Hello Lovelies, this is a new series I want to share with you on my personal journey of building a brand from the ground up while coping with chronic mental illness. I am not a medical professional and therefore do not offer medical advice, only stories of my personal journey in hopes that others might be inspired as well. Mental illness lies to us every day, and it is my hope through sharing my stories, my truths, that you might find hope and strength too. If you would like to learn more about my journey I invite you to read the Larkindesign Brand Story. You can read all the posts in this series here. Thank you for being here!
Thank you all so much for your wonderful reception to this new series. Your thoughts and love sent my way were all so positive and I am thankful for each and every one of you! Today I have a mixed media layout to share with you and I want to use the blog post to share a little of the back story with you. It was really difficult last week to acknowledge and act on the realization that creating the digital collections was not serving me well. One of the things they don’t tell you, when you start your own brand, is that it is highly possible that you will try many different things before you succeed. For many business owners, they do actually launch successful the first time, and grow amazing businesses seemingly on their first try. For some it happens that way, and for me it has not happened that way at all!
For some, building a brand comes after many trials and errors, and it can be especially challenging to do this with trauma, PTSD, depression, and any other mood disorders. What that actually looks like in real life is that trying many different things means many different things not working out. That means failure. There is no denying that, for whatever reason, the digital kits I created failed to sell. I am pretty educated and have a pretty good idea of why, and in the end it’s not productive to beat myself up, or feel bad about it, it simply is. The hardest thing, actually, as a survivor, is not taking it too personally, accepting it as part of the learning experience, and being gracious to myself and others as I go through this.
I follow Elsie and Emma of A Beautiful Mess, and have long been so inspired by their creativity and their business successes. I find it most inspiring that they will tell you how many times they, too, have personally experienced these trials and errors in their business. They call it pivoting their business. When something doesn’t work out, simply try something different. And keep trying until you get it worked out. I love their messages in this regard, and it is incredibly uplifting to hear that even incredibly successful business women have struggled to find the right fit, too.
On the outside, the trials and errors of building a brand can make the artist seem disorganized, even untrust-worthy. You’ve heard it all: “oh they just didn’t know what they were doing,” “they didn’t know what they were getting into,” “they couldn’t just stick with it,” and on and on. And maybe all of those things are true. On the other hand, no one really knows what they are doing and no one really knows what they are getting into when they start a creative brand from scratch. Even if someone pivots their business by stopping something that isn’t serving them, they are still not giving up and they are still working towards their goal. I have stopped making journal cards for right now, but I am still showing up and I am still working towards my overall goal of making a profitable business and I am not giving up. Not yet, anyway!
But the challenge with this side of building a brand, and also dealing with mood disorders, are the lies that trauma and abuse and suffering tells us. Through this entire journey I have had a chorus of negative voices that have told me I don’t deserve to be successful, I am not possibly good enough or talented enough for this, I must be crazy to think I could ever make this work, and on and on. Have you seen Girl Boss on Netflix? Sophia Amoruso goes through this to some extent, and at one of the crucial points in the series she tears up everything in her apartment and ends up screaming at herself in the mirror, and the mirror screams back at her, all the negative things she has internalized about herself. It’s such a crucial moment in the movie because she faces those awful voices head on, goes to get her surgery (practices self care) and then comes back more determined than ever.
I promise I did not tear up our house last week, and I didn’t tear up all my hard work, but in some ways deciding to pivot my business right now is an act of self care and a part of this winding road I am traveling on. It was messy and tearful, just as Sophia’s messy turn-about was messy and fraught with the realities of being human and having serious challenges with self esteem. And after a few days of self care, loving private messages from e-friends, and the support of my family in real life, I am back with new hopes and dreams (and it is highly possible I will create more product at a later date, just not right now).
In this process, however, I am learning volumes about myself and my own presence of mind, my own strengths, my own weaknesses, and while building a brand is happening, building ME is also happening. It is frightening, at some stages, and elating, at other stages. I have always heard when you go through re-pivoting your brand, and you are unsure of what to do, to go back to what you love. Go back to the basics. What I love and what my basics are has always been pocket pages, my pocket page classes, focusing on creating layouts, and most importantly, inspiring other creatives. I have long been trying to figure out how to bring my passion for creativity together with my journey of healing, and then this series was born and it has clicked.
And while I am working and healing and processing and struggling and succeeding, I can still create and must still create, and I find the art of creating so incredibly cathartic. That process is also important to share with you, because I know that even if you aren’t trying to build a brand, chances are you arrived here as a fellow creative. Maybe you too are a survivor – I think all humans are survivors in one way or another, and it is messy but beautiful, and we get to reflect these amazing things in our creative work. So here is the take away for today. As I was building my title for this layout, I was going to just write “learning how to love myself,” and I realized there was most definitely more to this.
I had been approaching my journey to healing as a single destination – that one day I would be healed, that one day I would be able to love myself fully and wholly, with scars and all. I am proud to say that I have learned a little more about loving myself through this part of my journey, and I have learned that loving myself is the journey to healing. That may sound so basic to some, but for me it clicked. And I also realized that there isn’t a specific destination, that this is a lifelong journey. I am so thankful you are with me on this journey, messy and beautiful. If you’d like to see my process for creating this layout, you may view it here.
Are there negative voices in your creative life too? How do they manifest themselves for you? I would love to hear from you. Join me next time as we continue this creative journey. Thank you for being here and being part of this community!