This Local Resident Left Her Day Job + Started Her Own Craft Business

Jess Jakubas had a successful corporate career for more than 20 years. She worked for large ad agencies and dealt with Wal-Mart, Citi Bank, and more, but that didn’t give her the purpose we all look for when it comes to our professional lives. After reaching a point where she realized she needed to make a major life shift, Jess risked it all and started her own craft business in Caldwell called Second Act Studio located at 398 Bloomfield Avenue. Keep reading to learn more about Second Act Studio.

Second Act Studio

Montclair Girl: Tell us a little bit about yourself and your decision to start your own business.

Jess Jakubas: After nearly 21 years in marketing for large corporations, I shifted my career focus to opening an art and craft studio. I held fairly senior positions within ad agencies, but had lost my passion in an industry that changed so much since I entered it during the internet boom of the 2000s. I’ve always been interested in found art, making things, painting, and crafts. I decided to take a huge risk by leaving the career I had known to embark on this new journey.

One aspect that I miss about my marketing gig is the ability to mentor more junior folks. I’m happy to do what I can to help a local student apply for an internship or her/his first job in marketing. It can be an intimidating profession to break into.

MG: How long have you lived in Essex County? 

JJ: I grew up in Belleville and opened the store in Caldwell in May of this year. I’ve always been proud to claim the same hometown as Frankie Valli and Joe Pesci!

(Photo credit: @secondactstudio398)

MG: Tell us about your business. 

JJ: Second Act Studio is an art collective. We encourage families, children – during bday parties or hang out sessions among friends – as well as adults to #makethemesshere and have fun!  We work with wood, mixed media, jewelry…we’re happy to work with any material that our makers prefer.

We foster individual creativity by enabling activity-based learning workshops and support local and nationally sourced mixed medium work from predominantly female artisans including crafts, found art, unique gifts, and more. Our mission is to have fun while making a mess.  We encourage our makers to let go of perfection and welcome creativity.

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MG: What would you say sets your business apart from others?

JJ: At Second Act Studio, we really encourage our makers to “let go” and live outside their normal constraints when tackling a project. We’ve seen one too many parents telling his/her child to approach painting in a different way or an adult criticize her/his own project. We want people to have fun and not focus on making a project perfect.

(Photo credit: @secondactstudio398)

MG: Who or what is your biggest source of inspiration?

JJ: I pull inspiration from all sorts of places. I really love home design and antiques. When you come to the studio, you’ll see we have an eclectic style. I don’t believe everything has to be “matchy-matchy.”

Second Act Studio

MG: What are your goals for this year?

JJ: My goal for this year is to get the Second Act Studio name out there. To reach as many makers as possible and become an integral part of the Caldwell community.

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MG: What’s a typical day look like for you?

JJ: I concept projects, search for supplies, build projects, reach out to the community, etc.

MG: What has been the highlight in your career/life so far?

JJ: I’d say a highlight in my personal life is watching my daughter grow into a young woman and really become her own person. A highlight in my professional life is my taking a big leap to leave an established career and try to do what makes me happy.


Written by:

Katherine is a recent Montclair State grad who has a passion to explore the world. Apart from her family and dogs, she loves traveling the most. She has fallen head over heels with experiencing the world, trying new foods, learning about new cultures, and getting out of her comfort zone. She's been to 16 countries and counting. In her spare time you'll find her listening to music or daydreaming about a new adventure.