AZ native crafts her own career

“Does a table really need legs?”

So begins the thought process when Jyll Harthun starts a new project. 

An Arizona native, Jyll started building and creating furniture 10 years ago as a weekend hobby. While she was a student at Arizona State, she majored in architecture for two years before deciding to switch it up and go for a business major. 

She graduated with a business degree in 2003 and worked for DeWalt tools. She describes this as a full circle, how she went from architecture to business and then working for a power tool company.

“I never fell out of love with architecture, but I didn’t want to design full buildings. I wanted to design the pieces of furniture that went into the buildings,” Jyll said. 

After working for DeWalt for three years, Jyll worked for Chase bank as a college recruiter. She then went to work for ASU as a career coach. While she was there, she obtained her Master of Education degree.

She realized she was ready to follow her passion into design.

“I became a career-coach-career-changer,” Jyll said.

Don J Designs was created in July of 2015. Jyll works partly in a studio in her house and partly at TechShop, which is an open-access workshop in Chandler that gives you the tools to create your own projects. 

Jyll says that she visits TechShop at least five times a month, depending on the project she’s working on. 

“I’ve learned so many new skills. Powder coating, CNC machines, welding… the sky is the limit with them,” Jyll said. 

For each machine, you have to take a one to two hour certification class, and then you’re free to use the machine. The TechShop also requires a monthly membership. 

Jyll works with her business partner, who also happens to be her dad, in building c-tables and note boards, as well as light fixtures and doors. She also does custom work for those looking for something specific. 

When Jyll isn’t creating a new c-table or light cube, she’s crafting with her friends. She also enjoys everything sci-fi and fantasy. One of her future goals is to build something and bring it to a Comicon event to sell at her own booth.

She also spends time with her husband of 11 years, Jeff, whom she met at ASU. Jyll credits Jeff with the idea of becoming an entrepreneur. 

“He said, ‘looking at our situation, it’s a now or never,’ and for me, it came down to the regret of not doing this no longer outweighed the fear of doing it,” Jyll said. 

She recalled a photo she once saw of a cat looking into a mirror and seeing a lion looking back at him, and an idea popped into her head. This is where the name, Don J Designs, came from. Jyll’s cat, whose name is Don Julio, is the namesake for Jyll’s company, who Jyll says is a fierce feline. 

“I’m that cat. I need to find my fierce self,” she said. And so, Don J Designs grew from a weekend hobby to a full-grown furniture business. 

To check out Jyll’s designs, visit donjdesign.com