How I Tapped Into My Creative Zone of Genius (And How You Can, Too)
Well before I started my business, I always told myself the story that “I’m not creative.” As a child, I liked to use my imagination to play pretend; I would create fake restaurant menus and school plans like nobody’s business. But I never really got into arts and crafts.
I remember getting anxiety during art class at school when I had to draw, paint, or work with clay because I hated taking my thinking cap off and trying (too hard) to create. I was way happier analyzing a math problem or writing a book report than I was sketching, drawing, painting - you catch my drift.
Being required to be creative was always a source of stress for me, and as an adult I realize this is probably because I have perfectionist tendencies and didn’t feel like whatever I was creating was good enough, especially when being graded on it.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve experienced more occasions where it’s felt good to create, and to exercise my right-brain mental muscles. I’ve attended some paint nights at local bars (the wine certainly helped me loosen up!) and learned how to sew. I began writing more as a creative outlet, which I realize now I used to do a ton as a child; I had so many journals filled with notes about teenage things (ahem - boys, boys, boys) and I have such fond memories of re-reading them while I was in college, laughing hysterically at the ups and downs of my younger self.
Three years ago I was perusing Pinterest, headed deep down into the rabbit hole of beautiful posts, when I came across some recipes for little gingerbread body scrubs and peppermint lotion bars. I was already super passionate about using natural, healthy body products and decided it would be fun to handcraft some beauty items to give as gifts to friends and family for Christmas. Most of the other items I gifted that year were from handmade sellers on Etsy, and I had SO much fun whipping these up in my kitchen that it inspired me to start dreaming of opening my own Etsy shop.
I have a tendency to get obsessive about ideas and plans, and once that Etsy shop seed was planted in my head I couldn’t turn the thoughts and dreams off. Without having any business experience, I decided to dive in to figuring out the bare necessities of what I needed to stand one up legitimately and launch a shop. I had tons of doubts in myself and my abilities (“who’s going to buy from ME?”) but decided to do it anyway and see where the Etsy yellow-brick-road would take me.
After opening up shop, I realized that the main reason I wasn’t feeling creative before was that I wasn’t tapping into my zone of genius. I used to put “being creative” in a box that included only the more traditional forms of art, and I had never recognized that being creative can take on so many different forms (cooking, gardening, developing sequences for fitness classes - a lot of the things I already loved). It felt really good to combine my love for science and research, cooking, and my passion for natural, non-toxic body and home products to craft physical items with my own two hands.
About two years ago I had a good friend on the hunt for the perfect gift for her mother-in-law as a thank you for helping her plan her wedding. She came to me with an idea for a candle set she had seen online but couldn’t find anywhere, and asked me to create a custom order for her. The basis behind the gift was that the set included 12 candles - one for each month of the year - with different words of inspiration for each one. As someone who strongly believes in affirmations and the power of positive thought this got my mind churning with loads of ideas. I immediately put my thinking cap on to figure out how I could recreate this set and make it extra special for her.
That year I created my first set of the Year of Well Wishes candles, and decided that instead of making it a one-off product I’d list it in my Etsy shop around the holidays. They did so unexpectedly well that I was having to come home every night after my day job and work from dinnertime until bedtime just to stay on top of orders and get them out before heading off to Costa Rica on my babymoon (oh, did I mention I was 22 weeks pregnant, too?!).
Although these sets are a major time commitment and truly a labor of love, I adore how creative and in alignment I feel when I make them. Each votive has a scent, color scheme, word, and matching quote to serve as a reminder of the power of positive thought all throughout the year. Not only do I have fun making the candles, but I absolutely loved designing the boxes and labels to go with them to add to the gift-giving experience. I would have never in a million years guessed that I would be able to design labels and packaging, but Photoshop is another place I love using my creativity.
Now, I truly consider myself a creative in many different ways. I’m so grateful for whatever it was that sparked my passion and excitement for opening up an Etsy shop, and has continued to guide me as I create and sell products that serve you.
If you tell yourself the story that you’re not creative, maybe you just haven’t tapped into your zone of genius yet. Give yourself permission to explore different avenues of creativity so that you don't limit yourself like I did. Try to think outside the box and find where you feel in flow with activities. Maybe you love to dance, take photos, mix amazing cocktails, collage, or write novels. Whatever it is, nurture that part of yourself, because it’s easy to let it fall to the wayside with all the other demands you have on your time. You can think of me over here cheersing (is that a even a word?) you as we both get our creative juices flowing!
If you’re interested in purchasing one of these Year of Well Wishes candle sets for yourself or a loved one I have limited quantities available now for purchase, and once they sell out they won’t be back until next year. One of my beloved customers just purchased her third annual set to incorporate into her family’s holiday traditions.
And that right there is why I love what I do.