| EMILY STROM |
I really resonate with Emily’s story of rediscovering her passion after being in a career that she knew wasn’t right for her. She’s one of those women who really inspires you to create balance in your life and do what you love everyday. Emily has created such a special community in Handmade Loves, giving others the opportunity to share their gorgeous products and live their dream lives too!
Emily Strom is the founder of Handmade Loves, a community for artisans and entrepreneurs from around the world. She helps entrepreneurs and small business owners grow their businesses through a balanced approach that focuses on self-care along with marketing strategy and best-business practices.
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO JUST GO FOR IT, AND START LIVING THE LIFE YOU LOVE? WAS THERE A TURNING POINT OR AN ‘A-HA’ MOMENT IN YOUR LIFE WHEN YOU REALISED YOU NEEDED TO MAKE THE CHANGE?
What a great question! There wasn’t a big a-ha moment for me. It was more of a constant nagging in my subconscious. I knew for a long time that I needed to make a change in my life in where we lived and in my career. For a time, I wasn’t ready to listen. I was riddled with fear of failure, and I couldn’t see past it. I worried what the outside world would think of me. I worried everyone would think I was silly or a failure. Once I finally decided to turn inward and listen to myself, it became clear which steps I needed to follow. Those first steps were so hard and uncomfortable, but so worth it! But, it has been a slow metamorphosis, and I am still growing and making changes even now!
HOW IS YOUR LIFE DIFFERENT NOW AND WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO YOU?
I am much happier in all areas of my life. Instead of feeling like gloom and doom, I have the mental capacity and space to practice gratitude and look at situations differently. I am much more resilient, too. I think some of it comes with age and maturity, but a lot of it is because I am constantly working on myself. I have to make a conscious effort to look at life differently, and that means I have to take care of myself every day. When things are not going well, I try to remember that life is happening from me, not to me. I try to find a silver lining in all bad situations and then extract a lesson. Then I have to just let things go! I also feel more grounded and calm, which is important to me since I have a 3-year old daughter. It is almost like once I turned the corner from thinking the world was against me, I started receiving abundance in my life.
WHAT WAS YOUR GREATEST FEAR OR BLOCK (EMOTIONAL, MENTAL OR PHYSICAL) THAT YOU HAD TO OVERCOME TO GET WHERE YOU ARE, AND HOW DID YOU BREAK THROUGH IT?
My greatest roadblock has been self-confidence. I have had to work through issues and fears that have gone far back to my childhood. I have had to rewire how I think and view myself. I have learned to voice my opinions, even when they aren’t the norm and be comfortable with being or thinking differently than others. I have also struggled with being comfortable in my own skin and have had to overcome that constant nagging, “I’m not good enough” dialogue that rolls around in my head, too. Meditation, mindfulness, self-care have all been huge helps for me. Surrounding myself with people who support me and are open to understanding me has been very important in my journey. Also, learning how to honor my emotions and then let them go has been healing. Does my self-confidence ever wane? Of course, but I now have the tools I need to push past my fears. I really like this quote by Mark Twain – “Do the thing you fear most and the death of fear is certain.” It’s a great reminder to honor your fear, but then it is necessary to work though it. Once you are on the other side, it often seems silly that you were so scared!
HOW DID OPENING UP AND ‘BEING AUTHENTICALLY YOU’ AFFECT THE PEOPLE AROUND YOU OR YOUR RELATIONSHIPS WITH THEM?
It’s so amazing when you see this in play. My relationship with my husband is so much stronger and calmer. Since I am a happier person all around, small things roll off more easily, and I am sure I am much more pleasant to be around. I seem to be attracting more friendships and the kind of friends that are mutually supportive and enjoyable. It has been a surprising side effect, something I wasn’t expecting!
DID YOU FACE ANY JUDGEMENTS OR CRITICISMS, WHETHER FROM YOURSELF OR OTHERS?
Of course! I am my biggest critic for sure! I have had plenty of people criticize my ideas, too. Many people have told me that my market is tapped out, or that the people in my niche will not want to engage with my services, or that I should be targeting a larger (more wealthy) audience. It used to bother me. Now, I just listen, nod my head, and then think about it. I don’t totally block it, because sometimes after I have had a chance to digest their criticism, I come up a good idea or a way to improve something. Other times, it just adds fuel to my fire and makes me more determined. Either way, I try to use it to my advantage.
WHAT IS YOUR TRUE ESSENCE? THE NATURAL PART OF YOUR BEING THAT MAKES YOU SPECIAL.
My true essence is my compassion. Since I was a child, I have always wanted to be helpful in situations. For awhile, I thought my calling was teaching. I taught special education for a number of years. I floundered a bit after that. Trying my hand at a few things, like fashion. I thought it would feel fun and playful, but it really fell flat. I didn’t feel fulfilled at all! I learned that I need to connect with people and feel like I am contributing to something larger. Now that I have figured this out and accepted this about myself, I am feeling much more fulfilled.
WHERE DO YOU FIND BEAUTY AND INSPIRATION?
Since I help artists and makers, I often draw inspiration from my clients. I am constantly in awe of the raw beauty and creativity that people possess. There are so many people out there with talent, and I want to help them tell their stories and get their art out in the world!
WHAT LIGHTS YOU UP AND WHY?
I love to connect with artisans! I love to know what makes them tick, why they do what they do, and I love helping them figure out how to grow their businesses. I am such a believer in the fact that we need to take care of ourselves to run a successful business, so I like to help people realize that they need to put themselves first in order to do this. I have also found that many people like to hide behind their art or their brand. I also enjoy coaching people on how to push past fears and become the face of their businesses.
WHEN LIFE GETS BUSY, OVERWHELMING AND THE NEGATIVITY STARTS TO CREEP IN, HOW DO YOU UNWIND AND ALLOW YOURSELF TO ‘JUST BE’?
There are a series of things I do to help me regain composure. Exercise is key. It helps melt the stress away. I also meditate and do visualizations. Meditation helps me quiet my mind, recognize those nasty feelings, and then let them go. It is like hitting the reset button for me! Also, just pausing and taking the time to go on a date with my husband or out with some friends for dinner helps me realign or get out of my head. Oh, and wine! I love a big glass of wine!
WHAT MESSAGE DO YOU HAVE FOR OTHER WOMEN WHO ARE WANTING TO RECONNECT WITH THEIR OWN NATURAL WAY OF BEING AND FIND THE BEAUTY WITHIN THEMSELVES?
You can do it! Surround yourself with people who inspire and encourage you. Get really clear about what you want and know that you are deserving of it. Push past your fears because you are worth and fears hold you back. You deserve to feel your best. Take time for yourself. It’s not being selfish. It will help you feel happier and be a better partner, parent, friend, etc.
HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE YOU?
Well I am an emotional woman, so it can vary day to day! But, most days, it feels good. I feel like I live an abundant life and I am so grateful for what I have. I have self-confidence and I am proud for what I have accomplished thus far, but know that there is so much for me to learn. I love when I can feel my growth. It helps me push ahead!