People ask me all of the time: "Where does your creativity come from?" As a child I had two passions: drawing and reading. In those days I drew nothing but horses and only read books that were about animals. By the fourth grade I was bringing home and reading three or four books a night. I believe it was reading so many books at such a young age that released my imagination and helped me to see the world as I still see it today, a place full of endless possibilities.
In college I was an advertising art major before shocking and horrifying everyone who knew me by dropping out three months before graduation. I found the academic atmosphere so creatively stifling that I unexpectedly quit school over spring break and didn't paint or draw for the next 6 years. "What a waste of your talent," people would say, but my inner voice kept telling me it wasn't the right time.
I packed up my few belongings and with about $75 in my pocket and a ten speed bike, I moved to Los Angeles. It was there I began working in retail sales. After spending 5 months in L.A., I moved back to Washington state and a few years after that to San Jose, CA. In total I spent a decade in retail sales learning the basic skills that would later enable me to create my own business.
Photo by: Wendy Maclaurin Richardson
How did I become a bridal accessory designer? It all began the day I wandered into a fine apparel boutique where my friend, Wendy, was working. As I walked through the door I heard the owner ask, "Where are we going to get veils for the bridal fashion show?" Wendy looked over, saw me, and said, "This is my friend. She's really crafty. I'm sure she could put some together for us." Never one to be daunted by fear of the unknown I took up the challenge. I went to a fabric store, bought a pattern and made six sample veils. Within days the boutique was sending clients with custom requests and so began my career as a bridal accessory designer.
People often ask me where I learned to make tiaras. Honestly, I don't know how I know how to make them. My work has a vintage, old world feel to it and I have often been told I use a centuries old French and Italian jewelry making technique. Many people have speculated over the years that perhaps it's a skill carried over from a past life. Maybe, I just know I love to make them and that the ideas and inspiration just keep coming.
They say what doesn't kill you only makes you stronger. Ten months after making my first veils, I found myself going through my own divorce. With a new beginning, it was the perfect opportunity to pursue a new career and I decided to try to turn my veils into a full-time business. Ignorance was bliss. Had I known how hard it would be, I probably never would have tried. On a shoe string budget, I created my first collection and a modest showroom. I now laugh at the irony that I chose to name my new business Happily Ever After even as I was going through my own traumatic divorce. "I remember leaving the divorce attorney's office in tears, driving home and putting on a happy face to meet with brides. It was awful; I was so sad but all of my clients were so understanding and they all encouraged me to follow my passion."
That was in 1997. Looking back I realize the best lesson I've learned is that when you really want something, you have to find the tenacity to make it happen. You can do whatever it takes! At times that meant working a part-time job (for the first year), getting four hours of sleep a night, learning to use power tools to refurbish my display cases and living on fried eggs and noodle soup for months at a time. But even during those tough times, I found I was often the envy of many of my clients and friends. "All of that doesn't matter," they would tell me, "Do you realize how lucky you are to have found a way to make a living doing something you love to do?"
What the heck am I? In 2005 I designed then taught myself how to build my own Web site. I was a bit shocked when this resulted in people asking if they could hire me to build them Web sites. I found myself a bit confused about what to call myself. Am I a fashion accessory designer? An origami artist? A painter? A photographer? A Web site designer? I decided that the one element common to all of the aforementioned fields is that they are all creative. By calling myself a creative consultant I have put everything under one umbrella. I am open to possibilities in all areas, which allows me to fully express my creativity and keeps things more then interesting.
Still searching for your hidden talents? Remember that failure is not your enemy, fear and negativity are. Don't worry about being the best; you just have to be willing to try new things. It's all about being open to opportunities when they present themselves to you. Eventually something will click and you will be well on your way to discovering your passion and living your dream. I leave you with a favorite quotation by Dr. Robert Schuller. I hope you take it to heart and ask yourself the following question;
"What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?