Tag Archives: Creator Stories

How to thrive in business as a sensitive person


It started with a girl; Austin Church’s first middle school crush: I did not know how to process what I was feeling, so I wrote poetry and told no one about it. No one. I had enough social savvy to know it would have been social suicide to be writing poetry as a 7th grader. But he kept writing, secretly. He also became obsessed with…

Read More »

Focusing on the work you were created for


It started with piano (and Whitney Houston). Eight-year-old Vannesia Darby watched The Preacher’s Wife almost every day, so when she saw the Whitney Houston song from the movie – “I Believe in You and Me” – in her mom’s piano book, she thought: I have to learn how to play this song. Vannesia had never been trained on how play the piano before. Her mom…

Read More »

The 4 lives of Heavyweight pro boxer Ed Latimore


Ed Latimore says that he’s lived exactly four lives (so far). His first life started in Pittsburgh. I was a typical at risk youth, born in public housing projects. Single mom. I knew my dad, but he didn't live with us. Young Ed with his father and sister. I had to deal with a lot of those things that people typically associate with that environment;…

Read More »

Single mom on a mission


When Kelsey Baldwin played “teacher” as a kid, all she wanted to do was design worksheets on Microsoft Word, assembling clip art and lines to layout the perfect geography handouts. (She also dabbled in PowerPoint presentations like “Why you’re the greatest dad” which she presented to her father when she was with him every other weekend.) I just really loved figuring out layouts and how…

Read More »

Audience over ego


It was April 2009, and Srini Rao graduated with an MBA – and no job offers. The economy had just crashed. So when he heard about someone creating a website called “Twitter Should Hire Me” that got a ton of press and subsequent job offers, he thought, why not try something similar? He called his website “100 Reasons You Should Hire Me.” There was just…

Read More »

How to survive as an indie musician


The band Throw the Fight began like most bands do – playing in small clubs for “zero people” (unless you count the other bands waiting to go on, the bartender, or maybe the sound guy in the back). “There were so many bad shows,” lead guitarist Ryan Baustert remembers, but those were also the shows where they honed their craft. Even when no one showed…

Read More »

The fashion outsider


Five-year-old Brandice Daniel and her mom walked hand-in-hand, straight to the sewing and fabric section of the store; “Pick a pattern out of the simplicity book,” her mom said. My mom sewed our clothes. Not because my mom was a designer, but because we were struggling so much financially. But young Brandice was uninspired by the simple patterns in the simplicity book. She preferred the…

Read More »

It all starts with the words


Chris Craft’s first stories were told within stacks of carefully stapled construction paper. When he got older, his stories turned into raps, which he performed at small community concerts in Houston (little kids would come up to him and his friends afterwards and ask them to autograph their paper plates). In high school, he reached out to magazines and wrote album reviews and interviewed artists…

Read More »

Money is tape


Khe was shy. “Nerdy.” Very insecure. The constantly running tape in his head during his teenage and college years? I'm not cool. He felt exposed and yet invisible. Young Khe in 1995. “I don't like who I am right now,” he thought. But instead of learning to like himself, he turned his attention outward. He focused on something that seemed easier – being seen. Recognized.…

Read More »

The natural, inherent value of you


It started 10 years ago. Just outside a Manhattan night club. Jenell and her cousin Nenjae walked in; Nenjae turned to Jenell and said: “I’m thinking about going natural with my hair.” “What? You want to do what?” Jenell responded. “It was just so foreign to hear that a decade ago,” she remembers. Jenell had been chemically relaxing and straightening her hair since she was…

Read More »

How to take control of your creative life


There was nothing in Jessica’s early life pointing to her future as a professional cartoonist; she drew a lot (of horses). But most kids drew. One of the horses Jessica drew as a kid in 1979. “I don't think there was any big neon pointer saying, You're going to be an artist,” she tells me. In high school, she drew an illustration for the school…

Read More »

Creating her own colors


XayLi’s grandma Florencia was a creator, but everyone in the neighborhood just called her “mom.” Sitting in her place below the cash register at Florencia’s market in her childhood home of Trinidad, XayLi remembers being enamored with this business woman in her family. And Florencia didn’t think five years old was too young to learn about business: “She taught me to count money and about…

Read More »

The Bulldog


So far, John Fox has received 1,700 rejection letters. He’s a fiction writer. Rejection is part of the deal. But John doesn’t mind. He has tenacity – what he (and his friends) call bull-dogged stubbornness. (John’s friends even call him “The Bulldog” and gave him a ceramic bulldog that sits on his desk.) But John didn’t always know how far such a penchant for endurance…

Read More »

The 5 month runway


Sometimes, Teela cried during the hour-long commute to her agency job as a graphic designer in Atlanta. Her job was to help to create visuals for brands. But she wondered if she was enough. Her superiors kept rejecting her designs, and it made her question her worth as an artist. Am I just not a good artist? Should I be pursuing something else? Nobody wants…

Read More »

Empty Nesters


Steve felt trapped. On the outside, his life looked great; he was an industrial engineer at the top of his career, managing a huge team and a multi-million dollar budget for building a new hospital – something he’d always dreamed about. But somewhere along the way, he’d lost that sense of imagination. Why did he feel so trapped in a life he’d created, a life…

Read More »

Giving yourself permission


Angela’s watercolor paints kept disappearing and she couldn’t figure out why. It wasn’t until she saw, well, “pastel-colored cockroach turds on the floor” that she realized cockroaches were eating her paint – just another symptom of life in the jungle. Angela grew up in Papua New Guinea with missionary parents who were from a small town in British Columbia, Canada. The jungle, even with the…

Read More »

Getting comfortable with instability


When Nina Garcia found out she was expecting her first child she bought all the books and signed up for all the classes. But, as she remembers it, “there's a difference between knowing it in your head and actually experiencing it.” She went into labor in the middle of the night, and from that moment on nothing was quite like what she’d expected. No matter…

Read More »

Fireproof Optimism


Eric doesn't usually create in the early morning; his best work typically happens at night. But on this particular morning, he got up earlier than usual to paint a sign for his friend’s tattoo shop. He opened all the windows of his second-floor apartment that day. He smelled something weird, but brushed it off. This was New York, after all. Things smelled weird sometimes. “If…

Read More »

“Feel the fear and do it anyway.”


A story about risk, bravery, and finding the beautiful side of failure. Photography by Rachel at Greenhouse Photo. It happened at 3:00AM. Chaitra Radhakrishna called her boyfriend, waking him up, euphoric: “I think I know what I want to do in my life.” It all started with beauty bloggers, her first “friends” after leaving her home of Bangalore, India to move to the US for…

Read More »