Holiday ShopLight: Junk Girls
Updated: Dec 11, 2019
Melissa and Jenny, owners extraordinaire of Junk Girls, have been best friends, business, and life partners for 30 years. Both women worked as corporate professionals, Jenny for Netflix and both of them for eBay. In 2009, they decided to ditch that big company lifestyle and pursue their passion for upcycling, art and creativity. Jenny and Melissa wanted to find a way to give back to the community in the same way that art therapy had helped Jenny so many years ago.
Jenny's personal motto (and now store motto) is to find "beauty, no matter how damaged". Junk Girls was born out of this premise-- to take things that may look old, broken, or be considered "trash" and turn them into something beautiful. Take a stroll through the store and you will see that most items have a positive message written on them.
Junk Girls started as a trade and craft show endeavor, but in 2014, they opened up their first brick and mortar store in Cambria. Opening a physical store was intimidating for a number of reasons, predominately because Jenny and Melissa make all of the art inventory themselves, so to fill an entire building with hand-made merchandise in addition to running the day to day of the store takes a lot of work. All of their hard work paid off. Not only was the store in Cambria a massive success, Junk Girls started to outgrow the space.
In late 2017, Melissa and Jenny had to make the tough decision of leaving their beloved Cambria store for the opportunity to work in the historic Muzio building in Downtown SLO. The "junk girls" were particularly interested in working in the Muzio building because the rich historic architecture and built in cabinets lent themselves to the gallery-meets-merchandise aesthetic that Junk Girls is known for. After collecting recent data, Jenny and Melissa came to find out that the average in-store customer experience is about 30 minutes. A primary reason for this is because visiting the store is literally like going on a treasure hunt. Cabinets, desks, tables, and cupboards all hold purchasable artwork--all of which changes regularly. Customers come for the experience as much as they come for the items they purchase.
There isn't just one maker at Junk Girls--this store is a truly collaborative space. Jenny creates the lighting, art, sculptures and furniture; Melissa creates all of the hand-stamped projects (working with antique metal stamps); and the staff collaborates with the owners on creative ideas and how to produce them into merchandise. Ellen, one of the Junk Girls’ full time team members, has hidden treasures all over the store. Ellen has made beautiful leather earrings out of scraps of leather from a Washington glove factory, mason jar snow globes, tiny dictionary vases, and ornaments from 35 mm film slides and antique stamps (the mailing kind).
There are very few items that remain the same in Junk Girls. The inventory is always in flux depending on what materials Jenny is able to find. 90% of the products are creatively upcycled from antiques, scraps of metals, or other pieces of products that would now be considered “trash”. For this holiday season, the collection in Junk Girls is further diversified by products made by fellow artisans on the West Coast and in the USA.
Featured Holiday Products include:
Guitar string jewelry by High Strung
Intertube pouches and wallets by Alchemy Goods
Record coasters by Vinylux
Book journals by Attic Journals
Graphic tea towels by GreenBee
Upcycled cashmere by Polly Jane
Upcycled glass jewelry by Smart Glass
Various pieces by Washington based artist Lisa Souers
Other treasures include wall decor like the upcycled hodge-podge trumpets (pictured left). Jenny works with an instrument/brass collector to refurbish and piece together artistic trumpets. They cannot be played but they can be displayed!
Take a stroll over to Junk Girls. Not only will you not be disappointed, you will leave the story planning your next visit. All of these unique items are worth the purchase--and there are items available for all price points! Keeping objects out of the landfill and helping them to continue a beautiful new chapter of their story is Jenny and Melissa's specialty!