When I look back on 2016, a lot has happened. Much has baffled and disappointed me. But I’ve learned a lot and met some fantastic people along the way. Today’s podcast is a review of this past year’s Style Stories and the lessons that I learned from each.
#1 Prolific creativity is often the result of a youthful spirit.
from Kelly Christine Sutton
Why? Because when you have a youthful spirit, you’re not afraid to take risks and try new things. And taking risks and trying new things is what kiddos do best! I mean, just look at any toddler and you’ll see what I mean. No fear. No hesitation. Complete trust in the process without the stagnating affects of self-judgement or overly harsh critique. Sure, caution and critique have their place as we mature. But who said we had to turn in our youthfulness completely to prudence and perfection? Take a cue from a kiddo and do your work even if it’s uncomfortable, unfamiliar, or has the very real possibility of failure. Better yet, spend an afternoon with a kid and let them be the boss. See what they see and do what they do. Climb up the play structure and then jump off the high bars. Cover your hands in paint and then recklessly smear your canvas and yourself in every color you can find. Show up to the party and then talk to every new person you encounter. This is how you foster a youthful spirit and exercise the muscles of prolific creativity.
Sidenote on Kelly… This past year, she and her husband took what I’m now going to call a “leap of youthfulness” and purged the majority of their belongings in order to downsize into a mobile tiny house. It’s pretty cool and definitely in line with this first Style Story lesson. Get the full scoop HERE.
Read Kelly’s Style Story.
Listen to Kelly’s podcast episode.
#2 Powerful impact starts in our own backyard.
from Carly Burson
Carly started her career in traditional fashion working with prominent companies such as J. Crew. That’s were she honed her skills, built her creative chops and refined her taste. That was her “backyard”, so to speak. Then she and her husband adopted their first child, Elie, from Ethiopia and their worlds were changed forever. Carly realized the immense tragedy of child relinquishment due to poverty and the need for economic options in developing countries. Her heart was moved. She couldn’t turn the other way. Rather than abandoning the ship of her professional past, though, Carly parleyed her skills in fashion into a new company, Tribe Alive, that would make a difference for the better. It didn’t take reinventing the wheel… just redirecting it.
If you’re longing to make a powerful and positive impact with the work that you do, start in your backyard. Do what you know and use those skills to create a environment where the work serves the purpose and the purpose is supported by the work.
Read Carly’s Style Story.
Listen to Carly’s podcast episode.
#3 Do the work. Trust the path. The dots will connect eventually.
from Jamie Ditto & Allie Hill
Let’s jaunt back to lesson #1, shall we? Taking risks, trying new things, creating with a youthful spirit. There’s another aspect to that lesson. TRUST! And Jamie and Allie have it. I’m sure it waxes and wanes, like anything. But per our conversation last year for the podcast, it’s obvious that trust plays into their creative process big time. When an unusual and perhaps intimidating opportunity comes their way, they say yes and put trust in their hard earned skills and carefully acquired resources to carry them through. When the dots aren’t connecting and the future seems unclear, they put trust in the journey and keep moving forward with diligence and curiosity. And guess what? It’s paying off! Not with all the answers and endless success but with a journey that is uniquely fulfilling and an arsenal of creative capital that is sure to take them far.
Read Jamie and Allie’s Style Story.
Listen to Jamie and Allie’s podcast episode.
#4 Confidence is a work in progress… Like anything.
from Kristi Drayovitch
Kristi really touched my heart with her story. In our podcast conversation, she shared her unabashed love for home design, entertaining and making a beautiful place for friends and family to gather. She’s a hostess with the mostest and she does so with her heart on her sleeve. In the course of our conversation, we also found our way into the hugely important subject of confidence. Like her honest approach to entertaining, Kristi spoke honestly about her personal struggle with self-criticism and body image as well and it reinforced the truth that I already knew… Confidence isn’t concrete. Even when it looks like we have it all figured out and are solid as a rock, inevitably, the ebb and flow of confidence is bound to be at play, emphasizing to me that confidence and self-image are delicate things to be treated tenderly and they’ll always be a work in progress.
Read Kristi’s Style Story.
Listen to Kristi’s podcast episode.
#5 Hard work and kindness, practiced daily, have lifetime effects.
from Elaine and Christopher Moock
I have to brag here for a moment. This lesson comes from Elaine Moock, my Dallas-based agent and co-owner of Seaminx, the artist management agency that represents my work as a prop stylist. Seaminx is going into their 18th year of business, quite successfully I might add, in what I’m discovering is an incredibly fluid and unpredictable industry. One minute you’re in and the next, you’re out. Yet, somehow they have maintained a reputation and roster of artists far and above the rest. That doesn’t happen accidentally. And, if I may venture a guess, I’d say it’s primarily credit to the mantra they circulate in emails, hashtags and mindsets alike. Be kind, work hard. Simple as that. The strategy for success doesn’t have to be overly complicated or exceptionally original because so many people miss this very simple lesson. If you put yourself forward consistently, daily, with a smile on your face and your sleeves rolled up, the rewards will follow you for a lifetime.
Read Elaine and Christopher’s Style Story and interview.
#6 Successful artistry is deeply rooted in working with what you’ve got.
from Gina Bender
It’s like the classic wedding vows say, “for better or for worse”, creative work will inevitably happen in less than ideal circumstances. So learning to work with the humble resources, scarce time, or cloudy inspiration that you may currently have is paramount to making it in the long run. Take, for example, Gina Bender… She works on the projects for her graphic design clients with limited space and surprisingly even more limited time. She’s a stay-at-home, work-from-home mother of three under four, if that paints the picture for you more clearly. But she doesn’t let that stop her from continuing her creative work. She may not be able to produce work at the same volume or scale as another designer with greater resources, but she designs none the less. And when the time comes and her circumstances change, the tenacity and resilience she’s developing now by working with what she’s got will become rock solid ground work for a flourishing path.
Read Gina’s Style Story.
Listen to Gina’s podcast episode.
#7 Find your tribe… In real life. Take note. Be encouraged.
from Arianna Jones
This last lesson is going to be ironic.
Let’s get off the computer. Look around us. Observe the people living the way we want to live, doing the work we want to do. Note the things that are working and aren’t working. Take cues if they’re worth taking – not all of them will be – and then apply them to our lives as we see fit. Role models and kindred spirits, in real life, can be that much needed bit of fuel at the end of a hard day or discouraging experience to help us keep faith and continue on. When you’re taking a path less travelled or choosing work that has more obstacles than most, it can feel like you’re all alone. But, if this blog has taught me anything, it’s that we’re most definitely not alone! During our visit, Arianna pointed out that she found mentors and role models through both traditional methods, such as mentorship programs, and informal encounters. There are more people out there doing what you’re doing and struggling like you’re struggling than you realize. Don’t be afraid to reach out, make a friend, share experiences and encouragements.
Read Arianna’s Style Story.
Listen to Arianna’s podcast episode.
In closing, a poem shared by my in-real-life acquaintance, Emily Paben, creative director of Magnolia Home.
“the year is done. i spread the past 365 days before me on the living room carpet. point to the one where i decided to shed everything not deeply committed to my dreams. refused to be a victim to self-pity. here is the week i slept in the garden. in the spring i wrung the self-doubt by its neck. hung your kindness up. took down the calendar. danced so hard my heart learned to float above water again. in the summer i unscrewed all the mirrors from their walls. no longer needed to see myself to feel seen. combed their weight out of my hair. i fold the good days up and place them in my back pocket for safekeeping. draw the match. cremate the unnecessary. the light of the fire warms my toes. i pour myself a glass of hot water to cleanse myself for january. here i go. stronger and wiser into the new.”
The Year is Done by Rupi Kaur