Jenny Murphy, Joi Svezia & Amanda Gray-Swain in St. Louis

Jenny Murphy, Joi Svezia & Amanda Gray-Swain in St. Louis

Maxwell Ryan
Aug 4, 2011

What: St. Louis Apartment Therapy Design Evening
Who: Jenny Murphy of Perennial, Joi Svezia, a Craigslist expert and Upcycling Diva, and Amanda Gray-Swain of Sprouted Designs.
When: Wednesday, June 8, 2011
Where: The Map Room, 1901 Withnell Avenue, Saint Louis, MO 63118

Members: 44
Organizer: Ursula Bamnolker
Facebook Event Page: Is Here

Despite the sweltering heat, our June Design Evening at The Map Room was one for the books. The evening featured Jenny Murphy, founder of Perennial, a non-profit that provides creative upcycling and recycling workshops and classes, Joi Svezia, a Spanish teacher with a flair for design and Amanda Gray-Swain, owner of Sprouted Designs, an organic t-shirt and home accessory line.

(Note: Outside of NYC, all of our Apartment Therapy Design Evenings are volunteer based and aimed at helping people by connecting them with great design and great local resources. Find our more and join us here.)

At 6:45 p.m., after we'd gotten our french bread and Camembert, lattes and iced tea, Jenny Murphy started us off, explaining that her original desire to start her business came from an unusual attraction. "I have always been really attracted to garbage," she explained. In the past few years, she has gotten trash collecting down to a science. "There's really great stuff in the trash," she enthused. The best thing to do is to look for Bulk Trash Pick-Up schedules for your area and then go out on Sunday evening and drive around.

In keeping with her desire to keep a low carbon footprint, Jenny has rigged up a tool trailer to her bike and she literally tools around town from workshop to workshop with her trailer in tow. Although Perennial doesn't yet have a space of its own, Jenny is always ready to take her show on the road. Local design studios and shops host her classes on a monthly basis. In addition, she has a "Build Your Own Bicycle Trailer" class in the works. For more information on classes and workshops, go to //

Next up, Amanda Gray-Swain of Sprouted Designs ( discussed her creative process. As a designer of pillows, children's apparel and home goods, Amanda uses nature as her inspiration point. She photographs her subject matter, eliminates the background and then silkscreens it. She hand screen prints all of her designs individually.

She had several tips on using Etsy and how to put your best foot forward. Some of these tips included: producing high quality products you would produce yourself, being sure to always provide excellent customer service and finally, packaging each item attractively. Amanda sells her creations on Etsy as well as at local craft fairs and markets.

And finally, Joi Svezia, a Spanish teacher who spends her free time blogging (Nuesta Vida Dulce: // and trolling Craigslist for fabulous finds, told us how she went from teaching and decorating part-time in her small town of Highland, Illinois to appearing on "The Nate Berkus Show" and getting a regular gig on "Great Day St. Louis."

Learning how to design has been a true journey for Joi. When she first moved into her present home, she did what her mom had done. "My mom liked Palm Trees so I thought I liked Palm Trees. But, I don't," she explained. A couple of years after moving in, she discovered Craigslist and soon got busy redoing her home.

From hand painted Chevron curtains to silver leafing, Joi has done it all. Her home was featured on Apartment Therapy earlier this year.

Joi Svezia:


Jenny Murphy:


Amanda Gray-Swain:


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