When I came across Jennifer's illustrations, I could not believe my own eyes... they were just perfect: they looked almost effortless, but so detailed and skilfully drawn, so fresh, stylish and very different! I immediately joined a large audience of Jennifer's followers on Instagram, but then to my big surprise and delight she started collecting dolls!... It was too tempting not to ask her for an interview!
Hi! I am Jennifer Vallez. I am an artist, wife, mom of two girls and proud small business owner. I hustled hard for over 18 years as an art director in the advertising world. When my eldest Sophie was 2, I was inspired to start a little girl’s clothing line. I grew that brand, Sophie & Lili (named after my great grandmothers) on nights and weekends for over a decade. I left my full-time gig and created my joy. Now I spend my time creating art and products that shine a light on inspirational humans and causes that I believe in and love.
- You are exceptionally talented artist and illustrator. Have you always had an interest in art or did you have other career plans whilst growing up?
Thank you. Yes, my dad was an art teacher at one point in his life and always supported/fostered my love of drawing, painting and art supplies. My brother and I went to camps and schools that specialized in the arts. I knew I wanted to do something with art since I was really young. When I was about 10-11, I discovered fashion illustration and slowly filled countless sketchbooks. I wound up going to FIT for Fashion Design.
- What is your favourite piece of work in your portfolio?
I have worked on so many fun projects. I would say the one thing I am most proud of is my collection of soft fabric dolls that I designed and licensed with North American Bear Co.
- How do you overcome a creative block if it ever happens?
I try to go to museums, walk around a city, travel...the past year was so hard because of covid. I felt very uninspired and locked in.
- Tell me about your new doll hobby and how it all started?
I was born in 1971. Thinking back, I have always loved dolls. I was obsessed with dollhouse miniatures and my Fisher Price A-Frame dollhouse. I would spend hours making tiny food out of clay for my dollhouse family. I loved my Mandy and Jenny dolls, Barbies, Cabbage Patch Kid, Strawberry Shortcake dolls, etc. Now my office is filled with the soft fabric dolls that I have been sewing for the past few years. A year or so ago I discovered Silkstone dolls and had to have a few. I was lucky to get them when they were still being sold by Mattel. It wasn’t until early this year that I started to scour FB Marketplace, Ebay & Etsy for more. It’s a real rabbit hole. I love the vintage reproductions too.