Why I do What I Do August 14, 2017 20:58
Hello Branch Tribe!
We're excited to be starting our Feature Vendor blog post series! The first vendor we're featuring is Rebecca Desaulniers, the owner of Branch Market & Studio, a creative advocate, avid thrifter, milk paint lover and mixed media artist.
She's sharing the story of her creative journey and answering some of the big questions ...
What am I here for? What's my purpose? Why am I doing this?
Have you ever asked yourself any of these questions before? For the past many years I've been asking at least one, if not all, of them to myself on a daily basis. I've been feeling a calling to start sharing my journey so that I may connect with others who may be on a similar path and inspire them to keep going, to dig deep and to find their passion. I've been playing it out in my head for quite some time now, however have been avoiding writing it out for fear of... well, everything. Fear of being seen, fear of being heard, fear of being liked, fear of not being liked, fear of success, fear of failure ... ultimately it's the fear of the unknown and if I'll be able to handle putting myself out there. The process of writing my story has been very healing and has reinforced that I can handle anything that comes my way and that I have the power to choose who I want to be and what I want to do.
Ever since I was a little girl I loved being creative and making things look pretty. I wanted to spend all my time decorating my room, making crafts and playing house or store. Growing up on a farm in Southern Ontario, I was inspired by nature and the treasures I'd find in our barn and sheds. I wanted to become an artist, a decorator and a cashier. My favourite place to visit was my Aunts craft store, I loved being surrounded by so much creative potential and could spend hours looking at all the craft supplies ... the smell of dried eucalyptus and a hot glue gun brings me right back there.
I grew passionate about transforming my surroundings into something beautiful and did what I could with what we had, however I felt farm life and lack of resources dampened my creative fire. I learnt the value of hard work, however I also learnt that expressing my creativity wasn't important. We lived in the country 20 mins from a small town, I remember I loved to go to community events, markets and fairs. My favourite part was looking at all the crafts for sale and meeting the people who made them.
High School was full of colourful times. It was all about, in level of importance; parties, boys, sleeping in, eating cereal and lastly, school work. In grade 11, I made a decision to change schools and do the requirements needed to go to University. Art was my favourite subject, although I felt it was just a hobby so I didn't consider studying it further. I grew an interest for health and nutrition so I applied for the dietician program at The University of Western Ontario. I was so excited to get accepted and graduated 4 years later with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Human Ecology. I thought the best part of university was decorating my room and watching HGTV. One of the nicknames my roommates gave me was Martha!
When it was time to pick an internship I decided that I wanted to become a chiropractor instead. So I went to Life University in Atlanta, Georgia to study for another 4 years. I had a vision of creating a pretty space in a small town where people could gather to learn about health and be supported to live a healthy lifestyle.
My husband, Danny, was the Canadian student recruiter at the time. We met the day I arrived and it was love at first sight! He had one year of school left and had plans to move to Calgary when he graduated. I studied for 6 months while we dated and then we took a trip to Calgary where we decided that I would stop school and move there with him.
I love the natural philosophy of chiropractic care and worked with him in his office for 10 years. I believed that it was my passion, however I wasn't feeling fulfilled and began to realize that I was hiding behind his purpose and that I needed to find my own in order to be happy. It was a huge realization and a big transition for us both. We decided that I would stop working at the office to allow me time to search what I needed to do. During this time I focused on me and taking off the layers grown over time to reveal my true passion and mission. I felt scared and exposed, however driven to keep walking through the discomfort.
I did many personal development courses and seminars to push myself and get out of my comfort zone. I spent a lot of time reconnecting with my inner child and searching for that thing that brings me joy. As I explored who I was and what I liked doing I began embracing the creative side of myself that I had been pushing down and saying wasn't important for so long. It wasn't clear on what I needed to do so I designated a room in our home and part of the garage as my studio space. I gradually added art supplies, craft materials, equipment and tools so that I could play and experiment.
It was a liberating and challenging experience to connect with my free spirited creative side. I dove into all kinds of arts and craft, including sewing, knitting, milk painting, upholstery, and mixed media to name a few. I soon realized that one of my favourite things to do was thrifting and making used furniture and home decor into something pretty with paint, paper, fabric and lots of love. I would day dream about transforming spaces with things that I created and seeing people enjoy it.
As I explored and created, my work accumulated and started to spill out of my studio space and take over our home. My supportive and loving husband began suggesting that I should start selling some things. (A nice way of saying he wanted his space back.) He believed in me more than I believed in myself at the time and he knew that I needed to share my creativity with others in order to keep creating.
I got the hint and put some furniture for sale on Kijiji and started an Etsy site to sell my knitting and sewing projects. I will always remember the exciting moment I got my first online sale and how much it raised my confidence! After selling a few more things I realized that there was something missing, I felt lonely and wanted to connect with other makers and our community. So I signed up for my first market in Okotoks. I was so excited and nervous, it definitely felt like it was a turning point for me pointed in the exact direction I needed to go. I slowly began to believe that I could thrive and be successful by doing what I loved and being creative.
As you can probably guess I had so much fun setting up my booth, however when it came time for people to see my work I wanted to run for the hills. I bravely put myself out there and after the first few hours it got much easier and I started to enjoy talking to the customers. By the end of the day I was bursting with pride from all the compliments and support. I continued to do a few more markets and then decided to set up my garage as a permanent 'booth' and have people come shop there. I advertised a few sales and the people that came loved it and thought it was a cool idea.
After coming back from a Women's Leadership Seminar I realized that I wanted to create some meaningful relationships with women and that I had to make it happen and not wait around for someone to invite me to something. So, I had the idea to organize a Makers Art & Craft night at my house. I started to get to know some of the makers from the markets, one of them being Jodie from Crooked Tree Studio. I invited her over to do some art journaling and we got along really great. As we talked about our creative businesses we soon discovered that we shared similar dreams of opening a space to sell our work along with other makers work. The ideas began to explode and about 9 months later we signed a lease for a cute cottage in Black Diamond and Branch was born!
The process of opening the store was a lot of fun and along with a lot of hard work. Neither of us went to business school and we didn't feel we knew what we were doing or have a plan. However we thought we made up for that with heart, passion and humour. We had a blast figuring things out together and had to jump over some big hurdles and go down some prickly paths. We started by filling the space with the stuff we each made and a handful of other local makers products. This quickly multiplied into over 40 vendors! We added workshops to allow a space for people to be creative and starting hosting pop up shops for makers to connect with the community.
It was a lot to balance with figuring out displays, ordering, inventory, pricing, taxes, book keeping, marketing, goals, etc. There was lot of emotional stress for both of us as we dealt with our doubts and fears and it was also a huge adjustment in our family lives. With Jodie having 2 kids in high school and a husband who worked shift work she decided that she needed to be home more to focus on her family and wouldn't be able to run the store with me anymore. I was heart broken when she told me, however I completely understood and respected her decision. I could tell it was hard for her to decide as she put so much of her heart in the space, I felt honoured she left it in my hands to take care of. I'm forever grateful that Jodie jumped in with me otherwise I don't think I would've ever done it on my own and I'm happy to say we're still great friends.
I've carried on over the past year trusting that I will do my best and figure it out along the way knowing I have the love and support from family, friends, the Branch crew and our vendors. Branch has grown leaps and bounds and now carries over 60 local vendors products and we've recently launched our online store. Its Branch's mission to be a delightful & inspiring shopping experience where your able to find something you love and nurture creativity and connections in the community at the same time. I'm honoured to have my work nestled in the work of so many other talented makers. It brings me joy to see someone fall in love with something in the store for themselves or a loved one.
My experience of suppressing my creativity and going on the journey to find it has allowed my vision and why I do what I do has become crystal clear. I know that I'm meant to inspire and support creativity and growth so that it dramatically impacts the level of success in creative entrepreneurs allowing them to thrive and connect with our communities.
Despite being a business owner, I'm an artist at heart and I strive to make time to create every day. Its been a lot of juggling and I've had to work hard to stick to a schedule that allows me time to nurture my business and my creativity. I've learnt that I need to embrace both sides in order to be successful and live the life of my dreams. The biggest thing that has helped me keep going is connecting with my why, being open to support, learning to love my numbers and to delegate, delegate, delegate.
I have plans to reach out to the community to help people create spaces in their homes that they love. I am also planning to host a series of workshops for girls who would like to explore there creativity.
I'm so proud to be a part of this amazing community of creative business owners and people who love supporting creativity. It's been a dream come true to have this space where people can connect and come to enjoy & feel inspired. Follow along my creative business journey over at Made Pretty Studio
I do what I do because I feel passionate about inspiring and encouraging creativity in myself and others.
I believe we are all creative and love helping others build there confidence and be proud of what they create.
I believe that if we surround ourselves with beauty and things we love the happier we will be.
I believe in the power of creating and living in a beautiful space.
I want to be in a world where everyone is inspired to create beauty wherever they go.
MY MISSION IS TO SHINE MY LIGHT TO INSPIRE OTHERS TO SHINE THEIR OWN
Thank you for taking the time to read my story.
All great things,