The Junk Girls
We are Jenny & Melissa. We founded The Junk Girls in 2009, after 18+ years working for ourselves and others like Netflix and eBay, we both wanted more. Our vision for The Junk Girls is to put our collective skill sets together and do something meaningful that would make a difference for both ourselves and others.
The Junk Girls was born out of Art Therapy for Jenny, and Melissa’s love for all things handmade. We focus on creating Art, Lighting, Furniture, Jewelry and Home Décor and we strive to create everything using recycled, repurposed, vintage, antique and found items from the USA. We have a passion for giving found, vintage & forgotten objects a new life & purpose.
We started our journey in our garage in San Luis Obispo, doing vintage shows and craft fairs. We moved into our Cambria Store in December, 2015 and opened an additional Gallery space for Jenny’s Art, Lighting & Tables in August, 2017. We closed our Cambria locations in May, 2018 and moved into our new retail location
in the historic Muzio's building in San Luis Obispo, California.
Our Retail Store
The Junk Girls Retail Store is located at 870 Monterey Street in San Luis Obispo, CA. Our space was originally built in 1913 – over 100 year ago. The building was home to Muzio's Market and Deli for many years. During the building's recent retrofit, the Architect carefully kept much of the originality, to include the wood floors (with the awesome marks, stains and creaks!), the shelving with the dings and dents from many years of stocking them, the original front door with the old windows and glass, the black awning with the old crank. And, we even have the original David Muzio Sign proudly displayed on top of the shelving!
The store is a mix of ever-changing finds – from Jenny K’s art, lighting & furniture, to Melissa’s Metal Stamping to all the found objects & antiques and arting supplies. It’s always an experience and an adventure.
Meet the Junk Girls
Little Jenny with her box of treasures.
Eventually, I was forced to deal with my debilitating Anxiety and Depression, which was brought on by years of abuse and compound trauma during my childhood. I felt I had 2 choices: seek help or kill myself. I was very, very fortunate to find a gifted & safe Therapist who helped me put myself back together using many methods including Art Therapy. When she asked me what art medium I wanted to use, nothing appealed to me except for my fondness of found & vintage objects, so I thought Assemblage Art might be a good start.
You see, as a little girl, when things were scary, I would go play in the creek behind my house, searching for treasures; a special rock, rusted metal, beautiful leaf and then save them in little boxes, which I would carry with me or hide away for the next time.
Through my therapy, I found a safe way to see good in something damaged, old and common and view it in anew way, giving it new life as something unique & beautiful, much like how I want to see myself My Therapist and I would start with a keyword or theme and I would create art on that using my special pieces and parts - as a process, one step at a time. One of the important things I have learned in the journey is that we all have a story to tell and if I can help one person by telling mine, I have done what I was meant to do.
Wikipedia describes assemblage art as an artistic process in which a three-dimensional artistic composition is made from putting together found objects. I call it life-changing.
Each piece of art I create is one-of-a-kind and usually starts with a theme, quote or metaphor. Something has to speak to me before I begin my process. I find that the older and more worn the item the better. It’s all about the character and the message, because there’s beauty in everything, no matter how damaged - we just have to try and see it.
I have always had an artistic and graphic career from my time as Creative Director for Netflix and Partner Marketing at eBay, to my own Graphic Design & Promotional Agency, which raised over $22 Million for Charity during my 10 years at the helm.
I am fortunate to have my work featured in the 49er’s Levi’s Stadium Art Collection, The Green Bay Packer’s Lambeau Field Art Collection, Robert Redford’s Sundance Resort, Utah, The Cosmopolitan Hotel in Las Vegas and many private homes.
I have always been a “Maker.” I started at an early age learning from my Mother - everything from needlepoint to quilting to soap making, crafting and painting. My mother taught me to appreciate the process, to trust my judgement and think outside of the box.
During college I worked in merchandising and customer service with Macy’s and GAP which helped prepare me for my first “career” in Graphic Design & Production. After college, I worked in several graphic design firms in Production, ultimately leading to my time at eBay as the Production Manager and then as the Co-Founder of Kompolt, an Agency Jenny and I built that managed high-profile auction campaigns, using eBay as the platform and raising millions of dollars for Charities & Non-Profits. I credit my time in corporate to hone my skills and ultimately figure out what I really wanted to do in my life.
What I mainly contribute to the Junk Girls is my metal stamping, which I never thought would turn into such an important part of our business. My background in design and my ability to typeset using primarily antique and vintage machinist’s punches has become a big part of the look and feel of our Junk Girls brand of which I am very proud of. In addition to the standard titles I create, I am known for my customization, which has to be the most satisfying part of what I do, because I am helping to celebrate a customer’s memory and create an heirloom.
As far as materials go, I use primarily silver-plated cutlery, recycled brass kick-plates off old doors, as well as aluminum and copper – either recycled or made in the USA, whenever possible. I create necklaces, keyrings, wedding forks, spreaders, earrings, rings, bracelets and anything else I can think of, using as much of the material as possible.
Building the Junk Girls with Jenny has been an important part of my journey as a person – the ability to be creative and use my skills to give back to others and I can’t think of anything else I would rather be doing.