Everyday Inspired Highlights
June Week 1
Feature: Leigh Silva
Theme: “Do it Afraid”
Hello! I'm Leigh. I live in Columbus, Ohio with my husband, Brandon, and our dog, Dempsey. Earlier this year, I transitioned from my full-time role as a Marketing Manager to focus on launching my own business, Leigh Silva Studios.
In my business, I create handcrafted art prints with the mission of bringing joy to others. My artwork is playful and colorful, intended to add an extra touch of happiness to others’ living spaces. I just launched my website and Etsy shop on May 14 and am excited to see where my entrepreneurial journey takes me!
When I’m not drawing new pieces, I enjoy lifting, yoga and paddle boarding :)
Hi all! Leigh here from Leigh Silva Studios. This week, I’m going to share a little bit about my journey towards entrepreneurship. I hope that by sharing my story, you might feel encouragement and community in finding your own way, no matter how crooked the path may be, or the pace at which you travel. It’s YOUR journey – there’s no right way to get to where you want to go.
Let’s start at the beginning.
Ever since I can remember, perfectionism is something I’ve struggled with. Whether it was my GPA, social perception, appearance or career, I wanted so badly to meet the expectations I thought “everyone” had for me. There was no room for failure – I couldn’t let anyone down!
Interestingly, post-college I found myself gravitating towards roles and career paths that seemed to amplify my perfectionism. I was effective in these roles because I was so detail-oriented – aka terrified of making mistakes. It was nice to be acknowledged and even praised for this quality. I was fueled by this validation! In the workplace, my perfectionism was great! In my personal life, not so much. Things were way out of balance and I knew it, but I couldn’t seem to let myself scale back.
Maybe you can relate to this pattern in your own life – it’s challenging! I’ll end here today and ask: what expectations are you feeling currently? Where are they coming from? What might scaling back look like for you?
We’ll pick this conversation back up tomorrow!
Yesterday I talked about my struggle with perfectionism and how my desire to meet the expectations of others was preventing me from living a balanced life. I didn’t realize it at the time, but this fear-based mindset was also keeping me from fulfilling a deeper calling in my life. What happened next was a pivotal moment in my entrepreneurial – and personal – journey.
It was March of 2017. My good friend invited me to a yoga and journaling event called “An Evening for Yourself” hosted by The Beauty Boost. I had never been to this kind of event before and remember feeling a little nervous when we parked outside The Wonder Jam that night.
My nerves subsided as soon as we walked in and were greeted by friendly faces and found adjacent spots to lay our mats out in the beautiful space. Rachel kicked things off with an energizing, yet relaxing, vinyasa flow that was followed by a journaling activity with the inspiring Simi Botic.
In this activity, we reflected on what brought us joy in life. There’s something so purposeful about writing these things down with intention. We shared our lists within small groups and identified opportunities to incorporate these joys further into our day-to-day lives.
In doing this, I realized my creativity, my passion for making art, brought me so much joy. I lit up when talking to my small group about it. Yet, it barely had a presence in my out-of-balance life. I told my group I felt like that piece of me – which was a HUGE piece of me – had been sitting on a shelf, gathering dust for years. Why was that?
It wouldn’t be until July that I would really dive into that question further. Afterall, I was a busy lady with lots of people to please! :)
Today (or tonight), take a moment to reflect on what brings you joy in life. Are any of your joys on the shelf currently? If so, why do you think that is?
Wait, I can do that?
Four months passed before I took the next step in my entrepreneurial journey. I was truly moved by “An Evening for Yourself” and realized my creativity was being seriously neglected. But like I said, I couldn’t seem to scale back at work without risking the reputation I had built. I blinked and it was almost August.
I was drying my hair one morning before work. Ding! I had a new email. It was a habit to instantly check my inbox in case it was work-related and I needed to hop on my laptop to take care of something before driving into the office. People like responsiveness!
Hm, this one was in my personal inbox. “Making Life Changes + Tips” from The Beauty Boost. Intriguing. The first line read: “Growth is painful. Change is painful. But nothing is as painful as staying stuck somewhere you don’t belong.” This hit deep.
I instantly sent Rachel an email to sign up for her coaching offering. A week later, we had our first coffee meet-up and began diving deeper into the million dollar question: why was my dream of creating a career out of my artistic passions sitting on a shelf?
Rachel helped me see there were many ways I could start bringing my creativity back into the picture by taking small (yet brave) steps while creating boundaries with my work. She introduced me to the concept that there isn’t one way to make a living and that it’s okay to do things differently.
I remember voicing all of my hesitancies to her:
But, I had decided to get a business degree instead of a design degree.
When would I have the time to work on my stuff?
What if my performance at work suffered as a result of shifting priorities?
None of my friends or family members have done something like this.
What would “everyone” think?
And then we got to the root of it all: WHAT IF I FAIL?
There we have it folks. I was scared of failing. What if I put myself out there and things didn’t go as I’d hoped? I wanted to grow, I wanted to change, but I was scared. I just couldn’t. So I didn’t...for another year and a half.
Take a moment to reflect on a positive opportunity for growth or change in your life that fear is preventing you from pursuing. What seems to be the root of your fear? Identifying this was my first step in overcoming it.
Wait, you’re doing what?
Yesterday I shared how my fear of failure prevented me from taking the next steps towards pursuing my dream. I remained focused on my marketing career and doing everything I could to avoid making errors or letting others down. In a way, it felt easier than risking it all for something uncertain, despite the potential joy that unknown path might bring.
Although I hadn’t been ready to take the full plunge into entrepreneurship, about six months after meeting with Rachel I “piloted” my first art print at a friend’s baby shower. It was a relatively safe environment for me to step out of my comfort zone. When my friend opened the custom print I had created, one of the guests asked, “Do you have an Etsy shop?!” I froze, blushing and replied: “Uh, not yet! But I’m working on one!”
You are? That’s news to me… I thought to myself after the words flew out of my mouth. There I was, throwing out a rather large and premature commitment.
Although it felt scary to verbalize that I was opening an Etsy shop to a group of 40 women when I knew I still had a long way to go, I found that putting my commitment out there, outside of my head, gave me the push I needed to actually do something. Because when I make commitments, I deliver. It made my dream feel more real to me. And that was all I needed.
Is there a dream or goal you have that you can make feel more real for yourself by sharing with someone you trust?
The big splash.
Another year went by. As I rang in 2019, I reflected on 2018 and felt a tinge of sadness. Another year without taking a risk I knew in my heart I was being called to take. And why? Fear. My husband, my family, my friends – all supported me in whatever decision made me happy. I was the only obstacle in my way.
And then it happened. I had a moment of clarity at the end of a long week accompanied by a calm confidence I hadn’t quite experienced before. I decided it was time to go all in on my business and really give it a chance. When I returned from the weekend, I resigned from my full-time position.
That was one of the hardest moments of my life. The last thing I wanted was to let anyone down. But, I realized at the end of the day, I was only letting myself down by not seeing where this road could lead.
Since then, I’ve been focused on launching and growing Leigh Silva Studios. I increased my inventory from 14 to 39 unique print designs in a span of 12 weeks, digitally drawing each piece on my iPad and printing in-house. I’m excited to share that on May 14, I launched my website along with my Etsy shop! It hasn’t all been smooth sailing, but I’m learning something new each day and giving it my all.
As you’ve probably gathered over the course of this week, my journey has not been a straight path. There were peaks and valleys, times when I wandered completely off the trail and even felt like I was walking in circles. But, what I’ve learned is this: keep going. Every step has a purpose in YOUR journey. Don’t let your fears keep you from following your heart. Whatever the outcome, it won’t be a failure.
Thanks for spending this week with me! If interested in checking out my artwork, you can visit my Etsy shop here: www.etsy.com/shop/LeighSilvaStudios. I also have a website that gives some more background on my business and product offerings: www.leighsilvastudios.com. Lastly, follow @leighsilvastudios on Instagram to see where this journey leads! :)