Jennifer Lazar- Full Artist Spotlight

For this month's artist spotlight we are thrilled to talk to Jennifer Lazar, one of the founders of powerhouse brand, Citizen Ruth.

Citizen Ruth directly supports over 250 female, queer, and marginalized artists and makers from all over the world, and their products are hilarious, salty, and wholly unapologetic in their joy.

What is your favorite part of the maker’s process, do you plan ahead or just jump right in?

I love getting inspired and then workshopping with my team on how to make the idea as funny or poignant as possible. Almost like a writer’s room, we are always trying to punch things up. If it’s a new product idea, I go on a manic bender until I’ve figured it out or created something I can feel proud of putting out into the world.


How did you get started with your business, what was the spark that made you decide to go for it?

We started in 2007, that business was primarily handmade jewelry. I had been doing it as a hobby while working at an egg donation and surrogacy agency. I became dissatisfied with the job and the structure so my wife (then girlfriend) told me to just leave and we’d figure it out. So I did! We’ve had several product iterations since then, but that’s where it all began.

Do you like a tidy work space or functional chaos?

What I like and what I have are unfortunately different. I love a clean and tidy workspace, yet what I have is only semi-functional chaos. It’s been organized and redone more times than I can count, but my mind is messy and so is my process.

What has been your biggest challenge as a business owner?

For me the challenges come from keeping and supporting a staff through the crazy inconsistencies of the past 5 years. It’s extremely difficult to stay profitable while also paying people what they are worth, providing insurance, etc. Capitalism doesn’t care, but I do. I’m still trying my best so that I can maintain my ethics while navigating an inherently unethical system.

What brings you the most joy outside of your creations?

The connections I make with people at shows spark so much joy for me.  I love when they find their niche sticker or something that makes them feel seen. I’ve had some incredible interactions with people that have stayed with me throughout the years.



What do you wish to see in the future to support artist owned small businesses? 

It seemed like for a while there was a huge push to buy handmade or Made in the USA, but since the pandemic I think people have shifted back to whatever is cheapest. Independent shops are hurting in a way that I haven’t seen in my 17 years of business. I’d love to see a more concentrated effort on a national level to bring folks back into small businesses to reconnect with their local communities.

Anything exciting in the works/coming up for you this year? 

We just launched wood pins and those are looking great! We are also expanding into more hats and beanies. We never rest our brains. We are always thinking about what is next.

Is there anything else you’d like to share? 

We are grateful for the response to our products. I am so blessed to have an incredible group of talented artists from all over the world to collaborate with. Owning a small business is incredibly difficult and can be all-consuming, but it has taken me on a journey of a lifetime and I wouldn’t change a thing.


You can check them out around the web:


IG: @ citizenruthbrand   

Store - @citizenruthpdx

FB: @citizenruth

Shop their collection of items at MADE :)