Tag Archives: Creator Stories

From eviction to 30 million views on TikTok


If I didn’t already know Chris Ju was a musician, I would have known from his style: bright, backward, yellow hat slightly raised and off-center, muted-pink sweatshirt over a white T-shirt, all tied together with a short silver chain. Every musician I’ve ever met has this effortless cool, as if style is a natural side-effect of what happens when someone chooses to pursue art –…

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An education in food and community


This story begins in an ivy-covered garage in Costa Mesa, California: me on Zoom via an iPhone with Chef Daniella Malfitano walking the phone (and me) into her garage, her tiny dog Boo sitting on the sunlit driveway. At first glance the garage looks like any other: bikes stacked near the front right corner, shelves lining the walls. But then I notice there is one…

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The True meaning of financial freedom


I first met Nick True at a conference in San Diego put on by Pat Flynn. While I was working the ConvertKit booth, Nick walked up and introduced himself as a happy ConvertKit customer, and I knew within the first minute I wanted to interview him for a story. It wasn’t just that he liked us enough to want to say hello during a conference…

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“The cloth I’m cut from”


I consider the first time I met Whitney Manney to be the moment I held a pair of her hand-painted drip earrings in my palms. ConvertKit hired her recently to be in a brand ad, and when her casting announcement was made internally I immediately went to her website and fell in love with her aesthetic. I bought two pairs of earrings in two minutes.…

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Giving in to “irresponsible” art


When she was very little, Shelby received crayons for almost every birthday and holiday; mostly because she kept eating them: I like to say that's where I was really infused with the creative thing. She can’t remember a time where she wasn’t figuratively (or literally) devouring and creating art. I've been doodling on my homework since as far back as I can remember, and I've…

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The power in telling your story


Rebecca just wanted the hospital staff to like her. Her only birth plan for her first child was “Don’t make a fuss. Be a good girl. Do whatever they say.” Rebecca, a nurse herself about to finish her PhD in Nursing, knew if you didn’t, the nurses might call you “high maintenance” behind your back. I just didn't want to be seen as difficult. After…

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Fight or flight: When resistance feels worth it


It started as a joke, really, during Noa Kageyama’s first year of graduate studies at Juilliard, walking to lunch with friends after a gig. By that time, Noa had been playing and practicing the violin almost every day since he was two years old, and he’d done the impossible; he was on a career path to become a full-time professional musician, studying at the world’s…

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The magic of having no other choice


Most days when Cara Chace came home from school she would find the nearest desk and “just write and write and write and write.” She’s loved writing, reading, and creating as long as she can remember. So much so that in high school when her dad asked, “What are you going to do with your life?” she responded, “I want to write. I want to…

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Slow and steady makes the dream


Prerna always loved writing, so much so that she took a journalism course after college for fun. But when she was offered a corporate job at a top global bank, she jumped at the chance. My original career goal was to have a job. I always wanted a steady paycheck. That job is where she met her now-husband Mayank; but for him, working a corporate…

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Thriving 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…

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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…

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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;…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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.…

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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…

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