Juanita Dix has been a graphic designer for the past 28 years, but recently she felt creatively inspired to take her passion for art in a bold new direction: an inspiration that would lead the baby-boomer, entrepreneur to a new business venture at the age of 59.
“I’ve always loved art. My high school had a very progressive art program with classes in painting, sculpting and design, that Interacted with one another. When I was in my 20s I earned an Associate’s Degree in Commercial Art. This was, of course, before computers and we did everything on drafting boards; layout, paste up and used press type for mechanicals. I started j.d. Design in 1985, a few years before computers were being utilized for design. When I look back now, the first computer I used in my business had a 20 megabyte hard drive and was one of the first Macs that came out!! As technology and programs developed, I found that in this business, you learn as you go, advancing my design knowledge to always give more to my clients. Since 2004, the internet has added a whole new dimension to my creativity. This digital time is exciting and ever-changing…almost to the point where it’s hard to keep up with all the new developments that seem to happen every day.
About 1990 I started developing an “effect” to a “cause” that grew worse and more debilitating as the years went by. The “effect” seemed to exacerbate, with each death in my immediate family. In 2003, when I moved to Florida I came to a point in my life where I couldn’t take it anymore. I had tried many doctors and mental health professionals and nobody had any ideas on how to help me. I was growing more anxious every day with “inside jitters.” To calm myself, I started spending more time outside; at the beach, or on my lanai, and discovered that the evergreen tree in my backyard had really long needles, longer than I’ve ever seen. During the Fall the needles would drop and form a thick, carpet like covering on the ground, and I thought, “there has to be something I can do with these.” With a little online research, I discovered that pine needle baskets were an old Indian art form which used these extra-long needles. This was my first step in the evolution of creative crafting. I found some books at the library and gave it a try. After a first few basket attempts that didn’t come out too bad, I decided to take some classes. I’m not yet an expert, but I’ve come a long way and am making some pretty decent baskets that are not only nice looking, but functional, and it gives me something creative to do with my jittery hands.
Since then, two additional creative crafts were born; beautiful beachy twig wreaths I create, using the limbs from the Jacaranda and Rain trees in my yard, and lovely paper maché bowls, from all the junk mail I get every day. Making something functional and beautiful out of these free resources allows me to look at recycling differently now. I see the things we throw away and ask how can I use this in a good way? So, I have a new business now.
My design work continues to evolve, and helping someone build their business to be prosperous is something that I love doing. The wreaths, baskets and bowls give me a special satisfaction knowing they will end up in someone’s home and will be something they enjoy for a long time. It takes a lot of time and effort to craft each item but it’s truly a labor of love. It keeps my hands busy, and gives me a feeling that I’m being productive. In my mind, I’m always creating, and as I grow older it keeps me looking forward. I used to paint when I was in high school…my next evolution…is to start doing that again.”
Juanita offered this piece of advice for anyone hungering to try something new.
“I don’t think it’s ever too late to start a new venture or idea, just take advantage of the resources available to you, and by adding a little creativity to your life, whether it’s business or home it’s always inspirational and ageless!”