From the time she was a young child, Jodi Broglio has always loved patterns and bright colors.
“As a little girl I was mesmerized by the designs of the pink wallpaper on my bedroom walls,” said Broglio, who owns jolio designs with her husband, Anthony. “I’d spend hours making cards and wrapping gifts, making them special with bits and pieces of this and that.”
These days, the Brielle woman spends hours designing and defining styles for companies such as Warner Bros., Disney and Mattel. Her bright, colorful patterns have turned up at Staples and have made their way into gift bags for celebrities at A-list Hollywood events.
“To be able to turn my passion into a profession is thrilling beyond words,” she said.
And thrilling is a word she uses to describe her feeling at becoming a finalist in a nationwide contest sponsored by Martha Stewart “Living” magazine.
The contest, Martha Stewart Living American Made Audience Choice Awards, aims to recognize the creativity and work of entrepreneurs whose products are “innovative, inspiring and beautiful.”
Broglio learned of the contest through a network of artisans called The Artisan Group, which has allowed her access to a variety of ways to market the products she designs in her home studio.
“It was a quick deadline to turn your stuff in,” Broglio said, noting the application included a few paragraphs about herself, photos of herself and some of her work, and other tidbits.
A few weeks later she found out that she was one of 100 people picked as a finalist out of more than 2,000 entries.
“I really had no idea they’d pick finalists,” she said. “I’m glad I didn’t know it was that big. I would have been devastated if I wasn’t picked as a finalist” if she’d had any sense of how big the contest was, she said.
Now, she and the other 99 finalists are awaiting the final decision of the editors of “Martha Stewart Living.” Those editors are picking 10 honorable mentions and one winner, with the winner being honored in New York City at an event called “American Made” Artisanal Fair, Oct. 16-18, a workshop that aims to inspire and promote the kind of creativity that Stewart, who will be on hand at the event, has made a living from. The winner also will appear in “Martha Stewart Living” and will receive $10,000 for his or her business, according to the contest’s website.
The exposure is a dream for designers such as Broglio, who, while she has a solid client base, would like to expand her business much further.
Broglio, who’s originally from Monroe Township, received a bachelor’s of fine arts in graphic design from William Paterson College in 1995 and worked as a staff artist for Mattel for eight years, designing branding and packaging for products that included the Barbie line and other girls toys. She moved from standard products to the customized line, designing products that were specific to certain companies, such as The Gap and Disney, she said.
But she was restless.
“I would see people who had been there for 20 years, and I didn’t want that,” she said. “I wanted to have my own studio. I knew I wanted to do my own thing.”
In 2007, with the encouragement and support of her husband, she made the leap. They left California, where they had been living while Broglio worked for Mattel, and headed back to New Jersey, landing in Brielle.
“My husband was like, ‘You can do it, you can do it,’ " she said, admitting that if she had waited a year longer, when the recession hit, she probably wouldn’t have taken the chance. “I’m glad I did,” she said.
She and her husband run the studio together while raising three sons – Chase, 9, Dylan, 6, and Luca, 3. Most of her clients right now are companies she did work for in California.
“I’m working on a lot of Minnie Mouse stuff right now,” she said, “and a Happy Feet 2 style guide.” Style guides, she explained, are a template of patterns and graphics that go out to licensees that give the basics of how a product or design should look.
“For example, if they’re making tabletops, the guide has examples of how the products might look,” Broglio said. The guides are designed to be a baseline for the line.
“You’re creating a little Bible for the design,” she said. “You want freedom for the company’s design team add to it, but for the line to still be cohesive (across licensees).
“It should still feel like it’s from the same vision,” she said.
“That’s how, when you go into Target and Walmart, you see the same feel across the brands,” she said.
Broglio also has done licensing through a company called Primary Colors, which sells products through Staples and Big Lots.
“They take my art and put it on their stuff,” she said.
Public voting for the finalists in the Martha Stewart contest closed on Monday, so now Broglio and the others must wait until Oct. 8 to find out the contest results. The voting is 50 percent of the final decision, with the product and the editors’ evaluation making up the other 50 percent.
In the meantime, she continues to work on building her brand through gifts and sample packages that go to celebrities. Through The Artisan Group, she's sent items that were gifts at MTV's movie lounge.
"You pay a small fee to be at the function," she said, but it's an opportunity for exposure for products. She’s designed items for stars such as Mila Kunis, Ryan Gosling and is currently working on a set of stationery for the daughters of Denise Richards.
“Once they get hit hopefully they send you a thank you note,” she said. Or a designer might reach out through Twitter to say they hope the star liked the product and, with any luck, the star will tweet a reply that can be retweeted, which provides some backing for the designer's products.
“You hope that maybe they’ll recommend your work to someone else,” she said.
Check out Broglio's entry here.
More samples of her work can be found here.