EMPIRE BUILDING: Fearless Creativity – overcoming roadblocks

SO many creative entrepreneurs struggle with fears that stops them from growing their business, or putting their work out into the world – fear of failure, fear of exposure, fear of seeming self absorbed, fear of losing time/ money/ interest.

Confronting these insecurities is vital to building your empire and creating long-term success.

Whether your fears stem from a lack of confidence, resistance to putting a price tag on your art or other factors, developing your creative business to the next level depends on you facing these roadblocks head on and overcoming them.

Etsy Content Coordinator, Katy Svehaug, recently spoke with long-term creative, Holly Bobisuthi- founder of Holly Bobisuthi Jewelry– about her strategies for overcoming her fears and boosting her confidence as an artist and business owner.

Holly, a Cali-based metalsmith and illustrator, sells her jewelry on Etsy, at in-person events and at shops around the US through wholesale orders. She relishes the twists and turns her creative journey has taken her on, and offers up her advice for battling six common business fears creative entrepreneurs often face.

Thanks to Katy Svehaug from Etsy for the following interview, which has been truncated for this piece:

Fear One: Sharing Your Work is Too Personal

Deciding to sell your work isn’t about compromising your values, it’s about finding a happy medium between developing your craft and maintaining your livelihood.

“It can be really hard to sell your work when you put so much soul into it,” says Holly. “Especially at first, when it feels too precious.”

Remembering that the creative process is just that — a continuous process — has made all the difference in the world to Holly in terms of selling her work.

“Remember that you’ll always make more,” she recommends. In addition, for every 50 pieces of regular work she creates, she develops a more elaborate piece to keep and wear until someone makes her an offer for it that she simply can’t refuse.


Fear Two: Someone Else Has Already Done It

Creative value comes from the intention behind your work, Holly says.

Whilst it’s really important to make sure you’re not infringing on someone else’s intellectual property, don’t dismiss the validity of your own ideas simply because you’re worried someone else is already making a similar product.

“Ultimately, the value of creative work is internal to the maker,” she says. “The more closely work is linked to the emotional core, the stronger the work seems to be and the more it resonates with others.”

To find out how to distinguish your products, check out 5 Steps to Stand Out From the Competition.


Fear Three: People Might Not Buy Your Products

Putting a price tag on your creations can be a struggle when you’re first starting your small business. Many artists struggle with underpricing their work early on, only to realise later on that they could have been charging more.

“Pricing is a challenge for artists everywhere, and it’s easy to fall into the trap of basically giving it away.”

handy tip: it’s a lot easier to be confident in your business and your pricing when it’s paying at least some of the bills. “I keep cutting my hours at my day job so that my business will become a bigger source of income.”

Even if you’re just starting out, take the time to do the math with your prices to ensure that you’re correctly estimating what your time and work is really worth. Make sure you’re covering your materials and paying yourself at least as much hourly as you would make at a day job. If that price doesn’t make sense, go back and change things.

You can read more about pricing your products in How to Price Like a Pro.

 304/365 Believe you can and you will. (Care365)

Fear Four: You Don’t Know What Success Looks Like for You

For creative entrepreneurs, success defies a simple definition; it’s innately relative to the individual. If you look solely to others to define whether your work and business are on par, you’ll undoubtedly end up feeling less-than.

For Holly, growth is about both skill and concept. “I work in a medium that is technically demanding, so there are objective ways to measure the value and progress of my physical products,” she says. “When I look at my older work, though, I can often see good ideas even if the construction is amateurish.”

Holly developed her own system for evaluating her progress, and recommends that other sellers conduct self evaluations on their own terms. Get the process started by reading 5 Ways to Define and Achieve Success on Your Own Terms.

Going beyond developing confidence, a huge part involves setting goals and creating a vision that’s specific to your product and offerings.

Fear Five: You Don’t Have Enough Time

If you’re waiting for the perfect, stress-free opportunity to tap into your creative side and start a business, odds are good that you’ll never get your paint brush wet.

Creative confidence is a product of practice; the more you hone your craft and share your work with the world, the less daunting it becomes.  If you don’t make creating a priority, no one else is going to do it for you. “Work every day,” Holly says. “Even if it’s only for 10 minutes.” Read my article Musings: on the creative Process  for more on this strategy, its a good one.

Become an advocate for your own creative time and space.   If you’re bogged down with logistics, rethink your processes to spend more time doing the work that means the most to you. Read Crunched for Time? Put Routine Tasks on Autopilot for more time-saving tips.

Fear Six: You’re Afraid of Failing

Yep, starting a business is an inherently risky move.  The path to success is rarely smooth. Even the most successful entrepreneurs stumble a few times along the way.

The upshot is that overcoming those obstacles will help build your confidence. Since there’s no clear road to develop a successful creative business, why not take the scenic route? Give yourself permission to break a few plates, color outside the lines and occasionally create work that’s truly, magnificently terrible. Holly makes a point of pursuing new challenges often.

“I take on projects that are outside my comfort zone, participate in art shows outside of my field and say ‘yes’ often to keep myself from getting too comfortable,” she says.

Learn more about maximizing your creative business potential by reading Develop a Winning Product in 5 Steps.


What great advice. I feel better already, don’t you?

How are you going on your journey? Have you learned to overcome fears as a creative entrepreneur?

I’d love to hear your advice for building confidence in the comments.


Musings: Follow Your Bliss

“Follow your bliss.
If you do follow your bliss,
you put yourself on a kind of track
that has been there all the while waiting for you,
and the life you ought to be living
is the one you are living.
When you can see that,
you begin to meet people
who are in the field of your bliss,
and they open the doors to you.
I say, follow your bliss and don’t be afraid,
and doors will open
where you didn’t know they were going to be.
If you follow your bliss,
doors will open for you that wouldn’t have opened for anyone else”

Joseph Campbell


MUSINGS : Aloha 2014!!

Hello my sensational sunshyne peeps!
Welcome to this glorious new year- are you ready to OWN it?
I know I sure am, and have emblazoned a cap with ‘BOSS’ in big bold sparkling neon letters in preparation (this may or may not be true).
In order to make any year boss-worthy its important to have some goals in mind of how you’re gonna achieve more boss-ness in your approach to life. How are you going to do things even better than before?
I have a few things I want to keep front of mind, and I’ve taken the liberty of compiling a doozy of a list below! A doozy!
This has been edited from my mile-long post-NYE hungover list, scribbled on a notepad and titled ‘I-have-to-do-everything-better-this-year-as-I-am-feeling-sorry-for-myself-and-have-many-mountains-of-things-I-need-to-improve-on’; to its current, kinder (and more logical) state.  I’ve culled all the obvious stuff like- be more available, drink less, answer your phone, stop impulse buying clothes all the time – and distilled it down to the very biggest, most primary things that I think are manageable.  It covers most aspects of the areas of my life I want to AMPLIFY, not necessarily CHANGE.
I haven’t made too many resolutions per se, as I usually resolve to do something straight away when I decide to do it- not always at the start of the year…I also try not to set any expectations too high. For me its more of a benchmark that I can refer to throughout the course of the year, to see how I’m tracking and if things that I’ve deemed important at the beginning of the year are even relevant or valid any more. It’s always a nice warm feeling to look back and see how far you’ve come in 12 months, isn’t it?
So, without further adieu…
I fully endeavour this year (as I do every day) to give more love, expectation free.  To live abundantly without motive, without obligation and without strings attached.  Just give out bucket loads of it when I can.  Even if it doesn’t always come back. That’s OK I’ve learned- its all part of this amazing, interconnected cosmic web of energy and eventually it will come around again, even if its not from the person it was directed to. Lessons learned from last year were many and important: you can’t always expect love and support from those you’d expect it from, and you can’t force it. You can only open yourself up and give as much as you can, always.  Oh, and something I was taught by my very wise mum- you can’t expect everyone to love you. Nuh uh. Just ain’t gonna happen.  Not every SINGLE person you encounter in your life will like you. Once you grasp this- wow.  All of a sudden you’re not trying to be everyone’s best friend! When you stop worrying if people like you, and realise that all you can be is the most loving and caring and abundant version of yourself as possible, its so freakin’ liberating. If others are down with that great! If not, move on up.
If I’m an open book, giving out love freely, nothing can harm me. Nothing. Only expectations, high standards and motives can cause harm, as they will shatter the perfect love-giving bubble and cause everything to crash down in a seething pile of negativity.  I don’t get down like that!
I plan to set my business alight and jump at EVERY opportunity!!!! To be bigger and bolder in every way I can and stop letting lack of self belief stand in the way of greatness! I can do it and I will do it is my new mantra. Last year I dipped my toe into a lot of new experiences and opportunities that were outside of my comfort zone, and thoroughly enjoyed every moment. I’m a fiend for new adventures and doing things I haven’t done before. The payoff is amazing when you discover new skills, meet new people and make new connections- here’s to more o’ that please!
I’d also love to find a dream ‘day job’ (whilst I still have to work for someone else) that will allow me the security, peace of mind, and the support to follow my dreams (without the stress)! The day job I have had for some time is no longer fitting or serving me- its time to move on, in the best possible way. This will hopefully see me pushing the boundaries to the limit in makeup artistry and beyond this year.
Like every year, I resolve to be as healthy as I possibly can- within my own limits. I’m certainly not perfect, and there’s always room for improvement, but I do pretty well…I’m a lot kinder on myself than I have ever been and I listen to my body a lot more now than I used to. They really are so smart, our bodies.
I usually start each year with a re-focussed mindset to work harder and eat cleaner.  It always comes at a good time, straight after all the cheer and indulgence of the silly season has hit its peak and I can no longer keep consuming my body weight in cheese, chocolate and vodka (boo). In this spirit, I have committed to a 30 minute awakening and supercharging run or walk through the park every morning – committing to this ritual wakes me up so much quicker, gets my energy flowing and affords me a chance to get my mind and body connected right at the start of the day….a supercharged way to get into the day ahead. And I won’t feel all that bad if I miss a workout later – bonus 🙂
I’ve also resolved to fit more yoga and meditation into my days. I did so well last year at upping the frequency of my yoga routines and found some that were amazingly good. I’ll be sure to share them with you this year. Aside from this, I’m cleaning up my act again, avoiding sugar (I had lapsed of late, sneaky chocolate cravings!), staying off the booze for as long as I can last (or until my liver decides to talk to me again), and I’m giving a vegan, plant-based diet a go again. To de-clutter and reset everything always feels good.  Alhtough I am having severe margarita cravings of late – particularly in the searing heat of summer.  Virgin they must be for now.
Like last year, in 2014 I resolve to continue down a path of seeing everything as a gift and a blessing.  I’ll make more of a conscious effort to curb negative thinking (as I have a habit of over-thinking and over-analysing things) and instead, practicing acceptance and thankfulness for what I have received and what I have around me.
I won’t be giving energy away where its not warranted or invited, like stressing over things that haven’t happened, or being anxious over decisions or what ifs. Time to enjoy being in the moment and being thankful for the awesome energy I have around me.
Each year I always remind myself to do more of everything I love- for me its blogging / writing more, playing and writing more music (and possible learning a new instrument), creating more art and generally just taking time out to do the things I love- spending time with my fams, going on adventures, travelling, dreaming, connecting with amazing people, exploring, photography. So more, more, MORE of all of that, and anything else that makes me shine! Make time for the things you love, so important.

What do you think? Is it a little like your list?

What do you want to achieve in 2014?

Do you even make resolutions or are you more go with the flow- taking every day as it comes, and giving it your best shot every day?

I’d love for you to share with me your top goals and resolutions below and what habits you will be abandoning or starting.
As they say in the classic, there’s no time like the present to get cracking!


Warrior Lessons : The Love Yourself More Project- 32 ways to silence that inner critic

Recently I posted about the need to start truly, deeply, and madly loving yourself for who you are- right here, right now. YOU need to be into YOU!

How to Start Loving Yourself / Self Love / www.elisemcdowell.com

If your actions, behaviours and words paint a different picture than one of true L-O-V-E, then its time to stop, exhale, and reset. Loving who you are, not just liking, is so important in so many ways. Not only does it give you a healthy sense of self and your worth in this big wide world, but it helps you to set healthy boundaries about how others may treat you. Giving yourself the self respect and love that you really DO deserve enables you to give and love abundantly and genuinely.


If you can’t love who you are, how can you expect to love others from a place of genuine, beautiful intent?

Loving and accepting yourself is an vital lesson in anyone’s journey. While some of us are blessed to be born with a healthy sense of self-confidence and self-acceptance, others aren’t so lucky. Abusive or unhealthy relationships, a low sense of self worth, a dysmorphic sense of one’s body or looks or intelligence; these can all chip away and degrade the sense of self and can quickly spiral into a cycle of negative self talk, bad self esteem, and no sense of personal boundaries and self respect.

As I mentioned in my last post I am very thankful and grateful that I’ve been granted the opportunity to find a path of personal growth and development these past few years, and have learned some utterly life-changing lessons along the way. I’ve set myself new boundaries, reset my mind to accept and nurture who I am and for the most part, I have a pretty darned great relationship with me now. Its taken hard work, a lot of falling on my ass and some stepping backbards, especially in those moments when I forget how far I’ve come. I’m always learning but I can honestly say I am in a much better space mentally and emotionally than I was 6 years ago, and better even than 12 months ago.

The point of my story is, if I can get there, so can you.


Start loving and believing in yourself today. You already have everything you need right there inside of you, to create an AMAZING life! Love yourself. Accept yourself. Forgive yourself and be good to yourself. Because without you, the rest of us are without a source of many wonderful things.

Below are some little strategies that may help you to find a place where YOU matter, where no-one is knocking you down, where you can reconnect with that vibrant, bright, curious young soul that burns within you.


It’s by no means an exhaustive list, nor is it by any means a guide or a prescription to help you if you really are in need of more professional help.  I am no expert on the human condition, so if you find things are truly getting you down please PLEASE share your pain with someone and let them help you.

That aside, read on if you are seeking a couple of light-hearted ways to get back in touch with your sense of fun, and happy, and start your journey towards loving yourself. I hope that these tips may spark a few ideas and set you on your way to getting back your zest for life and your love for you- for you truly are an amazing, wonderful person!

Enjoy x

1. Step outside your comfort zone and do things that SCARE + EXCITE + AMAZE you.

2. Seek ADVENTURE and explore your world.

3. Do things that speak to your SOUL. If you’re stuck, start writing a list under the heading…’If I could do anything in the world……’

4. Commit to saying the following words out loud daily “I am AMAZING” and keep saying them until you truly believe it!

5. Stand naked in front of the mirror and say “I’m awesome.” Everything about you is a miracle.

6. Splurge, even if the budget doesn’t allow it, on a massage. So worth it.

7. Take yourself out to a movie.

8. Eat a chocolate bar or some delicious dessert without feeling guilty. Life’s too short for regret and constant rules.

9. Try a new hair color. I always found red gave me such a different look and lots of attention of the good kind!


10. Forgive yourself for a bad decision. And I mean REALLY forgive. If it helps, write it down on a piece of paper, then burn or bury it. Let it go.

11. Turn the music up really loud and DANCE!

12. Go to a forest, beach, hill, waterfall, quarry, garden, tree, park and chill in nature for a bit.

13. Get a pedicure or a manicure. Bliss out on how good it feels to be nurtured and remind yourself you deserve to feel this good.

14. Sleep naked.

15. Cut all the sizes out of your clothes. Instant not caring. Its just a number after all, it doesn’t reflect ANYTHING and, reality check- there is no such thing as a standard size.

16. Stop into the salon for a trim or a blowdry. Hell yes! You’ll walk out feeling a million bucks.

17. Make something fabulous. Anything! Don’t think you have a crafty bone? You’d be surprised. Google can tell you how to make anything your heart desires from an amazing mulligatawny to a new bedframe- the options are endless. Do it. You’ll feel so chuffed. You may have even found a new skill or business opportunity.

18. Donate to a cause that benefits women or girls (or any cause particularly close to you heart). That sense of giving to someone less fortunate really helps to put things in perspective.

19. Push yourself a little bit harder during your workout. C’mon, its so worth it and it will all be over in a few minutes. Endorphins are your friend.

20. Go back to school and study anything your heart desires. There’s a course for everything nowadays, from short 1 day courses to masters degrees. Equally so many options if your finances don’t allow it. Do it, it will open so many doors and teach you so much about yourself and the world.

21. Write a thank-you note to your teenage self. I’m yet to do this, but doing it soon! I can’t wait to tell her that so many things she was hung up about were such a waste of energy. Similarly, I would tell her to give herself more pats on the back, trust her instincts more and don’t be too hard on herself. Things have a way of working out in the end.

22. Book a hot air balloon ride

23. Write a list of females that you admire, whether they are diplomats, thought leaders, activists, entrepreneurs, artists, educators, celebs, or someone in your community. There are so many fierce, strong, amazing women out there, celebrate them!

24. Make a new rule: NO woman bashing. Ever. Every time you hate on a woman, the way she looks, the way she dresses, how her body is shaped, how she acts or talks – a small piece of you is dying, and a small piece of you is spreading a toxic virus to the rest of womankind. Just don’t engage in it! Ask yourself, does this mean thing I am about to say serve me or any other women in a positive manner? What if that woman was your mother, sister or best friend or daughter? Switch off from the media who propagate this, don’t buy into those celebrity trash mags, don’t contribute to sarcasm or hate online, just switch off from it. For good.

25. Get fitted for a bra. We are all culprits of still wearing the same bra size we did 10-15 years ago. Isn’t it time for an upgrade? Let an expert help you to find the shape and cup size that makes you sizzle. Your girls will thank you and you will feel ah-mazing.

26. Light a candle, get comfy on the couch, and read a book. Nothing like a bit of solitude and a great tome to absorb that beautiful mind of yours and take you away.

27. Sleep in. You deserve it.

28. Be thankful and write it down somewhere where you can find it later.

29. Take the first step in doing what you have always wanted. Three words: Just Do It. You don’t need to wait for everything to be just right, start now, no excuses. Trust me, 6-12 months down the track you will wonder why you didn’t start even sooner!

30. Log off from Facebook for a week. You won’t miss it.

31. Throw out your scale. As above, just a number. Why be ruled by it? We all know that the number has absolutely no relevance on how fit, healthy, intelligent, sensitive, caring, genuine or funny your are. So why do we give it so much importance?

32. On your morning journey where ever that takes you, find one beautiful thing to be grateful for! Write it down, or take a picture, and reflect on it at a later time if you are feeling down on yourself.


MUSINGS: the importance of listening to your heart

It’s often cited that nourishing one’s soul with things that you LOVE to do is a sure fire way to get on the path to true happiness.

Many a wise person has mused and reflected on the art of enriching one’s life through self-fulfilment. Following your dreams, taking the time to indulge in your passions, and just taking the time out to do the stuff that YOU want to do. Seems perfectly simple and obvious doesn’t it?

Yet sometimes we get so trapped in the minutiae of routine and existence that we lose sight of what it is that makes us happy. Everything external to us in our immediate periphery seems to be dull, boring and eating away at our soul’s pure intent. It’s too easy to lose the rays of sunshine and happiness when your time is sucked away by things you’d prefer not to be doing.

I know that my happiness definitely tends to derail when I am too busy working, and I disconnect from those things that make my heart sing its true song. The little things that make your EVERYTHING smile. That make time stretch…and sometimes stop altogether! You catch yourself in a magical moment, truly and utterly feeling blissful and blessed.

These past few months for me have been another kind of crazy. I’ve embarked back into the full time corporate world again after a small period of searching for the NBT. I’m in great industry, in a role where I am more than capable and very experienced. It offers plenty of challenges and scope to learn. And the culture is great.

Yet, I’m left lost and lonely at the end of every working week, wondering where the hell my time, mojo and energy went. Wondering which damned corner my joy disappeared around. Confused and afraid that my life is slipping by in a whir of daily grinds, to do lists and constant deadlines. During the working week, serenity and zen are two words that tend to vanish from the soul’s vernacular and are replaced by stress, limits, errands, timelines, and looking after other  people’s needs well beyond my own. 4 months in and I am really struggling.

I told myself this year would be the year I would HAVE to do this. I would have to bury myself in a full time job and get myself financially back on track, slowly chipping away at the last vestiges of debt that have been trailing me for some time. Although mostly mopped up now, there is a still a good amount of knuckling down to do before I can survey my surroundings and not see any lingering financial worries in my periphery. Though deep down I chose this, and remind myself of this very fact every day, it doesn’t get easier. In a nutshell I am over this full time thing; it’s slooooowly wearing me down and a thick black cloud has been blooming over my head, growing fatter and more ominous with every passing day.

Above all I yearn for my time back. Commuting for hours a day is starting to wear thin, especially in this bitterly cold and gloomy winter. I crave one morning a week where I don’t have to rush, not be on the clock; where I can be myself and not feel like a f*cking robot. I wish for just one day during the week where I don’t have to jump on that wheel, join that queue and be battered and hammered by the proverbial mass drudging their sad, unfulfilled souls along the path well worn.

I’m sure every full timer feels this way from time to time. There are some that are blessed in that they TRULY and utterly LOVE their day job: I have yet to find that synthesis. So I’ve set myself a limit of when this will have to end, before I lose all remnants of sanity and my passion for life. When that time comes I will seek that all elusive work life balance and commit to it hard. Until then I must listen to my heart as much as I can, and take the time to re-connect with my passions again. I have to. My happiness depends on it.

This weekend, I’ve committed to doing lots of what I absolutely adore, whatever that entails; lots of time to do some yoga and meditation would be a great start. To get some writing done would be another win. I’d also love to spend half a day out of the city, far away from the traces of the rat race, perhaps hiking through the hills or finding a hidden waterfall. The smell of fresh air is beckoning! I’m also planning lots of family time and merriment with my some very quality friends, seeing some bands, and just celebrating being! All the things that make me forget the creeping, pervasive unhappiness I am starting to feel on the regular because of this working life.

On a good weekend, when the time stretches out (very rare) and there aren’t too many errands to be done or commitments to be adhered to, makeup is always on the cards. Coming up with a concept to transform a face or body; painting some crazy colours, or some intricate design or some gory SFX (I love making myself look like a creepy scary mess) – these all very much ignite the inner fires. I am safe in the knowledge that the savage beast will be temporarily sated whilst I am in my zone.

There are other things that make my soul fly to its happy place and they are always on my list of things I’d love more time to do: art of any kind. Photography. Dancing in whatever form takes my fancy. Cuddling my awesomely handsome and cuddly cat. Cooking something ultra-magnifique. Travelling. Staring at the clouds. Taking a long luxurious soak in a hot tub (never happens, but damn its great when it does).

It doesn’t matter what it is –skating, building, biking, redecorating your office, sowing a veggie garden, playing with your pets – anything that puts you in a place of zen is a good thing, and you need to nourish this. Knowing where to get your kicks and connecting with your true inner fire is a gift that you should always give to yourself.

I’m re-committing to making time for my heart’s passions, as often as possible- regardless of what the clock says.

Let’s do this together.