• Episode 5: The Complexity of Decision Making with Alyssa Black of Drawn to Ecology

    Alyssa Black is the founder of Drawn to Ecology and a self-taught ink and watercolor artist. The focus of her art is anything nature-related. Her passion is to blend science communication and scientific illustrations to create pieces to help people understand how to recreate responsibly in the outdoors. Sells to national parks, and her website, and also runs a community called the "Outdorker Community."

    Her art process is known as "stippling" which can be seen in the way she makes trees and landscapes. This process ignited an idea to host “Meditative Art Sessions” when she realized the process of stippling helped her move through stress and anxiety and let go of perfectionism. 

    Big Leaps 

    As Alyssa was gearing up for big transitions in her life such as getting married and buying a home she made a big "leap" by hiring her first hire which was a virtual assistant. Her second big “leap” was moving into a studio space without knowing when the money would be coming in to support this decision. She made these big decisions with the help of community, which helped her see herself as worthy and capable of making these big changes.

    It was when she started to realize that others believed in her more than her belief in herself, that she prioritized her business and herself. Surprisingly, when she made the space to listen to herself, prioritized her business, took the leap, and made margin for more opportunities she soon started to get the biggest clients she has ever gotten.

    Alyssa reflected that she had made a beautiful foundation in 4 and a half years of business to be able to take this big leap and trust in herself, and encouraged others to build a strong foundation before jumping into something like a studio rental. She also explained that she feels that part of the "big leap" is trusting and knowing you have laid a good foundation for your business.

    Scared Verses Smart Decisions

    Every single decision is a big leap of faith and Alyssa says every time she has made a big decision it has always been a little outside her comfort zone financially.

    She reflected on two stories of decisions that have been pivotal for her business. One was turning down a Mastermind in the beginning of 2020. Later, this ended up being a decision she was so thankful for because in February her best friend committed suicide and then the pandemic happened. Not being in the Mastermind allowed her the space to step away from her business, focus inward, heal, and create a lot of artwork that ended up sparking her "Mediative Art Sessions."

    The second big decision came about when her Mom got breast cancer and she couldn't take the time off work to be with her. So she took the leap of faith to quit her job and start her business with the money she had saved. Alyssa believes this is one of the best decisions she has made.

    Alyssa stated that it can be hard to evaluate if you are being scared or smart when making decisions and it takes time to learn how to access these things within yourself. The best thing you can do is to ask yourself do you have faith in yourself and your leap? Not believing in yourself and your decision could be the root of what may be holding you back.

    Practical Tips for Decision Making

    -Mediation and centering yourself to allow yourself to disconnect from what other people think and their opinions 

    -Asking yourself "What feelings are attached when you look at numbers and projections for your decision?"

    -Asking yourself "Are you making a decision out of fear and/or scarcity or is there room for more? If you let go of the “how” what would the decision look like?"

    -Trust your gut and intuition

    -Ask yourself "How can your business work for you and not you for your business?"

    -Remember that making decisions is a balance of trusting your feelings and also looking at data

    KEY TAKEAWAYS:

    • Are you keeping yourself small?

    • How much do you believe in yourself?

    • Are making a “scared” decision or a “smart” decision?

    • “If you let go of the “how” what would your decision actually look like?

    • How can your business work for you instead of you working for your business?”

    • Find time to quiet yourself so you can trust your gut rather than only relying on other people’s thoughts and opinions.

    • Trust that you have made a foundation and done the work to believe yourself as you take your big leaps.

    • It’s ok for your values to change in your business over time
       

    Artist, science communicator, and mental health advocate Alyssa, the outdorker behind Drawn to Ecology blends scientific illustrations with whimsical anthropomorphizing of species to allow every adventurer to learn about the places they recreate and tap into the healing powers of nature through the use of art. Their products are made in the USA- sustainably and a portion of our proceeds go to support the planet and our public lands. 

    Pairing a critical eye, science, nature, and artistic whimsy to illustrate and highlight important topics from threatened species, responsible recreation, to depression and grief. Drawn to Ecology uses science communication to inspire, educate, and help people connect using hand-drawn nature-based illustrations that are made with the planet in mind! We hope to rock your world! 

    Find Alyssa at www.drawntoecology.com and on Instagram @drawntoecology 

    Find out more about the Drawn to Ecology: Outdorker Community- Meditative Art Sessions, Sticker Club, and more! 

     


  • Episode 4: Small Beginnings and Slow Growth

    It's In The Small Beginnings 

    We often feel like we are stuck when we are at the beginning stage of something. We are putting in the time and energy, but we don't feel like we are seeing the growth we want to see. However, it's in the small beginnings that big things can grow, it just takes time for our "seeds of effort" to take root. 

    It's so easy to get caught up in looking all around us thinking that many people grew overnight, or that there are overnight successes. Even these situations that we think "had it easy" have had growing pains and perseverance. You weren't a part of that beginning and you didn't see the waiting and the effort that happened beforehand. 

    This podcast for me is a "small beginning" and I know it is going to take time to grow. Even though I know this in my head, my feelings can get in the way. I can start to spiral and think "what's the point?" when I can't see the growth I want to see now. We ALL feel this from time to time and It can be hard to not get discouraged when the growth isn’t happening that we want to see. 

    It can feel pointless to keep moving forward when you aren’t seeing people sign up for your class, when you didn't make the money at the craft show, and when no one signs up for the amazing freebie you spent hours creating. 

    5 Things You Can Do When You Are Discouraged In "The Small Beginnings Stage"

    1. Take a walk through memory lane.

    Look back at what you have accomplished and how far you have come. The simple act of doing this is encouraging. If you are brand new to something, bask in the fact that you took the steps to start learning the thing. This podcast…may not be much right now but I can already look back and remember that it used to just be a conversation, then it was a research project, and now it is a thing. Look at your older work as an artist and see how much your work has developed and changed over time. This is a grounding experiment because the lie that you can believe is that…you haven’t grown. Yet you truly have! 

    Check out the Instagram reel I made from taking a "walk down memory lane". If you are inspired, make your own and tag @thetillagepodcast so I can see it! I would love to see your growth story!

    2. Normalize the experience.

    Every person who has set out to do something for the first time has a learning curve and more often than not it wasn't an instant success. Even the “instant success” stories you think exist still came with a lot of hardship and perseverance. It is normal to feel discouragement and you don't need to be embarrassed or ashamed about it. Sharing how you are feeling can also open the door for others to be vulnerable, and allow you to see you are not alone in your feelings. 

    3. Repeat, repeat, repeat.

    Keep doing the task that will enable growth in whatever it is you are setting out to do over and over and over again. Just like keeping a real plant alive, with repetitive watering and weeding, growth will happen when we continue to show up and do the work. I know it can be easy to give up at the starting line. We try something once and say that didn’t work. We launch the class and no one signs up, and we think our calling isn’t education. We make art to sell and no one buys it…so we must not be talented or no one likes our work. Those we look up to and inspire us did one thing, they kept repeating and they kept showing up. I encourage you to keep going, repeating, and to not give up. 

    4. Celebrate even the smallest wins.

    Write down a list of all of the wins you can think of for the week, the month, and even the quarter. Seeing these will give you a boost of energy and affirmation. If you feel like there aren't any wins to celebrate, celebrate your action instead of the result! Even if you haven't landed a licensing opportunity or a new account to carry your product, if you still pitched...that's a win! 

    5. Squash the comparison.

    Easier said than done, I know. But the comparison is the thief of joy AND is practically poison for growth. Some helpful boundaries with your phone, Instagram, or Pinterest could be helpful in this area if you find yourself continually sucked into comparison. I have even "muted" certain artists I know I have a difficult time not comparing myself to at times. Comparison is like allowing yourself to kick yourself down at the stating line. Give yourself a chance! 

    A Haiku Conclusion

    To conclude, here is a haiku that I wrote when making a calendar all about growth in 2020. September's haiku went perfectly with this episode (and I promise I didn't plan it!). 

    A haiku for you:

    Seeds are not unearthed
    For growth to be monitored
    Trust in the waiting

    I encourage you to not uproot your seed and trust in the waiting. I know it is hard, but good things will come and growth will happen!
     

    KEY TAKEAWAYS:

    • From small beginnings, big things can happen
       
    • Your work is valuable in the early stages even when it is not being affirmed 
       
    • Slow growth is nothing to be ashamed of 
       
    • 5 ways you can keep going when small beginnings are discouraging:
      -Take a walk down memory 
      -Normalize the experience
      -Repeat, repeat, repeat
      -Celebrate even the smallest wins, and celebrate your actions if you aren’t seeing results
      -Squash the comparison 

  • Episode 3: Positioning Yourself As An Educator with Dani Ives

    A Hobby That Became So Much More

    Dani Ives has a Degree in Biology and a Masters in Conservation Education and was working at a zoo as a conservation educator when she found herself desiring to do something creative in her free time. A conversation with a co-worker about needling felting changed Dani's whole life as she started to create in this new medium. 

    Needle Felting is a process of tangling or combining wool fibers with a barbed needle, which can be done in a 3D or 2D format.

    It wasn't long until she tried selling her needled felted figures to support her new obsession of a hobby at local craft shows and on Etsy. She soon found herself working 40 hours a week at her day job and another 40 hours a week to prepare for shows and keep her Etsy shop stocked. 

    However, when she discovered she could work in 2D she became way more artistically fulfilled and filled the artistic hole in her life. This propelled a whole new drive in her business as she started to make highly realistic portraits and pictures in wool. In 2014, she slowly started to make an income when she started offering pet portraits and in 2015 she left her job as a Conservation Educator to pursue her art career full time. 

    Leaning Into Education 

    When Dani was at craft shows, people would naturally ask how she made things as she worked on projects at the show and she realized that was actually a demand to learn this process. She started by teaching a group of friends to gain some experience and then she started traveling to teach at venues around the country. It was during this experience that she really fell in love with teaching.

    Teaching online courses eventually came into play when people were not able to travel to learn from her or she couldn't get to them. So Dani started teaching online to reach her audience more effectively. 

    Believing In Yourself and Pioneering A Path

    Her technique of “painting of wool” hadn’t really been widespread before she started teaching. Instead of seeing this as a hurdle, Dani saw this as an exciting opportunity to pioneer the way. She loves the idea of being “the first” to do something and took on the challenge. When she started to teach her technique of "painting with wool" she started to gain a lot of attention for her work and has also grown a large social media following. 

    Despite this, Dani still feels imposter syndrome from time to time and has had to grow into feeling comfortable with the term “expert.” She has often felt the “who am I?” feelings because she did not go to art school, and did not have any formal training yet she is trying to elevate needle fleeting to a more artful form. But she is comfortable with the art she is making, and the way she teaches, and over time imposter syndrome has become less and less.

    A key statement that has been an anchor for Dani when she launches or teaches anything is, “You are not responsible for other people’s feelings.” She explained that she can only control how she feels about what she makes and the value she is delivering. The simple truth is that she can only put good things in the world and see what happens.

    Dani also spoke on fear and how she has had fear creep up when launching courses such as, "Can she produce something useful, and are people really going to buy in and join?" As she has re-launched courses the fear that always creeps in is that the last launch was the last good launch she will have or that maybe her audience doesn’t like her or her work anymore. This fear hasn't gone away, but it has become easier to fight over time. 

    Dani explains that she wasn’t an expert when she started teaching and that you only need to be a few steps ahead of your students. She would encourage you if you have the desire to teach to go for it as it has been so rewarding for her. Start by teaching a group of friends and have them ask questions, take notes, and get feedback. Create a mini curriculum or a step-by-step project you can share and then reach out to your local community at venues you to start teaching. 

    KEY TAKEAWAYS:

    • It’s ok to grow slow and take things one step at a time.
       
    • If it hasn’t been done before, don’t let that stop you. You could be the one to pioneer it!
       
    • When the question comes up, “Who am I?’” answer “Why not me?”
       
    • We can forget our gifts and talents because they comes naturally to us, but if we allow ourselves to see our gifts from someone else’s perspective we can see how valuable it really is.
       
    • You are not responsible for other people’s feelings or other people’s reactions.
       
    • You don’t have to be an expert to teach something, you just need to be a few steps ahead.

       

    Dani's "Painting With Wool" course is always available and her "Best Portrait Course" is open for enrollment TODAY (September 13-20, 2022). Join her newsletter to stay informed of upcming courses!

    Dani Ives is an award-winning artist, author and educator. Her primary art medium is fiber, and she creates highly detailed and representational art with wool fibers and needle felting techniques in a process she calls “Painting with Wool.” Through her art, she strives to make emotional connections between humans, animals and nature. She draws inspiration from outdoor explorations and her background and academic degrees in biology and conservation.

    Dani’s work has been featured by Martha Stewart, Fiber Art Now, The Oprah Magazine, American Craft, Colossal, and more. She also shows her work in galleries and art shows across the U.S. Along with creating artwork, Dani teaches her techniques and helps others create more confidently in her popular online courses and during in-person workshops around the world. She also wrote a best-selling book called Painting with Wool: 16 Artful Projects to Needle Felt, which is available wherever books are sold. She lives in Northwest Arkansas with her husband and adorable dog, June Bug. When she’s not needle felting, she spends her time working in her sketchbook, reading, or hiking along the woodland trails near her home. 

    Find Dani on instagram at @begoodnatured and on her website www.daniives.com.


  • Episode 2: Knowing Your Why and Values with Tiffany Grimes of Posterity Paper

    Tiffany’s love for greeting cards started with her grandmother, who lovingly sent cards to friends and family for their birthdays. After her grandmother’s passing, Tiffany took on the role of sending greeting cards to her grandmother’s loved ones. However, the cards were not the ones she would want to send, which stirred in her the desire to design her own cards. Attending Paper Camp with Katie Hunt was a pivotal moment for her business and she officially opened her shop in April 2020. 

    How a strong “why” can be an anchor

    Tiffany started off with a strong “why” for creating her business, which was to “Inspire a new generation of thoughtfulness.” She wanted to encourage the younger generation to send more cards to loved ones. Upon reflection, Tiffany realized that she found herself drifting away from her “why” when she was trying to please people and make more money. She believes it is important to have a strong “why” and focus on it while running your business or it is easy to get off course.

    Breakthroughs and creating guiding principles 

    Tiffany recalled two breakthroughs that helped her come back to her “why” and eventually create what she calls, “guiding principles.”

    One experience was attending a store in Savannah Georgia called, "The Paris Market." This was almost a spiritual experience for Tiffany as she experienced someone else's creativity through textiles, smells, and the beauty in the shop. She loved this feeling and wanted to translate it into her business and have those who came into contact with the things she had made to feel similarly. 

    Not long after, she went to Magnolia in Waco Texas, and was very inspired by how every detail was so intentional and thoughtful from the color palette to the customer service. She left feeling inspired and wanted her customers to feel seen and know that she created her product with them in mind. 

    After these two experiences she started thinking: what is it that my brand believes in, what experience am I trying to give my customers, what am I trying to create, and what is the feeling people are going to have when they encounter my art?

    It was then that she started to write down her “guiding principles” starting with the phrase “WE BELIEVE.” Some of her phrases include:

    We believe in the power of handwritten notes
    We believe that no one should rejoice or weep alone and that compliments are meant to be shared 
    We believe “It’s the thought that counts” needn't be an excuse but a call to be more intentional
    We believe that life’s a page-turner and that plot twists are part of everyone’s story
    We believe that it’s time to inspire a new generation of thoughtfulness for posterity’s sake 
    We believe the book was better 
    We believe each new season deserves its own notebook 
    We believe that happy mail blesses the recipient and the sender 

    When she looks upon these principles she is deeply reminded of her “why.” When she hits a creative block or is given an opportunity she looks at these and asks, “Does this match up with the type of life and the brand and the experience that I am trying to create?” If it doesn’t, it helps her say no to things when she would often have said yes. 

    Creating from experiences and a deep sense of purpose

    Tiffany explains that as a stationery designer, she is designing for two people: the buyer of the card and also the recipient. As she has developed her style, she is more intentional about listening to her gut and what she wants to create. When a client comes to her asking for something that doesn’t really resonate with her style or meets her why anymore she has learned to push back. This is important to her as she creates and designs in an authentic way and so she is not allowing herself to be put in a box. As she continues to create, Tiffany also recognizes that her art is influenced by much of her life experiences such as her former career as a teacher. 

    Tips for creating your own guiding principles

    -Get quiet to have the mental space to reflect
    -Get out of your normal environment 
    -Be attentive during your days to gather ideas, because you aren’t going to get all your thoughts down in one session
    -Remember your guiding principles are a living document that will shift and change 
    -Allow yourself to feel as you write. What are things that anger you? What is causing you to grieve? What is firing you up? What makes you cry and brings you joy? Let these things guide you and follow your emotions.
    -Post it, because if it’s out of sight it’s out of mind
    -Use these guiding principles in your branding and packaging to be transparent about what you stand for. 

    KEY TAKEAWAYS:

    • Having guiding principles can help direct when saying “yes” or “no” to
      opportunities, guide how we create artwork with our end customer in mind, and help us from getting off when we find ourselves trying to please people. 

       
    • We need to give ourselves grace for our early work because we put ourselves out there and had the courage to start
       
    • We shouldn’t belittle our journey or our beginnings, because our journey and everything we have experienced influences our work and how we run our business 
       
    • We need to be mindful of getting stuck in the research phase. Eventually, we need to move to action.
       
    • Having boundaries can ensure that we run our businesses and that our businesses do not run us 


       

    Tiffany Grimes helps busy women show up for the people they love through modern, humorous, and thoughtful stationery. She witnessed the simple power of sending a greeting card and handwritten message from her late grandmother. Tiffany’s mission is to continue her grandmother’s legacy by inspiring a new generation of thoughtfulness through stationery.

    The diversity of her experiences and interests bring a fresh voice to the stationery industry. Her unique POV is informed by her faith, her culture, her infatuation with 90’s slang, and her curiously compatible love for Anne of Green Gables and Afros.

    When she’s not homeschooling her three children or watching basketball with her husband, Tiffany can be found sipping chai and catching up on her backlog of podcast episodes.

    Find Tiffany at

    www.posteritypaper.com and on instagram @posteritypaper


  • Episode 1: Changing Directions with Ali Hooten of Coit Creative

     

     

    Ali Hooten started as an architect and became a full-time working artist in the summer of 2021. She played with different income streams such as art licensing, wholesale, Etsy, POD, and client commissions. After a year of running her business, she intentionally started to reflect on and reassess her different revenue streams in the spring of 2022.

    During her time of reflection, she looked at what revenue streams were working, which ones she would continue, and why she wanted to continue in them. She came to the conclusion that she wanted her revenue streams to match her ideal lifestyle in the future. This meant not creating physical products anymore, working toward having a zero-inventory business model, and releasing herself from selling wholesale.

    This was a decision that Ali did not take lightly. She looked at the data, evaluated what it would take for certain revenue streams to grow, and how she felt when working in each revenue stream. She commented on how it was also dangerous to compare yourself to other businesses because not everything someone else is doing in their business is something you need to be doing in order to be successful.

    A big shift in Ali’s mindset was that just because she was going to stop doing something didn't mean that she had failed. Eliminating her financial fears was also something that she moved past to ultimately decide on her change of direction to focus solely on licensing and POD. 

     

     

     

    KEY TAKEAWAYS:

    • It is important to evaluate and reassess what is working in our businesses. This allows us to see if what we are doing is what we want long-term for our lives
       
    • We have control over our decisions in our businesses and we are allowed to pivot and make changes
       
    • There may be times that we have seasons in our businesses that don’t last forever
       
    • It’s ok to experiment and see what works 
       
    • Just because you have stopped doing something doesn’t mean it failed
       
    • Having a community can be key to making decisions and not feeling alone


       

    Ali is an illustrator, surface pattern designer & educator based in Colorado, USA. She is known for her earthy & minimal design style that is often inspired by the wild places & adventures in her daily life. Ali also teaches other creatives with online courses on Skillshare and her own platform. You can find her at coitcreative.com and on Instagram @coitcreative.