Janine at her studio in Calgary, Canada with her son, Finley

How did you get to where you are today?
One small step at a time! I started out as a graphic designer for arts and culture clients. After a dozen years, I opened a little gallery and bookshop (with my design business at the back) which highlighted the world of design and illustration. From there I really got to test my entrepreneurial ideas and rather enjoyed the challenge of curating shows and products, as well as making things to sell.

I handmade notebooks, sewed pencil cases and pouches, designed a line of greeting cards… UPPERCASE gallery, books & paper goods was my creative laboratory. Eventually, I honed in on what I truly loved to do: curating, editing and designing books and magazines.

When did you found UPPERCASE?
Although UPPERCASE as a gallery began in 2005, the magazine launched in April 2009. It soon became my creative focus and I “retired” from client work. My son was born the following spring and I decided to close the shop in order to concentrate on publishing and being a mum.

I fantasised about how publishing a magazine would allow me the flexibility for motherhood and envisioned my child happily playing at the studio – I’m happy to say that it has been working out well. Perhaps the drawback is that my entire family lives and breathes all things UPPERCASE and it does seem to take over at times, but I’m grateful that it’s still going, stronger than ever. I can’t imagine doing anything else.

It sounds like it’s worked out well, has it always been that way?
For my son’s first year, I worked from home. My computer was in the basement and I can remember feeding him at all hours and then heading to the computer in between to get some work done. If you count hours and mental real estate, UPPERCASE has always been more than a full-time job, so that does take its toll on occasion. But it has been flexible; I can set work aside to do family things without any worries.

My husband, Glen Dresser, has been a stay-at-home dad since Finley was born, so without Glen I could never have managed. Now that our son is in kindergarten, Glen is taking on the role of customer service so that I have more time to concentrate on editorial, design and marketing duties.

Past covers of UPPERCASE

What does your average day look like?
We get up around 7.30am and get ready for school. I walk Finley to school and then keep on walking another half hour to my studio. That time alone, walking to work and home again, is always a valued part of my day. I listen to podcasts or just collect my thoughts and plan out my day.

Once at the office, it’s full-on concentrating on the multitude of tasks that need to be done, both big and small. Other than our fabulous roster of contributors, the day-to-day of UPPERCASE is just me and my husband so there is never a shortage of things demanding my attention.

Glen works from home so that he can pick up Finley in the late morning, while I work at the office until after 5pm and then head home. Glen usually makes supper and then we enjoy some family time. By 8pm we’re in the midst of bedtime routine and hopefully Finley’s asleep by 9pm. Glen and I relax, catch up on work or do our own creative projects, usually watch an hour of TV and the day’s over before midnight.

How do you spend the time you have with your son?
We like to make things together, little spontaneous crafts or play-dough or even some sewing-related projects recently, since I have a line of fabric coming out in June with Windham Fabrics. There’s also Lego (and more Lego!), taking the dog for a walk, going to the park, being silly and reading books. We really like each others’ company — he’s the best companion for going to a craft or fabric store!

Five-year-old Finley checking out fabrics

You obviously have a huge love of the visual/creative arts, how do you install creativity within your son?
I’m happy to report that my son is very creative! That’s a relief to me, since I don’t know any other way of thinking. Expressing oneself through creating and making is very important for children and I’m pleased that my work and our home provide endless outlets for creativity.

He wants to be an artist and photographer when he grows up (and I, not so secretly, hope he’ll take over UPPERCASE some day). We always have craft supplies, fabric, papers and such close at hand (or underfoot, all over the dining room table and strewn about), so there’s easy access to making things. He’s always had an interest in photography, so for his 4th birthday, I gave him an inexpensive, small, but made-for-adults digital camera. He knows that I trust him to take care of it and even a few years later, it still works just fine.

What kind of mum are you?
For this question, I asked my son. He says, “One who really likes me. One who I really like to spend time with.” Awww, he’s the best!

What have you found most challenging about motherhood?
Honestly, nearly everything about being a mother has been easier than I ever expected it to be. I am so fortunate to have such an even-tempered, loving, creative and empathetic child. Of course, there’s never enough time in the day for everything and time seems to fly by too quickly, but as long as we have hugs and kisses in the day, we’re OK.

Which books do you love reading to your son?
Some favourites over the years include For Just One Day, which has a lovely rhyme and fun pictures, with a mirror at the end to reflect the two of us. Anything by Oliver Jeffers – Finley was just rearranging his bookshelf and putting all of Oliver Jeffers’ books together; we have quite the collection. And now that he’s older and will listen to books without as many pictures, I’m reading him classic Paddington Bear stories, which are actually new to me as well.

To find out more about UPPERCASE magazine check out uppercasemagazine.com and uppercasemagazine.com/fabric

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