Portrait Seven - Creative Communicator Jana Kennedy at her home in Old Trafford, Manchester
Jana was one of our treasured customers, we got chatting last year about sizing and things like that over email. Robbie and I were about to move to Manchester and Jana gave us a few tips for printers and studios in Manchester. Through us meeting one of her good friends, we have now moved into Islington Mill in Salford. Which is an awesome community of artists, ceramicists and designers. We have since met Jana at her lovely home full of amazing colour and plants in Old Trafford.
Describe what do you do in one sentence.
I’m a creative communicator – from working with Health care researchers in the NHS to working on theatre productions with young people!
Tell us a bit about you –What was the path that lead you to what you do.
I’ve always been creative, a bit of a dreamer, and never wanted a proper ‘job’, I have creative parents who actively encouraged this!
As a child I loved performing, I was in all the school plays, in my 20s was one of an infamous group of cancan dancers, helped produce festival shows, worked in street theatre and trained as a clown!
Alongside all of that I started making clothes, making bikinis in NYC for a few years was good fun! A mate in Manchester asked me to run a t-shirt design workshop for him, I rocked it, got booked for loads of fashion workshops with young people and the creative workshops went from there. I also did the same thing in NYC. Writing this I realise I have ALWAYS performed, made things, and facilitated workshops – always!
Can you tell us three of the most important places you’ve lived, worked or travelled that have lead to you being where you are today.
I was born in London but never loved it, it just didn’t ever totally feel like home. But Manchester instantly did. I left for 5 years to live in NYC, which was amazing and I loved it, but visas made it difficult to stay. Then I bought a huge bus with my partner and we travelled around Holland, Spain and Portugal. (Funnily enough when I was 18 my dad got me to write a letter to my future self about things I wanted to do in life. When I got to Spain in the bus he reminded me this was #1 on the list!).
Manchester is home again and I love this city, my husband is Northern so I fit right in!
If you could create a workshop or be part of one with any group of people who would you choose and what would it be?
OOooo great question. Well even though I facilitate them all the time I would still choose to create and facilitate a workshop. I would invite some of my current fav actors; Mahershala Ali , Sophie Okonedo, Olivia Coleman, Sandra Oh and Riz Ahmed to a mad theatre workshop – similar to ones I have been leading with school kids recently. There is a starting point, a word, and then anything can happen, I ask a series of questions and we build a story, often moving about the space as part of the experience. It would be pretty amazing to see what they came up with, the school kids stories have been bonkers!
What’s it like being the creative character going into the corporate world?
So far, it’s good. I am happy to be vulnerable in situations, I am willing to ask questions and admit I don’t know things. Realising that most people I’m working with will be feeling the same way once my workshop starts, it helps me be in a similar place to them, but the corporate world doesn’t phase me as such. Knowing what I have to offer is really different from what they might have previously experienced is exciting. I really enjoy understanding the corporate world a bit more, and how creativity can work for them, in fact they often use creativity without realising it. But the word ‘creativity’ has got so many negative connotations to it. Part of my job is to get people to be creative by stealth, and then encourage them to implement it into their work with great results.
You are obviously very creative yourself what is your preferred medium when you get time to work on personal projects?
I think my work has always been tightly linked to the idea of ‘personal’ projects. I literally take my work home with me, and I love it.
The last thing I did personally was a bonkers theatre show with my mum! We took it to Brighton and Edinburgh Festivals, and sold out at The Lowry. After that I realised, I love being behind the scenes rather than on stage, facilitating is perfect for me.
The other thing I am pouring my creativity into is our house, I am currently obsessed with lighting!
Have you any exciting projects on the horizon?
I have got a big contract with NHS R&D North West to help co-deliver their leadership courses. I love being part of that team as they are really forward thinking, embrace creativity and are super supportive.
I am also directing ‘The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe’ with Z arts young performers at Z arts for a show in May. That is the personal project I take home with me!
Where did you discover us?
Good ol Instagram! I showed a photo of your honey comb jumpsuit to my mate, who knew you so it felt good to support an independent clothing label. It also made me a bit braver to ask if they would be long enough for me as I am tall. Which they are!
What do you like about H&B clothing?
The colours, the shape of the jumpsuits (I now have two plus a shirt and plan on adding to my collection), and the background of the company. Where the clothes are made etc. Im obsessed with the Haveli print dress, it’s amazing.
Can you describe your dream item of clothing?
Comfy with pockets! Brightly coloured is great, I can’t be in all greys and blacks when the weather is crap!
If people want to follow you and discover more about you where can they go..
My snazzy website:
or twitter where I am rather inactive! @theJanaKennedy
Favourite track to work to at the moment.
So many! Can I choose 3?! Please!!
La Roux - In for the Kill
Imarhan – Ehad wa dagh
Tina Turner – Proud Mary
Jana wears our Black Hash Playsuit, Black Tile playsuit, Black Cotton flax playsuit and our Wild Stripe Shirt