SPOTSWOOD, NJ – Jenalyn Engstrom is a Jersey girl with a Southern twist. Engstrom comes to the Garden state via her native Arkansas. The world traveler moved from Texas to New Jersey more than ten years ago when her husband Josh’s job was transferred to the area. Together, the young family settled into the borough, making it their home. It didn’t take the mom of three long to love things that are totally Jersey like the shore. However, the move east also brought out the stay-at-home mom’s creative juices.
As all Jersey residents understand, the cost of living is quite high. Engstrom adapted to the change by giving new life to discarded furniture pieces. By redoing several pieces of furniture, Engstrom was able to decorate a large part of her new home. The “labor of love” resulted in a wonderful array of stylish, chic designs that made the couple’s new house a home.
It wasn’t until her youngest entered preschool that Engstrom decided to take her craftiness to a new level, transforming her garage and dining room table into her workspace.
“When Andrew was in preschool, I was able to dedicate the time to make it (woodworking crafts) a little more serious,” Engstrom explained. “I’ve been doing vinyl and design and stuff for many years prior to that, but I really came up with the name and the logo and making it a business about three years ago.”
“Josh is really good about being understanding,” Engstrom added with a smile.
A piano performance major at Brigham Young University, Engstrom describes herself as always being “artsy” and “creative.” Engstrom started selling some of her pieces on Etsy, but found some were too large to ship. Next up was a Cranbury craft show where her decorative woodworking plaques were a huge hit. Now, Engstrom sells her seasonal and Jersey Shore-inspired creations and more by consignment at Folio Art Glass, Inc. in Colts Neck.
After a fun evening at Pinot’s Pallette, Engstrom began thinking about hosting her own woodworking parties or classes. While she had a blast at the painting party, Engstrom didn’t feel as though she would hang the canvas she made in her home, leading her to ponder how she would do it differently.
“Angela Andre asked me if I could do a fundraiser,” Engstrom said. “She put the challenge there and I’d already been thinking about it.”
Engstrom embraced the gauntlet and the result was a successful fundraiser and the Purple Peg was born. Now, people can head to the Purple Peg to set up a private party, fundraiser, shower, birthday celebration or more via Engstrom’s website. She held her first in October and since then averages about two to four painting parties a month.
“My favorite to do is the private parties in people’s homes,” Engstrom said.
Basically, the event is coordinated through Facebook once people decide on the date and the type of party by visiting the website’s booking calendar. About two to three weeks before the event, participants can visit the event’s Facebook page and choose their desired design. Party-goers must make payment before the party date by credit card through the event page though checks can also be mailed directly to the Purple Peg. People decide on the size of the piece as well as the type by perusing the available templates. If he or she can’t find one that works for them, Engstrom will work with the person to come up with a custom design for a small additional fee.
Engstrom provides all the tools needed to create their designs and the host provides the tables, chairs and tablecloths. The Purple Peg can supply linens for an extra charge. All the details for organizing a Purple Peg painting party can be found on the website.
When Engstrom fashions creations for the consignment portion of her business she is completely green, using recycled fence planks and discovered pieces of driftwood. However, for painting parties, she purchases the wood pallets. Where others see garbage or a piece of furniture that has outlived its usefulness, Engstrom sees promise, giving discarded wood new direction.
“I’m happy,” Engstrom said of how the Purple Peg has evolved. “It gives me traction.”
More examples of Engstrom’s creativity can be seen at the upcoming production of “Willy Wonka Jr.” at the Spotswood School District’s Appleby School. The Purple Peg did all of the signs for the annual spring play extravaganza and had a hand in the delicious decorations in the concession area.