“We don’t get more than one lifetime to create these big visionary ideas. We have to take the years that we’re given and just go for it.”
As an art student she was given the expectation that a career in art would be a constant struggle. “Struggling artist” is a social norm that Emily Jeffords just doesn’t believe. And though she set out on her art career journey with a tenacious attitude and audacious dream to beat the odds, at the height of success she was met with a mental battle she didn’t expect.
I’m not worthy of this. Am I worthy of this? A need to constantly prove her worth.
We are taught to hustle. We are taught to expect to struggle. But we aren’t often taught what to do when we succeed!
If you’ve ever felt you were not old enough or mature enough to accomplish some of your big, audacious dreams. Today’s interview with Emily Jeffords will challenge you to dream even bigger even before you feel quite ready or qualified.
WILDFLOWER SHOWNOTES : shannaskidmore.com/emily-jeffords
Emily Jeffords: (00:00)
Back to that point of like, I'm not old enough or I'm not mature enough for this. I, I am. And you are. And we are like, there's no . We don't get more than one lifetime to create these big visionary ideas. We have to actually take the years that we're given and, and just go for it. So I think the more often I can have that feeling that like, Okay, this is the time. Go for it now. Like, don't wait until next year. Don't wait until I'm 50. Don't wait until I achieve whatever cuz that comes from someone else. I want to give myself permission to do big and beautiful things.
Shanna Skidmore: (00:34)
You're listening to Consider the Wildflowers the podcast, episode 13. I've always thought of myself as an ambitious person. I've had a lot of dreams in my life and fueled with a hefty dose of curiosity. I don't typically feel afraid to go after them, but the conversation I had with today's guest really challenged me. You see, I'm so very grateful that today I'm actually living many of the dreams I've dreamed. And without realizing it, somewhere along the way I stopped dreaming new dreams. Maybe I felt like dreaming new dreams would make me ungrateful for what I have. Or more likely I'm just too busy managing the dream to actually have space for new ones. As Emily so perfectly described it in today's interview, when you begin to grow a business, it becomes very needy. It will take all of your energy if you let it and leave you with fewer visions than you came into it with. So if you're like me and need the challenge to go dream bigger or you've got the dreams but need permission and some tenacity to go chase them, today's interview is for you. If you dig professional bios, here goes. Emily is an abstract impressionistic painter, creative educator and writer living in Greenville, South Carolina. Her studio is based in a historic 1890s light-filled, converted millhouse called The White Well Studios. You may have seen her work featured in Anthropologie, the Land of Nod, West Elm or One King's Lane to name a few formal introductions over. Let's dive in. Hey, it's Shanna and this is Consider the Wildflowers the podcast. For the past 15 plus years, I've had the honor to hear thousands of stories from entrepreneurs around the world. As a former Fortune 100 financial advisor, turned business consultant, I have a unique opportunity to see the real behind the highlight reel. I'm talking profit and loss statements, unpaid taxes, moments of burnout, and those of utter victory. Or as my husband says, the content everyone is wondering but not many are talking about. And now I'm bringing these private conversations to you. Hear the untold stories of how industry leaders, founders, and up and coming entrepreneurs got their start, the experiences that shaped them and the journey to building the brands they have today. Stories that will inspire and reignite, encourage to redefine success and build a life and business on your own terms. Welcome Wildflower. I'm so glad you're here. Okay, Emily, I'm so excited to have you on the podcast today. We have so much life to catch up on. Hi, how are you?
Emily Jeffords: (03:05)
I'm so good. It's an honor to be here in this space with you and with the community that you've created. It's, yeah, it's special. It feels kind of full circle actually.
Shanna Skidmore: (03:13)
I know. So I was trying to think before we got on the call, you came and spoke at our in person conference for my students and that was 2018 I think.
Emily Jeffords: (03:24)
Yeah, I was thinking back on that because it feels like a lifetime ago.
Shanna Skidmore: (03:29)
Emily Jeffords: (03:29)
But I think my son was a baby cause I breastfed him before and after speaking and I'm just like, wow. I mean, do you ever look back and you're just like, how did I, how did I do that? And how did it just feel so almost effortless? And part of that is like the ease and the graciousness that you and your team created and the sweetness of the community that was at that event. It just felt so holistic and gentle and just really, really sweet. So thank you for creating that.
Shanna Skidmore: (03:58)
Oh, I'm, well it was such a joy to have you there and I think we have a really special community. I know we share, we have so many students in common and it was just so fun. So basically I have four years of life to catch up on . But for everybody listening, I wanna just start back at the beginning of your business journey. Like what were you doing before you even started your business and just kind of take us back to those early days.
Emily Jeffords: (04:25)
Yeah. Uh, for those that don't know, I'm an artist and at this point I have kind of two sides to my business. So I have my art practice, which includes painting and selling prints and creating and just, you know, all that delicious fun. It's just the best job in the whole entire world, in my opinion, . But one thing that comes very easily to me, and one thing that doesn't maybe come as naturally to some creatives is I also love running a business. And it comes very naturally to me. Marketing comes very, uh, not effortlessly cause there's a lot of effort that goes into it, but it's just very natural for the way that my brain thinks and the way that I like to communicate. And growing a business makes a lot of sense to me. So the other half of my business now is educating other artists for how to, you know, run a business and how to make their studios profitable and how to just create something that's sustainable out of this beautiful, luxurious career that we have the privilege of having in 2022 and beyond. So I think that's, it's kind of a two-sided thing, but they both feel very aligned to me and I love them both. And it's always this kind of, uh, dance between the two as far as which one gets my energy more during the year or during individual weeks.
Shanna Skidmore: (05:45)
Oh absolutely. Yeah, I totally understand that.
Emily Jeffords: (05:49)
When I began though, of course, I wasn't an educator in the way that I am now. I did teach art to like kids and in classroom settings and it was really sweet and very, very fun and energetic and very messy. I don't do that anymore. Um, but it was a great season before I had my own kids. So I was doing a bit of that. I was painting, I had this audacious dream or vision when my daughter was born and I was like, Okay, I'm gonna stop working. I was working at Banana Republic, not making a lot of money. It wasn't hard to quit that job. I was making, you know, minimum, minimum wage and just, it was, it was great for what it needed to be in that season of my life, but not something that I wanted to progress as far as a career went. So I left that and I was like, All right, I'll stay home with my daughter and I'll just make banana bread all day. I didn't love doing that. Just doesn't fit with, you know, how my brain and body want to work. And I got a little bored and she was such a good, like such a good baby. And my friends would ask for parenting advice cause Anna was such a good, good, good child. And I'm like, Yeah, it's just easy. Just communicate with your baby and like, you know, smile at them every now and then and then they'll do whatever. And I'm like, Oh my gosh, , I've had more kids and realized that maybe she was just an angel child. But anyway, lot of space to like get a little bit restless. And I think one thing that I love is feeling restless even now. Because when I feel restless, something begins to churn inside of me. And usually that churning leads to something that needs to happen. Like there's some kind of unrest because whatever is currently happening isn't serving me fully. Mm-hmm. and I had that very, very strongly when she was about 10 months old. I was like, Okay, something has to change. I've made too much banana bread. I need to do something with my, my energy cuz I have a lot of it and I have a lot of creativity living inside of me. So I had gone to art school, I was a good painter. I knew that I could do this. We also desperately needed income. It's 2010 at this point and we were living on very little and you know, we just needed some more income. So I kind of weighed all my options and I didn't really wanna get a nine to five job because I loved being a stay-at-home mom. I really enjoyed that part of it. So I decided that I would do a painting a day project. And Shanna, this is just close your ears for a little bit. Okay. It's so bad . But I decided with all of my amazing business acumen that I had accrued in our college, which is zero, I decided that I would sell these paintings for the dollar amount of the day. So on day one, the paintings sold for $1, day two $2. I wasn't, I know, I know I have to listen. It's such like
Shanna Skidmore: (08:47)
Darn it, I want a $2 Emily Jeffords painting!
Emily Jeffords: (08:49)
Nobody do this. This is such a terribly bad idea. It doesn't make any sense financially at all. I'm like, the paintings cost me, you know, way more than that to even create. So it's okay,
Shanna Skidmore: (09:01)
Hey we, we gotta start somewhere, right .
Emily Jeffords: (09:05)
Yeah. And it like got me it, it began the momentum and it got me in the studio and I like, you know, of course sold the paintings because, come on. Yeah. So that went on for a long time. Um, like 120 or 180 something days. So by the end I was beginning to make profit, not, I mean, everyone listening, I hope we all notice like even if you sell one thing a day for a hundred dollars, that profit margin probably isn't enough to live off of. So yeah, I learned a lot the hard way, a lot the hard way in that season. But I also learned how to show up. I learned how to sell my work. I learned how to be dependable. I learned how to depend on myself. I learned how to photograph and list things online. And this is like, you know, I think Etsy was just beginning and it was a whole new world as far as online sales go. So I just kind of dove in and it was a crash course and make it or break it on in online marketing. So that was probably invaluable in the long run. Maybe just add, you know, add a zero to the end of what I was selling, but that's okay. I learned. So that was how the very much like that was the very, very beginning. And then that project finished. I kind of got very, very tired. Obviously that's a lot of painting and took a little break, had another baby. They're very close in age, they're 16 months apart. So that kind of threw me for a loop. And then I came back to creativity the next year in the form of blogging and almost more like curation. Mm-hmm. and being very editorial with what I was creating or sharing. And then I began painting again and just, you know, picking that back up. And then in 2013 I really became a full-time artist. We moved back to Greenville, South Carolina where we currently live. We had lived in Charleston, we had lived in Texas and we, you know, migrated around a little bit. Came back and needed to make some more money because of some job transition things and my husband's education and all kinds of things like that. So I began painting and again I was like, what can I do? How can I be dependable? How can I depend on myself? And I decided to do another painting a day project. I don't know why. This is a thing that just works in my brain is these projects, these like shorter term things that I can sink my teeth into and just hyper focus on. So this time I was a little bit smarter about it. Still probably undervalue my work a little, a little bit, let's just say a little bit. But I sold, I needed $3,000 to move into a home to, you know, pay for the deposit and the first month's rent and things like that. So that was my goal was $3,000 and I needed it within 30 days. So that math equals about a hundred dollars a day plus shipping for the pieces. I had some supplies so I could basically make a hundred in profit cause I already had the supplies purchased. So, you know, I know on paper that doesn't really work out, but in practice it worked out where I would make that amount of money by the end of the month. So that's what I did. And they all sold and I got commissions and I really enjoyed it. So I just kept rolling with it. Maybe I didn't do a painting a day, but I did probably three or four a week from then on. And I raised the prices and then I began offering prints and then I raised the prices some more and began offering more commissions. And eventually just, I think maybe it took me six to nine months, but I began to take my work very seriously and was like, okay, there's an audience here, there's a market here. I'm showing up in a way that feels authentic. I can raise my prices a little bit more and make this something that can be part of my family's income. And at that point it was, it was our whole income. So that was very empowering. And surreal. And I'm like, I'm a painter. I what? I'm making money and I'm a painter on . So that was the beginning. The next year I began to weave in some education in the form of workshops and retreats. I also began to feel a little bit of scarcity around how much could I create. I, I began to feel a bit like a machine, you know, when you are like churning out one thing over and over and over again. Even if it's something as life giving for me as, as painting is, I just felt like, gosh, if I get sick, like there's not enough margin here for me to, I can't fail. Like I can't create a bad painting. I can't get sick. Um, if my kids get sick, like what do we do? So it was, I felt some scarcity, rightfully so. I think I, I built ins scarcity and I didn't build in abundance. So I began to reframe that a little bit. And I took on commissions, a lot of commissions the next year just to build in that safety. I felt like I needed the security of knowing that I had a steady income just to kind of get over my own limiting beliefs, I think in some ways. But it's okay. So I took commissions and I took so many commissions that it was basically like my full income could be commissions and then I could add and layer in things on top of that.
Emily Jeffords: (14:12)
But all of our base needs were handled by the commissions. So I took I think three a month and it equaled all of our, like our rent, our our gas, our utilities were all handled or taken care of by commissions. So that felt so freeing in one way hard. And like commissions are tricky cuz you're at someone's beck and call a little bit and someone's in your brain while you're creating. And that can feel really weird for an artist. But the freedom of just being like, okay, we're good. I have the whole year financially mapped out and I just felt like I could breathe and it felt so good. So the next year I changed it because I figured, okay, I can depend on myself. I know like, this is dependable, this whole thing is dependable. Um, and commissions did get a bit exhausting. So I changed it up the next year and layered in a few new things like different products and more education. Um, I began offering consultations and Instagram classes and workshops mm-hmm. and it's kind of diversifying a little bit more. And then that just ballooned into what it is today, which today looks like painting, selling print, selling products, selling things from the studio. I offer a course for creatives called Making Artwork. And it's a 12 week intensive course. I have a membership for ongoing support for creatives and artists and a whole team that helps me, which is just like so surreal. And I'm like, oh, I I'm still that girl that was like, can I paint every day and sell these things? Yeah. It's pretty, pretty amazing. So
Shanna Skidmore: (15:48)
I love, I love hearing your journey and just, I think it's so helpful and empowering to listen to how others started and just to, to hear how your brain works and the thoughts you were having. Okay. Like, I need to pay my rent, so here's the number. And, you know, I just think that's so helpful. I have so many questions as I was listening, but my first is, I mean, did you paint for an entire year of painting a day?
Emily Jeffords: (16:14)
I didn't make it for the whole year. I think I made it for 180 something days.
Shanna Skidmore: (16:18)
I mean, that is incredible.
Emily Jeffords: (16:20)
I got pregnant and my pregnancies tend to be very like fine and happy and beautiful, but I get really nauseous. So I was like on the couch and, you know,
Shanna Skidmore: (16:30)
I mean, that's incredible. Six months of painting. And so it sounds like you went to art school when you graduated from art school. Did what did you think your career path? Like, did you have something in mind or what did you think at that time?
Emily Jeffords: (16:46)
You know, the sad thing about art school is most people that go to art school are not artists within 10 years. So I had this, I, if you can't tell, I think I like maybe toned it down because I, I didn't wanna like scare anybody, but I'm in, I'm very tenacious. Um, even in art school, I was like, I will absolutely be an artist for the rest of my life. I'll make money with this. At my senior show, I had a sales goal that was so out of the realm of like normal for other artists. And I'm like, No, I'm doing it. I'm, I'm buying essentially like a vacation with this, with this art school or this art show money. Yeah. Professor was like, Okay, well good luck. You're not gonna be able to do that, but good luck. And I'm like, Hmm, I think I can. I think I can try. Why not try? Um, it's like I tried and I did, I don't know, I just have, I don't know what I thought I was gonna be doing because I think the subtle message that I was getting, especially from professors, which is so sad, is this isn't a real job. Like you have to be a teacher. Which is why I began with teaching that first year out of, out of art school. I began by teaching because that was something that everyone was like, Yeah, you can, maybe you can sell paintings, but you can definitely teach, but you probably can't sell paintings because no one can. So I don't know, a little bit of that innate tenacity that just is always inside of me was probably the reason that I am a painter today. Because I don't think that I was given external to that inner, that inner knowing. I don't think that I was handed a lot of confidence. So if anyone's listening to this and they're feeling that it's inside of you, you, you absolutely can make this a career if you want to. And I think that spans any career. I think we hear this a lot where it's like, oh yeah, the market's too full for you to do this thing. Or your dream is already being done by somebody else. There's no space for you to do it. There absolutely is. And if you don't see a lot of people doing this, there's even more space for you. So. Do it . Do it. Yeah.
Shanna Skidmore: (18:52)
Yeah. So it sounds like Emily, you know, you did that first round of a painting a day. Mm-hmm. had, you know, were raising your family, did the second round of the 30 day in 2013, it sounds like. So how are you selling your pieces at this time? I mean, and I think something that I've known about you before I even got the chance to meet you was, you're an incredible artist, but you've built a market for yourself. And I just would love to hear even before the days of Instagram, I think like how did you start getting the word out about your work and your offers?
Emily Jeffords: (19:27)
Well, for the second round, the one in 2013, I did utilize Instagram. It was just a baby platform, you know, it was still like intimate, you could post every day. And it was great. The first time though, I had an email list, which I know is shocking for 2010
Shanna Skidmore: (19:45)
Emily Jeffords: (19:46)
I, but it wasn't, I don't even think I had a platform to, I think it was just like through Gmail. Yeah. Like a group, a group email essentially. I had a blog. Oh my. It's actually still live. If you wanna look at it and just be like completely, your eyes will never be the same again. I promise you.
Shanna Skidmore: (20:05)
I do. I'm so curious. I'm gonna look at them.
Emily Jeffords: (20:07)
Okay. Painting365.blogspot.com. It is horrendous.
Shanna Skidmore: (20:16)
. I'm so excited. .
Emily Jeffords: (20:19)
Oh, okay. Well if anyone goes to that site, please. Just like, you know, it was 2010, the templates were just so appealing and I had to use one and it's, uh, it shows .
Shanna Skidmore: (20:32)
This makes me so happy. I'm on there now and I'm gonna look at everything
Emily Jeffords: (20:36)
. So embarrassed . It's cute though. It's like sweet young Emily just making her way. Yeah. So I did that and oh, one thing that I did that's, I don't know, maybe a little bit inventive is I put out a call for, um, inspiration images and if, if I use someone's image, then they would get first dips on the painting. They didn't have to buy it, I would just offer it to them first because I used their, you know, their, their image. Um, and those sold almost always. The person that sent in the image was like, Oh my gosh, I love it so much, I wanna buy it. So, I don't know, that was kind of interesting. But yeah, a lot of emails, a lot of blogs and then
Shanna Skidmore: (21:14)
Yeah, you feel like just your email list was enough. The blogs like to get enough, generating enough interest. Do you feel like your Instagram really grew quickly, um, and you grew a platform that way starting kind of that 2013 timeframe? 2014, 2015? Yes.
Emily Jeffords: (21:29)
I think that I grew during a time when people felt like they had access to people a little bit more than they feel now. Mm-hmm. . I think now there's a lot of people that have large accounts and we all kind of subconsciously know, like, this person isn't, isn't only paying attention to me as, you know, the person commenting, the person who's a follower. So I think that took us some time as a, as a community or as a culture to kind of think about or to get used to. So in 2015, even though my account was much, much smaller, I felt like my audience felt entitled in a way that they don't feel anymore, even though my account is much larger now. And it was just a weird like, oh, maybe it was also me. Maybe I also have grown in what I feel. For instance, some of 'em might come up to me in 2015 and say, Oh, I'm a big fan of your work. And I would, I would just be the weirdo who was like, Oh my gosh, thank you. And like, give them a hug and like , I dunno, be like a little bit maybe too, we just didn't know, I didn't know what to do yet. I didn't know what to do with this public figure self. Which maybe now I just know a little bit more and have more boundaries that might be part of it as well. ,
Shanna Skidmore: (22:42)
I mean, no, I think that's such an excellent point. Something that I feel like I had to learn too. And um, sometimes they even joke I'm like, That's business Shanna. You know, and then it's the same person, but it's business Shanna. You know, like when your friends see your videos or it's like, you know, it's business Shanna.
Emily Jeffords: (23:01)
Um, I absolutely have two personas. I, I call it Emily, Jeffords TM. And actually my friends call that my, my friends coin that they're like, Oh yeah, that's, that's you tm. And I'm like, What, what? I'm the same like, you can tell you're not okay. You're, you're right. I'm not actually that makes sense.
Shanna Skidmore: (23:14)
And, and to know that that's okay, you know? And like yeah, I think that online digital world that we've got, cuz we're, it is kind of the same. I remember the days of Instagram before it was even a business tool, you know, and I was posting pictures of my dog and going to the pool and you know, and there was a shift where you had to say, Okay, what are the boundaries here? How public do I want to be? Mm-hmm. . Um, and, and you know, I think about celebrities all the time cuz I have this, this tiny following. I'm like, no wonder they have to be so, have so many boundaries. Like it makes sense. .
Emily Jeffords: (23:50)
Shanna Skidmore: (23:51)
Yeah. It, well that was a fun little tangent and so interesting . But I just think, you know, understanding how you grow an audience is such a big deal in our, in the business we're in. And as things started to grow and shift, how would you say, as your business grew, like 214, 20 15, 2016, I'd love to hear what you learned in, what do you feel like you did well in that season? What do you feel like you didn't do so well?
Emily Jeffords: (24:18)
Hmm. I think the thing that I did well in 2015 and 16 in particular, 2014, I think I was still learning. I was still gaining a vision. But in 2015 and 16, I feel like I had a really clear vision and it was really, really beautiful. And I think I also told myself that I could achieve that vision. And by that I mean like I envisioned leading a retreat in France and having workshops in my studio. And I imagined those are kind of bigger things. But I also imagined like, how beautiful can my photos be? How beautiful can my studio feel when I walk in on a Monday morning? Like smaller things that are more attainable and a little bit more, honestly, they matter more because they're, they're the things that happen every day versus the things that happen once a year. But both of those things, both of those scales, I was like, Yeah, I can do that.
Emily Jeffords: (25:14)
I can do that. Even though I don't know if this is universal, but I feel still, I'm 37, I still feel like I'm not old enough to do some of my dreams or I'm not like, mature enough to accomplish some of my, my big audacious dreams. And instead of letting that stop me, I'm just like, No, I can do it. I can do it now even though I don't maybe feel quite ready or I don't feel qualified yet, just go for it and see what happens. So again, that tenacity comes in and it's very helpful. It's very helpful to have some tenacity behind you when you're running a business.
Shanna Skidmore: (25:48)
Do you feel like there was a shift either in your mindset or like a turning point in your business where you're like, Okay, this is what I'm doing and this is working?
Emily Jeffords: (25:58)
Yes. I think actually this is kind of a little bit of a tapping into the last conversation, but I feel like one of the things that, that our community began doing as a whole is expanding. Like how beautiful things could be. I'm thinking of, um, Beth Kirby in particular, she impacted me so much just the way that she would imagine something beautiful and then create it. And I think she's one example of that. And I think her impact is gonna last on a lot of us for a while. But that philosophy or way of of living, I think has more ripple effects than I even knew at that time. And I'm just now beginning to think like, okay, yeah, that's why, like, that's why I was able to just create things and, and assume that they would work or maybe they wouldn't work and that's okay. Cause you can just create something else. And, um, one thing that begins to happen is when you're working in an online space in particular, you realize that like your mistakes aren't that public. They feel very, very public, but they're really not. You can just create something else and, and let that wash over your last mistake or your last, it didn't go quite as well as you might have imagined it to go. And it goes away and it's just like, all right, that's gone and now we're onto the next thing. You have a lot of space to create and a lot of diversity and a lot of, like for instance, I could create cell phone covers with my work on them and I could create a course on how to sell your work online and I could create a new landscape painting and I could create like this huge variety of things and they can all funnel into the same digital space. And you know, with some curation and some thoughtfulness, you can make them all feel like they belong together really organically. Which is something that it's, you know, Yeah. That's special. I began to think of my whole business like walking into a perfectly gorgeous boutique . So even though I don't have a boutique, I have a studio space, but no one really goes there. Thank goodness. I just imagined thinking about my digital space, my almond business, as if it were this very layered, very lush, very beautiful physical space and how can someone walk through it and see all these different products and all these different offerings and can they fit in the same room as the curator of all these things together. Mm-hmm. . So that was an interesting mindset shift, I think that yeah. Really helped. So
Shanna Skidmore: (28:18)
I love just, I feel like that comes across so much in your business, how well you've curated, uh, everything that you have your hands in and it in such a beautiful way just speaks of who you are and the brand that you're building. And I love how you talked about even just learning to dream bigger and expand your mind to bigger dreams. Was there a moment in your business that almost made you realize, wow, I've been almost not dreaming small. I don't wanna put that on you, but was there something that really woke you up to like, I can, I can keep dreaming bigger.
Emily Jeffords: (28:54)
I have that exact feeling probably twice or maybe three times a year every year. It has, it never stops . And I'm so thankful because it always means that I'm on some kind of path where I'm like, Okay, yes, let's go. Let's do more. We can do more. The last one that I had, I was at the MoMA and standing, I stood for so long in front of one Helen Frankenthaler painting that the guard was like, he thought I was asleep. He came over and he is like, . And I'm like, Oh, hi, I'm, I'm good. I, I was pushing my son around in his stroller and he was sleeping and I was just kinda leaning on it and just like, well I was so lost in this magnificent large painting, but what I was doing, which the guard couldn't see, my eyes were closed for part of it, . And I was just imagining like the physicality it took to create something this big and the audacity it took to buy that giant canvas and say, No, I'm filling this with my work, with my colors, with my vision. There's just something very, I think especially as a female artist, we don't have a lot of representation for that kind of tenacious large scale big dream. And I, I don't paint very, I mean I paint large, but not Helen Frankenthaler large, not the painting that I'm talking about. It would fill a two story, well maybe not two stories, but it's probably 14 by 10 feet somewhere in that realm. Um, so very, It's a
Shanna Skidmore: (30:26)
It's a Room.
Emily Jeffords: (30:26)
It's a room, yeah.
Shanna Skidmore: (30:27)
Emily Jeffords: (30:29)
And there aren't a lot of women that have created that large, and I don't plan on doing that right now. But for me, that settled into this idea of like, why can't I make something bigger and better? Why can't I just progress an idea to the limit of its, of its longing. I walked around a beautiful architectural like wonder in, in Mexico outside of Tulum called Azulik. And it's this giant woven space. It's huge. And it's mostly made out of these just twisted branches and clay and natural elements and it's magnificently beautiful. And I walked around and I'm like, Wow, a human, I'm a human created this one, not one human. Of course people, many people came alongside of this idea, of course, but it was one person's idea. And back to that point of like, I'm not old enough or I'm not mature enough for this mm-hmm. , I, I am and you are. And we are like, there's no . We don't get more than one lifetime to create these big visionary ideas. We have to actually take the years that we're given and, and just go for it. So I think the more often I can have that feeling that like, okay, this is the time, go for it now. Like, don't wait until next year. Don't wait until I'm 50. Don't wait until I achieve whatever. Cuz that comes from someone else. I want to give myself permission to do big and beautiful things. So yeah.
Shanna Skidmore: (31:57)
Emily, like, I'm just over here. Yes. Let's dream bigger. I think it's easy to, when you get into the day to day of business or mm-hmm. , I don't know about you, but sometimes the, even the digital space can get kind of loud. It sounds like for you going on experiences helps you dream bigger or what a great challenge to be reminded that we can have bigger visions and bigger dreams and we need to .
Emily Jeffords: (32:27)
Yeah, and I think you hit on something that's really important though, especially for those of us that have grown a business. And when you begin to grow business, it becomes very needy and it will take all of your energy if you let it. I have been a workaholic in the past. I have worked way too much to grow my business to where it is and that's not healthy. And I've stepped back quite a lot and been like, Okay, I can't do that. I want to live a life, number one, I want to be a good parent. Number two, I want to just, you know, be a healthy human, but your business will suck everything out of you if you let it, it will suck every bit of you and it'll leave you, in my experience at least with fewer visions than you came into it with. Because the day to day just seeming necessity, elements of running a business just feel loud and they are pinging you all the time and there's always dings and notifications and like things that need you constantly inside of your business. But none of those things are actually your vision. Um, expanding. They're just mostly, they're mostly just maintaining and keeping things running and keeping things smooth, which is beautiful. And if you can keep that going perfect, go for it. But I think there comes this point when you have to maybe let go of some of the maintaining to grow something into something, uh, bigger. So one of the things that I noticed in 2021 and we're kind of rolling it out and implementing it this year is I'm spending a tremendous amount of effort keeping the status quo where it is and building systems and hiring the right people. But then with hiring people comes a lot of management and a lot of meetings and a lot of communication and just like a lot of energy that goes into keeping things healthy and happy. I'm at the place now where I've gotten to work a lot less this year. I've worked about 20 hours a week, which is awesome, but I'm still in an energy deficit from the last like 10 years of growing something. And I am gonna spend 2023 working on that expanded vision and just like working on giving myself the time and energy. And it might, I think the thing is like I'm already noticing I'm gonna feel really guilty because I'm so used to being this highly productive, highly, like, I accomplished so many things. I get so many things done in a week meetings feel very like, okay, I did something today. I sent this email today, we did this marketing thing, we pushed out this product, we did all these things today that feels really good, but none of those things are letting me expand in a way that might feel new and scary and where I might fail. And to do that, I know it sounds like we did this when we were 10, but like, I need to be bored. I need to find some margin of boredom or of space that's gonna feel very unproductive to me. And I'm already kind of nervous about it cause I don't like not feeling productive. But I, I know that I need it. I know that if I don't find this space, I'm gonna come to my, you know, later in life and be like, Oh my gosh, Emily, come on. You spent so much time in meetings, so much time with emails, so much time with like these smaller projects that felt good, but there's more inside of me. You know what I mean? Mm.
Shanna Skidmore: (35:52)
Oh, I totally do. I mean this productivity can be addictive and we have to learn like learning to wind down. You know, I hear people talk about rest is harder than work sometimes.
Emily Jeffords: (36:06)
It's so laden with, with guilt, which I didn't expect. It's weird.
Shanna Skidmore: (36:12)
Do you feel like, I mean this is off totally random question, but do you feel like some of that guilt is maybe because you feel like you don't deserve to be where you are?
Emily Jeffords: (36:23)
Shanna Skidmore: (36:25)
We just went there. I don't know.
Emily Jeffords: (36:27)
Well you're, I hmm. Yeah, I've been wrestling with this in different area in another area of my life as well and just being like very aware of the tremendous privilege that it is to get to design parts of your life. And you know, like I, I definitely grew, like I told you my story, like I grew this from poverty. Like I definitely have worked very, very hard to get here. And also I'm like, yeah, but there's so much privilege in getting to make these choices and getting to decide how I spend my days and now we have like the profit margin is built into my business where I can work kind of little and spend time doing other things and focusing on other things, which has been so, so great this year. But, um, yeah, that is interesting to be like, hmm,
Shanna Skidmore: (37:22)
I don't know where that question came from Emily, but, you know, I wonder like you're talking about you don't have a lot, there's not a lot of examples of female artists doing giant work. I also wonder if until recently there haven't been a lot of examples of female business owners getting to a place where they don't have to hustle all the time. Uh, and so we're just learning what that can look like. You know, I think, I don't know about you, so I'm gonna speak for myself. I feel like I'm wired to just work and hustle and sometimes even maybe expect it to always be hard. So enjoying when it's not hard. It's hard. , I don't know that went to such an interesting place, but I'm gonna have to think on that. I just love hearing more of your story and I would love if you share, you spoke on this a little bit just, but I love this idea of harmony and you said, you know, you've been at workaholic in the past and will you just talk through different seasons of life, how you've structured your business to make sure, you know, when you're saying like this was at an unhealthy place versus trying to get back to a healthy place.
Emily Jeffords: (38:33)
Yeah, well, I mean, I think these go hand in hand. Like the subconscious maybe like lie that I have to make things hard to be, you know, when you begin making profit, this is maybe just my experience, I don't know. But when I began being really profitable and I mean like to a level that I had never dreamed I would be making this amount of money in my business ever, ever, ever. The, the first time that happened was after a launch of one of the courses that we offer. And I remember feeling a little bit terrified that the bank would call me and be like, What are you doing? Like, we have, we have to investigate. And I'm like, I'm just running a business. I promise it's very ethical. But I had this like panic attack moment where I'm like, Oh my gosh, I have to like hide. I have to hide from the powers that be now. And I'm like, No, no, no, that's, that's just, no, come on. I think when I began being profitable, I struggled more. Like I made myself struggle more because I had that inner battle of like, I'm not worthy of this. I I am a painter. I, which is silly. I don't, that's a lie that we've been handed by society and by years and years of art history, of like needing a patron and needing to be poor and having to cut off your ear to make it like that kind of, you know, not really, but you know what I mean, Like that kind of like struggling artist myth is so deep and I think most artists believe it, and I definitely believed it. So when I began not feeling that and not seeing those in the numbers that were coming into my business, I, I, yeah, I really, I made myself work harder. I made myself like do more and find less ease to the point that in 2020 I hit an extreme burnout and my body shut down. I didn't eat for weeks except for like the bare minimum. I couldn't keep food in my body. It was so like my, my my, you know, my psychological self made my physical self just start crumbling. And that was a pretty like, okay, that's a wake up call. There's something not right here. And it wasn't just work, it was a lot of incongruity in a lot of areas of life. But that in particular, like the need to prove my worth constantly. Um, that's so unhealthy. It's so unhealthy. So that began a process that is still ongoing. One in which that I tell myself consistently every day that you don't have to earn good things. And good things are not just expensive things. They're not just beautiful trips. Good things are so simple. I have tea next to me. That's a beautiful good thing. I have sunlight outside. That's a good thing. I don't have to earn these, these simple good things. Um, so I think that was definitely a shift. But along with that more like psychological or philosophical shift, I had to learn to build in ebb and flow in my business. And the way that I talk about it for myself and for anyone that wants to listen. I talked about this in my membership and amongst my team, we talk about this a lot is this idea of inhale and exhale. So you can do a lot of inhaling when you're bringing a lot of things into you and you're maybe, you know, this is like the, the expansion and you're growing and your chest is growing and you're bringing a lot of things to your business and it's like this hustle moment.
Emily Jeffords: (42:00)
And then you have the exhale where you're like, Okay, let's rest. Let's like, let it out. Let's chill, let's have that like release moment where you're like, okay, everyone just coasts for a little bit. Maintain and find some like, okay, some ease. And I, you have to have both. You cannot inhale for forever as we know as human bodies. You just can't do that. You also can exhale for forever. So there's that balance of sustainability where you, you go through a cycle of both. And throughout the year we do this throughout the week we try to do this. And this year has been very, very gentle as far as my workload goes very heavy in other areas of life, but as far as my workload, it's been like, okay, I can only work about 20 hours a week right now. So how can I make that happen and keep our profitability where it needs to be. That way I can pay my team and I can, you know, maintain everything, but how do I just maybe find more ease this year and then next year hopefully I can turn that ease into a little bit more boredom slash productivity in other ways. So yeah, should be determined, but I'm excited about it.
Shanna Skidmore: (43:05)
Last big question here. The idea of inhaling exhaling, that's so beautiful and helpful picture Emily as someone who had to make money, like in a position where you had to make money, you
Emily Jeffords: (43:18)
Shanna Skidmore: (43:19)
Yes. Um, what would you say, I mean you were probably in like a inhale for many years. I mean, you were hustling for many years. What would you say maybe to someone in that same season who, I know there's somebody listening who's like, I can't excel, Like I can't take my foot off the pedal. What would you just say in your experience? I mean, this is what, almost 10 years of supporting your family, and I don't know if you still do, but yeah. Kind of talk through that.
Emily Jeffords: (43:48)
Hmm. Well, the first part is if you're coming to this, if Shanna said that and you were like, I can't exhale, like I, I don't, I can't, I can't do it. You probably really, really, really need to just for like 30 minutes or maybe a day or maybe two days or however long you think you need you, if you have that frantic, like, I can't, I'm not allowed. I don't have time. I I what it's gonna fail. If I ah, if you feel that, oh, you, you need to exhale, just do it. It's gonna you're a balloon who is constantly filling and it's going to burst, I promise you, because I have felt it and I've done it. And burnout isn't the worst thing in the world. And I think that we talk about it as if it's like this terminal illness that you, you can never recover from. No, you, you absolutely can. Burnout is like a match that you've gotten too close to your skin. You're, you're now touching your skin with that flame and that is burnout. All you have to do is, you know, blow out the match for a moment and the match magically regrows because it's not a match it's a human and it's you and it's beautiful. You can absolutely recover and, and heal from burnout if you're intentional about, it doesn't have to be this, this thing that kills your whole dream and your whole business is now gone. But if you're feeling that frantic, I can't, then I would recommend and encourage you to reframe that a little bit and and please do because you are a human first and foremost. And humans don't work well under that kind of stress and anxiety. We don't create well underneath that stress and anxiety and it's not sustainable.
Emily Jeffords: (45:26)
That being said, I have definitely been in the seasons like, you know, that 30 day stretch where if I didn't show up and create something and if I didn't sell that thing, we didn't get a house and we were living with my mother-in-law and I don't wanna do that for longer than 30 days. And you know, that's, there are seasons like that and I think that's where tenacity shows up. And I think if you can fuel yourself with passion, passion will give you so much energy. It's, it's absolute magic. There's something in that fire inside of you that it can fill you and fuel your dreams for quite a while. Again, once it tips into that frenetic, I'm not allowed, or I can't, or that like, oh, we all know that feeling. I think where it's like, yeah, you're not in charge anymore. This thing is in charge of you. That's a different thing. But if you feel like you're in charge of your passion, you feel like it's still giving you energy in life and you still have that tenacity and that drive and that like, no, I will succeed. I've got this, that energy, you know?
Shanna Skidmore: (46:25)
Emily Jeffords: (46:26)
That, ugh, if you have that take itk and run with it, it's, it's pure magic and it doesn't last forever. So if you are feeling it, then go for it. Go with it. It's, I love it. I love that feeling so much. Yeah. And then just now it's, you know, it's a season, it'll cycle and if that feeling begins to dip and you're like, Oh no, it's gone, it's only gone for a little bit, it'll come back. That's the beautiful thing about inspiration is if you give yourself enough space to feel inspiration, it always returns and it always gives you that same magic back. Maybe in a different area or a different way or on a different project, but it doesn't often leave you for forever.
Shanna Skidmore: (47:03)
Yeah. And as someone who charged a dollar for your first painting,
Emily Jeffords: (47:08)
Shanna Skidmore: (47:08)
Were there, were there things that I would love to hear? Just like what is something that you learned about money in this journey that has even played into the ability to, I mean, again, you had to pay your bills so that helped you make this more sustainable.
Emily Jeffords: (47:25)
Yeah. People don't mind when you charge money for things. I think that's the main thing that if I had learned that earlier, I would probably be in a better place today, even. Um, people don't mind being charged money for things if they like things, they wanna pay for them. I know that sounds very, very simplistic, but it's very, very true. Uh, and I think if, you know, you kind of look at your own life. If you look at the things that you purchased and the things that you enjoy and the things that you value, just maybe think about how much you didn't mind paying for those things, How much you didn't mind investing in those things because they matter to you and they mean something to you. Setting. The first thing that I, I did learn this early on and I'm very thankful for it, is the best thing you can do for your financial business's health is to create things that you find valuable and that your audience will also find to be valuable as well.
Emily Jeffords: (48:20)
And you can do that by having a lot of integrity with what you create, loving what you create, falling in love with what you create more and more each day. Sharing that thing as beautifully or as authentically or as excitedly as you can and then your audience or your community or your customers are going to just rally around that thing even more because you find it to be valuable. You're translating that value to them. They're in love and of course they wanna buy it. Of course they do. So I think had I learned that maybe a little bit sooner and if I had believed a little bit more deeply that people don't mind spending money on what they love, then I think that would've saved me a couple years of the struggle. .
Shanna Skidmore: (49:05)
Oh absolutely. Yeah. Pricing, just pricing is so hard. And I just, I've loved our entire conversation cuz I think it went a direction, maybe neither of us expected, but just this idea of limiting beliefs. What are we speaking over ourselves and how we can challenge ourselves to dream bigger? Um, especially if we didn't have those examples and our family or our friends or others we follow of, wow, they're doing that thing. I mean that's, I think that's ground breaking. You know, like that's a bigger deal than even, you know, it's a big deal.
Emily Jeffords: (49:40)
It is a big deal. Yeah. And if you don't have those examples in your life, I recommend maybe finding someone online or in art, or not in art history, but like in history, whatever your niche may be. But then when you find them, don't do this thing that I think we often do where we're like, Oh yeah, but they did it so I'm good. Like I can't now it that that box has been checked by someone else. I have to find my own thing. No, I think you can settle in and find your own thing while also being inspired by someone else's trajectory or journey or not that we're copying anybody, I'm not saying that, but knowing that you're not alone in your big dreams. It's very nice. It's
Shanna Skidmore: (50:22)
I think it's, I Oh, absolutely. I think it's important for us. I mean, I'm even over, I'm so challenged over here to have a conversation with Kyle when we get done with this podcast. Cuz I remember in 2016 we took a three month road trip mm-hmm. and you know, we took three months off from the business, we traveled around the country up and into Canada. Into Canada and you know, that was a big dream moment that we didn't have and I know so many people have been inspired by that, which is really neat. And now I'm like, gosh, we need to go find a new dream . We need another dream.
Emily Jeffords: (50:55)
So important. Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely.
Shanna Skidmore: (50:57)
Yeah. Oh, Emily, this has been such a wonderful conversation. Okay, we are nearing that one hour mark. So I wanna go into just a quick fire round mm-hmm. . And, um, I'm just gonna ask you a couple of these. So we are staying on track with our time and I know we both have commitments and I'm just so grateful for your time today and sharing more of your story. So I would love for you to share, is there kind of a pinch me moment or like a big win that you would love to share about
Emily Jeffords: (51:26)
Pinch Me moment? Um, I got an email from Anthropologie in 2017, I believe, and they asked me to do an entire collaboration with them. And I was like, What? Yes. And after that moment I like, I, I thought that we could move to Colorado. I thought that I could, like, I just felt like there was no limit that I couldn't just bust through. I was like, Yep, anything is possible now. Anthropologie asked me to do something. Yes, let's go.
Shanna Skidmore: (51:55)
made it .
Emily Jeffords: (51:57)
It was such like an endearing, like looking back on it was such a cute like reaction. But I, yeah, I I it was so surreal and so special to me at that time and still would be for sure today. Yeah.
Shanna Skidmore: (52:08)
I love that. That's so fun. Okay, what is one piece of advice, like a really good piece of advice that you've received?
Emily Jeffords: (52:16)
Best advice that I've received? Oh gosh. Ugh, there's so much good advice. This one is very hard for me. I think maybe just the very general advice of trust yourself. And I, I think maybe that's more important to me now because now there are so many people that have really, really great opinions and are so qualified to have their great opinions and will tell you exactly what to do if you let them. And that's awesome sometimes, and also you're the one who has to do it. You're the, you're the human body that has to show up and make these things happen, and you have to listen to yourself so so readily and so much. Um, and I think I'm, I'm probably feeling that a lot right now, which might be why that one's coming to mind.
Shanna Skidmore: (53:03)
Yeah, Yeah. No, I, I wish I could remember, I think it's Henry David Thoreau as you cannot hear both music and noise at the same time. And so finding this balance of Yeah, love how you said that's really wonderful advice, but might not be wonderful advice for you. Yeah. Yeah. That's so good. Okay. I want you to take us all the way back to 2010. I would love to hear when you started that painting a Day project, what would you tell yourself on just day one?
Emily Jeffords: (53:34)
Oh my gosh. Sweet baby . Uh, I think, I don't know that I would tell myself anything. I think I would just give myself a very big hug and just say, Keep going. Like, I don't, I think that had I known what was going to come, I don't know that I would have done this. Does that make sense? Yes. I think it would've been way too scary and way too overwhelming, cuz there's something that happens when you just very, very naturally are living in your life and having, like, things are unfolding very organically and everything feels aligned, but, oh my gosh. Can you imagine being told what was ahead and being like, No, you've got this. Yeah. I don't think I would've believed it. I think I would've self sabotaged in a lot of ways that I didn't, because I didn't know . I didn't know it was coming.
Shanna Skidmore: (54:25)
Yeah, yeah. No, my grandmother told me years ago, she was like, God gives us our life one day at a time. Yeah. Because if we saw it all, it'd be too overwhelming.
Emily Jeffords: (54:33)
It would be heartbreaking and exciting. But I, Yeah, Too much. Too much.
Shanna Skidmore: (54:39)
Yeah. Yeah. Oh, Emily, this was such a joy to spend time with you. Your spirit is so sweet and wonderful and honestly, thank you for the challenge today of getting back and dreaming again like, like we did before we started the business. Like, what can we do? I know. It's like, let's get back to that. We get lost sometimes in the day to day, and thank you for that challenge and for your time today.
Emily Jeffords: (55:01)
You're welcome. Thank you for having me. It was so sweet to speak with you and to hear you and just, Yeah, I loved it.
Shanna Skidmore: (55:08)
Same. Hey, Wildflower, you just finished another episode of Consider the Wildflowers, the podcast. Head over to considerthewildflowerspodcast.com for show notes, resource links, and to learn how you can connect with Emily. It's only fitting we end today with a quote from the One and only Walt Disney. "All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them." As always, thank you for listening. I'll see you next time.