Naturally this woman holds herself up with dignity. She wears her tightly coiled blonde hair that compliments her skin tone, short and to the point. She moves gracefully, making on-lookers aware of her femininity. Jennifer Farley sat up straight with her legs crossed in the lobby of a busy hotel observing the scene. She slipped in humorous commentary during our pre-interview chat that quickly revealed her quirky side. Despite my attempts to stay sitting up straight, Jennifer had me beat for good.
This is a story about Jennifer Farley, an artisan and photographer. Two realms that seem to, not only catch my attention, but the current culture’s too. Beyond her side businesses and current job as a teaching aide, Jennifer has an international history that instantly intrigued me enough to push for an informal interview as soon as I could.
She was born in Southeast London in 1961 to a mother, who was a nurse, and a father who took odd jobs as he pursued a degree in accounting. Jennifer was 7-years-old when her Guyanese parents and her younger brother, Wayne, moved to Georgetown, Guyana.
"Growing up in Guyana, looking back, it was the best life a kid could ever have."
Jennifer was surrounded by natural, fresh resources that her grandmother would use to make skin and hair care products for her family. When Jennifer moved to the states later in life, she found herself continuing the family tradition.
With a new start, her mother became a homemaker and her father a banker. She started at an all girls Catholic school, St. Rose’s High School, at the age of 11. Once she found her crowd and niche, high school was all that she wanted. She drove her father’s car-with no license-to get to house parties, she modeled, played the Virgin Mary in school plays and designed uniforms for a neighborhood athletic team.
Around the age of 15, she became a big sister to two more siblings, Shabiki and Laila. Two years later, Jennifer graduated high school and set off for college in the states, which landed her at Brockport State University in New York.
Jennifer didn’t know what to study at first. She decided to stick with what she knew and majored in studio art, with a focus in photography. She worked at “The Stylus,” the school’s newspaper, taking photos and then earned some spending money checking in students at the gym.
"I was a bore in college," she said in mention of her social life. Jennifer mainly connected with her college roommate from Jamaica, Desiree, who later on became the god-mother of her daughter. She spent a lot of time in the dark room developing photos. Outside of school, Jennifer spent her time traveling back home to Guyana and then to visit relatives and friends in California, Jamaica and Canada.
Soon after graduating from college, Jennifer got married.
"Looking back, I was crazy!" she said laughingly.
Jennifer was married for 12 years and had one child, Christina Isaacs. In between helping her husband manage his photocopying business in New Jersey and then in Guyana, Jennifer was a photographic printer. She stayed connected to photography throughout capturing weddings, events and photo shoots.
The marriage ended after two years of being back in Guyana and Jennifer flew back to New Jersey with her daughter and $5 in her pocket. Jennifer was able to return to Fokus Photogram, a job she had previously resigned from to move to Guyana.
Jennifer slid out her camera from her bag and started to prepare the shot she wanted me to take of her.
"That lady driving down the Garden State Parkway with her camera, that’s me."
She left the photographic printing business behind after being injured. Her day job is in Red Bank as an Instructional Assistant to the Board of Education. She no longer does event photography, but she eagerly does photo shoots. My head shot on this blog was done by Jennifer when I needed a ‘fro picture.
In the rest of her spare time, she concocts hair and skin moisturizers. Christina tried to follow in her mother’s footsteps and created the line “Green Seasons.” The line didn’t do well and she moved on to other avenues, like her radio show The Brooklyn Sisters.
Jennifer still plays to her natural talent as an artisan. People won’t find her products in a store or her paintings in a gallery, yet. In this day and age, internet business is more convenient and very profitable as Jubril continuously preaches in his marketing videos. Jennifer makes and sales her paintings and her batches of oils and hair gels based on demand. Her accessories, are a different story. Jennifer is a vendor on Etsy.com under the name, Creations By Jennif. Hopefully, by now you have clicked on the link in the previous sentence and you can see Jennifer’s creativity and style in her mini-mii pouches, totes and infinity scarves. Jennifer even makes custom shower and window curtains.
"I just like making stuff."
Jennifer’s mini bio barely scratches the surface of all that she has experienced and accomplished in her life. But with this being a blog, I decided to give my readers a break and yet some homework to do if you ever find yourself in the same company as Jennifer Farley.
So Colored In