Everyone wave hello and congratulations to our fabulous vendor of the week, Lazulie + Blithe! Elizabeth Brunsman brought her event/design small business talent to our 2nd San Diego NotWedding in a big way. (In case you didn’t see her napkin-and-chopstick-swan-centerpiece extravaganza the first time, I included a couple shots of it below. Wow.) We have consistently been impressed by her creativity, mindset, and products. Read on for some great advice about business playtime, self-teaching and healthy fear.
Images by Lauren Alisse Photography
What is the best part about your job?
Creativity is a result of playtime, so I play all day long. Sometimes it’s paper-mache and paint, sometimes it’s power tools. I consider the design development and construction components of my business as part of that play, so creating artwork is rather fun. I’ll occasionally feel the stress from a mental block, and that’s an indication that I need to go do something completely unrelated to refresh my mind. Luckily, I make my own schedule. Although I find myself working 12-16 hr days, there’s always a chance I’m gone for a little while enjoying something outside of my studio. It’s amazing how something completely unrelated can spur the creative process. Playtime is an integral part (and one of the perks) of my business.
Images by Melanie Yoon Photography
What are some habits you’ve formed that help you stay afloat (financially, mentally, emotionally) as a small business owner?
I pour my heart and soul into Lazulie + Blithe, and with that comes overwhelming mental and emotional stress. If something doesn’t quite work the way I expected, I can feel the emotional side wanting to take over. At one point, perhaps in college, I must have decided that only business majors and MBA students could start a business, and if I didn’t study it in school, I wouldn’t be good at it. That thought tends to bring out my emotional side. Trying to fight that notion, I’ve sought ways to meet other creative people doing the same things, and feeling the same burden of “we didn’t study this in school.” Building relationships with other small business visionaries is both comforting and a renewal of confidence in that burning desire to keep charging ahead.
Jim Henson said it best for me:
“Many of the things I’ve done in my life have basically been self-taught. I think we, as the Muppets, broke new ground because we approached puppetry from a different angle. I had never worked with puppets when I was a kid, and even when I began on television I really didn’t know what I was doing. I’m sure that this was a good thing, because I learned as I tackled each problem. I think if you study—if you learn too much of what others have done—you may tend to take the same direction as everybody else.” –Jim Henson
You need a mantra to keep charging ahead and a support group to make it real — it keeps your mental and emotional side in check so the creative, administrative, and financial sides can function at top rate.
Images by Studio Castillero
What has been the scariest part of owning a small business?
Owning a small business! As I got into the nitty-gritty of starting my own venture, I realized how much I had to teach myself…quickly! Creativity has taken on a different role to adapt and learn the ins and outs of a start-up, on top of the creativity it takes to design daily. I also have to be accountable for everything that I do; I’m the boss and the employee, the art department, marketing department, customer service representative, and bus driver. I’m sitting in the same boat with every small business owner.
But honestly, the scariest part about my business is selling my creativity. I was usually a disaster zone right before any art critique in college, fearful that my professors would shred apart something that was very personal and a product of my own internalized inspirations, and accompanying sweat. The nerves preceding the critiques were awful, yet once it was all over, life was fine! To suffice as a comparison, imagine the rollercoaster effect — nerves are highly volatile as you anticipate the first climb, but once you’re at the top, the speed and rushing feeling that accompanies the screaming drop is intoxicatingly exciting. Unveiling my artwork to my clients is very much the same. Although I recognize that there are years of education and varying experiences to bolster the work, the nerves are pre-set and all I want is to provide the best possible product ever. Their reactions are a direct reflection on the work I provide, so I’m a ball of nerves. After the fact, I realize it seems a bit silly to be so nervous!
I suppose there’s something strangely healthy about this kind of fear. It’s something intangible, but necessary to keep the business in a mode of adaption as I navigate the field and get through the growing pains. A little healthy fear keeps my right brain on its toes to develop new concepts and the best accompanying solutions.
Images by Roon Brown Photography
What has been your favorite part of The NotWedding experience?
I met the coolest people in the area. There was such a great talent pool and everyone was just so wonderful to work alongside. I was lucky to be a part of it. The cherry on top — we all still work together. It’s a brilliant experience that bridges creative people in the right kind of way.