works?

At the end of last year, we launched our website, which was a big project for us and our incredible website designer. Now that that’s ticked off, it’s time to knuckle down and get into some serious strategising. It’s why I keep doing what I’m doing, to hear and see customers really enjoying and appreciating their Get Wavey number in their homes brings me so much joy and gratification.

Watch this space though, we will be adding to our range this year for sure.

How can people support your small business?

Follow us on Instagram and head to our website. We love a custom job too, so don’t be shy to ask if I could help you with a specific space you have to fill. If you have a wavy idea that isn’t a mirror or a shelf, send me some imagery and I’ll see what I can do. Oh, and help us expand the Get Wavey love: tell your friends, workmates, cousins, uncle’s new girlfriend… We are here to spread fun, colour, curves and exciting pockets of play into your everyday home.

Text: Caroline Moratti  Photography: Alice Veysey

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