Let’s Talk About Imposter Syndrome

If you’re a creative or an entrepreneur, and especially if you’re a creative entrepreneur, then you’ve likely experienced some level of Imposter Syndrome. That sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach combined with anxiety, self-doubt, and maybe even a little panic. Fear that you’re not good enough to be what you are supposed to be. The thing about putting yourself out there creatively, or starting your own business, is that you are exposed. These endeavors are not entered into lightly; everyone now knows about your vision and your dreams. Who gave you permission to have such big dreams? What right do you have to think your thing is worth contributing to the world?

Merely typing out those last words caused me to sigh with a bit of relief. Admitting that it’s hard to feel vulnerable makes it a little less scary. Some days I feel confident about my goals and abilities, other days I feel like I don’t know what I’m doing. I think that this is normal. I’ve found that the trick is not to let your thoughts and emotions get the best of you. Counter every doubt with accomplishments that you’re proud of. Look back and realize how far you’ve come. You have to be your own coach and cheerleader on most days and find your tribe for the days you can’t. A support system that gets you and the emotional roller coaster you’re on. Your best friends and family may or may not fall into this category. I am so grateful that many of mine do! Fellow entrepreneurs and creative souls need each other.

Cultivating a community you can turn to IRL is so important, but online resources can also keep Imposter Syndrome in check. It’s really helpful to be connected with makers and doers on social media who share your challenges and who are being transparent about their journey. When you realize that people you admire don’t always feel worthy of admiration it helps you to be more gentle with yourself. It’s easy to get caught up in the follower counts, perfectly staged images, and seemingly endless amazing opportunities that others have. What looks easy and instantaneous rarely ever is. Exceptional circumstances aside, success is nearly always preceded by a lot of hard work. You know what’s not easy to Instagram? Hard work. The many hours that have been invested before seeing any return and taking care of all of the nitty gritty details. I believe feeling empathy towards your peers instead of jealousy can make a huge difference.

One last resource I can’t get enough of is the Being Boss podcast. Kathleen Shannon and Emily Thompson (+ incredible guests) provide a wealth of information and support. They even have an episode called, “How to Be Boss Even When You Feel Like A Fraud.” Every boss can benefit from this podcast, especially women. I love the collaborative, positive relationship that Emily and Kathleen share. Listening to them is like joining a boss sisterhood where there is always more room at the table. Enough success to go around for all of us.

This post is really a Note to Self. So remember, and I will try to remember too, “doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will.”

Tucson, Arizona

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Last month I traveled to Tucson, Arizona for the eighth time. I was fortunate to visit Tucson the first time with best friends during Spring Break of my senior year at college. For the last seven years I’ve been spending a week there each February to buy jewelry + other treasures at the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show for my parent’s shops.

Amethyst

Arizona State Museum

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A few of my favorite places and experiences:

EAT

  • Blue Willow: Cute and cozy, located in an old Adobe home. Wholesome, homemade classic American & Southwestern food.
  • Mother Hubbard’s Cafe: Southwestern menu infused with Native American dishes. Breakfast all day, try the Green Corn Waffle.
  • Seis Kitchen: Regional Mexican restaurant that uses local ingredients, located at public marketplace Mercado San Augustin.
  • Blanco Tacos + Tequila: Modern south-of-the-border eatery; best Cheese Crisp (kind of like a Mexican pizza, but better, I order it topped with black beans) and margaritas.
  • Penca: Upscale Mexican cuisine and craft cocktails downtown. Don’t miss the Guacamole Board and trying (at least) one of the Tequila and Mezcal Tasting Flights.

SHOP

  • Tucson Gem and Mineral Show: Certain shows are reserved for registered professional buyers, but there are plenty of amazing areas open to the public!
  • Mercado San Augustin: Public marketplace that features a weekly farmer’s market, local shops (think handmade moccasins and vintage finds) plus dining options like my suggestion of Seis Kitchen above and a traditional Mexican bakery.

DO

 

Have you been to Tucson? I’d love to hear your recommendations as well!

 

 

 

Be Brave.

Today is #internationalwomensday; a perfect time to reflect, celebrate and call for change. Change in the world and change in ourselves. This TED Talk by Girls Who Code Founder Reshma Saujani really hit home for me. She says, “we’re raising our girls to be perfect, and we’re raising our boys to be brave.” When I heard that, I knew she was right. I imaged myself in 6th grade math class, chalk in hand and in the midst of some horrible relay ‘game’ meant to make math ‘fun.’ All I felt was pressure- pressure to be right the first time, pressure to be perfect. How much harder might I have tried if I had felt that being brave was also meaningful?

Surely everyone can think of a time they were afraid to try- but how many more scenarios is a woman likely to recall? I gained so much confidence in college. I attribute a large part of that to how inspiring and empowering my women’s college atmosphere was. After college I conquered many things I was initially afraid of. I lived in another country, I learned a foreign language (my high school self never would’ve believed that one!) and I started my own business.

Let’s all promise ourselves we won’t give up before ever really trying.

PS) Don’t you just love that Be Brave Banner? Find it here.

Design Roundup: Upholstered Mudcloth

  

Inspiring picks from the web (sources listed below):

   

 
 

Handmade mudcloth is one of my absolute favorite traditional artisan textiles. The dye process of mudcloth dates back to the 12th century! Check out this blog post to discover more about the rich history of this fabric. 

I love that mudcloth has a bohemian vibe, yet it is actually incredibly versatile. The geometric patterns compliment so many different interior styles! Upholstery is a beautiful, functional application for mudcloth. You can DIY a thrifted chair, or hire a professional to upholster something custom- either way you’ll have a one-of-a-kind piece.

Ready to get started? I’ve been a textile hoarder collector for quite some time and I’m excited to share some pieces in my new Etsy shop, Folk Finds! My authentic mudcloth was ethically sourced from artisan cooperatives in Mali.

Sources:

  1. Industrial Chic Bench
  2. Indigo Ottomans
  3. Vintage Upholstered Chair
  4. Midcentury Modern Footstool 
  5. Library Chair

Reflections on Vietnam

One year ago I boarded a plane to Hanoi, Vietnam. This trip came about under very sudden and unusual circumstances, but there is no doubt in my mind that I was meant to go there. When I saw a photo contest on Intrepid Travel’s Instagram for a chance to win one of their Vietnam tours I entered on a whim (because really everywhere is on my bucket list). I was hopeful, but who actually wins contests like that? Well, I won. The news came right after my grandfather passed away and it was a welcome distraction from grieving. Pop had been an avid traveler and loved to tell stories about the places he’d been and the characters he’d met. He was always encouraging me to seize the day. In a way I felt like this unexpected opportunity to go to Vietnam was a sign from him to keep making the most out of life.

There is nothing quite like stepping off a plane by yourself halfway around the world where you don’t know a soul. It’s a kind of frightening, kind of freeing feeling and I highly recommend it. I spent the first five days of my adventure on my own (though often not alone because I met great people the whole way), exploring Hanoi and traveling up to the Lao Cai region. I knew I wanted to see this iconic area (think vibrant green mountains and rice paddies as far as the eye can see) where the ethnic minorities still live in their traditional way. Also, being the textile lover that I am, I had to make it to the famous Bac Ha market. I visited several fair trade cooperatives and artisan groups throughout the trip which resulted in a curated Vietnam Collection for Estrella de Mar.

Before I knew it, it was time to join my Intrepid Travel group. Their website states, “you’ll stay under the radar, travel the local way, eat the local way and sleep the local way. You’ll get as close to real life as possible (without actually moving in).” They also share core principals of mine such as respecting local culture and leaving a minimal environmental footprint. In certain past travels (England and Guatemala) I have been fortunate enough to take the approach of actually moving in. Vietnam was not going to be one of those experiences, so I was looking forward to my trip with Intrepid, but with a small degree of apprehension. I had never traveled on a group tour before.

Would our group mesh well? Would the itinerary be right for me? Would our guide feel like a chaperone? My worries soon dissipated. Traveling with our guide felt more like having a local friend who happened to be super knowledgable, helpful and organized. I quickly realized the joy of having transportation, accommodations and a few activities a day already sorted out. The freedom from having to focus on the logistics of all that allowed me to really be in the moment, appreciate my surroundings and take advantage of free time as well.

My group was a wonderful mix of people, of all ages, from all over the world and various backgrounds. This experience just reinforced the value of going into a new situation with an open mind and an open heart. Things have a way of working out and likeminded people have a way of crossing paths. Intrepid delivers on their promise of doing things the local way. I still felt like a traveler, not a tourist. Just with the amazing added advantage of Intrepid’s expert itinerary. In Hue, a picturesque Buddhist Nunnery hosted our group for an elaborate, delicious vegetarian lunch. This was just one of the unique opportunities that I wouldn’t have even thought to try and organize for myself. I highly recommend traveling with Intrepid to make the most of experiencing a new country in an authentic way, during a limited amount of time and with a set budget. The entire trip was one that I will never forget.

#ItsNotJustStella

I subscribe to the Business of Fashion newsletter and earlier this week I saw their headline, “A Conversation with Stella McCartney on Building a Sustainable Luxury Brand” in my inbox. It got me thinking about how the same huge fashion houses are featured in the media over and over again, especially when it comes to the ethical fashion sector. The average person might think that if they can’t afford to spend $1000 on a bag their only option is to buy something mass-produced in a sweat shop.

I admire Stella McCartney’s creative talent and her commitment to her ethos. She has been a pioneer for sustainable fashion and been an important catalyst for discussion in the fashion industry about ethics. But what about everyone else? What about the smaller brands, the independent designers and start-ups who are dedicated to creating positive change in the fashion industry? An industry that employs millions of people around the world and has a profound effect on the environment. Artisan enterprise is the second largest employer in the developing world (!!!) after agriculture. The potential to make a difference through this sector is huge.

Ethical fashion online retailer, Helpsy, took the words right out of my mouth with their campaign, #ItsNotJustStella. They are encouraging YOU to share what you are doing in your businesses and lives to create a more sustainable fashion industry, share it on social media and tag #ItsNotJustStella and #BoFVoices. One thing I love about social media is the power it has to democratize important dialog. So let’s all join the conversation! We need to celebrate and hear about more than just a few elite designers. I have been an advocate for the sustainable, ethical fashion industry since I realized that it existed. More consumers need to know they have choices and that there are many ways they can make a difference.

Through Estrella de Mar, we are providing economic empowerment through dignified employment in Guatemala and giving back to the communities where our artisans live through strategic partnerships with local non-profit organizations. Our artisan partners are worker-owned women’s weaving cooperatives and small family businesses. Our handmade goods are a safeguard for important cultural textile traditions and techniques. We are committed to being the change we wish to see. “Love is the message, fashion is the medium.”

Magic City Weekend

 

Love & Marriage

Last Saturday I watched my oldest, dearest friend Bailey get married in the woods and was fortunate to help usher her towards this major milestone in life as her Maid of Honor. This title is a large responsibility, but truly an honor. I’m thankful that everything went beautifully and there were so many special moments. I couldn’t have fulfilled my duties as well without the support of my Mom who is the most prepared and gracious hostess I know. I joked with her that there should actually be an official title for the Maid of Honor’s Mother! She has known Bailey since we were in elementary school so she was happy to contribute to the celebrations. Here’s a look at the festivities…

Bachelorette Party:

Crescent Beach, Florida

Crescent Beach, Florida. We started the day with lunch plus a trip to the beach for mimosas and bocce ball before heading downtown to our hotel that afternoon.

Cheers! Toasting on the pool deck at the Casa Monica Hotel. I love how the exotic design elements throughout the hotel really transport you to Morocco.

Cheers! Toasting on the pool deck at the Casa Monica Hotel. I love how the exotic design elements throughout the hotel really transport you to Morocco. One of my favorite moments was playing a game I organized by asking her groom-to-be, Zak, 20 or so questions in advance and then asking Bailey to guess how he would answer. Of course we turned it into a drinking game, but it was still a sweet way to incorporate her fiancé and we all learned some things about Zak and their relationship.

Our luxurious accommodations; the four-story (!) Kessler Suite. We had reserved a one room suite, but the hotel generously upgraded us!

Our luxurious accommodations; the four-story (!) Kessler Suite. We had reserved a one room suite, but the hotel generously upgraded us! I checked in a little early to set up the room. I also made little ‘Bachelorette Kits’ for all the girls that included practical items like Advil and Altoids plus some fun favors like ring pops and St. Augustine shot glasses.

Recover donuts for the next morning. Adorned with these adorable little glittery toppers I purchased on Etsy (www.etsy.com/shop/SEVENTHandJ).

Recovery donuts for the next morning. I adorned them with lovely little glittery toppers I purchased on Etsy.

Had to bring my Estrella de Mar Weekender bag along. Also, how gorgeous is this velvet tufted headboard?

Had to bring my Estrella de Mar Weekender bag along. Also, how gorgeous is this velvet tufted headboard?

Bridesmaids’ Luncheon:

Another Bridesmaid offered to throw Bailey's shower so my Mom and I hosted the Bridesmaids' Luncheon. My Mom has fond memories of hers and I think this is a wonderful tradition that should make a comeback! It's essentially a time for the bride to be with all her closest female relatives and attendants and give her bridesmaids their gifts.

My Mom and I hosted Bailey’s Bridesmaids’ Luncheon. This was actually my Mom’s idea; she has fond memories of hers and I think this is a wonderful tradition that should make a comeback! It’s essentially a time for the bride to be with all her closest female relatives and friends right before the wedding. This is also the perfect opportunity for the bride to give her attendants their gifts!

This little candy bar served as a fun visual element and as the favors. We provided little white bags for guests to take sweets to-go!

This candy bar served as a fun visual element and as the favors. We provided little white bags for guests to take sweets to-go! Also, we served some delicious champagne punch.

I created this photo backdrop using a garden trellis I had on hand from Home Depot, paper streamers, ribbon and balloons.

I created this photo backdrop using a garden trellis I had on hand from Home Depot, paper streamers, ribbon and balloons.

 

Wedding Day:

My hairdresser of 10 years, Wendy Cosby (Luna Azul Colour & Hair Design) did Bailey's hair and makeup. In the background are our amazing bouquets from The Conservatorie.

My hairdresser of 10 years, Wendy Cosby, did a fabulous job with Bailey’s hair and makeup. In the background are our amazing bouquets from The Conservatorie.

Before the wedding we went to Washington Oaks State Park to take photos. I had to capture a few shots (doesn't this look like a fairy tale?), but I can't wait to see the real photos from Ashley Steeby.

Before the wedding we went to Washington Oaks State Park to take photos. I had to capture a few shots (doesn’t this look like a fairy tale?), but I can’t wait to see the real photos from Ashley Steeby.

A few of the other Bridesmaids and I during the reception. I brought a selfie stick which was a huge hit.

The reception was so much fun! The best part was that everyone, of every age, was on the dance floor. I brought a selfie stick and it was definitely a hit.

Here we are, beautiful bride and Maid of Honor.

Here we are, beautiful bride and Maid of Honor.

Bailey asked me to read this poem during the ceremony:

[i carry your heart with me ( i carry it in]
by E.E. Cummings
i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart) i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling) i fear
no fate (for you are my fate,my sweet) i want
no world (for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)
What a perfect description of love!