Have you picked up the latest issue of The Costco Connection out of your mailbox? If so, you may have noticed a very special someone being featured in this issue. Our very own Jo Packham was honored to be interviewed by the lovely Stephanie E. Ponder and featured in The Costco Connection. In addition to being a long time fan of Costco, Jo loves to be able to offer WHERE WOMEN CREATE, Where Women Cook, and the new where women create BUSINESS in most warehouse locations.
I hope you are as inspired by this wonderful article as I was.
Jo Packham shares stories that inspire
by Stephanie E. Ponder
When asked what title is on her business card, Jo Packham checks, only to find she’s not given herself one. “Your question [makes] me think that I should come up with something clever, since ‘president’ is so expected,” she replies. But president of Where Women Create Press tells only part of the story: The Costco member is also creator and editor in chief of the quarterly magazines Where Women Create, Where Women Cook and the newly launched Where Women Create BUSINESS.
Packham, who has never considered herself an artist, has always loved “beautiful things, beautiful artwork, beautiful jewelry,” and the people who make them, she tells The Connection while in Seattle for a Create photo shoot. It’s a passion that has taken her from running an art supply store, to working as a publisher of cross-stitch and other arts-and- crafts books, to her current job.
Packham took her first tangible steps toward bringing the crafty community together when she organized the national Women Create event in 2005. The same year she published the book Where Women Create: Inspiring Work Spaces of Extraordinary Women (Sterling, 2005). But on the heels of those successes, the publisher with whom she released most of her books was bought out. Packham found herself in possession of little more than the name Where Women Create.
As luck would have it, a lunch meeting with Kellene Gilhoff, owner of magazine publisher Stampington & Company, and Jenny Doh, then editor in chief, resulted in the birth of the magazine Where Women Create. (Stampington is known for its niche craft publications, which have very little advertising and are published on heavy stock paper that makes for collectible issues.) Packham set the look and feel of the magazine from the first issue: She featured approximately 12 artists—young and old, professionals and hobbyists—with each getting six to 12 pages to tell her own story in her own words.
“I make all women sign off on their own articles,” she says, explaining her editorial approach. “We correct spelling, but not grammar. I want their personalities to show through.”
From the beginning she has relied on the arts-and-crafts community, in particular the women she’s featured, to lead her to the next round of stories. Along the way, she’s built a community she trusts.
“I believe that people who work with their hands, whether it be jewelry or gardening or food, are truly good, hardworking people,” Packham says. “They do it for the passion, not the paycheck. Those are the kind of people I want to surround myself with.”
Business heats up
During a photo shoot for a Create story on clothing and accessory designer Robin Pearl Brown, Packham saw the need for a second magazine. “I’d been traveling a lot and saw the foodie movement coming. … [Robin] has the most beautiful kitchen in the whole world,” she explains. “I called [Stampington’s] Kellene on the phone and said, ‘We need to do Where Women Cook.’ ” The magazine was launched with the Winter 2011 issue.
Packham says the latest title, Where Women Create BUSINESS, came about in a similar way. She says that as the economy worsened, she saw many artisans who wanted to take the next step with their business but didn’t know how. Women entrepreneurs became her next target audience.
“I realized I needed to start a business magazine that I understood. There had to be a concrete takeaway,” Packham continues, adding that most business magazines make her feel dumb for not having started and sold a business for millions by her mid-20s.
Why the emphasis on women in her current career? “I’ve been the unknown artist … in publishing,” she explains. “I was a single mom trying to support my kids. And so I’ve walked that road, and I understand it. “I don’t want to sound altruistic, because I love this job. I know I’m smart enough to know I can’t do it by myself. I have to learn all of those lessons so that I can be successful to help all these women be successful as well. We need to do it together.” It’s important to note that Packham also helps out within her hometown community of Ogden, Utah. She created a group to revive Ogden’s historic district, chaired the arts committee for Ogden Pioneer Days’ 75th anniversary and has chaired—and restored—the town’s Christmas Village for more than a decade. All in addition to supporting women who create in the kitchen or on the kitchen table, “I promote women who make little craft projects or cupcakes. Sometimes I feel like I should be doing something more, like promoting nonprofit organizers or people working in Africa,” she says. “If I can make a tiny difference so that someone’s every day can be a little happier, a little more rewarding, a little more financially sound, then maybe that’s my contribution, but it’s enough for me.”
Business: Where Women Create
Founder: Jo Packham, president
Address: 215 Historic 25th St. Ogden, Utah 84401
Items at Costco: Where Women Create BUSINESS is currently available in most Costco warehouses. The new issue of Where Women Create will be available in February. The new issue of Where Women Cook will be available in March. Comment about Costco: “I love Costco! I’ve belonged to Costco forever. When Costco moved to Ogden, managers came in and introduced themselves and made an effort to be part of our community.”—Jo Packham