Whether it’s splashed across Pinterest in bold typography, wrapped up neatly in a five-step guide, or bound intricately within the pages of a best seller, the urging and inspiration to get out there and start chasing your dream is woven deep into the fabric of a growing entrepreneurial community. However, in the months leading up to the launch of Kindled + Kindred, the only question in my mind as I consumed every piece of creative business advice I could get my hands on was, “What does starting actually look like?” As expert after expert gave me tips on how to grow a business, what nobody was talking about was how for many of us, beginning often looks like stepping inward before stepping forward.
It was alone in the almost complete darkness of my living room during the last hour of 2018 that I took the first step of the journey to Kindled + Kindred. You see, starting Kindled + Kindred didn’t look like opening a business bank account, booking clients, or designing new work. (All of that was still months away.) Instead, it looked like a twenty-nine year-old woman in flannel pajamas taking a deep breath and writing an honest-to-God physical letter of permission, support, and encouragement to herself. Curled up by the dim glow coming from the laptop balanced on my lap, the words came spilling out as if they had lived inside me just waiting to be written. As if everything I had walked through the past four years was leading me to this very moment. The thing is: looking back, in many ways, it was.
—the time and place in my life that had become my own personal battleground for stress, tears, under-the-breath (and not so under-the-breath) swearing, chronic illness, hospitalizations, surgery, the bills that came with it, and the daily questioning if this was how I was going to spend the next thirty years of my life. Little did I know, on that June afternoon I was not only taking the last steps of a journey, but also that I was simultaneously taking the first step forward onto a path I never intended to spend the next four years paving for myself. A path that began with the decision to move across the state and step forward yet again out of one classroom and into another; from elementary school to Design 101.
It was there, within the four walls of that classroom, I would fall in love with design. There, amongst those bright-eyed eighteen year-olds, that I would begin to discover parts of myself I hadn’t known since I was eight years old drawing in my parent’s basement. There, sitting at the library coffee cart, I would get offered my first freelance job and get paid $50 to design a t-shirt for an outdoor apparel brand. There, at the campus career fair where I would accept a corporate internship that would send me spiraling back down a hole I had spent so long desperately trying to climb out of. And there, at the administration office, where I would ultimately choose to hand in my campus ID with one semester to go and feel a wave of shame and confusion crash over me so strong it would send me into an entire year of stillness away from creative work, social media, and anyone who might ask me how all the shiny new endeavors I had so boldly announced were going.
The truth is, what I wasn’t prepared for as I took those steps on my bright and shiny new path was falling down; and not the stumble-over-a-pebble falling down, but the kind of falling down that breaks you wide open into a million unrecognizable pieces. The kind of falling that forces you to not only try and put the pieces back together, but to look around from down there on the ground and wonder if there’s even enough pieces left for you to feel whole again. The kind of falling that forces you to pause long enough to begin to understand that your job isn’t to pick the pieces of your broken self up at all, but rather to stay down there and root yourself in the truest parts of who you are and the values you’re willing to stand back up for so you can grow stronger pieces and move forward once again as your whole self.
You see friends, what looked like beginning a business on that dark night in the early hours of 2019 was really just the next step forward on a journey I had started years ago, only this time I was stronger. I was a little bit wiser. I had a couple of badass battle scars. (True story: ask me to show you the scar on my neck from my battles with pancreatitis sometime.) Most of all, this time I knew I had everything I needed to keep moving forward, (or backward, or sideways, or whichever the hell way this path was going to lead) within me. That I could show up as my true, whole self and stand tall enough to be seen and known by others walking down their own paths so eventually we could catch one another’s eye and decide it’s more fun to walk together.
That’s why when I made the decision to come back to creative work, back to my dreams, and back to myself by launching Kindled + Kindred, I made a promise that’s the same one I wake up and make to myself in the mirror every morning, the same one I make to you today as I step forward once again into the next chapter here at Kindled + Kindred: that I will never stop showing up and using my business and creativity as tools to help others. That whether they’re taking those first few steps, are down on the ground, or are well on their way to the next leg of the journey that lies ahead, my work will serve to help others create branding rooted in who they are and what they were meant to bring into this world through their own story.
That’s why I’m so glad you’re here, because I truly believe you have a story within you. A story that matters. A story only you can share through the work you do and more importantly, the person you are. If you’re interested in walking together to start creating your brand story, head here or to learn more about my work, creative journey, and life as a dog parent, head over to Instagram and say “Hi” or drop a comment below!