The first Whimsy in Work feature focused on a person who found whimsy in work by changing her environment and striving to find balance in her life. My next feature is a woman who is chasing her childhood dream, Rachel Madej of Rachel Antonia Designs http://www.rachelantoniadesigns.com/.
I first “met” Rachel via Instagram when her beautiful illustrations stopped me in my scrolling tracks. Her work is fun, so colorful and jovial in nature that I was inspired to know more about the artist. I have found her to be fun and warm just like her illustrations.
Chasing her Dream
As adults, we often discount our childhood dreams as childhood whimsy, maybe some of them are, but often times they can give us insight into the things that really feed our souls. When Rachel was a child she wanted to be an artist and a business owner. It was only recently that she brought these two dreams together.
“I had two dreams when I was growing up. One was to be an artist and the other was to own my own business. Funnily enough, I never put the two together until about a year ago! Now I’ve started my own company selling my illustrations on prints and products (It’s still crazy to say that out loud!) I’ve got ideas and products in the works that are set to debut in November of this year (2017)”
We can try to follow our dreams; we just have to learn to integrate them into our adult life. Rachel is doing an amazing job integrating her childhood dream into her adult working world, but she did not take the leap to pursue her childhood dream lightly. It has been a process and one she has taken very seriously. “I had been doing so much research, taken so many classes, and literally every bit of spare time was spent with me curled up doodling in my sketchbook trying to build a collection.”
Even spending countless hours researching, planning and creating, there comes a point when the researching and planning phase has to come to an end. What comes next can be the scariest part of any dream or career shift, the actual doing or making the change. In some cases, we need a push.
Many people can suffer from “analysis paralysis”, it is just easier to keep gathering information and keep planning rather than make a decision to do something. Sometimes we need a push to get out of the researching, creating and planning stage. The push can come from anywhere, it can be a person or an event or a feeling you get one day to just stop planning and just try. I think the push that comes from a person you do not know, and who does not have any time or feelings invested in you could be the most intimidating. Rachel’s push came from a stranger who looked at her art and judged her illustrations. This person looked at what Rachel had and she told her whether or not she had what it would take; how scary!
“After doing months and months of research, creating, and planning, I met with a woman named Jennifer Ferri recommended by my friend Kara. (Hi Kara) She said to me and I quote ‘ I’m going to look at your art… and I’m honestly going to tell you whether or not you should do this.’ That was one of the scariest moments of my life because whether she told me yes you can or no, it still meant I had to leave the comfort of my researching and drawing stage of life that I’d become accustomed to…”
Clearly, Jennifer saw what I see in Rachel’s work, beautifully drawn and whimsical illustrations, but I had to know, what if this outsider had told Rachel to throw in the towel?
“Honestly if Jen had said that I wasn’t good enough…I would’ve been crushed. I would’ve felt like maybe I shouldn’t and I probably wouldn’t have finalized all the paperwork in July. However, I know I would’ve asked what I could do to make it work, or where I could make it work, if it wasn’t printed art, maybe it would’ve worked on fabric or I could find a wallpaper rep. I would’ve done the research to find out how to make it work because it’s my dream. So maybe I would be on another path right now, but it would still be me working toward incorporating my art into something more. And honestly, I’m sure I would’ve found myself here again at some point in life because of the “what if” factor. It nags at you and I’m not one to give up.”
Rachel’s Take-Aways from Chasing Her Childhood Dream
- You can’t know everything. ” It seems like it’s self – explanatory, you can’t know everything… But when you’re investing countless hours and a really large sum of money, you want to know it’s going to work.”
- It takes guts and courage to start your own business. “I love when I get compliments and when people want to buy my work… But honestly, I’m just really proud of myself. I’m twenty – three years old and I’m paying for college, working 30 hours and taking full-time classes. I’ve had this dream since I was a kid and I just decided to go after it full force. It gets unbelievably stressful sometimes, but it’s worth it and it’s rewarding to feel that I made an investment in myself.”
- At some point, you must stop planning and try. “Everyone is terrified, no matter how successful they are. They were all scared at one point and they all took a big gulp of air and plunged into the unknown – and so can you.”
- You have to make time for your dreams. “There’s never a right time. I’m smack dab in the middle of a million things, but I’m making it work. You can make your dreams fit into your schedule.”
- There are people who can and want to help you. “There are free business classes, meetups, friends in the industry, family who knows someone who knows someone. I went to the University of Hartford for a free business class. (I don’t go to that school) I emailed my family accountant for business advice. My brother’s friends mother happens to run the craft show I’ll be displaying my first collection in. Connections are everywhere so start making a list of everyone you know who would be willing to help you. (P.S. – I can be on that list!)”
Rachel has a section on her blog devoted to helping other artists turn their passion into business
I hope you have enjoyed learning about Rachel, her process of chasing her dream and seeing some of her beautiful art.