Girl Friday: Jen Guerin
Photography by: John Dole
Jen Guerin is an authority on all things art. A painter and designer, Jen is one of only 151 color consultants in the U.S. certified by the International Association of Color Consultation. Owner of JG Color Studio, she offers clients a fresh approach to design with custom murals, expertly-applied Venetian plaster walls and green spatial design. Eclectic and quirky, talented and vivacious, Jen breathes new life into old spaces with her keen and clever eye. Sassy, playful, and a practical joker, Jen is a cross between a typical tomboy and a 60s fashionista. You might find her crossing the street in Christian Lacroix heels with skateboard in tow on her way to play keg ball at the park. Jen’s next venture is the launch of her whimsical home decor line coming soon on Etsy.
You’re from a tiny town in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. How did you find your way to San Diego?
I decided to take a chance and attend FIDM in San Diego. It was almost like The Real World in the 1990s. I got on a plane for the first time and was set up to live with three girls I never met that were from all over the country. That’s actually how I met my best friend in the world!
What first drew you to painting?
Growing up in a rural area, I started drawing from a very early age. I didn’t like fishing and camping like the rest of my family and would sit in my front yard or in the canoe for hours, drawing. Drawing led to painting in oil and acrylic on canvas, which after college, led to painting walls, murals and using plasters.
You’re one of the few Certified Color Consultants in the US. Do you have a favorite color?
I cannot live without a strong turquoise. Like the color of the water in Belize.
How would you describe your style?
I’m obsessed with the 60s. My sister always giggles that I was born in the wrong era. So whether it’s fashion or decor, I love to mix up modern pieces with a 1960s kind of feel.
You were featured on HGTV’s Design Star a few seasons back. How did that experience change you?
It toughened me up. I had been working with a support system, a full team and for the show had only myself to rely on. It was a launching pad for my design career and I knocked one more thing off of my bucket list: To be on national TV.
You’re a thirty-something self-employed working artist. What are some of the benefits and challenges of your field?
The challenges are far and wide being self employed, but I couldn’t imagine it any other way. I can set my own hours and I love being part of a tightly knit entrepuerneral community where we all help each other. There are times when it can be a little nerve-wracking, not knowing where the next paycheck may be coming from or the security of vacation pay, but the benefits well outweigh the challenges. I love what I do and wouldn’t trade it for the world.
Do you think entrepreneurial women are forced to make the choice between family and career?
Not at all. Being an entrepreneur, we are already built to multi-task, and although work can be all-consuming, all that is needed to do both is to restructure the business plan a little. I’m doing it now just to take more time to travel.
Do you have any relationship advice to share regarding work/life balance?
I had absolutely no balance the first few years I started my business.
I wish someone would have just grabbed me by the hand to say, “You can have it all and your to-do list will still be there tomorrow. Now go surf!”
The only thing I was good at doing was working non-stop and taking a few vacations where I could shut off completely. I wish someone would have just grabbed me by the hand to say, “You can have it all and your to-do list will still be there tomorrow. Now go surf!” Stopping the work clock at a certain time and tending to your own needs is just as important. The time you take off whether it’s an hour a day to work out, doing something you love or just to take a bath and relax, will be imperative to your success.
What do you consider to be your hardest won or most treasured life lesson?
In the same month I filed for divorce I decided to close the 7-year business I had. I rocked my own world and to me, it was like cutting off an arm. I wasn’t quite sure how to function. I found my feet again and discovered I couldn’t let work and a relationship define my world.
How has life post-divorce changed your outlook on life?
My happiness isn’t in someone else, but in what I do
I don’t think it has really changed me much at all! I’ve always been what I call an ‘opti-realist,’ and my glass has always been half-full. I think the only real difference is I realized there is a time in life where it isn’t always about having or finding that significant other. I now know that my happiness isn’t in someone else, but in what I do. It sounds so cliché, but it took years for me to figure this out. In the meantime, I am going to enjoy every second of not having to compromise, share, and as my male friends call it, “have some selfish time.”
Do you have a favorite quote you live by?
I have this on my computer screen in big white letters on black: “WHAT’S STOPPING YOU?”
You’re a seasoned traveler, having been to Fiji, Europe and beyond. What are some of your travel essentials?
Noise-canceling high-def headphones. They are essential for the soundtrack for each adventure. And as nerdy as it sounds, I won’t travel without my neck passport-protector and my Adidias or Tigers to walk around for miles in once I land.
What advice do you have for younger women who may be following in your footsteps?
For those things that aren’t directly associated with your niche, hire the experts, and hire business coaches to keep your goals in check. Never forget to take a break to recharge your own batteries.
If you could change something about today’s culture for women, what would it be?
I wish that society as a whole would reject the archetypical female body image that we are bombarded with every minute of the day. The pressure to stay thin, to spend thousands of dollars and undergo the proverbial cosmetic knife to bend to be the norm is unbelievable. Love someone because of who they are, hire them because of their skills and talent, and march to the beat of your own drum.
How do you see your future?
A month or two building stoves or schools in Mexico or South America, launching my home and fashion line and finally having the time to write the two books that I hope will see the light of day.
Girl Friday is a phrase more common to the 1940s and 50s, defined as “a female employee who has a wide range of duties,” and is most recognizable from the film His Girl Friday. Here at Move LifeStyle, we’re resurrecting its saucy vibe for the title of our last column of the week which profiles inspiring women in the workforce.