Wisdom Wednesday Category Archives

Dawn Marie West

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I had the pleasure of working with Dawn Marie West in the Summer of 2015. She beautifully photographed the Melissa McGill, Morphologically feature that I wrote for Bohemian Collective. She is the kind of woman that surprises you with how truly driven and entrepreneurial she is, only because she emanates such a serene and unruffled nature that you find yourself wondering how she keeps calm with all of the coals she has simultaneously roasting in the fire.

Dawn has a sharp eye, a peaceful spirit and she moonlights as a hula-hooper—seriously check out her Instagram for reference—and she is a fierce champion of her fellow creatives. In addition to her photography, she is the founder of Maison Made NYC a budding art house and platform for the emerging artist.

Read all about her work and her vision here for this week’s installment of Wisdom Wednesday!

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1. Tell us a bit about your brand, Maison Made NYC, how you conceived of the idea and how you see the brand growing.

Maison Made NYC is an art house and platform for artists to have their work collectively represented to an alternative art audience while serving as inspiration for the emerging artist. As of right now, Maison Made is based online where I feature studio visits and interviews with emerging artists throughout the city.

Maison Made originated as a collective of the artists in my circle of friends. As an emerging photographer myself, we collectively decided to put on group shows together, representing every medium. It came out of the idea to have our work represented independently, as it has become increasingly more difficult and less realistic for many emerging artists to show their work in more prominent galleries of New York City. I interned as a Curatorial Assistant at a high-end contemporary photography gallery in Chelsea. It was that experience where I saw the disconnect for emerging artists, as only those with well-known connections and national or international recognition actually made it into the gallery. I realized how underrepresented many artists are, and saw that there was a need to be fulfilled. From there I decided to launch Maison Made as an alternative platform for emerging artists to gain recognition in their local market.

Currently, I am working on a range of journals for artists and creatives that focus on setting goals and intentions. The journals will be available through Maison Made. As for growth, I envision Maison Made to eventually become a co-working cooperative and rotating gallery space for our roster of artists. I have already seen so much momentum with Maison Made since launching in September of 2015 that I can see the expansion to a physical space in the near future.

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2. What are the biggest challenges you face day to day as a creative entrepreneur building your business?

I think the challenges I’ve encountered the most in building this business – and in my art work as well – is letting go of perfectionism. I won’t release a work until I feel it exceeds my own expectations. In my experience, it is our own perception of perfection that holds us back, and so the remedy for me is just getting the work out there. Placing a deadline on myself helps with that. It is scary at first, but once I let go of the idea of it being perfect and get it in front of my audience, I am always amazed with how it is received.

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3. What are the skills that you’ve cultivated throughout your life that help you in your work?

I think having to critique work in school is one of the skills that really made me a stronger artist. It also has made receiving critiques of my work a little less of a blow because I’m so used to it now.

I also put a lot of emphasis on aesthetics and I find that having a solid, cohesive brand is the strongest ambassador of the work you put out. A lot about branding and knowing what you want to convey through your brand is about looking inward at who you are, what your voice is and how to translate that in your business.

Finally, I’ve cultivated skills that have absolutely nothing to do with my work, and somehow I’ve been able to incorporate those skills into my work in some way. An example that comes to mind is, I worked as a retail merchandiser, and before becoming a merchandiser I didn’t know the first thing about using a drill. It kept me from landing an internship at a gallery actually. After I started working at this retailer, I became really good at cutting signage and using an impact driver (not to mention, I felt really cool to be that chick with a drill.) After learning how to wield one decently, a year later I had the opportunity to let the curator know what I had learned as a merchandiser, and ultimately she allowed me to come work for the gallery I had initially been turned down for. So, I think learning as many skills as possible, even the most far out will eventually give you leverage in your work.

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4. When you’re not working, what are you up to? Projects, Fun Stuff, etc.

When I am not working, I am more than likely at a music festival hula hooping, or at a coffeehouse trying out the most exotic blend I can find (I stumbled upon lavender lattes last year, changed my life.) I recently also got into aromatherapy, and have been learning everything I can about it from my friend and owner of Morphologically, Melissa McGill. She makes these rad candles, (but you knew that already.) I also am working on a solo pop-up show of my body of work; Botanical Luminary. The work is based on botanicals and abstractions. I hope to have this show confirmed by mid-summer.

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5. What are your words of wisdom for other people (or perhaps your 5 years younger self) on how to chase your dreams and work hard to get to a fulfilling place in work and in life?

Take every opportunity you possibly can to either learn something really intriquing or to get your work in front of someone. You have no idea who you may meet, that may very well change your life, or how learning something unusual may lead you into new experiences. Our time is so limited, and so I say pursue what makes you the absolute happiest. If you have to take a 9 to 5 – which most of us do – make sure you have a side project. Your side project often times becomes your main project over time as it can bring more joy and fulfillment than what we are doing currently. Maison Made started out as a side project for me, It’s now a huge part of my existence and I love every moment of it.

6. What are the 5 items you can’t live without?

Coffee, or more specifically, espresso.

My Canon 5D Mark II Camera.

An amazing candle. Shout out to Morphologically.

A great mixtape. I’m all about Kaytranada.

Flowers. I’m not ashamed to say I buy them for myself.

 

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For more on Dawn Marie West and Maison Made NYC visit www.MaisonMadeNYC.com.

All Photos by Dawn Marie West.

 

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Kassandra Nicholson Jewelry

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Kassandra Nicholson and I worked together to brand her namesake jewelry business, a line of unique and powerful handmade pieces—talismans that act as emotional armor for the wearer—that I am overjoyed to have seen take wings and build the following that it deserves. Kassandra is a true creative; whose energy inspires me to keep writing, even on those days (as with today’s blustery and steely grayness) when taking a long nap seems favorable to turning out another story. Her stunning works flow outwardly, seemingly without much effort. But, of course, as with any artistic entrepreneur, there is a great deal of effort behind the making of her gorgeous pieces. I was lucky to be able to pick her brain a bit on her creative process, so read on!

May these pearls of wisdom that she shares below—for this week’s installment of Wisdom Wednesday—kickstart your day and toss a log on the inner fire that may be dwindling in mid-Winter’s wake.


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1. What is your morning routine as it relates to your designing? 
I’m a night owl, so my mornings are laid back. I take a long walk with my dog around the neighborhood, stop for coffee, and soak up the surroundings. Williamsburg is full of personality, like a giant canvas for artistic expression. By mid-afternoon, I’ve made it to my workshop with good creative energy; it balances the solitary aspect of focusing on the bench.

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2. What is your advice on harnessing the intense energy of New York City and not letting it overwhelm your creative process?
I’ve always been drawn to things with a darker, grittier undertone, and my dry sense of humor keeps it fun. I find the city’s intensity endlessly entertaining: the graffiti, the sporadic shouting, the limitless stories. That said, I think most New Yorkers have a secret spot to gather their thoughts… mine would be my building’s rooftop, or the boulders where the East River meets Brooklyn.
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3. What would you advise a younger person (or even a younger version of yourself) on how to follow your dreams?
Artistic people seem to attract a great deal of advice, so it’s important to have your own strong vision to follow, for your own satisfaction. One of my best choices has been to surround myself with mentors whose work I admire. As a jeweler, New York is an ideal place to learn from others in the industry. The more you understand your medium, the more confidence you will have creating with it.
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4. Where do you look first for inspiration in life and in your craft?
I usually start with the places I’ve found inspiration before. Things I’m grateful for existing, like California’s beach towns, Africa’s wildlife, or New York’s history… I instinctively want to carve that feeling into a design, and have it become a part of my work.
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5. What are the 5 items you can’t live without?
My passport. If I’m not traveling, I am daydreaming about the next place or remembering the adventures I’ve collected.
An open seat at the counter of a café nearby… like Zinqué in Venice Beach, or Black Brick in Williamsburg.
A worn-soft beach sweater to keep me warm on a creative day.
An animal sidekick: my Boston Terrier, Lily.
Layers of too much jewelry: a mix of souvenirs, special gifts, and things I’ve made.
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Learn more about Kassandra and shop her designs at online at KassandraNicholson.com
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Patti Wilcox of Awestruck Ciders

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Meeting Patti in September at The Blogcademy, I was immediately taken by her sweet, spritely demeanor. But it is her badass business chops as founder/purveyor of the fine cider brand Awestruck that is the inspiration behind this week’s segment of Wisdom Wednesday. Since Patti is a busy entrepreneur and a traveler by trade and by passion, we hooked up via email to bring you the pearls you’ll read below. In the spirit of the New Year and in the pursuit of fulfillment professionally, creatively and spiritually, may you find something in the words below that makes you tick.

1. Tell us a bit about your brand, how you became involved and how you see the brand growing.
I am a founder at Awestruck Ciders.  Our brand is really focused on creating those “Wow” moments for adult beverage consumers.  I love when I see a customer’s face light up with surprise and delight, that’s what being Awestruck is all about.
We are currently distributed in only half of NY State and just beginning to break into NYC.  We are also going to begin exporting to Quebec over the coming months.  It’s my dream to build an international brand.

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2. What are the biggest challenges you face day to day as a creative entrepreneur building a brand?
This is such a beautifully personal question.  For me, it has been learning that I am the rule maker.  I have always been a really good rule follower and now I have this brand that I have to set the rules for.  It has taken me a long while to finally realize it’s up to me, and now my task is to make decisions, analyze outcomes, and create policies based on that information.
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3. What are the skills that you’ve cultivated throughout your life that help you in your work?
I think travel is the root of all goodness.  I have spent the past 10 years living for travel.  It taught me to bootstrap and prioritize, it taught me the rewards of hard work,  it taught me the
power of flexibility, and the good-will of the world.    The kindness in the
world is humbling and amazing.  I remember waiting in line at a street kiosk in Morocco to buy some candy (I love weird candies) and the man in line behind me was so overjoyed to see a visitor in his village he insisted on helping me choose the best treat and buying it for me.  It’s such a simple thing, but when we always stay within our comfort zone, we don’t’ have access to those special moments.
So we basically founded Awestruck almost as we would pursue a gap year.  We did our best research before hand and knew we’d have to learn along the way.  We have found the most wonderful mentors and friends on this path.  It brings tears to my eyes to think about the incredibly talented, intelligent people who are helping us grow and build our brand.

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Don’t you love to meet those people who just know themselves?

4. When you’re not working, what are you up to?
I love the feeling of productivity.  So I have serious problems not
working.   I really really like audiobooks, because I can go on a fun jaunt
in my brain while still getting things done.  I think my dream day-off would be to pick a random subways stop in an amazing ethnic neighborhood like Jackson Heights or Flushing and just spend hours getting lost and discovering new drinks, fashions, and cultural habits.  It’s amazing how authentic these communities are even so far from home.

5. What are your words of wisdom for other people on how to chase your dreams?
Start now keeping track of what you like.  Write lists of  things that make you happy.  Spend time thinking about what you enjoy and what comes easy to you.  Amass this information about yourself.  Don’t you love to meet those people who just
know themselves? And only you can do that for yourself.
6. What are the 5 items you can’t live without?
1. My Nokia Lumia 1020.
http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/mobile/phone/lumia1020/ Best phone ever.
2. OverDrive App https://www.overdrive.com/  (+ my Brooklyn Public Library Card http://www.bklynlibrary.org/)
3.  My IIID Foundation Palette from Maskcara – It took me forever to buy this, I was wincing at the price, but it is worth every penny, as a business woman on the road a lot, I don’t know how I went so long without it.
4. Credit cards that earn flight miles.  I’m always amazed at how far my Southwest miles go, but be sure to wait for at least a 50,000 point offer https://creditcards.chase.com/a1/southwest/25kPremierR
5. Apples.  I am awe-inspired by apples.  They are a staple produce.
They last for months without chemical preservatives.  They make delicious
alcohol.   They are genetically fascinating – did you know an apple seed
will grow into a tree completely unique unto the world?  They don’t just inherit the traits of their parents, they become their entire own varietal, they can only be exactly reproduced by cloning and grafting.

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For more on Awestruck Ciders, visit www.awestruckciders.com.

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Solstice: New Season|New Vision

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We gathered on Monday night to light candles, burn palo santo, make art and connect in Winter’s fresh wake. It was a solstice celebration in the best way possible–entering the next phase in the spirit you’d like to maintain. The dawn of a new season, especially one with the new year fast on its tail, always makes me think about what more I can be doing. Sometimes this can lead to a pity-party in thinking of the things I don’t make enough time for in favor of other, less creative/soul fulfilling activities like sleeping and eating pizza. But, other times, it presents itself as an opportunity to take inventory on what I am spending the majority of my energy on and which practices should carry on in this new chapter and which should be quietly dismissed into the night. Here are a few of those practices I wish to continue and grow…

C R E A T E :

One thing that I know I want to make more time for in this new season and new year is creation of all manner. Recently having taken on new responsibilities with a fabulous designer, I have found myself with less time to cook, collage, think and write. I am gloriously enthralled by this new professional role, but I do miss unfettered time to engage in my favorite activities. Spending time in the tangible hum of minds at work in peaceful creation on Monday night was invigorating. Anytime I feel uninspired to make something or write something or do something, I want to call upon my community of inspired souls so that we can bring out the best in each other and create some magic.

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C O N N E C T :

 

I am starting a new section of the blog called “Wisdom Wednesdays” as another way to reach out and connect with the people that give me a reason to get out of bed in the morning. The essence of Naked City Style is a platform for me to share what inspires me in hopes of giving the reader some inspiration along the way. What inspires me most are the innovative and rad people that I interview and spend time with for these stories. What I hope to be a weekly installment, “Wisdom Wednesdays” will be q&a’s with admirable humans that push limits and create incredible things by sheer self motivation and determination (not to mention a little help from their friends).

And speaking of friends, I’d like to take a pause to truly appreciate the gorgeous goofballs | the true-blues | the insanely talented, special, radiant beings that I am lucky enough to call my friends. Thank you for all that you do to bring me up everyday.

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C OM M A N D :

What might seem like an aggressive goal for any new beginning, I view “command” as a positive, uplifting, life-affirming stance. In that vein, I want to take ownership for my choices and responsibility for all that I do, good and bad. In this new season and new year I won’t let my demons mandate how I view myself or how I spend my time. I will command the energy, the self love and the determination in myself to kiss the sun. And I will have a blast doing it.

 

With wishes for you to lift latches, swim in raindrops, never not smile, breathe fresh air and do something totally new, Happy Winter.

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