Boss Women of Jersey City: Ruth Salas of Luna de Papel
For many Jersey City residents and families, “Luna de Papel” has become a household name. This gorgeous crafting space located in Jersey City’s Bergen-Lafayette district has become synonymous with family, art education, warmth, and community. Ruth Salas, the owner of Luna de Papel is a strong woman business owner who has become a staple within the community. Known for her endearing warmth, kindness, and incredible talent, everyone you meet who has ever met her has the same thing to say: I LOVE RUTH.
Where Ruth was born and raised is just as much a part of Luna de Papel’s story as her own. Ruth grew up with her two brothers and one sister in Ravira, a small town North of Lima, Peru. In her village, Ruth grew accustomed to not having much and became exceptionally skilled at resourcefulness, trade, and living off the land. She and her family had to make everything they had: pots and pans, bowls, shoes, clothing, toys, etc.
When I was little I didn’t appreciate it, Ruth confesses. “Why do I have to make my own?” she would whine.
As she grew older, however, she began to appreciate the deep knowledge and understanding of how to utilize the natural materials around her in order to survive with limited resources and money. She also appreciated the skills in sewing, pottery, knitting, and repurposing that she developed throughout her time in her village.
Ruth and her family immigrated to the United States in 1996. She met her husband, Marcelo, in Paterson and the two were married in 2007. The two had their first daughter, Mikaella in February of 2008 and their second daughter, Camille in March of 2010. For Ruth, her family is everything.
“I would not be here if it was not for all the support my girls and Marcelo give me,” Ruth gushes.
Raising Strong Women
Ruth’s journey to becoming Jersey City’s go-to craft master started years ago when she began volunteering at her daughters’ school, Hudson Montessori. She helped create props and costumes for end of year celebrations and stage productions either from scratch or with a minimal budget. Some of the other mothers asked her for classes, however, it wasn’t until a moment with her daughters that her ideas for her own space came to fruition.
One day, one of her daughters came home with a hole in her jeans and made a comment about throwing them away. Ruth was taken aback by this mentality.
“It was not how I grew up. How I grew up, we didn’t have money to get more pants,” I told my daughter, “No, we can fix it. We can make it look pretty. We can make it look scary. We can patch it. I showed them how to patch it. We were able to cut a butterfly and add it to the pants.”
This was the moment when Ruth realized how important it was to raise her two girls in the same way she was: resourceful, skilled, and creative. Wanting her daughters to have life skills, she made it her mission to teach them to sew, knit, cook, and more. With her daughters at the forefront, Ruth moved forward with creating a space for crafting.
Building A Crafting Community
When the Luna de Papel space officially opened its doors for the community, Ruth only had classes for kids. They did activities with clay, painting, and other simple crafts. This grew to include mommy/daddy and me classes during the day while school aged children were busy with their school day.
At the outset, Ruth didn’t offer sewing or knitting for children or adults because she assumed everyone already knew how to sew. It wasn’t until Lynn Hazan from ChicpeaJC came in that she realized she was mistaken. Lynn loved what Ruth was doing with her space for children but encouraged her to expand her lessons and classes to adults as so many people do not have those skill sets anymore.
With a variety of classes for the community in full swing, Ruth had to spend a great deal of time building her business in a part of our Jersey City community that had yet to see a lot of growth. For her family, this wasn’t always easy.
“At the beginning because I had to be here a lot, they (the girls) were kind of sad because we were always together before. One of the things we would do is cook a lot together. I told them I had to sacrifice so we could enjoy our times together more in the future,” Ruth confesses.
As the girls grew older and began to develop and strengthen their own skills they were able to be more actively engaged in the space and could actually do things with Ruth and the other families.
Ruth, Marcelo, and their girls celebrated Luna de Papel’s 3 year anniversary last October with friends and family. The gathering highlighted how important this crafting studio has become to Jersey City. Ruth fully understands the importance of what she’s built and how it not only gives the community a place to learn and refine new skills, but also provides a respite from the outside world.
“When people start sewing, they might get a little frustrated because they don’t get it right away. But once they start getting it I see them go to another world. They start singing as they work and they forget everything going on in the world,” Ruth explains, “When we’re sitting there working with clay, I see them transport to another place.”
Ruth feels like this break from constant stimulation, technology, rushed schedules, and homework is even more significant for her younger crafters.
“It’s important. Right now especially, there are so many things going on outside for kids. I want kids to feel free to do things. It relaxes them,” she explains.
In addition to providing a crafting oasis where people can shut out the daily hustle and bustle, Ruth also recognizes that her space teaches everyone to persevere and work through challenges.
“People can get overwhelmed and think it’s so much and it’s so hard,” Ruth says of all her students.
Then they realize that they can easily learn an easy stitch and through trial and error, they make mistakes and end up learning so many new things. They quickly become quite successful and feel really proud and happy and what they were able to accomplish and craft on their own.
Outside of their crafting space, Ruth, Marcelo, and the girls hope to use their knowledge to give back to the community. They want to develop more after-school programs in order to teach children these necessary skills. Mikaella and Camille also want to use the skills they’ve acquired to pay it forward. The girls, who now know how to knit their own scarves and sew, want to create things for shelters and retirement homes. They also have made little pillows to sell for charitable profit.
Go Check it Out!
If you haven’t been lucky enough to step inside Ruth’s gorgeous space at 321 Communipaw Avenue in Jersey City, you should definitely make plans to do so! Luna de Papel offers “Mommy/Daddy and me” classes, Drop In & Play, Creative Little Hands, Day Camps, as well as a full summer camp schedule. The studio also offers adult events and special BYOB Cr’After Hours. For their full class schedule click here.
Luna de Papel also throws a GREAT party. Ruth works closely with her party planners to create custom backdrops, unique and party themed crafts, place settings, gift bags, etc. Ruth really knows how to help design a party like no other.
For more information on Ruth’s craft studio, you can visit their website here, call 201-946-9400, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Additionally, the craft studios’ social media account is an excellent resource for craft ideas and projects for both Jersey City residents and worldwide.