I started sewing around the age of 20 — kind of late to the game, compared to others. My grandma had sewn my entire life, so I had been around it, but had never touched a sewing machine. I have been a creative person since childhood, always involved in art and singing. My grandma had taught me how to crochet and make things, and when I told her I wanted to tackle sewing, she was really excited and thrilled to help. She was a big part of my sewing start and now I continue to keep her close to my heart.
After she passed, I inherited her sewing machine and table, with the drawers untouched, all the contents just as she had left them. More times than I can count, when needing some random supply, I’ll say, “Let’s see if Grandma has one,” before I start digging in those drawers.
I do not sew on that machine, but it is beautiful, and such a special part of my sewing room.
My decision to sew began one evening, when I decided I wanted to try to make a quilt. That is how it all started! Looking back at that night in my apartment, with my fabric laid out on the floor, using a piece of cardboard I had cut into a 12-inch-square templet, I have to laugh — I knew nothing about sewing! I realized after looking at something sewn, that if I put the right sides together of two fabrics, I could make a nice seam. The fact of the matter is you always have to start somewhere. Start with one piece, add another, and another, and before you know it, you have something bigger, beautiful and functional. Whether a quilt block, a simple pattern, a first post on your business social media, or your first big order, there is always a first step!
This was pretty much my process with bag making as well. That first pattern seemed impossible, but I started with one piece, added another, made mistakes and corrections, and in the end, had a nice little bag. Just like with my quilts, practice made perfect. I started with simple, one-zipper pouches. They were good practice, but after making several, they got boring. So, the next step was bigger and more intricate. Again, the patterns were very intimidating, but the process was the same — one cut, one stitch, until you have a whole piece. I was hooked! I still enjoy quilting, but bags have become my passion for several reasons. Although still time consuming, bags are generally less so than quilts. They are something that people can use on a daily basis, and from a business standpoint, they leave the home and can be seen by several other people. Because they are less time consuming, individually, the price per piece comes down and they are more appealing to a larger audience. They are also just a ton of fun to make!
Here at Fly Monkey Fly, I create handmade bags, pouches and purses. I have premade items that are posted for sale and available for immediate shipping, but I also do custom projects. Ordering a custom-made bag is a great way to ensure that you are getting a perfect gift for someone or yourself. Customizing a bag gives a person the opportunity to choose just the right fabric or alter a pattern to their specific needs. For example, many of my customers have chosen to add a crossbody strap to purses to fit how they like to carry them. I can change the length of straps, add pockets, and in a lot of cases, change the size of the overall bag. These features are just a great way to make the project perfect for the customer’s needs.
Handmade gifts, over the years, have become my go-to. I love the process of making things, but really enjoy how people react when they receive something handmade. The appreciation shown to me, for a craft that I so enjoy, is a gift to me as well. That is really how Fly Monkey Fly came into existence. After gifting so many things over the years, and getting such heartfelt responses, I thought maybe more people would be interested. Any maker knows that you can only make so much stuff and have it lying around. So, I decided to put my creations “out there” and see if I had any takers!
Fly Monkey Fly is in its infancy, but I have spent almost 25 years getting to this point. Fly Monkey Fly officially started this last summer. I have, so far, shown my products on my Facebook and Instagram pages. The response from these social media outlets has been very encouraging, and I have had several custom orders placed from my listed bags as well! I have recently started the process of setting up an Etsy store in order to reach an even larger audience, and to help streamline the shopping and purchasing experience for my customers. My goal is to produce many more, ready-to-ship items for the shop. I am very excited about this next step!
As I said, I’ve spent almost 25 years getting to this point. There have been many successes and failures along the way. It doesn’t happen overnight, and the first try, still to this day, doesn’t always go as planned. If you are thinking about taking up a craft, do it and keep doing it! It will only get better with time. I ran across a quote recently that really struck a chord with me. It went something like, “Masters only become masters after failing more times than a novice has started.” This is so true! Makers are a community, and I truly enjoy how we all generally share and celebrate each other’s successes and failures. It’s how we all learn and get better. I have a ton of other bag makers and quilters that I follow on social media and my two best friends are very successful makers as well. The idea, material, and experience sharing happens on a weekly basis.
This is integral to my success in all the projects that I do. If you are someone who is seasoned in the craft you love, or someone who just thinks they might want to try it, seeking out communities with similar interests is crucial in my opinion! You can learn from the old sages, and you may find that, regardless of your skill level, that you can offer advice, or your own experiences, to others as well.
Quality and craftsmanship are very important to me. I have spent a lot of time researching what other bag makers have used successfully and what to avoid. Providing well-made, beautiful products is what is at the heart of Fly Monkey Fly.
I graduated from WSU Fine Arts Department in 2006, so the design of a piece, and the fabric choices, are always in the forefront of my mind when it comes to making my bags and purses. I also have a background in interior design, which leads to my day job; I manage Higginson’s Home Center and Mattress Outlet, here in Pullman. I have been very fortunate to have been with Higginson’s for almost 19 years. Many of you may even know me from there! Some of my bags have been made with the discontinued fabric swatches that I have been collecting all these years. You may even see a bag I have listed made out of the same fabric on your sofa pillows! I knew that I would eventually find something to do with all of those samples that I couldn’t bear to part with.
From the business side of things, I have a few things from my past experiences that have helped with the start-up of Fly Monkey Fly. While at WSU, my focus was graphic design. This has been very useful in creating my logo and the graphics needed for my business. My extensive experience in customer service, along with the first-hand experience of managing a community driven, local business, has been crucial to understanding how a successful business is run with integrity.
My years of working with the public at Higginson’s has given me the opportunity to meet a lot of the people in our community. Pullman is a great place to live, and that has a lot to do with the people who live here. I’m so excited that I have been given the chance to share this love of mine. I look forward to working with the community in a different capacity, although maybe involving some of the same fabric!
Last, but not least, what does Fly Monkey Fly mean? Well, I think it is important that a person pursue, and celebrate, what makes them feel like they’re awesome. That is what sewing has done for me; and I think that those monkeys made the Wicked Witch feel a little like she was pretty rad too!
Coming Soon: Etsy Shop: FlyMonkeyFly
Fun Facts About Jody Boroughs :
I cannot speak any other languages, but I love to sing.
I am right-handed.
I wanted to be a figure skater when I grew up (funny to many friends and family) because just walking, in general, can sometimes be challenging for me. I have, over the years, been known to fall down… a lot!