Category Archives: Growth & Development

Imposter Syndrome & saying yes to something that scares you

Happy Pride!🌈

You may have seen my announcement on social media that I’ve recently joined the Board of Directors at the NW Network of Bi, Trans, Lesbian & Gay Survivors of Abuse.

I’d worked for another local DV org for 14 and a half years before making a transition to working in Honeyberry Studios full-time and have always been a big fan of the Network.

So I was honored and surprised when I got an email from my friend, Eli, who is the Board President at the organization a few weeks ago.

In his email, he said he thought I’d be a great candidate for the position and asked if I’d be interested in joining the team.

I was very excited for the prospect of joining the Board but hesitated to say yes at first because I didn’t feel qualified.

When I pictured “Board of Directors,” I imagined a group of people who are white, older (than me), upper-middle class, and have a corporate job or a “real” business.

(You know, not a “handmade” kind of business…)

I didn’t fit the profile at all 🤷🏻‍♀️

Big imposter syndrome kicked in, and I was swallowed in a whirlpool of “what ifs” and worst-case scenarios.

What if I suck at the job? What if I couldn’t deliver what they expected from me? What if I make a bad decision or give terrible advice? What if it’s more time-consuming and stressful than I think?

I was afraid they’d find me out.

They’d be disappointed and it’d be super awkward. And then they’d wish they’d never asked me to join the team, and now they have to have a meeting to make a plan to gently exit me from the Board and never speak about it ever again.

I know, my imagination runs WILDsometimes – it’s good for my creative work, but not so good for other situations 😛😭

Eli and I had a few back-and-forth about the logistics and my concerns – he patiently reassured me that I had a combination of qualities they were looking for.

While I still felt an imposter-syndrome hangover, I wrote this letter of intent.

That’s when I knew I really, really wanted to do this.

So I was very happy when I got a call from Eli several days later telling me that I was officially IN! 🥳

Interesting, though, that my imposter syndrome got even worse when I shared the news on social media.

A lot of people sent me kind, encouraging messages and congratulated me. It was wonderful and overwhelming at the same time.

Overwhelming because a lof of the comments were about me as a person, like “you’re great” or “you’re wonderful” and I didn’t feel I deserved it.

I was telling Dave how these comments were making me uneasy because I hadn’t actually done anything yet.

A little voice inside me was saying, “Yuko, anyone can join the Board. But what are you going to accomplish? You’ve been away from the work for so long. Do you remember half of the things you said on your resume?”

Yeah, right. People should really hold off on congratulating me until I do something awesome.

Maybe I shoud’ve kept it a secret.

And then Dave said, “You know you’re gonna do great work, right?”

Right.

Sometimes when my brain tells me I can’t do something, I listen to the people I trust, who say “yes you can.”

from my next collection 💙

If I trust their judgement, and they say they believe in me, then I should believe in myself, too, you know?

It’s so meta, but I think you get it.

And that’s how I’ve gotten over the most recent bout of self-doubt.

Being uncomfortable with something new and unknown is healthy.

I know I’ll continue to have moments of insecurities throughout my life – after all, I’m a human being with lots of feelings (LOTS) – but I’ll also continue to learn and practice skills and tools to manage them more effectively so I can get back to being my whole self more quickly.

Why am I telling you all this?

Well, because I wanted you to know it’s OK if you feel this way too.

when I say I make art that tells me what I need to hear, I mean it 🌵

You’re not a robot🤖

Sometimes we stumble and get stuck. There is no shame in that, my friend.

I know you can, too.

xo

ps. my friend Sarah at Saltstone Ceramics is having Queer and Dear show throughout this month and July! Go enjoy the work of amazing queer artists in person or online 🥰

It was meant to be

Hi friend,

Do you remember what I said my two goals were this year??

One of them was to hire help so I can serve more customers in person.

(And the other was National Stationery Show 2020. More on that later this year.)

Well, I’m checking that one off my list! ✅

Tada! Meet C.C., my new star helper! 🌟🌟🌟

I met C.C. last April and knew immediately I wanted to be her friend.

She’s a super talented knitter/knitwear designer who has published 3 knitting books and numerous knitting patterns. And she’s been podcasting with her daughter, Dami, for 7 years 👯‍♀️

C.C. has also been a big fan of Honeyberry Studios, so when she told me she was interested in helping out, I did a happy dance!

Last Saturday, she came to learn the ins and outs of running a booth at a craft fair. It became apparent in the first 5 minutes that she was a natural.

C.C. is so easy to talk to. She’s so friendly and helpful to everyone who walks into our booth, you just wanna chat with her and hang out!

(And, she’s obsessed with kitties 🐈 maybe a little bit more than I am 😺 if that’s even possible…)

This summer, I have a pretty full show schedule, and C.C. will be at a few of them to help you out 🌈

Please introduce yourself to her and make friends with C.C. when you see her at shows and markets!

(or at grocery stores, you won’t miss her bright pink hair 👩🏻‍🎤)

Yay! I’m so excited 🥰

xo

ps. you can learn more about each event and see most up-to-date calendar on my website!

I’m a pessimist.

When I’m at craft fairs, my customers ask me what inspires my art.

I tell them I’m not a naturally positive person so I need a reminder to be happy.

So I make art that’s uplifting and positive.

Often people respond with “me, too!” 🙋🏻‍♀️ or “yeah, it’s so important, especially now.”

I make happy art because it brightens my day and I want to share the joy with you.

Here are some of the messages I think of on a daily basis. If you’re needing a little boost today, soak it in 😘

I have this hanging on my living room wall.

I often take so much for granted – my husband, health, friends, etc.

When I’m in a funk, this message is a great reminder that I still have a lot of things to be grateful for.

I’ve got this in a sticker form and have it on my laptop where I see it every day 🌈

It’s easy for me to feel I’m not _____ (pretty, talented, thin, productive, focused, loving, good wife – you name it, I got it.) enough especially when I compare myself to others (more on that next.)

It’s nice to see this reminder and tell myself that I’m enough the way I am today.

And THIS. This also hangs in our living room.

I use social media, like Facebook and Instagram, every day for my business. I love how easy it is to connect with my friends and community there.

At the same time, it’s made it so much easier to compare myself to other people on the internet.

These are the thoughts I have often:

“Woo, look at her beautiful studio space! My work space is a mess, and I can never show it to anybody.”

“Her shop has so many sales! I wonder if I’d ever be so successful.”

“Wow, she has so many followers and likes on Instagram. Why don’t I have more?”

I still have these thoughts, but this message grounds me.

I remind myself that there are lots of people who have fewer followers or “likes” (or not on social media at all!) and have a very successful business.

(Or HAPPY.)

And everyone’s journey is different. I’m the only person who can know 100% of what’s going on in my life and business. What works for someone else may totally be a wrong choice for me.

It helps me to find peace wherever I am in life.

And if you’re having similar struggles, I hope it helps you, too 😊

xo

Not your typical birthday post 🎂

I turned 41 on Thursday!

I thought about doing one of those “41 things I’ve learned in my life” post – and I’m sure I’ve learned many things – but I just can’t remember 41 of them 😂 Maybe I’ll do that when I turn 50. But then I’d have to come up with 50 things. I better start making a list now.

When I was in my 20s, 40 sounded SO OLD.

40 seemed so grown-up. I’d thought I’d have a house, teenage kids (I was convinced I’d have twin boys) and have more grey hair by the time I’m in my 40s.

And I’d be wise. Like nothing would faze me.

(btw, I thought it was “phase me” up until now. I looked it up to be sure and learned it was actually “faze” – that’s my wisdom for ya 🤣)

Instead, we live in an apartment, no children, running our own businesses, and maybe a few grey strands.

It’s not better or worse – It just means I’ve made different life choices than my younger-self had thought.

(Except for the grey hair. That’s mostly genetics 👵🏻)

I still don’t know the answers to many things. And I get scared when I go out of my comfort zone.

For example, I wanna hire help this year so Honeyberry Studios can be at multiple shows and markets during the summer and holiday season. Hiring someone? Scary.

How about this? I’m aiming to be an exhibitor at National Stationery Show (that’s one of the biggest industry trade shows in the US) in NYC in February, 2020. BIG. SCARY. GOAL 😱

(Also a very expensive goal 💸)

Would I have done this in my 20s? I could’ve. But I wouldn’t have thought I could.

The most important lesson my life has taught me thus far is this: you can achieve many things, even those big scary things you thought were impossible. You’re much more capable than you think – even if you don’t think you’re ready for it.

Your journey may not be pretty. In fact, it will be messy and scary every step of the way.

Even if you didn’t get the result you hoped for, you’re still learning something. Every time you come out of a failure, you’re still alive and standing.

Now put that on “repeat” and whenever you face a new challenge, you’ll feel less scared. Or you’ll know that you’ll be OK even if this thing fails.

I knew that intellectually when I was younger – but now I really know that because I’ve experienced it.

For that, I’m extremely grateful 🙏🏼

In honor of my birthday, I wanted to share a preview of my new birthday card design that’s coming out later next week!

The floral design was inspired by our trip to Milwaukee Public Museum over the Christmas – their European Village exhibit is my favorite, and I fell hard in love with their Polish house – everything is covered with beautiful floral designs and vibrant colors.

Yes please!

We’re going up the mountain over the Snoqualmie pass to play in the show and then going out to dinner with a couple of friends to one of my fave restaurants, Cafe Flora.

Here is to another year full of adventures.

xo

How I became a full-time artist

If you’d told me 10 years ago that I would become a full-time artist, I wouldn’t have believed you.

I would’ve thought you were out of your mind and averted your gaze while laughing uncomfortably.

I don’t have an art degree. I make cute drawings. That’s not “art.” Being a successful working artist is an option available only to a selected few.

Or so I thought.

My story of making a transition from working at a non-profit org (that’s totally non-art-related) to becoming a full-time artist fascinates many people.

If you’d ever wondered how it all unfolded and what I’ve learned in the beginning, you’re in luck!

I recently got interviewed by a fellow artist, Eileen McKenna, for her blog, and shared my origin story.

(Including my celebrity encounter, my #1 advice for creatives wanting to go full-time, and lessons I’ve learned.)

Here is how the interview starts:

What inspired you to do your “Happiness is” project?
At the time (spring of 2014), I was toying with the idea of becoming a working artist. And then I thought, if I wanted to be a working artist, I should be making art every day and enjoy the process. So that’s why I decided to start my 365 day daily art project. I’d also learned about Lisa Congdon (one of my heroes) and her daily art projects and was deeply inspired by it. I wanted to get over my fear of putting myself out there, too. It was sort of a shock therapy where I’d post my drawing (and not always perfect) every day, and eventually I cringed less about sharing my work on the internet.

As far as the topic goes, I wanted it to be something that’s relatively easy. I first thought about making art about food I eat every day, like a food journal, but knew I’d eat the same thing over and over 😀 So then I thought of happiness and what makes me happy every day. I’m not naturally a glass-half-full kind of a person…

Continue reading on Eileen’s blog.

Hope you enjoy!

xo

Learning something new, feeling vulnerable, and letting go

Have you explored my new website yet?✨

(If you did, THANK YOU!)

I continue to feel super proud of what I’ve created – it’s beautiful and functional – but there have been challenges and learning curves as well.

You’d think once you launch a website, you can sit back and relax, watch orders pour in effortlessly, and move on to other exciting projects you’d put on hold until the website was done.

It turns out it’s actually a time when you learn that a bunch of things aren’t working properly and you have to fix it in a hyper speed 😱

Like when my first wholesale customer placed an order, she got charged full retail price at check out even though the correct wholesale prices were showing while she was shopping.

Oh, and I stopped getting emails to honeyberrystudios.com address when I first redirected the domain name to my new shop.

(Not to mention it took the domain server customer service over a week to connect my old domain to the new site. A long story and a mystery when I was able to do it in 5 minutes when I decided to take matters into my own hands.)

And finding out that Shopify doesn’t offer a very intuitive, customizable shipping settings, and it’s caused some confusions to both retail and wholesale customers.

(note: if you’re thinking about having a shop with Shopify, know that they lack some basic functions and would want you to buy more apps to customize your shop… do your research before jumping in!)

There are more minor things that have gone wrong, but every time an order comes in or I get a message from a customer, I get a little knot in my stomach thinking, “is something wrong?”

Because I’ve been fixing what I could (with the help of various developers of the apps), 95% of the time, nothing is wrong.

And I tell myself it’s good that I’m finding out the mistakes and hiccups now. And I’m grateful my customers are taking the time to tell me if something is not working.

Things will get easier in the future.

While I get it intellectually, it’s caused me some anxiety and stress, too.

I hate feeling incompetent and vulnerable.

I SO want you to have a positive experience when you interact with me and my shop.

But when something goes wrong and I have to send messages to customers explaining what happened and drop everything to put out fires, I fear that people would think I’m incompetent.

I fear that people would be annoyed they have to go through extra steps or wait till the problem is fixed.

I fear that you will lose trust in me.

(And leave me FOREVER 😭 Dramatic. I know.)

What’s making me extra vulnerable through this experience is that most of the problems, I have no clue how to fix.

Sure, I can fix typo and update images on my website, but customize apps and scripts? That’s WAY out of my expertise!!

So I’m having to rely on pros to fix the problems, and I’m super grateful they exist to help a non-techy like me.

But I have no control over how/when the problems are fixed. OR if it’s fixable at all 😱

Like the price calculation issue I just had with my wholesale customer, it was caused by an external change that the developers wouldn’t have known about. And it took them 4 days to figure out what was wrong and fix it.

Four days. Sure, I’m no Amazon, but it sure felt like a long time not knowing if my customers were gonna get charged the right price or not.

In the midst of feeling uncomfortable and ungrounded, I’ve reminded myself of a few things to stay centered again.

I’ve told myself things like:

“I’ve done challenging things before and somehow, I managed them. It’s gonna be OK again.”

“I’ve done my best to fix the problem and passed it on to the professionals who can help me. There is no good that comes from worrying about it now.”

“Trust doesn’t come from being perfect. People trust you because you’re honest about your mistakes and handle them with integrity.”

And I thought of this:

Boom.

It’s times like this, when I’m feeling vulnerable and insecure, that I want to pat myself on the back for creating art that encourages and nurtures our souls ✨😀

Honestly, I make happy, uplifting art because I need them the most.

I’d be a wreck if I’m not surrounding myself with positive art (and people!) that lift me up when I’m feeling down.

​Naturally, my website learning curve is getting less steep every day I work on it.

I’m not checking my email every 5 minutes to see if anything went wrong or if the developers have any updates for me.

I’m able to focus on other things in life and business (like making new art for my next collection 😻) and enjoying a slower month before the holiday fair season kicks in high gear in November.

Well, friend, I hope my creations cheer you up when you need a little boost ❤️​

Because that’s what it’s all about!

xo

p.s.🍂🍁 Don’t forget –  you get 5% off on your first order and all the future orders when you create a customer account in my new shop 😉 (offer ends on Monday, 10/22).

On handling rejections

I had kind of a bad day on Wednesday.

I received, not one, but TWO rejection emails from the holiday craft shows I applied for.

They’re kind of big, well-known shows (read: most lucrative) in the area that I really, really wanted to get into (and thought I had a good chance.)

Needless to say, I was disappointed and sad.

My emotional process looked like this 👇

1) DISBELIEF: First of all, I thought the notice wasn’t gonna be sent out till Friday?? Was this a mistake? Is this really happening?

2) FANTASY: Some of my friends didn’t make the cut either. And they’re all talented, amazing makers. Did the organizers make a mistake and send the wrong email to the wrong group of people?? I’m still waiting to get that “sorry-we-sent-the-wrong-email-and-you’re-actually-in” email.

3) CONFUSION: But people love my work! and I’ve been great to work with, haven’t I?? I’m so organized and responsive. WHY DID YOU NOT WANT ME?? 😭

4) NEGATIVE SPIRAL: Is this it for me? What if I don’t get in to ANY of the shows I applied for? Was it just a luck that my business seemed more successful this year? Is it all going to be down hill from here??

5) LOGIC: People DO love my work (and they tell me so!), and I’ve had great relationships with the organizers. It’s not personal. I have other opportunities and will most likely get into other shows.

6) ACCEPTANCE: Oh well. It is just what it is 🤷🏻‍♀️ The show must go on. What’s on my to-do list today?

I know intellectually it’s not me or that my work is bad, but it just hurts to be rejected.

I have my “You Are Enough” sticker on my laptop, and it helped 💙

As a self-care strategy, I re-watched the puppy and horse Budweiser commercial from 2014 Super Bowl and had a good cry. It’s truly soul-cleansing ✨

(I question your humanity if this bit doesn’t make you even a little emotional…🐶)

I treated myself for a delicious brownie and pretty dahlias at the farmer’s market.

I also received a copy of Retailing Insight Magazine in the afternoon, where one of my designs was featured (along with my friend, John Met Betty‘s beautiful vegan handbags!) That helped boost my confidence for sure 😊

I don’t have a profound lesson or insight for you today.

But I just wanted to share that things aren’t always great and positive.

I’ve been noticing a trend on social media where people share hard and messy stuff in life. And even without the “things-went-to-hell-but-I’m-all-better-now” hero ending sometimes, which makes a lot of people uncomfortable.

It makes me sad to see people I admire and care about struggle, but I also appreciate their realness.

It helps me feel OK with having those ups and downs in my life, too.

Even though most of the posts on social media are curated and positive, it never tells a whole story.

So I guess what I’m trying to say is, if you’re having a hard time or feeling rejected, you’re not alone.

Nobody has it all together.

We’re enough ❤️

xo

p.s. I’m feeling a lot better after processing the feelings with friends and doing all those self-care stuff. So don’t worry!

p.p.s. I’ve got a few holiday events locked down and am waiting to hear back from a bunch more, so it’s going to be OK. I’ll let you know when I have a more solid calendar!

p.p.p.s. I’m gonna be on my 7th week mini sabbatical next week – I’ve been chipping away at my new website so I can launch it very soon. Send me good tech vibes and stay tuned 😉

Artist Manifesto from 3 years ago

I wasn’t gonna publish a new post today because I’ve been taking this week off to rest and recharge.

I still took a time off and enjoyed it throughly, but I posted this on Instagram on Just 31st, which is my 3-year full-time artist anniversary and got so many encouraging responses.

So I thought you may enjoy it, too.

(Copying and pasting doesn’t count as work, does it? 😉)

***

3 years ago today, I left my 14+ year career in the non-profit domestic violence work to grow Honeyberry Studios full-time. I’d been working on my art biz for a few years on the side but I really wanted to give my 100% to my creative endeavor to see where it can go. So I took a week off from work, and Dave and I sat down to crunch some numbers and decided his income alone could support us for a foreseeable future. That following Monday, I gave my notice.

A day after I left the office for the last time, I went on a solo retreat at my friend’s studio on Whidbey Island. I sat there alone to really think about my intentions for the next chapter in my life. I ended up creating this manifesto during my solo retreat as a visual reminder of why I do what I do and how I’d like to act in my business.

3 years later, my business is finally feeling like a real business, not an expensive hobby 😀 Though I have many moments of self doubt and insecurities, I’m super grateful that I get to do what makes me so incredibly happy for a living and sharing what makes me happy brings you joy ✨ Everybody wins in this scenario 😉

Most of my intentions I set in the beginning still hold true (except for making art everyday – I don’t. But I don’t beat myself up about it any more 😜)

Thank you for your support and encouragement so far – without you, my loyal fans and amazing retail partners, I would not be here writing this message today. Running a profitable small business is not easy. I’m so grateful for you. I’m only just getting started and can’t wait to bring you more joyful creations for many years to come✨

***

Have a beautiful day!

xo

My top 5 blog posts!

I can’t believe this post is my 526th!

I started blogging back in January 2014. I’ve posted pretty regularly ever since – at least weekly (except for sabbatical weeks), but from April 2014 to April 2015 daily for my 365 day happiness is project.

I like sharing my thoughts in writing.

I’m not a super verbal person, and writing allows me to examine and express myself more intentionally.

Writing has become a part of my everyday routine. In fact it’s the first thing I do in the morning after my short meditation practice.

When I don’t do it, I feel a little disoriented 😀

Anyway, I’ve never paid close attention to my blog stats before – but I got curious, so I checked which posts were most popular.

Here are the all time 5 posts that got the most views this year:

1. My Favorite Tools: Sakura Koi Coloring Brush Pens

2. Quitting my day job cold turkey wasn’t my plan A

3. Draw Yourself Back to Nature Fall Leaf Doodle Tutorial

4. My Favorite Tool: Moo Carve

5. My Vipassana 10-Day Silent Meditation Retreat Reflections

I see that you enjoy my tutorials and tool reviews a lot! That makes me happy because I enjoy teaching and sharing what I know 🙂

I used to do a lot of “self reflection-y” posts, too, and I’m glad you found some of those helpful.

I forgot how much work I used to put into my blog posts! There were lots of long-form articles and custom images.

It used to take me hours (like at least 4 hours) to complete a blog post. I’ve since been re-focusing my priorities and goals for my business, so you may have noticed my articles have  become more short and sweet in the recent year.

I sometimes wonder if anybody’s reading my blog 😀 so it was nice to see that people in fact read them! He he.

Thanks for following along my journey! I’m always grateful for your support and encouragement.

Have a great week!

xo

 

 

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3 Free Resources to Empower and Motivate You!

Do you subscribe to any e-newsletters? I bet you do!

I’m on several lists myself – a lot of them for business. Tips on writing, some related to social media, and a bunch of emails from artists I like and admire.

And there are a few I get for motivation and encouragement. I love getting emails from these lovely humans because they help me feel grounded and gives me the courage to live life that I want.

Here are my 3 favorite e-newsletters (They’re all free!):

1. Monday Morning Motivation by Personal Pep Talk

Photo by Andrew Ochoa ©Personal Pep Talk

Stacy and I met in the Master Gardener’s volunteer training several years ago. She’s got such a positive energy, and her smile always puts me in a better mood. Her compassion for  other people and the whole world runs deep, and it shows through everything she does – a true hero in my book!

She’s a teacher by trade  and has started her business, Personal Pep Talk, with her husband Eric this August. I absolutely LOVE their Personal Pepe Talk card decks – I use mine every day to practice gratitude and give myself a little TLC ❤ And her art is so charming and sweet 🙂

In her weekly newsletter, Monday Morning Motivation, Stacy shares tips on how to live mindfully and her intention for the week. What a wonderful way to start your week, right?

You can get a weekly dose of positivity and mindfulness from Stacy here.

2. 100 Uplifting Days by Jessica Swift

© Jessica Swift

I admire Jessica Swift‘s work as a surface designer so much! Her work is so colorful and cheerful, I can’t help but smile when I see her creations 🙂

So when I discovered her email series, 100 Uplifting Days, I wasted no time. I immediately signed up and enjoyed every single email that came for the next 100 days!

Every day, I’d get an email from Jessica with her colorful art and encouraging messages in my inbox (see photos above). Oftentimes, her message was SO spot on for what I was feeling that day, it really lifted up my spirits.

I was sad when the 100 days were over (FYI, you could unsubscribe and re-subscribe to start a cycle  again :D), but Jessica’s been sending out extras occasionally, so I still get her beautiful reminders here and there.

The visual of her email is so yummy. It’s a treat for your eyes and your soul! You can sign up for her email here.

3. Marie Forleo‘s MF Insider E-newsletter

© Marie Forleo

For those of you who don’t know, Marie Forleo is a life coach and entrepreneur, and I’ve been a fan of Marie TV for a couple of years.

Her motivational messages and practical tips for following your passion have been instrumental in my own journey, and I appreciate her sense of humor (and entertaining visuals on the show) when I need a little laugh 🙂

Since I don’t have time or energy to keep track of all the shows and podcasts I love (which there are many!), I signed up for her email so whenever a new content is posted, I’ll be notified.

Even if I don’t have time to watch or read her content right away, I always skim the email to get the gist of it. To me, Marie is a super successful celebrity, but she’s not afraid to share her human side generously with her viewers. When she’s answering questions from her viewers, I often feel like she’s directly talking to me because she makes it so relatable.

If you want practical and entertaining tips for your life and business, you can subscribe to Marie Forleo’s newsletter here.

These women give and share what they know so freely. Their wisdom adds so much to my life, and I hope you’ll find them helpful, too!

(I’ve been inspired to create something similar for my email subscribers, too… Stay tuned for any updates!)

Now, tell me what your favorite e-newsletters are. Please share in the comment and tell me why 🙂

xo

Yuko Miki Honeyberry Studios Headshot