December 10, 2017
I used to be really embarrassed of my story. I worked really hard to learn what “normal” looked like so I could act that way. I lived from the webpages of Urban Dictionary, hours of MTV’s reality shows and TLC’s “What NOT to Wear”. I obsessed about what I said to people but I never really mastered the ability of stopping myself from blurting out strange things. I obsessed over whether I was invited to things. I was desperate to fit in.
This desperation to be “normal” and fit in is something that I kept trying to do in every area of my life.
When I began interning as a UX designer for an agency, I obsessed over whether my designs were cool or fit in with the right trends. When I got involved with marketing, I signed up for course after course to figure out how to market the right way. I spent my life copying other people’s methods.
Then I got to know people in the WordPress Community. I noticed how unique each person was and I noticed how these differences were celebrated. I felt at home, even though no one else acted like me. I started following a lady called “Bridget Willard”. She claimed anyone could be a guru. She fascinated me. She helped me learn to embrace my own story.
I quit caring about what was “normal” or what I was doing “right” and I started being myself. I stopped being ashamed that I was born Amish or that I’m a single mom. This didn’t mean I started sharing EVERYTHING from my life, but I did make it a point to do everything from my heart. I asked myself how I felt about things. I started trusting my own gut.
Today I’m building a brand with my cousin and friend, Urban Southern. We’re weaving our story into this brand. We were both born Amish and we have both struggled to embrace our heritage but now we do. We focus on sharing real life moments. We make our own videos for our ads with our iPhones. We post fun stories on Instagram every Friday to share about our process and favorite memories from our childhood. People are loving it! The results are pretty cool so far. Within four months of launching our revised brand, we were invited to New York Fashion Week in the Spring of 2017. We are currently collaborating with Vintage Vogue in Paris.
Before my cousin and I started working together, she was presenting the brand as a very generic leather goods brand. We went from selling a total of 45 leather items in a year and a half, to now selling more than 45 leather bags in our slowest month since we’ve begun to work together and getting personal with our brand.
I’m personally much happier and I’ve had cool opportunities for my art career as well. I painted live for an event with the City of Denver this Spring and shared my story publicly. Now I’m headed to Uganda this month to paint murals in a school.
It doesn’t matter who you are, you have a unique story to tell or a unique way of solving problems. What you already have inside of you and in your life experience is exactly what you need to do what you want to do in the world. Use it.