There once was a little girl with a big imagination. She would pretend to be a dog for hours on end, insisting on barking rather than talking, eating meals from a plate on the floor and licking her parents when they leaned in for a kiss. This little girl dreamed of flying cars and believed her dolls and stuffed animals were real and deserved her undivided attention. She loved rainy days- she would jump in puddles until she found a worm who needed rescued from the sidewalk (she would then lay it comfortably on a bed of leaves then hop away contently). This little girl loved and lived deeply and felt feelings in a big way. When this little girl grew up, she was nurturing and kind to children and animals, just as she was when she was small. She never let go of her big imagination or her wild dreams. This little girl grew up to become a maker of masks, helping imaginations soar for other little girls and boys, she still believes in the power of pretend and the freedom of childhood.
Jessica Near is the owner and artist behind Opposite of Far, an Indiana based handmade business that creates unique and high quality open-ended toys for the imaginative child! At Opposite of Far, we believe in encouraging play + expanding imaginations of ALL ages!
This all started out as a dream, as all handmade businesses do. After having an emergency back surgery in 2010 that forced me to stop working for several months, then a second surgery that kept me home even longer, I struggled with my identity and dwindling work possibilities. It became clear that going back to my previous profession as a preschool teacher or even working part-time as a nanny- would be impossible with level of pain. I had spent those months in bed sketching and dreaming big. It didn't take long before I started thinking seriously about making my handmade business dream a reality. I took the leap by opening my Etsy shop in January of 2011 & applied for a few local craft shows. Before I knew it, Opposite of Far was real & prospering- I was living my dream!
"Opposite of Far" is something my husband would say when people misunderstood his last name- "Near, you know, like 'the opposite of far'". Once I took his name, I found it hilarious how often I actually had to use this phrase to "spell" my name to people! When I was thinking about what to call my new business, I knew Opposite of Far was the perfect fit. I love witnessing the "ah-ha" moment when people "get" my business name for the first time....sometimes LONG after we've been acquainted!
What started out as a business based on handmade plush dolls and animals, quickly turned into a busy mask making business! In the Fall of 2011 I created a fox and owl mask as accessories for the dolls, then added child sized masks to match the dolls. After 3 days of being posted, I realized the child sized masks were going to be a huge hit! Since then I have expanded my designs from 2 (the fox and owl) to over 50! The plush dolls and animals have stepped out of the spotlight and my true passion really is creating animal masks- who knew?! I love designing new masks and take pride in sewing every single animal mask myself! But my absolute favorite thing about this job is seeing photos of kids using Opposite of Far Masks + Tails to engage their little imaginations. It's truly magic!
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