I AM NOT SPECIAL

i-am-not-special I am not special. Yes of course, my mom, my family and my husband (I hope) think so. But really, I'm not. I'm just like you. I have fears, dream, goals, aspirations, victories, failures, good days and bad days.

When I read other people's stories - on how they got started and what got them to where they are today - I get inspired and feel like it's truly possible to achieve that same greatness. So today, I thought I share with you my story on how I got to where I am today. And that you too can achieve the same success.

Growing up, art was always what I favored - well, that and music. I remember getting a pair of large headphones and locking myself in my room to bliss out to music and draw or paint. This was my happy place.

When it came time to decide what I wanted to do before graduating high school I considered arts. Maybe graphic design or communication arts (whatever that means) - but really those jobs sounded terrible back then. The idea of sitting in front of a computer all day was not glamorous or dreamy at all. I also considered becoming an art teacher. But the idea of so many years of school killed me - I hated school (for reals guys, the only class I liked in school was art).

Because I couldn't decide what I wanted to do and the idea of going into debt to study something I didn't even know I liked, was not an option.

So I chose Cosmetology school. A left field decision, yes. But I great decision for sure. I grew up with two aunts that were both self-employed hairstylists. The idea of being able to make people feel beautiful and working for myself sounded very desirable. That's when I really knew I wanted to work for myself.

For thirteen years I worked as a hairstylist and for ten of those years I was extremely happy doing it. Then I started pursuing art in my free time, moved to a more cultural, art-supportive town and found myself exhibiting art at local restaurants, shops and galleries. I was always drawing, sketching or painting in my free time and finally did something about it. I was creating because I knew I wanted a change, I knew I didn't want to do hair forever. 

After a few exhibits and opening my first Etsy shop, I began to experience what it felt like to make money doing what I loved. It was pennies but a huge boost and confirmation that I could do this.

A few months later I got engaged and decided to design my own wedding invitations. I picked up a set of nibs and calligraphy tools I had from years ago and created our wedding announcements and stamps. I posted them on my Etsy shop just for fun and immediately I was being emailed by many for custom work.

I went with it. I started creating more calligraphy designs, receiving custom orders and posting more products. After my first month I was making more than just pennies.

After our wedding in August of 2011, I opened my second Etsy shop Hazel Wonderland. By April 2012 I was interviewed for the Etsy Featured Seller (for those of you who don't know, being asked to be an Etsy Featured Seller is a huge deal. The interview is opted on the Etsy homepage and viewed by millions).

A few months later, I quit my day job. 

Things were great. Better than great, I was on cloud nine. I was scheming ideas, daydreaming of what the future could look like, I was unstoppable.

Then a few months into designing wedding invitations and working with a couple that challenged me, I realized I was not doing what I was called to do. Yes, I was creating art and yes I was extremely grateful to have clients, to be making money and to be self-employed. But I was not passionate about working with wedding clients. Working with couples was fun and always beautiful to see how each project unfolded, but I was not happy, I was stressed. I still felt like there was more and this was not it.

I spent some time soul-searching and digging deep. Listening to the heart and imaging those moments when I felt the most alive, the most true to myself. I discovered I felt the most alive and heartfelt during conversations with other creatives, artists or friends. Conversations about how unhappy they were at their current job or position, how they dreamed of being more, accomplishing more but had no idea how to get there. They had a passion, a calling, a God-given talent, but no clue how to monetize it.

And that's when I knew what I really wanted to do, what I was called to do. I wanted to help others discover and grow their talents, personality and skills so they could make money and bring value to the world doing what they love, helping us find ultimate fulfillment. 

That meant working with people like me. Artists, musicians, woodworkers, designers, illustrators, photographers, printers, instructors, teachers... that wanted to leave their day job to make money doing what they really love.

When I realized I had to make the switch to start working with creatives and stop working with weddings, I came up with a plan. A plan to slowly phase out of weddings and into business coaching, branding and designing. This process took about eight months.

On October 15, 2013, I launched this blog (yep, the one your reading right now) and started talking more about what I was doing, why I was doing it and who I wanted to work with.

Fast forward to present day and here I am living my dream. I'm working with my dream clients, creating work I love and influencing others like I hoped I could. I create brands that tell others stories, I plan out strategies to help people get to where they want to go, I coach to help others find clarity and brainstorm new ideas, and most recently I teach to help inspire others to imagine, start and grow their business, expertise and craft.

I was put on this earth to help creatives like you. To help you imagine, create, find happiness and find ultimate fulfillment. What do you feel you were put on this earth to do?

("I am not special" was inspired by the talented illustrator Molly Jaques and her Instagram post here

FINDING INSPIRATION // BLACK & WHITE

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Finding Inspiration is a hunt that's never off season. Before a big week of creating art, illustration and visual direction for my clients, I dip into my Pinterest boards seeking out my favorite styles of inspiration: illustrations of people, abstract brush strokes and real photographs of artists doing their thing.

Where do you find inspiration before a big project?

( 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 )

 

WHY I BLOG

why-i-blog I started blogging nearly 5 years ago. I found my voice, my tribe and my style through blogging. I read this blog post and was inspired to share why I blog.

My first blog was to explore and share work I loved and work I was creating. In 2010 I started blogging. I had no clue what I was doing, but remember reading my friends blog and thinking how I wanted one of my own. She gave me the advice to be myself, to choose a name that was short and memorable. Looking back at those posts, it's clear I was finding myself. I was discovering my personal style, my art, my voice and my inspiration. I blogged a lot about music and how it inspired my artwork. WOW, has my style changed and what I write about, but It's fun [and embarrassing] to look back at my first blog MUSIC = ART.

My second blog was created to attract clients. 6 months after starting my very first blog, I started a secondary one to blog about my new business venture. I don't talk about it a lot - but I used to be a hairstylist (I plan to share more about this soon). So this blog The Brides Hairstylist was created to attract brides seeking on site hair styling for their wedding. This blog was very successful having 200-400 visits per day. It helped grow my business extensively and connect with brides from all over the world. In 2012 I retired from hair and took down the blog to discontinue the inquiries.

My third blog was made to share my latest work and musings. In 2012 I launched the Hazel Wonderland blog. I remember asking my friend (who was developing my website and blog) to complete the blog first so I didn't feel like a fish out of water - because at that point I had taken down my second blog and had no way of blogging. When this blog was launched, I had 2 years under my belt and was used to release of blogging. On this blog I shared herbal tutorials, recipes, music, art and a lot of interviews. I loved the interviewing part (and will start featuring some here soon) but wasn't connecting with my readers as much as I'd like. Plus I had outgrown my brand and was launching my new business name and brand.

My current blog is for you. October 15, 2013, I launched this blog to answer your questions, solve your problems, teach tips and skills and connect with creatives. Yes, I've shared my secrets, my work and my observations but this time I'm doing it for you. It's only been a few months since this blog launched and already I feel like this one is the best yet. I feel more connected to you, more intentional, and more purposeful.

My mission is to help creatives live their dream, making money doing what they love and this blog is helping me reach that mission everyday.

How about you, what's your blogging history? Why do you blog? And how am I doing - am I helping you solve problems and learn new things?

( ARTWORK )

WANDERLUST AKA I WANT TO TRAVEL & CHANGE THE WORLD

wanderlust-aka-i-want-to-change-and-travel-the-world I dream about traveling the world. I imagine my husband and I with backpacks, hopping trains, shaking hands with natives, eating food, wandering streets, experiencing culture and a beauty that we've never seen before.

Not only do I imagine traveling the world, I also imagine changing the world. Like a TOMS's-Shoes-kind of change the world - a one-for-one. I want to give my time and efforts to those who need it. I want to provide for my family while providing for others too. I imagine meeting people from across the United States to all over the world. I imagine getting my hands dirty and experiencing tough realities. I imagine laughing, loving and crying. Most of all, I imagine my heart happy.

For so long I've imagined this dream but never took any serious steps to make it happen. When I have a dream or idea for my business, I write it down.

SO... I'm writing it down and setting some goals. I'm announcing to you today that this is my calling and that I believe I was put on this earth to help others find beauty and strength within themselves and to help guide them to the life of their dreams.

Now that I've shared my big dream, what's yours? Do you have any trips planned? I am a novice to traveling abroad, any tips, recommendations or ideas?