Meet Jen, Our Creative Director

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Photos by Carly Romeo & Co.

Want to get to know the people behind Catalyst Wedding Co.? Our Creative Director, Jen, is opening up about how she got here, her past career shifts and struggles, and her intense love of cats. 


1.  YOU’RE THE Creative Director AT CATALYST WED CO. WHAT DOES THAT MEAN TO YOU?

I love design and marketing, and being the Creative Director of Catalyst means that I get to combine those two loves into something awesome. I handle the bulk of the work on our website, create the graphic design and layouts for each issue of the magazine, and manage the bulk of our advertising. It's so easy to sell the Catalyst brand when you feel 100% confident in what you are delivering to the public! And I also get to work with Liz everyday in my pajamas. #winning

2.  IF YOU HAD A TAGLINE, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

Jen Siomacco, breaking the tension by making silly faces since 1986.

3.  EVERYONE AT CATALYST DOES A MILLION THINGS.  WHAT OTHER WORK OR HOBBIES DO YOU HAVE ON YOUR PLATE?

In addition to Catalyst and holding town a part-time job as a web/IT professional at a large company, I also run my own personal creative business, A Pocket Novel (www.apocketnovel.com), where I make and sell jewelry and textiles. After a long day on the computer I always feel the need to make something physical with my hands, so my company is an outlet for that.

4.  HOW DID YOU FIND/GET STARTED AT CATALYST?

I have known Carly Romeo, our other co-founder, for about 12 years. We were roommates in college and also sat together on the executive board of a feminist club at the University of Virginia, FIFE (Feminism is For Everyone). My role in FIFE was as the editor of our feminist zine entitled "S/He Said," and we worked to highlight feminist voices at U.Va. and build community through the collaborative workshops where we created the physical zine. It was a real passion of mine, and I am still so proud of what we created, and nine years later, I still feel it is some of my greatest work. (That and when I convinced JD Samson and Johanna Fateman to come DJ a dance party at our school when they were working together as MEN. #riotgrrrlforlife) 

When Carly and Liz first got together and invited me to {un}convention RVA in November 2014, I wasn't really sure what my role would be. I had no experience in the wedding industry, and I joked that my response to anyone who asked why I was present would be "Hi, I'm Jen Siomacco, and I just do whatever Carly Romeo asks me to do since 2005." After {un}convention I realized that this really was just as much a feminist project as a wedding industry project, and that's when I decided I had to be a part of it. I jumped on board as fast as I could and offered to do the layout for the first issue for free. A few months later, Carly and Liz invited me on to be one of the owners/founders of the company, and I haven't looked back. 

While all of this was happening, I was still holding down a full-time job as a web user experience designer and running my jewelry business. It was a hard decision to scale back my role at my full-time job and spend more time and energy on Catalyst, but I am so glad that I have. I really believe in this business, and I have been lucky enough to have friends, colleagues, and a spouse that really believe in it too.

5.  WHAT DID YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU GREW UP?

I went to school for architecture, and I remembering doodling my dream house as early as age six. I also started a stationery business when I was 12 and remember trying to sell my Winnie The Pooh stamped stationery to everyone in my neighborhood. At age 13, my best friend and I started our own fashion magazine which we created as a combination of our own drawings and clippings for other magazines. In summary, I guess I should have always known I'd end up here.

6.  WHAT DID YOU GO TO SCHOOL FOR?

I graduated from the University of Virginia School of Architecture with a Bachelor of Science in Architecture in 2008. While working I went back to school and took online courses in Interaction Design from Savannah College of Art and Design for a while, but dropped out after 3 semesters. #gradschooldropout 

7.  HAS FAILING AT SOMETHING OR QUITTING EVER LED TO SUCCESS FOR YOU?

Yes, yes, a million times yes. Graduating in 2008 with an architecture degree was basically a recipe for failure. I was never even able to get a job in an architecture firm after graduation, and many of my friends who did get jobs were laid off within the year. The recession was just an awful time to try to go into an industry that is dependent on growth and economic expansion.

So I stayed in Charlottesville, VA and took the only job I could find and began working as a proofreader of medical textbooks. It was ROUGH. Not only was the pay terrible, but I was looking at some truly horrifying photos of diseases. Many of the women who worked there chose not to have children, and I have too, and I think it is largely because it's hard to imagine giving birth after proofreading an obstetrics textbook and learning literally everything that can go wrong in childbirth. *shudder*

While working in that role, though, I fought hard to be given responsibility in other areas of the company. I did layout work for the textbooks and slowly began taking on web design work. I made the best of a bad situation and found myself working as a web user experience designer by 2010, and within a year and a half had already become a lead in the department.  

That whole experience taught me that you have to deal with the hand you're dealt and to reevaluate each decision in the moment. Taking on the wedding industry and working in print publishing seems a lot less scary now since I know I have already changed careers and industries once and did it successfully. 

8.  WHAT'S ONE PIECE OF ADVICE YOU WOULD GIVE YOUR 18-YEAR-OLD SELF?

Give zero f*cks and don't be afraid to become a cat lady. Being a cat lady is THE LITERAL BEST.

9.  WHAT ARE THREE INGREDIENTS FOR A PERFECT DAY?

Good coffee, snuggling my three cats, and listening to my favorite podcasts "The Black Tapes" and "Tanis" (or rewatching "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" for the millionth time) as I edit the website and magazine layouts.

10.  IF YOU WERE IN CHARGE, WHAT WOULD THE NEXT BIG WEDDING TREND BE?

Is it socially acceptable to wear yoga pants and lounge wear to weddings yet? Cause it totally should be. Some of my Anthropologie lounge wear is REALLY cute, guys!