May 22, 2017

An Interview with Vintage Rentals & Home Stager Erin Sparks

You know those Instagram accounts where you "like" every post and daydream about the IRL friendship the two of you would have based on the 1% of this person's life you see? No, just me? Fine. Well, today's bitch is my friend on Instagram (and in my mind). While we haven't actually met yet, we do swap a lot of "likes" and comments on each other's posts.

Erin does the kind of social media I like:  80% personality and real life, and 20% hey, I do a thing. The fact that I've decided I like Erin without having met her should tell you how personable and authentic she is online. I'm not surprised she's as successful as she is. I am surprised we're not friends yet, but I'll remedy that. Meet today's bitch, Erin Sparks!

What do you do and what is the name of your business?

I own a Vintage Furniture Rental Company called Vintage Sparkle.

When did you first learn about this field of work? How did you know it was what you wanted to do?

I started off selling vintage home decor and still have an Etsy shop. I was finding myself drawn to really dramatic pieces that would work well in a photo shoot, or for events. I had the idea for rentals, and the rest is history!

What is the best piece of business advice you’ve been given?

I love Donald Miller’s podcast: Story Brand. It’s a marketing podcast and he always says: “If you confuse, you lose.” This is so helpful for me because as a creative it’s easy to be like, 'I do this and this and this, and oh, I can do that too!' but that’s not helpful for potential clients. I’m always working on making my messaging crystal clear, so that when people think cool vintage rentals, they think Vintage Sparkle.

Can you name the biggest lesson you’ve learned or that helped improve the way you work?

I am always asking, how can I make this better? As someone who is NOT a perfectionist, or good at follow through and details, it really helps me.

What would you do with two more hours a day?

If I’m being honest, I’d probably work.

What has been the biggest sacrifice you’ve made?

Well, I basically have zero hobbies. Everything I do kind of revolves around the business. It gets pretty consuming and I’m not proud of that. I’ve been a shitty friend. *sigh*

What is your greatest success, or something you’re most proud of related to what you do?

The Pilgrimage Festival is a big music festival in Franklin, TN. They rent my entire inventory for their backstage/VIP/artist/media lounges. It’s my biggest job of the year and I’m so honored to be a part of it!

Do you have a morning ritual that helps you set the tone for the day?

Coffee and exercise!!

How do you decompress at night?

TV, Pinterest, or reading.

What helps when you’re stuck? Do you have a motto or quote that inspires/motivates you?

“Do your best and forget the rest” ha - kinda lame, I know. But I say it to myself all the time because I struggle to do my best (because I get bored or distracted), and I also struggle to LET THINGS GOOOOO!!!!

What does self care look like in your life?

Exercise, candles, wine… I honestly suck at self care.

Are there any women who helped pave the way for your success?

My mom was a single working mom, so I definitely grew up watching a woman work really hard. She taught me some key lessons like, where there’s a will there’s a way, it never hurts to ask/try, and kill 'em with kindness. Man, she used to tell me these three things all the time growing up. She lived them, as well. I use these lessons on the daily, they’re engrained in me. Because of her, I do not give up easily, I’m not afraid to ask for what I want, and when people are mean to me, I’m SUPER nice back. *smile*

Lastly, and most important, what is your favorite TV show and what is your favorite snack?

I recently binge watched Boss Girl and loved it - it was like watching a skinny, fashion version of my life. I really love Scandal. Favorite snack is Halo Top ice cream!! I’m eating it right now... for breakfast!

All photos courtesy of Erin Sparks

P.S. Meet last week's bitch:  EBTH Sales Specialist, Brittney Forrister!

P.P.S. Full list of My Bitches here.

May 15, 2017

An Interview with EBTH Sales Specialist Brittney Forrister

Photo cred:  Leslie Mitchell

I guess it's pretty standard at this point to have friends you've never met IRL. I have a lot of Instagram friends that I've yet to hang out with in person. Today's bitch is one of those people (even though we did have a coffee date once that got snowed out). Brittney and I have been online friends for awhile now, swapping encouragement and enabling each other to buy the crazy things we find in thrift stores.

In addition to Brittney's eagle eye for amazing vintage, she also works for basically the coolest thing on the internet right now, Everything But The House. I didn't even know you could have a job like that in Nashville. I'm more determined than ever to start my Nashville Thrifters Club, and when I do, Brittney will be my first member. Meet today's bitch, Brittney Forrister!

What is your job title and where do you work?

I'm a Sales Specialist at Everything But The House.

When did you first learn about this field of work? How did you know it was what you wanted to do?

I hosted a vintage clothing pop-up a couple of years ago when someone asked me if I sourced from Everything But The House. I hadn’t heard of the site before and immediately became addicted to perusing estate sales all over the country from the comfort of my couch. About a year ago, they had an opening in the Nashville market and I jumped at the chance to work for a start-up that is revolutionizing the world of estate sales. My home and closet are 60% vintage so the job is such a natural fit and a genuine interest for me. The other component of the job that interested me was the opportunity to sell a service, not a product.

What is the best piece of business advice you’ve been given?

I actually have two: 

1. “Clean Car, Nice Pen, Polished Shoes” - my dad, Steve Forrister. It’s a reminder to show up prepared and to look the part. 

2. “Always act as if you’re the owner.” I cut this headline out of a NYT 2014 article highlighting Roger Ferguson with TIAA-CREF. To be honest, I’m not sure I even read the article because the headline was enough and I found it be to so humbling. I would love to eventually open a small business of my own someday, but in the meantime, I’m working for someone and for their legacy. I keep this close by as a reminder that success follows investment in where you are and ownership of the responsibilities put before you, whatever role you hold. It also serves as a reminder to work for someone you trust, someone who inspires you to grind it out for a company that isn’t your own, but one you are proud to be a part of.

Can you name the biggest lesson you’ve learned or that helped improve the way you work?

I’ve been fortunate enough to hold cool jobs with cool people. Earlier in my career, I was so intimidated by the coolness, I let insecurity rule my decisions. I didn’t stand up for myself or my ideas as much as I should’ve because I didn’t think I was as cool enough. And when I did step out, it was timidly so and not very effective. I’m done with that. The biggest lesson I’ve learned is to lead with your gut and not apologize for who you are, what you believe and what you think you can bring to the table. Sometimes, you and your ideas will be way off - off brand, off kilter, off base - but sometimes, they’ll hit bullseye and that glory is worth all the times they didn’t hit the mark.

What would you do with two more hours a day?

I would do more crossword puzzles and actually put some business plans down on paper. I’d start shooting an OOTD with the vintage pieces I own, write a complete song instead of jotting down a few lyrics, take an art or sewing class, and finish a children’s book I started a couple years ago about tomatoes.

What is your greatest success, or something you’re most proud of related to what you do?

I don’t want to avoid this question under the veil of humility. Women should hold their successes close, be able to dissect them, learn from them, and build upon each win they orchestrate. My love language is affirmation so I don’t shy away from talk of success. Success is relative though, and many times incredibly personal. The fact that I can’t easily recall a greatest moment doesn’t mean that I haven’t seen success, just not enough to register on my personal barometer yet as “greatest.” I am most proud of the small and varied moments of success in every work day: relationships forged, conflicts managed, services provided.

But to name one success that sticks out: I recently had my home published in Better Homes & Gardens “Best of Flea Market Style 2017” issue. I’m not a designer, and at the time it was shot, I wasn’t working in the world of estate sales, so to be recognized by someone who saw what I had personally created with a passion for mixing the old and new, and thought it was something to showcase, was indeed a proud moment.

How do you decompress at the end of the work day?

The older I get, the more I realize how much I love physical labor, so most often I’ll be doing something around the house. Painting, rearranging furniture, scraping caulk, washing my car; anything that keeps my hands busy and gives my heart and mind a time to rest.

I also love to thrift at the end of the day. There is something about sifting and searching for something unique that calms me down and if I do find a treasure, it’s an exciting way to end the day.

What’s a fear that keeps you up at night?

Having all these ideas and not seeing them come to fruition - not becoming more than I am now. Anyone who knows me knows that on any given night out on the town, I’m inevitably going to start pitching business ideas or song lyrics to friends who just want to enjoy their glass of Meiomi. I don’t flirt at the bar, I talk dreams instead, which is probably one of the reasons why I’m still single. I really am so terrified of looking back on my life and regretting what I could’ve done or what I could’ve been. Conversely, I’m also a little afraid of looking back and not realizing what I had or appreciating what I did accomplish. It’s always a fine line between contentment and ambition - I guess striking the balance is what keeps me up at night.

What is one thing everyone gets wrong about what you do?

Everything But The House has garnered so much press and recognition recently for all the unique items we bring to the world of resale and rightfully so. For that reason, people often think my days are spent sourcing vintage items and antiques when the reality is, that is a small part of what I do. My main responsibility is to meet with the people who are selling those items and help them through whatever transition they are going through - whether that is downsizing, dealing with the loss of a loved one or just simply decluttering or redesigning their home. My day is spent in the service of others and in conversations with people - the cool stuff they’re selling with us is just a bonus!

What does self care look like in your life?

In a nutshell: coffee, the company of my dog Murphy, books, expensive face creams, music, long drives for no reason, sermons on the radio, and visits to my hometown. And as of this week, facetiming with my brand new baby niece, Sadie.

What helps when you’re stuck? Do you have a motto or quote that inspires/motivates you?

As a salesperson, there are so many times when you feel like you are just beating your head against the wall. You are laying the groundwork, putting in all the effort to make magic happen - networking, cold-calling, getting creative, reaching out to press, crafting emails that should probably win a Pulitzer, etc., but sometimes, it’s to no avail. Proverbs 14:23 helps keep all of that effort in perspective for me. “ All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.” If I’m doing my part - showing up, believing in what I do and working hard, not just running my mouth - it will eventually amount to something and if it doesn’t, then it’s time to consider what is next.

Are there any women who helped pave the way for your success?

I want to do this question justice. The answer is yes. Women who gave me a chance, called me back, stood up for me, gave me a place at their table, helped me paint my house, took me to coffee, said “I see something in you,” when I couldn’t see it myself. Too many to count, so I’ll stick close to home with this one.

My “Mimi,” Eunice Ledford, went to work at the Levi Strauss plant in our hometown so she could afford to buy a washer and dryer. She started on the sewing machine line and 33 years later retired as the Assistant Plant Manager. She did not set out to be the boss, she set out to reach a personal goal and one thing led to the other. She was a Worker bee, turned Queen Bee and was loved by her hive. My mother, Sandy Forrister, inherited this same work ethic, working a full-time job for 37 years and raising four children. She started as an accountant and retired as part-owner in the company. After an especially entitled statement from me early on in my career, she reminded that me even as the owner of a company, she still cleaned the restrooms.

Mother and Mimi defined their success not by the titles on their business cards but on the opportunities their jobs afforded them, mostly the ability to provide for their families. They weren’t selfish in their pursuits, their careers weren’t about them, and I owe my success to their dedication. Mother and Mimi’s daily actions said, “You want things out of life, go get them but realize it’s not always about you.” So yeah, road paved, navigation up to me.

Lastly, and most important, what is your favorite TV show and what is your favorite snack?

Justified all day, every day - insightful, character-driven, insanely well-written dialogue and one of the most gratifying season finales of all time. My favorite snack: Popcorn with M&Ms.

All photos courtesy of Brittney Forrister

P.S. Meet last week's bitch:  Author, Tobie Easton!

P.P.S. Full list of My Bitches here.

May 14, 2017

Happy Mother's Day, Bitches

Many of my bitches are moms, and today, I'd like to honor them. Happy Mother's Day, bitches, even the ones who are too busy being a mom to fill out this questionnaire and be on my blog.

"This one right here goes out to all the baby's mamas, mamas
Mamas, mamas, baby mamas, mamas"

Nieves Uhl:  Graphic Designer, Letterpress Printer, and Mom to Otis

Carrie Wingfield:  Full-Time Mom to Millie, Part-Time Farmhand

Jenny Luckett:  Jewelry Designer, Mom to Shep

Amanda Bair:  Work-At-Home Mom to Josephine

Marchelle Bradanini:  Songwriter / Singer, Mom to Cass

Shannon Miller:  Stay-At-Home Mom to Wilder, Everly and Hudson

Amanda Salmon:  College English Teacher, Mom to Ruby

Lisa Donovan:  Baker and Writer, Mom to Joseph and Maggie

Katherine Tisha Wilson: Instructor, Mom to Rodney Jr., Ledontae and Tyler

Rhonda Andrews:  Sign Language Interpreter, Mom to me and April

Chrissi Krause:  Stay-At-Home Mom to Max and Lilly

Rosalie Hunt Gunson:  Labor and Delivery Travel Nurse, Mom to Solee

Katie Stone:  Community Engagement Director, Mom to Jasper and Genevieve

Courtney Risse:  Hairstylist, Mom to Giant Baby Jules

Lauren Stephens Branson:  Communications Director, Mom to SG and "The Boy", ETA August 2017

Lauren Agee:  Senior Policy Advisor, Mom to Ella and George

Libby Thurman:  Health Policy Director, Mom to Merrill and Julian

P.S. Wonder which Bitches get the most views? Here you go.

P.P.S. Full list of My Bitches here.

May 8, 2017

An Interview with Author Tobie Easton

Earlier this year, I managed the social media for a book festival and spent six months promoting the authors coming to the event. During the festival, I got to spend time with a lot of the authors and became friends with many of them. One of those authors is today's bitch, Tobie Easton.

Tobie was fun to watch during the book signings because the kids loved her so much. She helped make my job really easy. If she lived closer, we'd be mermaiding it up all over town. Meet today's bitch, Tobie Easton!

What do you do write and what is the name of your book(s)?

I’ve heard readers say I write modern fairy tales. I write what I would most like to read, which means I write books that feel magical—whether that feeling comes from magic itself, from beautiful, alluring settings, or from the sparkle and temptation of first love.

My debut novel Emerge (Book 1 in the Mer Chronicles series) is a contemporary fantasy that offers a peek into a world where mermaids aren’t just real but live secretly among us.

When did you first learn about this field of work? How did you know it was what you wanted to do?

Ever since I fell in love with books as a child, I deeply admired authors, but I didn’t picture myself becoming one. Writing was always the subject I enjoyed most in school—I found it fun and gratifying to play with words and find just the right phrasing for a given thought. But even though I enjoyed it, writing felt like something I had to do for whichever teacher gave me the assignment. It wasn’t until a few years after I graduated college and stopped having anyone making me write that I realized I wanted to write. It was perfect timing because it gave me just enough distance to gain perspective on my teen years, and I feel like I now have something to say as a YA writer.

What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve been given?

One of the hardest parts of being a writer is finishing a draft of a book—actually sitting in your chair and writing until you reach “The End.” Because of that, I love a tip told to me by YA author Gretchen McNeil, who explained to me that you can dramatically increase your productivity by setting a timer for 25 minutes—just 25 minutes of distraction-free work. Over time, those 25-minute increments add up.

Can you name the biggest lesson you’ve learned or that helped improve the way you work?

Once you have a book come out, it’s very easy to get caught up in all the noise. Even good reviews can get in your head and make you feel pressured as you write the next book. I’ve found this especially true as I finish the rest of my mermaid series now that Book 1 is out in the world. Using an app to limit my social media access during working hours has really helped me make sure I stay creative so I can focus on my characters and their story.

What would you do with 2 more hours a day?

Great question! I like to think I would split the hours up so I could learn a new language and start meditating (which I keep saying I’m going to do), but I doubt I’d be able to pass up two more hours per day of writing time!

What has been the biggest sacrifice you’ve made?

I thought about this question for a long time. Since there’s a piece of me in everything I write, I suppose I’ve sacrificed some of my privacy and a few of my secrets, but I feel extremely fortunate to be doing what I’m doing.

What is your greatest success, or something you’re most proud of related to what you do?

I still can’t really believe that people are reading my book! I went from sitting at home in my pajamas wondering if anyone would care about my story the way I did to travelling to signings and meeting readers who tell me how much the characters mean to them. That makes me proud every time.

Do you have a morning ritual that helps you set the tone for the day?

I’m definitely a creature of habit. Every morning, I wake up early and start my workout before I can talk myself out of it. I use that as my solitary time to gear up for the day. Then I shower, eat breakfast, and savor some very hot green tea before sitting down to write.

How do you decompress at night?

I have a husband who makes me laugh. I’m also trying to get in the habit of turning all screens off at least an hour before I go to sleep, but it’s hard. I’m slowly getting better!

What helps when you’re stuck? Do you have a motto or quote that inspires/motivates you?

When I’m stuck, I take a bath. I’m not allowed to get out of the tub until I’ve found a solution (or at least made significant headway).

What does self care look like in your life?

I’m still in the process of figuring this out. The workouts and the baths both help. And remember I said I want to start meditating? I’m also learning to say “no” to things when it’s necessary.

Are there any women who helped pave the way for your success?

Generations of women I’ve never met have paved the way for me. Most of all, I am grateful to my mother who instilled in me my love of words, gave me the confidence in myself to succeed in publishing (which can be a tough industry), and taught me to both love and question fairytales.

Lastly, and most important, what is your favorite TV show and what is your favorite snack?

Buffy the Vampire Slayer (forever!) and fresh baked chocolate chip cookies.

All photos courtesy of Tobie Easton

P.S. Meet last week's bitch:  Musician and Health Catalyst, Kim Collins!

P.P.S. Full list of My Bitches here.

April 19, 2017

My Story of Yoga

It's funny, in the nine year history of this blog, I've written (exhaustively) about exercise: the exercise I do, don't do, and did but quit doing. I've rarely written about yoga, which has been a consistent, significant part of my life for almost twenty years. This is my story of yoga.

Like many people, I came to yoga from a place of trauma. I lived in New York in 2001 and after the events of September 11, saw a doctor for anxiety. She gave me two choices: medication or yoga. Knowing nothing about anti-depressants and a lot about exercise, I went with yoga. My gym (shout-out, Bally Total Fitness!) offered yoga on Saturdays, so I started going.

Yoga in 2001 was not what it is in 2017. Yoga wasn't cool, and there was no industry pushing $120 lycra pants. In fact, I remember going to Herald Square and buying bootcut stretch pants from the Jennifer Lopez 'J.Lo for Macy's' collection to wear to class.

At twenty-five years old, I was the youngest person in class. There was a tai chi class beforehand and the only thing that changed between classes was the addition of the yoga instructor and me. But I loved my class, and I loved my instructor. She wore all black and a bunch of scarves. She was older, rounder, and had a Jewish-Stevie-Nicks vibe. I knew she liked me by the same way I knew all New Yorkers liked me, she let me be in her presence and occasionally engaged me.

Jewish-Stevie-Nicks taught me yoga. Either yoga marketing didn't exist yet, or I didn't know enough to pay attention, but I don't know what style of yoga I did. I do know that she didn't teach from the front of the class, but moved around, observing and adjusting us. And I know she was a good instructor because in all these years, while I've needed adjustments, I've never needed corrections. I was taught the poses correctly.

I took that yoga class every Saturday for the next year and a half. When I moved home, I joined the YMCA and started taking classes there. Around 2010, lululemon opened a store in Nashville and set about getting to know the local yoga community. They highlighted a different yoga studio a month and you could practice there for $20-$30. It was great! It was my year of The Traveling Yoga Pants.

I have a love-hate relationship with lululemon, but I'll give them this, they brought yoga back into my life. I started supplementing my yoga classes at the Y with one to two classes a week at a studio. My yoga practice was consistent again; my mind was calmer. Plus, I was learning new poses and getting stronger in old ones.

This is a comfortable place for the story to end for a lot of people. But I am not a lot of people. Like all good relationships, there is a cycle of rupture and repair. At this point in the story, my relationship with yoga ruptured. It ruptured when the owner of the studio I was practicing in told me she noticed I was gaining weight and suggested I sign up for this expensive 30-day juice cleanse she was promoting.

Do I need to point out all the things wrong with this? I'm going to assume I don't. But what I will tell you is how I felt when she said that: shame. Shame for being apparently noticeably fat (which I wasn't); shame for not being able to afford the juice cleanse; shame for not being good enough for that studio. I can't remember if I finished out my package, or quit that day, but I never returned to that studio.

I floundered around, trying different studios and going back to the ones I liked: Sanctuary and Steadfast and True. And then this new studio opened that all of my friends were going to, so I started going there. I love a trend and this studio was H-O-T (I mean popular, I don't have the constitution for hot yoga). This studio was fiiiiiiiiine. It was affordable, convenient, all my friends were there, it was sometimes crowded, but it was fine. And then.... I was in one of their crowded 6am classes and realized that everyone in there was competing with each another. The women would go into poses the rest of the class wasn't in. It was bizarre and destabilizing. You can't get centered when you're mat-to-mat in triangle pose and the woman beside you flips upside down. Also? I saw a lot of labia because they were all in shorty shorts and sports bras. Which brings me to my other point...

Whether intentionally or not, this studio fostered a community where "skinny" was the goal. That's a triggering, unhealthy environment for me. The shame started creeping back in. Shame for not being "skinny", shame for not buying their goddamn juice cleanse, shame for not being able to afford their TRIPS TO ITALY. I left and never returned.

It was around this time that I lost my job and went back to doing yoga at the Y, unable to afford classes at a studio. My friend bitch Paige, an instructor at 12South Yoga, asked me to come try her class, and not to worry about paying for it. I had never taken a class taught by a friend and I had never taken an Iyengar yoga class, although in hindsight, I'm pretty sure Jewish-Stevie-Nicks had Iyengar training.

Happy ending alert!

I responded to Paige's class like I responded to yoga back in 2001, which is to say I was welcomed and calmed. Paige's class was healing for me during a time when I needed healing, both physically and emotionally. About six months in, the studio downsized and consolidated their classes and I had to switch instructors. Paige recommended I try Rachel - I did, and it's been eye heart emojis ever since.

In the sixteen years I've been practicing yoga, I've done it for a variety of reasons - anxiety, fitness, injury rehab - but above everything else, I've done it to quiet my mind. I don't practice yoga to show people how good I am at it, or because it comes in a package deal with my juice cleanse, and I don't do it to lose weight. I practice yoga because I love it, it feeds me in a way nothing else does. It's where I've learned vulnerability and trust, and Paige and Rachel have played a large role in that.

Iyengar yoga is my jam. I've been practicing at 12South Yoga since 2014. I would love for all my friends to start practicing there. FYI - Rachel (my instructor) teaches at two other studios: Steadfast and True Yoga and Half Moon Yoga if you want more schedule/location options.

See you on the mat! Namaste, bitches.

*Photos courtesy of Rachel Mathenia

P.S. I've written poetic, eloquent posts about yoga in the past, posts like A Plea For Panties, and Archie Bunker Goes To Yoga. Enjoy!

P.P.S. You can read more about my experience in NYC here.

April 17, 2017

An Interview with Musician and Health Catalyst Kim Collins

I've known today's bitch for a long time. For years I knew her as a witch (note the letter change) who cured herself of breast cancer without relying on modern medicine. I remember seeing women on Oprah who ate kale and their cancer went away, but no one knows anyone like this in real life. Why? Because they're witches, which I one hundred percent mean as a compliment.

In the last few years, I've been lucky to become friends with Kim and I can't get enough of her. There's a quote I like that says, "The world looks so different when we remember we are an energy, not an image." Kim's energy is like catnip to me. I leave every interaction with her wanting more. See also: her backyard. If you live in Nashville and don't know her, you're living wrong. Meet today's bitch witch, Kim Collins!

What do you do and what is the name of your business?

Oooh, that’s an intricate question for me. Ten years ago I would be able to simply say I am a musician, but I have three “careers” now. I know, that’s death to success for some; not having a singular focus. But I have come to terms with this being my nature, now that I’m in my late forties. Follow your passion they say? Ok, I will. And I currently have three.

One, I make music. I write songs, play drums, accordion, guitar, mandolin and sing in a band called The Smoking Flowers.

Two, I am a holistic health mentor. I teach and speak about raw foods, juicing, herbalism and my personal experience with healing cancer naturally, without chemo or radiation. My newfangled health coach business (I prefer to call myself a Health Catalyst though) is called Own Your Ohm Health & Wellness. I named it that because I believe it’s time we take our health back into our own hands. Be more attuned with our bodies and responsible and not rely on big Pharma, overly westernized doctors and the FDA for what’s right for us individually.

And lastly, I do interior design and intertwine that with my imported vintage rug company, Lotus Eye Interiors.

When did you first learn about this field of work?

I’ve been a musician all my life, well since the age of five. When I moved to Nashville in 1989, I began my singing career, but I am still learning. I didn’t start playing drums until I was thirty-eight.

As far as health goes, I have studied and practiced herbalism, Ayurveda and holistic healing since 1992. But I feel as if I learned more in the past five years (specifically raw foods and alternative cancer healing) than the previous twenty years combined while battling cancer.

And lastly, I’ve been into design as long as I can remember. My mother was an interior decorator so I guess I got the knack from her. I studied Feng Shui in the 1990’s, and I think that enhanced my love for the art form. I first realized this could be a career for me when my friends started to ask me to come decorate their places for them.

How did you know it was what you wanted to do?

Some things you just know intuitively. I knew from a young age that performance, in some capacity, was my calling. You know when they mention finding a purpose in life? I think I knew this was my purpose before the age of ten years old. I was also a dancer since a young age and thought of trying for Broadway, but a series of events led me to Nashville and the rock and roll scene here instead.

As far as being a health coach and speaker, I have always wanted to be in the natural health field of work to some capacity. But I felt that since I was a singer, I needed to focus on that alone so I didn’t think about starting another career until the universe shouted out, “THIS IS WHAT YOU ARE MEANT TO DO TOO!” I’ve always been passionate about health and the holistic lifestyle. I think that’s why healing my cancer naturally was a no brainer to me.

I still don’t know if I want to be an interior designer! Haha. I just keep getting asked to design things! And I love vintage rugs! A girl’s gotta eat.

What was your path that lead you to where you are now?

I like to think of our “path in life” as a mirror to our body, soul and our life’s purpose. For me, my path has been about seeking and giving. I am a seeker of adventure, spiritual enlightenment, healing, soul fulfillment, happiness, inner wisdom and truth. On this journey, I have been fortunate enough to have had many touching experiences, trials, tribulations and challenges that have enabled me to walk in many shoes. So if anything has led me to where I am now it's that I listened to my heart and trusted my intuition. I’ve never worked for the “man” and never will.

Why did you decide to start your own business?

Music has been my main career for twenty-eight years. As much as I’d love to think of it as simply pure art, there inevitably has to be the business involved. I think for me it was less about deciding to start my own business, and more about how to create music and allow it to help pay my bills so that I can continue doing what I love to do. The same is true for my other endeavors.

What was the best piece of business advice you’ve been given?

That consistency, daily work and authenticity are the keys to success.

What was the most difficult part of starting your business?

Separating the art from commerce! Oh, and selling myself. I am horrible at that!

Can you name the biggest lesson you’ve learned?

Learning how to stay true to myself and to not care what others think of me.

Failure you learned from or that helped you improve the way you work?

See above.

What would you do with 2 more hours a day?

Deep clean my house! Oh and cook more. I am so passionate about healthy cooking and I try and cook something new and creative at least two to three times a week… but I would do this every night if I had that two extra hours!

What has been the biggest sacrifice you’ve made?

A major record deal. When I was in my late twenties my solo project, Kim’s Fable, was being courted by a couple labels. I turned down a big deal because I felt I was going to be trapped with a partner in that band that I knew I needed to leave. I see that sacrifice as a possible mistake now… maybe I was fearful of success? But I have no regrets even if it was a mistake because all that I learned from that time.

What is your greatest success (or something you’re most proud of) related to what you make?

I am most proud of the fact that I have always followed my dreams and turned them into reality. That I make a living doing what I love. That I have always been in control of my art and not attaching a monetary value to it. I feel successful living and breathing as an artist and a free spirit and doing what I feel is my calling. It’s hard in this modern world to not follow the status quo, and I am proud that I have avoided that, at least to a large extent, in my world.

What’s the first app or website you open when you wake up in the morning?

Instagram, if I open anything. I like looking at beautiful things and reading positive inspiration. And most of whom I follow on Instagram provide that.

Where do you go when you need inspiration for your work?

My back yard. It’s a magical fairy forest.

How do you decompress at the end of the work day?

I don’t have an end of the work day technically. But when I need to decompress I either meditate or make a cup of tea and relax on my back porch. Oh, and red wine.

What’s the hardest thing about being your own boss that isn’t obvious?

Taking orders from myself.

Lastly, and most important, what is your favorite TV show and what is your favorite snack?

My favorite cable series is The Leftovers. I like to watch things that can change your life instead of mindless TV. Currently I am enjoying Feud though! I loooove me some Bette Davis. My favorite snack? Raw cacao balls (I make my own) and I can’t help but love a good avocado toast on sprouted grain bread.

All photos courtesy of Kim Collins

P.S. Meet last week's bitch:  Graphic Designer and Letterpress Printer, Nieves Uhl!

P.P.S. Full list of My Bitches here.

April 10, 2017

An Interview with Graphic Designer and Letterpress Printer Nieves Uhl

Welcome to the fourth installment of These My Nominated Bitches! Today's bitch was nominated by friend, artist, and fellow bitch, Agnes Barton-Sabo. Agnes, take it away!


I had the extreme pleasure of meeting Nieves during a magical time in the mid 2000's whilst we were both employed at Hatch Show Print. In addition to getting along pretty smashingly as coworkers, we were also navigating the early days of selling art on Etsy, watching LOST in handmade Dharma Initiative uniforms before it got unbearable, and laughing over terrible garbage we got from online craft swaps in which we participated out of some sort of masochistic curiosity.

These days I mostly get to admire Nieves from afar, but thanks to the internet, we still get to keep tabs on each other and shop from each other's businesses! I think it's awesome that she has carved (wink wink) out her own corner of the letterpress printing world and continues to make cool stuff with this inky witchcraft we learned in olden times. Nieves is also highly inspirational in my personal fashion world and may or may not be emitting neon rainbows out of her heart at any given moment. She is a valuable comrade in the battle to remain weirdo artist creatures and care for small humans at the same time. Most recently, we have started working together on a long-distance collaborative art project in which we are each using various printmaking methods to create an edition, and then trade editions and add to each other's prints! -- Agnes

What do you do and what is the name of your business?

I’m a graphic designer and letterpress printer at Sawtooth Print Shop.

When did you first learn about this field of work?

I feel like I’d always seen letterpress posters, but didn’t understand what it actually entailed until I visited Hatch Show Print for the first time in college.

How did you know it was what you wanted to do?

A good friend from college was working at Hatch and I was looking for something different than the regular freelance design I’d been doing. I’ve never loved working on design on a computer, so the design by hand aspect of moveable type and images was very intriguing to me. A couple of years after I graduated I had the opportunity to intern at Hatch and a couple of months later was hired on, and worked there for almost five years. After I’d been working there for a year or two my mom told me that she wasn’t surprised this was what I ended up doing. She reminded me of the whole set of upper and lowercase letter stamps I made in middle school. I cut out every letter, cut wood blocks for the uppercase and pieces of dowels for the lowercase, sanded them, glued them on, and used them to make little cards and comic books for friends. I realized I’d been working with moveable type for years!

What is the best piece of business advice you’ve been given?

You can not do it all yourself, and know when to get help. I know my limitations in what I can and cannot do in the business, and know who to reach out to to help with what I don’t know or can’t do on my own. I’m great at the creative part, it’s the business stuff that I still have to seek help with.

Can you name the biggest lesson you’ve learned or that helped improve the way you work?

Letting go of the fear of failure! It was always such a scary thing for me. I grew up in a bit of a crazy household and came to be a control freak to help me cope. When things were not in my control I felt paralyzed. You can imagine this is a horrible way to live life, not to mention bad for a business owner! Having a child that has his own agenda and way of doing things has made me loosen up and help me push past a lot of my OCD issues. Also, if it weren’t for my friend and business partner Chris Cheney’s “Let’s just do it!” approach to the business I would probably still be planning every tiny detail. Not being afraid gave me permission to be more free and loose with my creativity and trying out a new aspect to our business. If it doesn’t work I know that and can always try a different approach or cross it off the To Try list. So many of the things I would have been terrified of doing in the past have brought about really fruitful results, and tremendous growth. I’m so thankful for failures now!

What would you do with 2 more hours a day?

Ugh! I already steal time away from when I should be sleeping to try to read or bake at night! I always get a second wind around 10:30, when I should be going to sleep, and start doing something crazy like reorganizing my vintage fabric and patterns! I’d love to have two more hours to do that stuff and still get plenty of sleep!

What has been the biggest sacrifice you’ve made?

My shop partner and I started this business when my son was very little, and before my partner’s children were born. I had no idea how hard it was going to be trying to balance my life as a spouse, mother, homeowner, business owner, and creative person. There really is no “balance.” There is always something that suffers and I have to decide every day what is the thing that is not going to get my full attention. Probably my biggest personal sacrifice is not having enough time, creative energy, or momentum to keep my personal projects moving along like I did before becoming a mom and working a job where I have to be creative all day.

What is your greatest success, or something you’re most proud of related to what you do?

I’m really proud at all that I’ve learned about the craft of letterpress in the ten years I’ve been doing it. There are so many things that are involved in taking an idea and seeing it through to a finished printed piece. I feel like I’ve mastered the intricate problem solving that is required in getting all of our antique type to print properly on the press. I know our press inside and out, how it works, how it should sound and feel when I’m running it, what to do to fix it when it’s not. I love being able to talk to a client about their project and know how to turn what they have in their mind into something beyond what they imagined.

Do you have a morning ritual that helps you set the tone for the day?

I often start the day with some snuggle time with my son when he comes in and wakes me and my husband up. I also try to avoid my phone for as long as I can. I’ve been trying to incorporate a daily morning meditation habit, but it’s rather sporadic as I have to get my wild child and myself out of the house.

How do you decompress at night?

Again, I try to avoid my phone. It’s something I need for the business, but it’s also something that I seem to have a terrible habit of getting lost in and feeling bad about wasting precious time. I don’t have any social media apps on it now, and that’s helped. I really enjoy the time alone with my husband after our son is asleep. Sometimes I’ll knit or embroider while we watch TV, or I’ll listen to podcasts or audiobooks and draw or carve a lino block while he works on his projects.

What helps when you’re stuck? Do you have a motto or quote that inspires/motivates you?

I find that when I don’t write daily in my journal I can lose sight of my goals and progress. Sometimes just getting my thoughts out of my head opens up the space I need to get my mind around a project or problem. I always have so much running through my brain that I can’t wrangle until I can see it in front of me.

What does self care look like in your life?

Currently a very real part of caring for myself involves avoiding too much news exposure. I’m also a big believer in mental health therapy. I have a standing monthly appointment with my counselor. Whether I think I need it or not that month I always get a lot out of it. I’m empathic sometimes to an overwhelming degree and always need to remind myself that something I think I might be feeling about a person or their actions are almost always not about me or something I’ve done. The phrase “It’s not all about you!” is a regularly used tool in my coping toolbox. I have a wild imagination and I can end up whipping myself into a frenzy of a story I’m making up about a situation or encounter that is not even remotely factual. I also used to train as an amateur muay Thai kickboxer and have to at least get two weekly kickboxing classes. Also, yoga. Also, lots of glitter and sparkly things.

Are there any women who helped pave the way for your success?

Is this a trick question!? Of course! So many I’m not sure where to start! My maternal grandma worked for her whole career as the district court clerk in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She was also an insanely prolific crafter, seamstress, knitter, cook, baker, gardener, and one of my fashion icons! She taught me that I can always make something myself instead of buying it or relying on someone else to do it. My mom always made my big sister’s amazingly intricate formal dresses for prom and homecoming. We didn’t have much money, but she made sure we had what we needed. I’ve had incredible role models on how to be resourceful, and as an example of how I can pave my own way. I also have some incredibly talented creative business women that I call friends! Cheering each other on in all our successes (or failures!), big and small, feels like we’re all winning! Support like that is better than anything else. Like we’re all paving the way together!

Lastly, and most important, what is your favorite TV show and what is your favorite snack?

Oooo, good question. Lately, I’ve been watching a lot of Comedy Bang! Bang!. It’s so ridiculous and absurdly funny! It’s perfect for the end of a stressful day. I’m also really looking forward to the new Twin Peaks and Stranger Things seasons! I’m sure they’ll end up among my favorites just like the first installments!

I love to snack on dark chocolate, peanut butter on anything, or fresh mango with lime, chile and salt! So yum.

All photos courtesy of Nieves Uhl

P.S. Meet last week's bitch:  Full-Time Mom, Part-Time Farmhand, Carrie Wingfield!

P.P.S. Full list of My Bitches here.


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