A conversation with Acquinta "AJ" Jones
What is a joy factor?
A joy factor is exactly that, a joy factor in schools! Whether it’s a bulletin board that’s bringing the joy, a decorated classroom, a teacher lounge restoration, or time just to create we bring joy visually to your classroom, schools, and organizations.
So tell us a little bit about how you started a Joy factor?
Doing bulletin board decor is something that I truly enjoy, from looking at them to doing them, the passion is there. However, as a teacher with other responsibilities, time and resources are always limited. So I wanted to find a way to make it a bit more simple for teachers and schools to accomplish the visual goals without the exhaustion. I've been teaching for 11 years, and even for me it's the last thing to get done, but the first thing you notice when you walk into a room. So once I realized this was a major pain point for most teachers I started to do my research to figure out how I could solve it while bringing the joy.
Also bulletin boards are often underutilized. They can be used to teach and differentiate, so they’re not just for displaying student work and I try to showcase this with folks who are interested in making their boards more functional spaces in their classrooms. I did a ton of research on supplies and costs, and even repurposed materials, because the challenge for most schools is how can we get it done quicker and more economically. And this is where A Joy Factor comes in to support with planning, materials, and execution.
What are some of the more creative items you’ve used on a bulletin board?
I made a snowman out of plastic cups, once. You name it, I've used it, from paper cups, plastic cups, ribbon, plates, to picture frames. Dollar tree becomes your best friends, especially the holiday section. I think it helps to think outside of the box, and add dimension to the work. It makes the boards stand out, and really gets onlookers attention.
What's one challenge you face as a female entrepreneur of color?
I think when you say you want to start a business as a black female, most people assume it has something to do with lashes, makeup , or an online clothing boutique, and for me none of those are the case. So I think just getting folks to realize their is validity in new ideas. One challenge I have faced within the work, is that folks will start asking you to take over all the boards within a school if they see you doing them well, so this extra work can be hard to balance. My biggest thing I want to avoid is staying too late or coming in super early. Essentially I want to show teachers this can be done during a prep or planning period, and off the clock time isn’t necessary.
What gift/act would make all the difference?
The biggest gift I could use right now is Investment Capital. This influx of funding would allow me to build an inventory of materials. The startup costs can be taxing, and having some funding would allow me to execute more boards faster. I also need support with organization, specifically creating schedules and time for the business amidst my teaching responsibilities. If there's a tool or a platform, or if there’s someone out there who can support, I could use you.
Where do you see A Joy Factor in 5-10 years?
I see A Joy Factor in schools nationwide, not just doing bulletin boards, but also PDs on why it's important to have creative time and art integration for educators. I want to bring back the joy factor through art, and allows space for teachers to create and unwind. I also want to support other educators rolling out this model in their state, so I see A Joy Factor becoming a franchise-like model. Finally, I see A Joy Factor as a store front, kind of like school box, but with stations where you can apply the tricks with the latest tools (ie. cricut, di-cut machine, silhouette, cameo). These machines are about $200-$300 each and we want to give educators access to these more readily without having to pay the huge costs. We want to create a space where Teachers can come and use our tools and resources to create. We’d also have hours that suit teacher’s schedules.
What do you want our readers to know about you?
I really love doing this work. I love the DIY world, especially pinterest, and I am always picking up new skills. Also no board is ever the same. I take pieces from others as inspiration, and let my imagination do the rest, so reach out so I can design your next board!
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