& Artist Spotlight: J & W Wares

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J & A

If the need for an “I Love You Like Kanye Loves Kanye” coffee mug has ever struck, then grab the decaf and look no further.

J & A Wares, boasting an array of products crafted with “Crass, Sass, & Class,” was founded by husband and wife duo John Eric and Ashlee Schleicher. Their website features handmade jewelry, ranging from necklaces to earrings to bracelets, as well as handcrafted keychains, coffee mugs and coasters.

The “class” in their name is mostly represented with the fine jewelry created by Ashlee Schleicher. Her business began seven years ago after moving to Washington DC with her then fiance. With lots of free time on her hands, she started making jewelry for fun during free time in the evenings.

“I taught myself via Youtube how to make jewelry,” Schleicher says. “On a whim I listed some pieces on Etsy on February of 2009 and by December it was selling so well that I quit my 9 to 5 job and started selling online via Etsy.”

The transition into becoming a full-time jeweler and business manager came in a week filled with other milestones.

“My husband and I got married on a Saturday and I quit my job the Tuesday before the wedding,” Schleicher says. “And right after the honeymoon I transitioned into working full-time for the business.”

Eventually her husband would help become the missing link in her work, aiding her during his time in law school until May 2015 when he became a full employee.

From then the business took off, their products practically selling themselves. Moving on from selling only on Etsy, J & A Wares currently have 30 different retailers they sell from out of the U.S., including Agora Vintage and Urban Sanctuary Spa here in Athens. Other locations range from New York to Texas to California, with products also shipping from their stand-alone website.

The connection with Athens is still strong despite the pair being based in Atlanta at the moment.

“We left Washington D.C. in May 2010 because my husband’s grandmother, Nancy Denson, was running for mayor in Athens” Schleicher says. “We helped Nancy out with her campaign and I did the business full time, so we lived in Athens until January the next year, then moving to Atlanta.”

Another product created by the couple, their keychains, can be bought to support Georgia pride.

“We have a supplier that helps us cut out the designs and deburrs the metal, and then we cut out the shapes and hand-stamp them, then assemble the keychains.”

Cut and shaped like all fifty states, many of the metal pieces bear the word “Home,” and Georgia has additional styles, including heartfelt stamps of “On my mind” across the Peach State. And for those who still need a little quirkiness, there's a Batman shaped keychain with “my hero” across it, as well as a familiar leaf design bearing the single word “Dope.”

More jewelry is created by Schleicher, styles that she admitted she would want to wear herself. And special care was taken to create products made of “gentle” metals and hypo-allergenic materials. Bracelets and necklaces feature delicate hearts, interlocking circles, and infinity signs in gold and silver, along with jewels, geometric shapes and flying sparrows.

Directly contrasting to the elegant jewelry crafted by Schleicher, the company also boasts an impressive array of other products designed to amuse. The “crass” and “sass” of the company’s logo are represented in the wide array of coffee mugs, many featuring tongue-in-cheek jokes, weird expressions and downright dirty innuendoes.

“My husband’s pride and joy? The mug that says ‘My Balls Itch,’" Schleicher says. "And personally my favorite is ‘Good Morning Fartface.’ It’s simple, it’s elegant and it’s hilarious.”

Other mugs offer more sentimental messages like “World’s Okayest Dad,” however, most stick with the humor with prints like “I Can’t Even Think Straight,” “God Bless This Hot Mess” and “Hello Darkness My Old Friend.”

The process for coming up with such out-of-the-box messages for the mugs is a joint effort between Schleicher and her husband.

“It’s wild and crazy nights where we shoot ideas back and forth,” she says. “We find jokes, some stuff is just from out of the blue. Basically it makes the cut if it makes us laugh.”

The couple’s drink coasters offer the same style of humor with slogans like “Get out the toolbox, we’re about to get hammered.”

Getting to share a creative job with her husband means a lot to Schleicher, and how it brings her family together.

“I love being able to create my own schedule and work so closely to my husband and my son,” she says. “By us having our own business together we’re able to spend so much time with him. We’re creating our own life, and we’re able to do what we want.'

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