The Laughing Medusa Define your dreams. Design your life. Thu, 04 Jun 2015 06:00:00 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Start a Happy Journal! Thu, 04 Jun 2015 06:00:00 +0000 Self Love Uncustomary Art (3)Uncustomary has been a long-time supporter of The Laughing Medusa and I’m so glad that her comments led me to discover her inspiring blog. She’s a tireless champion for self-love and technicoloured living and today she’s going to share a powerful tool that you can use to kickstart your self-love journey right away.

Self-love is something that changed my life. It started off with life appreciation, by making my gratitude for the things I get to experience known, even if it was just in my head. I started keeping a Happy Journal, where I documented at least three things every day that were good. Slowly, it became easier and easier to list dozens of things every day. The more I said out loud, even to myself, what beauty I was seeing, the easier it was to find more and more of it!

Eventually, the concept of self-love unraveled in a lot of ways, before I even recognized the term itself. I started keeping a blog, reminding myself that what I had to say mattered, even if no one else was reading (yet). I sought out help for my mental illnesses, and did some pretty intense work on myself. I accepted the way my body grew and changed as a result from taking medications, and realized that I was so much more than my size or cellulite. I exited toxic relationships and quit my job to start something that really mattered to me, even if I was sacrificing financial stability and an easily acceptable answer to that “So what do you do?” question.

As I dove deeper into the blog world, Self-Love became a conscious effort. Today, self-love means that I never don’t do something just because I’m worried about how I look. It means that I continue celebrating the life I already have, documenting the small (and huge!) pleasures I get to have every single day. It means reminding my friends, my readers, and strangers on the street that they are beautiful. It means believing in myself enough that I can go out there and live life how I want to without worrying about being judged, even though I know it’s going to happen. It means looking to myself for motivation and inspiration instead of outside sources. The power is inside me, and I need to tap into it before reaching outward.

So how can you recognize the power and sparkle in yourself? My first piece of advice to you is to make an effort to appreciate life and make your gratitude known. An easy way to do this is with a happy journal!

  • Choose a system for yourself, be it digital or in a paper notebook.
  • Create a routine, and keep it strong for two weeks to really get into a routine!
  • Brainstorm good things and feel free to include everything.
  • Write in a format that appeals to you, be it list, paragraph, or with the accompaniment of drawings.
  • Establish a minimum effort, as in your goal of how many things to write each day.
  • Get your juices flowing with a general list. Write down as many things you can think of that make you happy, and see how things get moving!

I promise that once you start appreciating the things around you, it will become easier to include yourself on that list, you beautiful creature, you.



Uncustomary spreads love and positivity through street art, snail mail, and the message of self-love. She wants you to believe in who you are even (especially) if who you are is super weird. You can find her leaving a literal trail of glitter behind her in Baltimore.

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A Stylish Mission, If You Choose to Accept It. Wed, 03 Jun 2015 06:00:05 +0000 A Stylish Mission, If You Choose to Accept It.Lynsay and I first connected online when I asked to interview her for my Tattoo Talk series. We met soon after on a date at the cat cafe and while she lives up north in Glasgow, we keep in touch online and see each other when she visits London. I sure hope I can visit her in Scotland soon! Lynsay is an amazing friend who is always the first to send a celebratory card or love note. And her blog, Miss West End Girl, is an inspiring, colourful place for anyone with a love of style and adventures.

Hello! As you might have noticed, this is a slight change to your regular programming schedule (do not adjust your set…) as the lovely Sarah has invited me to guest post about my relationship with self-love and share my views with you guys.

For me, self-love isn’t just about being OK with what makes you yourself, it’s about celebrating your quirks and finding joy in your individuality! And one way that I certainly like to express this is through my personal style. So today, I’m going to talk a little bit about the way that we dress and the direct link that it has to self-love.

Taste in clothes, no matter how good or bad you deem it to be, is a very personal thing. It can be the very thing that creates a feeling of being comfortable, confident and (on some days, with the help of VERY special shoes) unstoppable! When I wear some of my favourite outfits and key wardrobe pieces, I don’t have to be channelling a celebrity or a movie character – I’m channelling myself, and believe me, that can give you just as much sass in your step.

A Stylish Mission, If You Choose to Accept It.When I was a gangly teen, I didn’t feel confident or happy in my own skin. When I look back on photos now, it certainly shows! I lived in black ensembles, hid away and was painfully shy, and wouldn’t have dreamed that I’d be dressed like I am today. The last ten years of my life have been an opportunity for me to get to know myself and develop my own look that reflects that – rainbow dresses, glitter and all! I believe that the two go hand in hand and that if you are truly, deeply comfortable with yourself it will radiate from within and be totally visible.

Feeling good about the way you look is a lot easier said than done, and for some of us it can be quite a journey. But ultimately it’s one worth taking. Most people have parts of themselves that they wish they could change, but I bet there are things that you wouldn’t change for the world, right? Letting go of the negative view of yourself is the first step and the rest will start to fall into place.

It’s at this point that you stop wishing you could pull a certain style off and just go ahead and do it. Be brave, experiment with fashion and above all have fun. You don’t need permission, baby doll – go forth and be fabulous! Are you a modern-day flapper girl? Or maybe a bronzed glamazon? There’s only one way to find out…

I want to leave you with a little bit of homework – an actionable step to try out. Pick out the piece in your wardrobe that you think is a signature item. If you could sum up your personality in one garment or accessory, what would it be? Make sure you wear it right away – it’s time to channel yourself and show the world!


Lynsay Neil is a life and style blogger and shares her writing at her blog, Miss West End Girl – a guide to living a happy, colourful life in her home town of Glasgow. She also writes and presents a pop-culture and fashion podcast called Those Gals. Lynsay can usually be found exploring the city, snapping photos and hunting for kitsch accessories to add to her collection. 

Twitter; Instagram; Pinterest

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Tattoo Talk: An Interview with Carly Kroll. Tue, 02 Jun 2015 06:00:00 +0000 Tattoo Talk: An Interview with Carly Kroll.Carly Kroll, tattoos at Little Bird Tattoo in Berlin, Germany

I’ve been following Carly’s work for a while now and was even meant to be tattooed by her when I was in Berlin last year. Unfortunately she ended up being off work with an injury, but hopefully I’ll get to reschedule for later this year when she’s in the UK. Not only is Carly a talented tattooist, she’s also the owner of the only vegan tattoo shop in Berlin. In case you’re wondering why tattoos are not usually vegan (it’s not just the inks) and why they should be, read on for all of the details.

How long have you been tattooing? Started tattooing in 2012

How old were you when got your first tattoo & what was it?
I got my first tattoo when I was 18, I was going through a tough time at home and was keen to rebel in any way. It was some mandarin kanji, it was the ‘in’ thing at the time, basically there wasn’t much thought put into it. The shop was pretty unwelcoming, full of biker guys (who I was kinda scared of) and the whole experience left me with the feeling that I wasn’t interested in tattoos.

How did you get started in tattooing? What was the journey that brought you from there to here?
I actually didn’t get another tattoo for about 6-7 years after. As my first experience was very underwhelming and didn’t see any further beyond that. My next ‘Tattoo experience’ grew from going with a friend while he was getting tattooed, the shop was completely different, there was lots of original art and artists drawing and creating work. I was really inspired by the whole experience and got me thinking, wow there is a lot more to this than I thought.

Did you have an artistic background before you started tattooing?
I studied art, and was always making something or being creative in some way. I worked a little in design but found all the hours sitting at the computer really un-motivating. People are usually pretty surprised when I tell them I was a flight attendant for about 8 years before I started Tattoooing.

Tattoo Talk: An Interview with Carly Kroll.How have your thoughts about tattoos and being tattooed changed over time (if at all)?
The only person I even knew that had a tattoo when I was growing up was a truck driver friend of my dad’s. So it’s safe to say I had little to no understanding of tattooing in my youth.. I just never thought I would end up being a tattooist and also having this many myself..!

How would you describe your style of tattooing?
Well, I’m pretty young in my tattooing career, so that’s something I feel is still evolving. I guess I would say neo-Traditional, maybe modern feminine.. but definitely bold and full of colour… although that’s not to say that’s all I do. I like to think I’m a good all-rounder. There isn’t much that I say no to, I always try and think about what someone wants and find a way to make it work.

Who or what influences your work?
I like pretty or funny and cute things, a client will come in with an idea and I try and have a good think about how to do it, how to make it ‘carly’ – what will make the tattoo special and not just go for the obvious choice. I have so many influences from other tattoo artists aswell, especially all the amazing female artist based in the UK right now, it’s like there is this little bubble of really fantastic feminie artists that how just blossomed in the last few years. I also love watching other artists work. Nikko Hurtado (Portrait/Realism Tattoo Artist from LA) has this theory that tattoos are just a string of choices and in the end the final tattoo is the sum of all the choices.. It’s a really cool theory and it’s always cool to see how a piece evolves.

Tattoo Talk: An Interview with Carly Kroll.I understand that you own the only vegan tattoo shop in Berlin. What about tattooing is usually not vegan?
That’s a really good question! People just assume it’s just the Tattoo ink that is vegan. (or not). But there is so much more to it than just the ink. A lot of the big ink companies have been making their colours vegan friendly (using plant based glycerine) for a few years now, which is awesome but the biggest ‘Badie’ is the black ink. Many tattooers are still using a drawing or Indian ink (which, works great for tattoos) but contains animal by-products like burnt animal bone char, shellac (from beetles) and glycerine (also made from animal fats). Inks are really just the start of it, from other products used in tattooing for lubrication (like Vaseline, or petroleum products), cleaning and sterilisation products (which are all animal product based, or produced by huge pharmaceutical firms that are testing on animals) to even the stencil paper (regular stencil paper contains Lanolin and sometimes shellac). We source all our products to make sure everything that goes into the skin and applying the design and sourcing and using disinfection mediums that are animal (and planet) friendly.

Were there any challenges to setting up a vegan shop?
I was in the mindset that everything about the shop should be as green as possible, which includes the products we use to clean and sterilize the shop, to our tea, coffee and snacks aswell as the products we have in the bathroom. We also found most of our furniture and shopfitting second hand or upcycled..

It has been a lot of work and challenging (and often expensive) to find vegan and green products. It would have been so easy to just purchase things mainstream or from the regular stores but it’s something that is really important for me. Living vegan, not just about what I eat and buy but also supporting a sustainable lifestyle, and bringing that to the shop and is something I’m really proud of.

Thank you, Carly! As a vegetarian and animal lover, this has given me a lot to think about and will make me think carefully about choosing tattoo studios. And as you, I’m itching to get a piece done by you soon!

Carly is doing some guest spots in the UK this year (as well as other parts of Europe), so keep an eye on her Facebook and Instagram pages for all of the details.



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Jessica’s Journey From Body Hate to Self-Love. Mon, 01 Jun 2015 06:00:44 +0000 Jessica's Journey From Body Hate to Self-Love.I can hardly believe how quickly the last few weeks have flown by. My mom arrives from Canada tomorrow and Matthew and I are getting married on Saturday! To prevent major overwhelm and so that I can fully savour this exciting time, I’m not going to be writing blog posts over the next two weeks and I won’t be sending out a newsletter next Monday. Instead, I’ve asked a few of my blogging besties to take over The Laughing Medusa. For the next two weeks, they’ll be stopping by to talk about their own self-love journeys and to share their top tips for romancing yourself. I know they have some really incredible stuff prepared for you and I hope you’ll enjoy getting to know them as much as I have.

First up is Jessica. We had the opportunity to take our friendship offline when she moved to London in January and she’s quickly become one of my closest pals. Jessica is a major fitnessista but today she’s sharing an important message about how our best intentions can have dangerous consequences when we don’t prioritise self-love. Take it away, Jessica!

As with so many things in life, I didn’t realise how important self-love was until the need for it smacked me right in the face. I remember the exact moment I became aware of its existence – or rather, the glaring absence of it in my life so far. As I lay flat on my back, willing my aching, painful body out of bed, a fleeting thought crossed my mind, quickly followed by another: Why can’t I just get a fucking grip and get up? then, Hang on – when did it become okay for me to talk to myself like this?

Let me give you a little context: roughly a month and a half before the above inner monologue, buoyed and made zealous by the prospect of a new relationship, I slapped a nicotine patch on my upper arm and began the process of kicking my addiction to the curb. It was a win-win-win scenario: if I quit smoking, not only did I get the boy; I also would also be taking a decisive step towards being healthier and my parents would be overjoyed. Super positive, right? Mindful of the fact that bad habits are best dropped by picking up new, constructive ones and also kiiiiind of fearful of putting on weight, I thought I’d kill two birds with one stone and took up exercising again for the first time in six years.

I say “took up” – the correct verb is really “threw myself into it with wild abandon”. I tend to go a little overboard with things I’m passionate about, and fitness quickly became a passion. How could it not? It felt good in the beginning; I felt strong, powerful and in control. For someone who’d fallen prey to addiction, this was a welcome feeling and I couldn’t get enough.

Fast forward a couple of weeks and the picture couldn’t be more different: I was working out twice a day, following super-intense fitness DVDs and eating far less than I should have. Now that I’d been bitten by the bug, I was obsessed. I looked good, but all I could see were lumps and bumps that needed smoothing out, tired muscles and aching that I equated with weakness.

The results I wanted weren’t coming fast enough, so I pushed myself harder, beating my body into submission with punishing routines and as little rest as I could get away with. Progress had screeched to a halt but in my altered state of mind, I couldn’t see the truth – I had shocked my body so deeply that it was desperately trying to hold on to whatever fat it could so that I wouldn’t waste away.

Jessica's Journey From Body Hate to Self-Love.My wake-up call arrived soon after: I’d just finished a video from the Insanity series and was about to start another. I bent over and felt a twinge in my lower back. Thinking nothing of it, I continued exercising, showered and went to bed. The following morning, I couldn’t get up. I tried coaxing my body into a seated position, but my whole back seized up in what can only be described as a big, fat, NOPE. My physiotherapist’s verdict was immediate: lumbago. I had pulled my bloody lower back. Like a bloody old person. A bloody old person who would now be unable to exercise for two weeks.

Without the quieting effect of working out on my mind, negativity rushed in like the tide. Why can’t I just get a fucking grip and get up? Why is my body letting me down again? But then, from somewhere within the darkness: Hang on – when did it become okay for me talk to myself like this?

That was the question that started it all; the catalyst that jumpstarted my journey to self-love. Through self-reflection and lots of reading (I was out of commission for two weeks, don’t forget), it dawned upon me that what had started out as something positive had turned into something really ugly. I wasn’t trying to improve my body; I was punishing it for not doing what I wanted it to do.

From there, the healing process began. I apologised to my body. I slowly learned to gaze upon it with affection, embracing the lumps and bumps as parts of me, rather than something I had to fix. I did some really weird shit like writing odes to the body parts I’d spent a lifetime hating and staring at myself in the mirror until I started crying from sheer relief. I furiously wrote in my gratitude journal. I nourished my body with delicious, healthy food – and more importantly, I had enough of it. It wasn’t easy; there was a lot of resistance, and even now, there still is. I’ll tell you what, though – it’s the most important thing I’ve ever done and it’s so, so worth it.

Starting on a self-love journey can be daunting, especially when it’s from such a dark place. I know – I’ve been there. My number one piece of advice is to give yourself permission to take it slow. It isn’t a race; you don’t need to perform (it took me a while to get that one). Start small – scribble one thing you’re grateful for on a scrap of paper. Do it again tomorrow, and the day after. Smile at yourself in the mirror. Buy yourself a bunch of flowers. Take five to breathe deeply – really deeply. Reacquaint yourself with yourself. It’s where it all begins.

Hi! I’m Jessica. I’m an author, consultant and coach who writes about wellness, self-love and general badassery over on my blog, Jessica Says. I’m passionate about helping my wonderful audience live their best possible lives and feel great, even on a super busy schedule. If this sounds like you, please come and say hello!

Facebook; Twitter; Instagram; Pinterest


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Blending Scents to Boost Your Mood, Elevate Your Style, & Cultivate a Rockin’ Persona. Fri, 29 May 2015 06:00:00 +0000 Blending Scents to Boost Your Mood, Elevate Your Style, & Cultivate a Rockin' Persona.The smell of freshly cut hay instantly transports me back to being a kid, spending my weekends at the barn riding horses and working in the stables. The smell of salt air reminds me of being on holiday. I’m soothed by the smells of thunderstorms and pipe tobacco.

It’s true that scent is the sense most strongly linked with memory, which is why our reactions to them can be completely different. A beautiful scent might conjure up terrible memories for one person, while making another feel completely euphoric.

Last year one of my birthday list missions was to choose a signature fragrance. I amassed collections of perfume fragrances but I hated most of them. They just smelled cheap and chemical-y. There were a few that I liked, but none of them really seemed like me.

So I decided to blend my own. Colette and I sat down with my collection of essential oils, mixing and matching what we thought would be the ultimate combinations of scents. Hers came out alright, but mine smelled like the skin care aisle of a health food store. Not what I was going for.

I realized that perhaps I didn’t want one scent for every occasion anyway. Although I liked the allure of a signature scent, of someone smelling it and instantly thinking of me, I also wanted to use the power of scent to set the mood.

Then I discovered The Library of Fragrance. A collection of singular scents that you can mix and match to match your mood, a special occasion, or even your outfit.

Some of them are the typical fragrances you’d expect, like rose and musk. But there are an endless variety of unique smells, like thunderstorm, paperback, and fireplace.

They were kind enough to send me five bottles to start my own collection and I wanted to share how you can use scents to boost your mood, enhance your style, and cultivate a rockin’ person.

Blending Scents to Boost Your Mood, Elevate Your Style, & Cultivate a Rockin' Persona.What feelings do you want to evoke?
Do a little bit of research on the effects of essential oils and different scents (here’s a good site). If you’re feeling stressed, herbal scents like peppermint and lavender have a calming influence, while citrus notes like grapefruit are uplifting. But think about your own fragrance associations. What scents would make you feel nostalgic? Excited? Badass? Brave? Sexy? What feelings do you want to evoke in yourself and others?

How can scents set the mood?
You can also choose scents that say something about how you’re feeling or match the occasion. Fresh cut grass and vanilla cake batter for an outdoor birthday party. Dark chocolate when you’re feeling sultry. Rose and musk for a romantic date. Vanilla frosting when you’re feeling sweet. Sunshine, coconut, and mango for an epic holiday.

Who do you want to channel?
When you’re intentionally transforming parts of your life to better match who you want to be, it can all feel a bit unnatural at first (I talked about how I went through this with my style a few years ago). Instead think of your “best self” as a character or persona that you’re stepping into. What does she wear? How does she talk? Who does she hang out with? What are her favourite haunts? How would someone describe her? Concoct a fragrance that conjures her essence, so that you feel like her whenever you smell it.

Blending Scents to Boost Your Mood, Elevate Your Style, & Cultivate a Rockin' Persona.Layer scents that fit well together in real life, but don’t be afraid to play with unexpected combinations. You can spray each scent on a piece of tissue and then hold them together to test the combination before spritzing yourself.

Perfumes are made up of top, middle, and base notes – which refers to how long they last on your skin. And scents also react to an individual’s chemical makeup, so they can smell different depending on who wears them or what you pair them with. As a general rule, start with heavier/stronger scents first and finish with lighter/fresher scents so that they aren’t overpowered.

At only £15 a bottle, I know that I’ll be amassing quite a collection of The Library of Fragrance bottles and I’m already dreaming of all of the combinations I can create. Marshmallow and fireplace. Ocean and orange blossom. Gin and tonic with sunshine.

I’m currently playing around with using Bulgarian Rose as my signature scent and layering it with different fragrances depending on my mood. Vanilla cake batter when I’m feeling playful. Dark chocolate and musk for something more sultry. Paperback when I’m feeling whimsical.

Would you prefer to keep the same combination every day for a true signature, or mix up something every day to suit your fancy?

Love, pina coladas, & cocktail umbrellas,

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In Favour of Wearing Your Sunday Best! Wed, 27 May 2015 08:26:24 +0000 In Favour of Wearing Your Sunday Best!Do you have an expensive dress hanging in your closet that makes you feel like a complete bad ass, but you never wear it because you’re saving it for a “special occasion”?

Or are there a pair of shoes you’ve been lusting after but you always talk yourself out of them because you wouldn’t have anywhere to wear them?

I went through a period in my early twenties when I lived in jeans and t-shirts. I was drawn to full, vintage-style skirts and edgy, punk rock accessories but I didn’t think this wild style fit into my new role as an activist. I was restricting my fashion choices to fit into someone else’s mold.

Eventually, the clothes I wanted to wear felt unnatural to me. It seemed too dressy and out of place to swan around in retro dresses paired with leather jackets.

Until I decided to just go for it. In 2013 my New Year’s Resolution was to not wear pants. Skirts and dresses all day every day instead.

I started incorporating glittery hair pieces and brightly coloured lipsticks into my outfits until they became my signature style choices. I’m happy wearing a tutu to work, bejewelled bunny ears to the farmer’s market, or a gown for a pizza date. Dressing up and expressing myself sartorially makes me feel good. And people have come to expect it from me.

It’s also changed how I go about buying clothing and accessories. I’m happy having a closet full of high quality, statement pieces with a few basics to mix and match them with. And I’m especially drawn to any item I can remix or restyle to make it completely my own.

Which is why I completely fell for Kirk & Kirk’s handmade sunglasses. You get to choose the frame, colour, and pin for a completely customized look. Jason and Karen Kirk are carrying on the work of their family, who started designing glasses in London in 1919. Each pair is handcrafted in France, while the adorning jewellery is produced in England.

They were kind enough to send me sunglasses from their Solarium Collection and I felt like a kid in a candy store getting to make my own creation. Inspired by the Victorian obsession with science and nature, each frame is named after a celebrated scientist of the era. I chose the Eleanor frames in anthracite with a silver fly pin. They’re the perfect combination of vintage chic with a punk rock edge.

It’s easy to let a high end product languish in a drawer for fear of them getting lost or broken. But I’m here to say: let’s always wear our Sunday best! Let’s get pleasure from the things that we love. Let’s allow them to make us feel good, rather than collecting dust somewhere.

So last Sunday I styled my hair in pin curls and put on a fancy outfit for a trip to the market and a walk around East London. Here’s what I wore…

kirk-and-kirk-collaboration - 8kirk-and-kirk-collaboration - 1 (2)kirk-and-kirk-collaboration - 1 (1)kirk-and-kirk-collaboration - 9kirk-and-kirk-collaboration - 3 (1)kirk-and-kirk-collaboration - 12kirk-and-kirk-collaboration - 1 (3)kirk-and-kirk-collaboration - 13I’m wearing sunglasses c/o Kirk & Kirk, Love, Yu corset top from my bestie’s bridal boutique in Toronto, a Danier leather jacket, a Stella McCartney skirt (from the #VCSwapShop), United Nude shoes c/o AllSole, a necklace from a street market vendor, a tea rose crown c/o Crown & Glory, and an LYDC London bag.

I love the quote by William Morris, “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” When we focus on quality over quantity, we stop our obsession with consuming and start actually getting pleasure from our favourite things.

So why not save up for the most luxurious item you can afford, rather than buying 10 cheap ones that will break easily?

Make “wearing your Sunday best every day” a personal mantra.

Put on your fullest skirt and twirl around your living room.

Instate “dress up Mondays” to add a little flair to the start of the week.

Always keep a bottle of bubbly in the fridge to celebrate good feedback, friend’s successes, or awesome hair days.

Spray glitter in your hair before going to the movies.

Invite your girlfriends over and wear your prom dresses for a pizza party.

Buy beautiful vintage crockery and use it to serve tea every week (even if it’s just for yourself).

Wear a different colour of lipstick every day of the week.

Use those luxury bath products that you got as a gift, instead of saving them.

Replace your mascara with falsh eyelashes that make you feel like an old school movie star.

Learn to do a hair style you really love and wear it once a week just because.

Support independent, creative brands.

Buy things that make you feel good.

And tell me, which Kirk & Kirk frames would you choose? What can you do to celebrate the little things today?

Love, wild sunsets, & rose lemonade,

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Inspiration Interview: An Interview with Kelsea Echo. Tue, 26 May 2015 10:00:00 +0000 Photoshoot with Jess Juergens 2Kelsea, 27, Owner & Jewelry Artist at Kelsea Echo in Seattle, WA, USA

Kelsea and I have been commenting on each other’s blog for a long time now, so I was really excited to see that she’d quit her full-time job to start a jewellery business, Kelsea Echo. I’m certain you’ll be inspired by her colourful style and no-nonsense approach to making her dreams come true. Plus, she was kind enough to send me a few pieces from her shop so you’ll see photos of how I styled them interspersed throughout the interview. Take it away, Kelsea!

How would you sum up what you do?
Kelsea Echo is all about converting the rainbows, fantasy creatures, pictures, glitter, and stories inside my head into unique, wearable art that’s both pretty and practical.

kelsea-echo - 1What unconventional career path brought you from there to here?
People have a hard time believing this when they see my bold, colorful pieces, but I actually began as an accountant! I’ll warn you now… this story is a long one!

I fell wholly in love with polymer clay at a young age, happily mixing colors and sculpting for hours on end. After clay, it was beaded and wire jewelry, friendship bracelets, CDs decorated with Sharpie designs, ceramics, card-making, illustrated story books, and memory books. The one thing that remained constant was that I almost never made anything for myself, preferring to give everything away to friends and family.

Despite my clear love for art and making things for others, it wasn’t until the end of college that it occurred to me to turn that into a living. I was studying in Prague for my last quarter of college and had signed a contract with one of the Big Four public accounting firms. It seemed too late to change courses, so I decided to start a side business. The summer between college and work was spent holed in my apartment, happily and madly cranking out polymer clay and mixed media jewelry for my fledgling Etsy shop (now closed). I swore I’d make time for my business, buy supplies with my corporate earnings along the way, and someday be ready to go full-time.

Then I began working long hours (up to 17-hour days) and studying for the five-part CPA (certified public accountant) exams. Free time and energy were hard to come by. I eventually switched to a less demanding job, but even so, the dream was drifting further from reality.

One day, my boyfriend (now fiancee) asked me why I wasn’t doing what I really wanted to do. I told him I was – I wanted to get experience with leadership, become a manager, and move up the ladder. He asked me what had happened to my dreams of owning a jewelry business. I said that dream was dead – I had given it up long ago. “No, you haven’t,” he said. “If you had, you wouldn’t spend every minute of free time you have talking my ear off about all of the collections you’re going to make someday. When is ‘someday’? Let’s make ‘someday’ happen this year.”

A few months later I had trained my replacement, said goodbye to my coworkers, and was starting my preparations for Kelsea Echo.

kelsea-echo - 3What measures did you take to prepare for leaving your job and working on your jewellery full-time?
First, I made sure to make the transition as easy as possible for my work team. I gave my boss two months’ notice and spent that time teaching coworkers how to perform my work functions. If at all possible, it’s really worthwhile to leave on good terms. The massive emotional support my coworkers offered through well wishes, goodbyes, and thank yous helped me through a lot of the lonely months afterward. And my boss told me that if I ever wanted to work there again, she’d find me a job in the department, even if her team didn’t have an opening. Given my risk averse nature, hearing that was quite a relief.

My boyfriend and I also sat down and took a serious look at our finances. I estimated how much I’d need to spend on start-up costs like packaging and software and saved up a hefty chunk before quitting. I did my research on the cost of individual insurance. By the time I left, we were fairly confident that we could manage even if it took years to become profitable.

kelsea-echo - 2What does self-love mean to you and what role does it play in your life?
This is actually very relevant to something I’ve been discussing recently with one of my best friends. I was very confident at my old job. I worked hard, led extracurricular teams, was happy with the work I produced, and received plenty of recognition. I thought that confidence would translate to starting my own business, but it turned out that confidence as Kelsea, Accountant, didn’t translate to confidence as Kelsea, Jewelry Artist. Without the external recognition and assurance that I was good at my job, I had to generate it on my own… and it was harder than I thought it would be.

My friend, on the other hand, had never before been accused of laziness. She has worked at many jobs over the years, sometimes two simultaneously, others while attending college. Recently, she quit to become a housewife, and discovered how much our society looks down on anyone who is not currently employed.

We’ve both been learning that self-love really is just that. It comes from yourself. You can’t get it from your friends, your boss, your family, acquaintances, or even your partner. And it’s about truly loving who YOU are, not just feeling validated by your title, your awards, or your accomplishments. It’s knowing that you are valuable, that you have something to offer, and that it’s okay to be happy with yourself, whether or not you fit someone else’s definition of success or societal worth. It’s something I’m actively working on.

Photoshoot with Jess Juergens 3Where does your inspiration come from?
I kid you not when I say everything and everywhere. I can find inspiration in a novel, a jewelry supply, a photograph, the park, a season, a candy shop, or a color. The biggest problem I have is trying to whittle those down into collections that make sense!

What advice would you give for someone with a monumental dream looking to make it a reality?
Former accountant speaking here: take a good look at your finances. Try your hand at estimating a budget. If your dream requires a big investment or substantial initial loss of income, you might need to scale back your lifestyle for a while or build some savings before you start. Not only will it help ensure you don’t go broke in two months, but the preparation will help you feel less stressed and allow you to focus more on your dream rather than worrying about money constantly. And if you’re risk averse, like me, don’t try to fight your nature – just have a backup plan! A friend of mine has been thinking about quitting for years. She asked me how I finally got the push to go for it and we talked finances. Once she crunched the numbers, she came up with a financial projection and back-up plan for herself. I’m happy to say that earlier this year, she quit her office job to run her business full-time!

Break down the steps you need to take into a list. “Start a jewelry business” is fine for an overall goal, but it’s too vague and overwhelming to be your catalyst. Write down everything you can think of to do in Excel or Google Spreadsheet and put them in order by priority/time sensitivity. Ask friends and family for help where their skills match up. Then… dive in!

All of that aside, let go of those fears! Don’t worry too much about ‘failing’ and what people will think of you. People are going to think you’re incredibly brave for following your dreams. If something’s not working, you can always tweak it along the way or take that as an opportunity to implement your next big idea instead. The biggest loss you can take is not trying in the first place!

Thank you so much, Kelsea! Your story is so inspiring and I had so much fun styling your jewellery. I love that they had a pop of colour and playfulness to any outfit. Although I have to admit, they make me a little hungry. ;)

To see more of Kelsea, check her out on FacebookInstagramTwitter, hop over to her shop, and be sure to read her blog.

And tell me: who’s been inspiring you lately?

Lots of love,



Photographs of Kelsea by Jess Juergens

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Ask Me Anything! Fri, 22 May 2015 06:00:00 +0000 Ask Me Anything!My weekly newsletter is where I share exclusive content with my girl gang – those badass babes who are kind enough to share their email address with.

These weekly love letters are my expressions of adoration and gratitude for you. And it’s my hope that they’ll be exactly what you need. Words of encouragement when you’re feeling stuck. A reminder of your greatness when you’re doubting yourself. Tips for living with flair when life feels dull. Strategies for defining your dreams and plotting a course for making them a reality when you’re feeling lost. Invocations to step up and create the life you want. They’re a cheering squad, agony aunt, and gentle kicks in the ass all rolled into one.

If you’ve signed up recently, you might have noticed that my newsletter has been quiet lately. But don’t worry, you haven’t missed anything and a new dispatch will be sent out on Sunday.

I’ve just been working on a new format because I want to make sure that when I grace your inbox each week that I’m dancing in with valuable insights, inspiring stories, and practical tips to help you fall madly in love with yourself and design a life you love.

So I thought, what better way to find out what would help you most than to ask?

So these new weekly love letters will feature an Ask Me Anything column! Do you have questions about anything from self-love and lifestyle design to being an expat or my favourite lipstick? Just leave me a comment or pop me an e-mail. I’ll answer 2 or 3 each week, along with sharing the books, rituals, activities, and simple pleasures that have been lighting up my life or helping me create major shifts. I promise, it’s going to be good.

If you don’t get my newsletter already, you can sign up over here and you’ll get a copy of my Define Your Dreams workbook right away. It will help you get clear on exactly what it is you want, so that you can make your reality match your daydreams.

To give you a taste of what you’d be signing up for, below is a copy of my love letter from March 8th.

Ask Me Anything!Hello gorgeous,

Is there something about your life that is driving you crazy? Is there something you’re yearning for?

Too often we think about how we wish our lives could be instead of how we can actively shape and mold them.

Maybe you want to be adventurous but haven’t been on a vacation in years and your bank account isn’t letting you go further than the other side of your own city.

Designing our lives and taking complete responsibility for our own happiness means showing up everyday and creating magic with the universe. It means stepping up and recognizing that you don’t have to wait for any arbitrary event in the future; your life can look and feel how you want it to right now. It might just require changing your perspective and getting a little bit creative.

That’s why I wrote my list of 50 ways to have an adventure without leaving town.

Adventure might bring to mind images of trekking through the jungle, exploring far off cities, or starting a new life on the other side of the world. But you can be adventurous each and every day. It’s just matter of making small choices that infuse your life with the feelings you want to dominate your life. And pretty soon those small choices add up to a whole new way of being.

Maybe it’s not adventure you want but glamour or comfort or creativity. Could a false pair of eyelashes, a nourishing bedtime routine, or a weekend painting class help you inhabit those feelings you’re craving?

Maybe reading a really challenging book will help you feel more intelligent or signing up for a volunteer program might bring you a sense of connection.

Decide what you want your life to look like and then figure out how you can create that right now, without having to change yourself, learn a difficult skill, or save up tons of money.

My challenge for you is to sit down today and think of 50 ways you can design your life to look more like that fantastical vision in your head.

I was surprised that when I sat down to it, it actually didn’t take me very long and it ended up being a lot of fun.

For bonus points, share your list with someone else and inspire them to do the same. I’d love to read it too, so feel free to reply to this email, leave a comment, or send me a tweet!

Believing in you always,



Photographs by Warren Burke and Ana Flávia Cador.

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The Self-Love Book Club Reads Mama Gena’s School of Womanly Arts. Thu, 21 May 2015 06:00:00 +0000 The Self-Love Book Club Reads Mama Gena's School of Womanly Arts.“I have never known anyone who followed their deepest desires with all-out enthusiasm and failed. It is almost as if the universe gives you a leg up, or a helping hand when you really go for what your heart desires.” – Regena Thomashauer

I’ve said it before: I was initially put off by Mama Gena’s brand of pink feather boas, “Sister Goddess” language, and prolific use of the word “pussy.” But by the time I finished her School of Womanly Arts book, I’d come to think of  it as required self-love reading. Which is why I chose it as May’s book club read.

Regena’s philosophy is that you should live a life aimed entirely at pleasure so that it bleeds into everything you do. Pleasure becomes your raison d’etre. And as it does, it transforms you. Your life becomes entirely joyful. Your relationships take on a deeper meaning. You live out of a deep sense of purpose and desire.

This book is perfect for anyone who has lost their shine or is looking to be a little more true to themselves. Regena walks you through ten lessons, covering topics from sex and flirtation to “owning men” and “partying with your inner bitch.” And as flowery as her language can be, each chapter is peppered with real life examples from the sister goddesses who have taken her classes and concludes with exercises you can practice in your own life.

Mama Gena preaches pleasure as doctrine. She knows that by focusing on fulfilling your own needs and desires, you fill your own cup. When we don’t prioritise loving ourselves, we become shells of who we could be. And when we focus on everyone’s needs but our own, we become drained, irritable, and resentful.

Mama Gena offers the tools and know-how to realign with what you really want and practice pleasure in everything you do so that you can live your best life. Here are a few of her nuggets of wisdom that I particularly enjoyed, but I suggest keeping an open mind and picking it up for yourself.

  • “If you think that a man is going to lead you to your true happiness, you are all drunk- drunk, I tell you. Drunk on the legend of Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Snow White. Well, I’ll say it again, ’cause I can’t say it enough- that waiting for Mr. Right is gonna keep your life and happiness on hold as long as it exists.”
  • “Life without your pleasure as a priority is one of perpetual victimization and stagnation.”
  • “Become expert at finding beauty in every aspect of womanhood, fat or thin, young or ancient, petite or imposing.”
  • “We are not accustomed to being in a state of profound gratitude toward our lives and the gift of life. But gratitude is an essential practice that opens us up for more.”
  • “Just as a seed needs soil, sun, and water in order to grow, your appetite requires a support system to really spring to life. The best fertilizers you can find for your sprouting desires are fun and pleasure- they are all-natural and you can never have too much of them, so sprinkle them daily throughout your life.”
  • “If you want to be treasured, you have to treasure yourself first and then show someone how to treasure you.”
  • “Your dreams are not too big for you, you would not have them if they were not just the right size and shape for the individual you are. They are blueprints of your future fulfillment.”

I’ve decided that this will be the last official Self-Love Book Club read. After almost two years of reading together, I want to find new ways to engage and interact with you – and I am focusing my efforts on creating some very exciting new projects. I’ll keep our private Facebook group open as a place to discuss and recommend personal development books with one another, so feel free to join if you’d like. And I’ll also be offering suggested reading with my new series of long form articles that I’m starting in July, as well as in my weekly newsletter.

I’ve had so much fun on this book club adventure and I have some exciting changes and big ideas planned for this space. I hope you’re looking forward to this new chapter as much as I am.

Did you read Mama Gena’s School of Womanly Arts? Did you love it as much as I did?

Love, candy floss, & peppermint tea,

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Tattoo Talk: An Interview with Amanda Follit. Tue, 19 May 2015 06:00:00 +0000 Amanda1Amanda Follit, 42, Head of Digital Operations Services/Artist Management Director

I hear from a lot of hesitant tattoo enthusiasts who are very strategic about their tattoo placement or avoid getting them altogether for fear of jeopardizing their careers. Amanda is proof that this doesn’t have to be the case. She has a beautiful collection of tattoos but that hasn’t stopped her from rising to the top of her field in a competitive industry. Today she’s chatting about her body art and whether it’s had any implications for her career.

How old were you when you got your first tattoo? What was it?
I was 18. It was something I just needed to do. I didn’t think much about it so I just picked something off the shelf at the tattooists in Thanet, Kent. It was a guitar with wings and roses. It’s since been covered up.

How many tattoos do you have now?
I have a chest piece, a half sleeve and a thigh piece. I also have another on my other thigh that I had at 18 but that will be covered up

Amanda3What are your thoughts on tattoo regret? Have you ever had any?
I wouldn’t say regret. I didn’t like the ones I had at 18 but I don’t regret them at all.

Do you think tattoos need to have a special meaning or can they be purely aesthetic?
I think it’s whatever suits the person. Personally mine are aesthetic but with meaning. My tattoos have stories of my life. I know people with their bodies covered and they are all aestethetic.

Have you ever faced any adversity in your career due to being tattooed?
Actually I haven’t which I am surprised about however I do cover up when meeting clients. The reason I do that is because I don’t want my tattoos to be a distraction to the points I am talking about.

What kind of reactions do people usually have to your tattoos and how do you manage people asking to them?
I get stopped in the street, in the supermarket and all sorts and I never have a problem with people asking. The feedback has always been positive so it’s kind of cool to have that discussion.

Amanda2Do you have a favourite tattoo? What’s the story behind it?
My chest piece I think. It took me 10 years to find a tattooist I trust so it was a big deal for me. It has all sorts of stories in it. The main part of it was a design by a band I love and was managing at the time called The Catharsis. It was a design based on one of their songs called O’Recluse and some of the lyrics are ‘And I have this feeling, that my heart stopped beating, it’s counting down the minutes and the days I have left.

At the time of this I had just discovered that we have congenital heart disease in our family and that I was almost guaranteed to have it too. Also the time on the clock perfectly matched 10 minutes before my son was born 20 years ago. It was an horrific birth, I went into shock and he was in distress. The time on the clock was identical to the literal life or death situation we had and we both survived.

The makers mark on the clock I gave to the band for the design T/C.

Are there any artists you’re yearning to get work from?
My artists is Charlie Jones from Aces High Tattoo Studio in Shotton, North Wales. I trust her implicitly. I give her a concept and she designs it. I don’t even know what colours it will be, she has free rein over it. I couldn’t think about going elsewhere.

Thank you so much, Amanda! It’s so inspiring to hear that success and ambition haven’t kept you from expressing who you are.

For anyone wanting to keep up with Amanda’s adventures, be sure to follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

Until next time,

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