Years ago, I made jewelry for fun. Some of my favorite evenings were spent in my sweat pants with my beads spread across the floor. Id play music or turn on a movie in the background and sit for hours and hours, designing and creating. Evenings like that would help clear my mind and center my spirit.
A few months after Aha Crafted took off I started feeling in a bit of a creative rut. I also has this underlying anxiousness as my mind was constantly consumed with what needed to be done next. While I am extremely grateful for the way our business has transformed, its been a huge adjustment. What was once a hobby and stress reliever quickly turned into an income generating business and we all know (or can imagine) how stressful that can be. With this shift I found that the free time and outlet for decompression and creative self discovery seemed non existent.
Lists are long and never-ending when you own a start-up company and it feels impossible to justify play time. There always seems to be something "more important" to do. The thought of setting aside three, four, five hours to just play is a scary thought. Setting time aside just for you, without an agenda or time constraint that doesn't provide immediate results seems like a waste. This was my mindset for the first few months of owning our business. Until I had one of those Aha moments. One where I realized the absence of my free time was the very thing dragging me down. So last month I blocked out a few evenings to sit at my work bench sans compute, sans phone.
Unintentionally what came from that evening was a new style for the Aha leather earring line. We call it our Cut Out, and since we launched it last month it has quickly become one of the best sellers. My plan for the evening wasn't to create a new product for Aha. It was just a natural outcome I suppose. Its what happened when I allowed myself the space I needed to dig down into my artistic roots.
A few weeks later we shot our Spring/Summer line, and included the Cut Out style in our line up. The above picture was the first we edited. When I posted this picture on Instagram I thought to myself how fitting that my model was wearing the Cut-Out. Lauren is a holistic health coach and yoga teacher who owns Center Your Health and has been a good friend of mine for years. She is not only beautiful but also brilliant and has given me countless tips for my overall health and well being through healthy food and living choices. I am extremely fortunate to have so many close and inspirational friends in my life. Lauren is one of those. Her holistic inspiration has helped guide me towards a more centered version of my self. Without a doubt, Its from these happy centered feel good places we produce our best work. When we allow our work to consume us so much that we become a frantic and worn out version of ourselves no good ever comes from it. Ive watched Lauren balance working full time along side owning her own business and becoming a mother to her beautiful son Hanley. She does it all with grace, a healthy body, a happy mind and a huge smile. I am a firm believer in the phrase "there are no coincidences". And seeing her in these earrings firmed up my decision to set work aside for a day or two and just focus on me.
So here's the thing: It's easy to get caught up in producing and pushing and hustling in life. These are all activities that give the illusion you are doing something worthwhile and using your time well. I use the word illusion because its exactly that. Hustling is not always productive. And as a designer or an artist if you are not grounded and connected to your creativity, your most valuable tool, what do you have? Its not the hustle that created your art. That comes later, and unfortunately its a necessary part of running a business that can disguise itself as more important than it really is.
So....after some Aha moments, and self discovery these past few months, I just thought I would share my thoughts with you. I think the most valuable lesson Ive learned thus far in my journey of owning a business is to never give up what it is that keeps you centered. Make the time, and do whatever it takes to find the balance between hard work, success and your happiness. The three don't always go hand in hand, but they most certainly should.
Do what you love. *Live Light, Be Light.