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Pleased to Meet You

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Jessica Schuman is the founder/owner of Kismet, a boutique that benefits Tucson’s at-need animals. Here she talks about her battle with her body clock, and straight-talking kids. By Samantha Cummings

Jessica Schuman

Photo by Samantha Cummings

Early bird or night owl? “It’s somewhat of an unfortunate thing but I’m both. I’m definitely a night owl by nature and early bird by nurture. So, I love to stay up when it seems like the rest of the world is sleeping. I feel like the rest of the world belongs to me and it’s a very creative time and I feel really connected. But, I also went from being a student my whole life to being a teacher, so my internal rhythm gets me up at the crack of dawn. So even if I go to bed at 4 in the morning, I’m up at 6. I actually one time calculated the difference between getting 6 hours of sleep and getting 8 hours of sleep a night and the two hour difference a night over the course of a year is actually 3 months more of sleep at 8 hours a night.”

Jessica Schuman

Photo by Samantha Cummings

Favorite accessory? “I have to say a cat. Of course I don’t consider animals accessories, I consider them to be family. But, I couldn’t imagine life without sharing my home with pets. I really notice a difference in my adult friends who grew up with pets as a part of their family from those who didn’t. It’s hard to put into words, but maybe some sense of empathy or a developed sense of compassion. It could be imagined, but I think it’s there.”

Favorite faux pas? “My favorite faux pas come from the mouths of children. I was a kindergarten teacher for 17 years and I was privy to their bits of wisdom. They just speak in one faux pas after another. They just reflect back to you who you are and really challenge you with the things they say.

“One time a child heard me lamenting that I had big black circles under my eyes and he came right up, interrupted the conversation, looked me in the face and said, ‘Actually, you have purply semi circles.’ I mean, that’s just what they do. It’s like, ‘Okay, tell it like it is!”

Who is your dream customer? “Well naturally my dream client is anybody who ends up becoming a wonderful volunteer for the non-profit organization, which happens now and then. I also really appreciate when customers say or share unexpected things about themselves, which is a new experience for me being a shopkeeper.

‘This man came in with a rag in his hand and a bottle of cleaner and he asked if we wanted our windows cleaned. So I explained to him that we were a young , small business, all volunteer and operated by a non-profit organization. We were pretty stretched right now, so no thank you. Then he inquired what we do, so I told him about our spay and neuter services. He reached into his pocket and said. ‘Well, let me give you some  money.’ And he put three dollars in our donation jar.”

Jessica Schuman

Photo by Samantha Cummings

If I weren’t a non-profit founder I would… “I would definitely still be teaching. It’s such a large part of my identity. If I hadn’t become a teacher or founded a nonprofit, I probably would have moved towards becoming a documentary videographer. Definitely photography and video were my first loves.”

If I could change one thing I would… “It’s a long list. I’m really hesitant to say this, because I think it’s really dark, but I would wish for a world where no living thing has to experience a sense of terror. When I witness something, hear about something in the media, or I know about the affairs of the world, I always try and put myself in that person’s place.

“Terror is different than fear. Fear can sometimes be a great motivator. But on a lighter note, I would wish that everyone feels a sense of hopefulness for the future and that they feel a sense that they can make some difference in the world and even more than that, they feel a responsibility to do so.”

Jessica Schuman is founder and executive director of the non-profit Tucson CARES, which assists in the spay and neuter of dozens of companion animals and community cats each month. Each sale from Kismet (meaning ‘destiny’ in Persian) benefits Tucson CARES.
Visit Kismet at 2627 E. Broadway Blvd. Tel: 520 207 9994. Open Wed, Thursday and Friday, noon to 6pm, Saturday noon to 5pm, and by appointment. Animal adoptions by appointment also. More info here.
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  1. I keep coming back to this piece and Jessica’s response to what one thing she would change if she could…it’s such a difficult question, but her answer, terror, really resonates.