Creator's Corner: Kristen Nivala | Fade Into the Abstract

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Kristen Nivala / Jewelry

Kristen Nivala began her first jewelry line in 2010 while living in Santa Cruz, California - where the ocean was a 5 minute walk from her house, and the redwoods were a short drive away.

Here, she talks about riding the wave of creativity, how life and business has transformed since becoming a mama, and her dreams of opening up a store.

Tell us a little about yourself and your creative background: 

I loved making jewelry with my best friend when we were in grade school. We would go to our local bead store downtown next to the McDonalds, that carried some fancy gemstone beads, and we’de spend a lot of money and make these terrible bracelets. But I loved doing it, the entire creative process that goes into it. Before my jewelry business, I used to dance and making choreography was my main creative outlet. I would teach hip hop to all ages in Seattle, and that was my dream job at the time. I loved doing it.

When and how did you come up with the idea for your shop, Fade Into the Abstract?

Before Fade Into The Abstract I had a jewelry/hair accessory line under the name ‘Boho Plunder’. I made a lot of feather hair extensions and earrings that sold really well on Etsy. After having some success with that I wanted to learn fabrication and other jewelry techniques, something more challenging that allowed for more creativity and abstract designs. I wanted a new name to reflect that and this was an ode to a lyric from the band Ween. The lyric is actually ‘fall back on the abstract’ but I like mine better ;)

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Describe your connection to nature, and how it influences your work.

Nature is one of my most biggest inspirations. I began my business living in Santa Cruz, where the ocean was a 5 minute walk from my house, and the redwoods were a short drive away. It was saturated in inspiration and I find myself feeling most inspired after I have found some time surrounded by something that looks like those palms, pines, and waves.

What is your inspiration / process for new collections?

It usually starts with one design that I draw, really terribly usually, and then I test it out. If it’s something I want to wear I will try and make other pieces that compliment it. Sometimes it will just be one or two new pieces, other times it’s 5 or 6 and I try to make it a cohesive collection at that time. It is all very go with the flow. I have tried drawing collections and mapping it all out but it just doesn’t work out that way for me. I am very hands-on and find my best designs usually through trial and error.

I love my ‘Helios’ ring, I find it to be one of my most creative pieces and one that holds a lot of power. It has my two biggest inspirational symbols, the sun and the moon. In my designs, such as in life, I am always searching for a sense of balance. And I love the way this design equally highlights the two powerful opposing forces.
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Do you have creative habits or rituals that help you stay focused?

I don’t know… When time is limited for making jewelry I usually go in my studio with a purpose. But I do get distracted with some new design and then I try and steer myself back on course. Or other times I just stop an order I am working on and make the idea I have. I have to ride the creative wave while I can. Things have to come naturally I have learned.

What’s your favorite piece you’ve created and what’s its significance?

I love my ‘Helios’ ring, I find it to be one of my most creative pieces and one that holds a lot of power. It has my two biggest inspirational symbols, the sun and the moon. In my designs, such as in life, I am always searching for a sense of balance. And I love the way this design equally highlights the two powerful opposing forces.

What is the proudest moment in your creative journey so far?

Just being able to have learned so much through my own making. I have done a lot of youtube watching and proud to say that is where I learned most everything I know now.

How has life and business transformed since becoming a mama?

Every way it has changed me and for the better. I think I feel more creative or at least harnessed it in a more productive way. Since my daughter, my business has grown a lot, I have a lot more stockists and I have been doing more shows/markets which opens up the potential of failure and rejection a lot more. Having a child though is the single most terrifying experience, and my mom always said after giving birth she just stopped caring what other people thought of her (she put it another way). But I think that’s true for me, I have always wavered on the side of confidence but rejection is different. And being a parent forces you to grow up and see the bigger picture.

What advice would you give aspiring creatives hoping to turn their passion into a career?

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Find your creative community, it can be isolating working alone in a shop/home. And finding people around you to bounce your ideas off of is very valuable.

Is there anything you wish you would have known before starting?

To reach out for help and ask questions more, and to not shame myself for being exactly where I was at. We all start in the beginning stages one time or another.

What are you most excited about right now?

New seasons, the transition from Summer to Fall is by far my most favorite time of year. Nature is changing right in front of my eyes and I love experiencing that with my daughter and husband. And I love wearing boots and jeans.

Where do you see yourself, and Fade into the Abstract, in 5 years?

I have always wanted to open a store front and have a backroom where I could teach jewelry classes to kids. Highlighting other new makers is something I would love to do as well, or a space that features local artist and makers in my own community would be great too. But who knows, I just want to keep honing my skills and see where it will take me.

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Finish these sentences

My guiding value is acceptance of the way things are and who I am.

I lose track of time when I am alone dancing or working a new design.

I can listen to all ‘TV on the radio’ all the time.

Santa Cruz holds a special place in my heart because that is where i started my business/ making adventure.

I believe in the balance of life.


Fade into the abstract

Images provided by Kristen, photographer Poppi Photography
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/fadeintotheabstract/
Website: https://www.fadeintotheabstract.com/

Creator's Corner: Vivian Kim | Film Photographer

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Vivian Kim / Jewelry

Vivian Kim is a self-taught film photographer based in Los Angeles. She’s inspired by the beauty of the natural world and makes it a point to be mesmerized by it daily.

Here, she talks about her experiences traveling abroad and how they’ve transformed her world perspective, what she believes our purpose in life is, and advice for aspiring creatives hoping to turn their passion into a career.

Tell us a little about yourself and your creative background: 

Hi! My name is Vivian Kim and I am a self-taught, film-favoring photographer from California.

What has your photography journey looked like?

Well, I think I was first intrigued by photography when I got my first camera flip phone (Verizon EnV). I loved capturing simple moments with the click of a button, and loved even more so, being able to look back at and remember those moments. I really became passionate about pursuing photography as a dedicated hobby around 2012/2013. I started looking at shots through my iPhone 5 differently, and more significantly, was introduced to film photography by one of my best friends, Dylan. 

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Is photography your full time job?

Yes, it is! However, being the easily distracted and hobby-loving gal I am, I still end up taking on a bunch of side projects. I’ve really been trying to refine my investments, though, and am prioritizing photography above all.

Which do you prefer: film or digital?

Film, for sure! It’s what I learned on, and it’s what I’ll continue to shoot. As we all know by now, there’s such an authenticity to film. The colors are so pure, the composition is often more thoughtful, and the result is just much more real and timeless.

Describe your connection to nature, and how it influences your work.

Nature is the number one source of inspiration for me. Over all, it’s completely influenced my life perspective, which bleeds into any/every thing one creates. I fell in love with the world before I fell in love with any human, and I think it’s really the most romantic suitor in the world! Regardless of where we live, whether it’s a village in Fiji or a tiny apartment in a huge city, we get to experience and interact with nature. Wake up early, listen to the birds sing, or look up at the sky, go for a swim, think of how the tides push and pull at our coastlines… I promise, when we pay attention, we will be completely in awe with the way that our world works in perfect harmony. 

You do a lot of traveling! Are you usually abroad for work? Or play? Or both :)

I do love to travel because I love to learn and am thrilled by new experiences. Because of this, I knew I’d have to enter into a career that would allow me the time and space to travel. I guess it all kind of worked out, because now, I try to include both work and play in my travels. It’s all about balance! If I know that I want to go to a certain place, I will try to book work around it to bring some work along. If I know that I have to travel primarily for work, I will try to tack on some R&R/exploration time around it. 

Wake up early, listen to the birds sing, or look up at the sky, go for a swim, think of how the tides push and pull at our coastlines… I promise, when we pay attention, we will be completely in awe with the way that our world works in perfect harmony. 
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Which travel destination (or trip) has had the deepest impact on you and why?

I think of two trips immediately. In 2015, I went to Fiji for a month on a service trip with my university. However, during my time there, I did not really partake in much service at all. Instead, I was welcomed into the most loving village community, with whom every day was spent cooking, laughing, harvesting coconuts, swimming in the sea, playing volleyball, laying down some rocks for the road or establishing other foundations for the village, etc. It was camaraderie like I’d never experienced before. The Fijians had so little, in terms of material possessions, yet were so rich in love and life and wisdom and happiness. It really made me realize that our purpose in life isn’t to succeed, or make tons of money, or find the perfect man/woman, be recognized for this or that… No, I think our purpose in life is a bit simpler than we complicate it to be—perhaps to wonder and be mesmerized by life on this planet, to delight in the countless gifts we’re given daily, and to be and spread love in all of our interactions. 

It really made me realize that our purpose in life isn’t to succeed, or make tons of money, or find the perfect man/woman, be recognized for this or that… No, I think our purpose in life is a bit simpler than we complicate it to be—perhaps to wonder and be mesmerized by life on this planet, to delight in the countless gifts we’re given daily, and to be and spread love in all of our interactions. 

How do you want people to feel after looking at your work?

I want people to feel inspired to find beauty wherever they’re at. Yes, some places are a bit more captivating than others, and some have it harder than others, but I still firmly believe that beauty is everywhere if we look for it. It may not pop out at you right away, but if you look and acknowledge the good around you, you’ll start to notice more and more every day.

Do you have creative habits or rituals that help you stay focused?

If I’m feeling uninspired, I tell myself to keep creating. Sometimes, you just have to push through the creator’s block and keep practicing your craft. Inspiration comes and goes externally, but it can also be created as a result of practiced work. It’s inevitable that as you continue to pursue your craft, you will generate new ideas throughout the process.

What influences your creativity?

I can become quite a workaholic sometimes… and get caught up in organizing details/plans/etc. It’s necessary for me, though, to prioritize my hobbies (road trips, meeting new people, surfing, traveling, reading, etc.) as they make my mind feel excited and happy and ready to create. Aiming to be in a creative mindset can be exhausting, so it’s necessary for my peace of mind to take time to just chill, as well.

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What advice would you give aspiring creatives hoping to turn their passion into a career?

  1. Set yourself up for success. Continue in your day-job, or night-job, but pursue your passion at every other moment and learn how to monetize it. You WILL eventually have created a stable (enough) income from your passion to make the jump and pursue it fully. You might be barely profiting initially, but work really earnestly to improve your craft and be a good person to work with, and the money will come. 

  2. Believe in yourself. It’s so easy to doubt ourselves and make excuses for ourselves. I realized at a certain point, If I don’t believe in myself, who will? Be your biggest fan, even if you have to fake it—because that little bit of hope, when magnified in your head to be how you feel 100%, WILL rule out those doubts you have. 

Finish these Sentences

My guiding value is my relationship with God. He’s been my hope and rock and the addressee of many excited, frustrated, lonely journal entries. His faithfulness and blessings throughout all of my years has been so real to me.

I lose track of time when I’m writing. I love writing, and I think I loved it before I loved photography. I have so many thoughts in my head, and writing them down helps me to listen to myself, and reflect on situations in a more universal and less biased way. Plus, writing is just so poetic and beautiful to me—that we can somehow string some words together and create a captivating phrase, or tell an otherwise lost story.

I can read The Stranger by Albert Camus over and over again.

Here’s an excerpt for reference: “I had the whole sky in my eyes and it was blue and gold. On the back of my neck I could feel Marie’s heart beating softly. We lay on the float for a long time, half asleep. When the sun got too hot, she dove off and I followed. I caught up with her, put my arm around her waist, and we swam together. She laughed the whole time.”

I believe that we get to create the life we want to live. Think about what it is you really want, and set goals to make it happen.


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Vivian on Instagram - @viviankimx
Website - http://www.vivian.kim/
All photos provided by Vivian Kim

Creator's Corner: Jaclyn Souza | Uzumati Ceramics

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Jaclyn / Ceramist

Jaclyn Souza is the founder and artist behind Uzumati Ceramics. She lives and works in the Bay Area, but feels most at home in the High Sierra.

Here, she talks about how her experiences in the outdoors influence her work and why it's important to give back to community and environmental causes.

Tell us a little about yourself and your creative background: 

Hi there! My name is Jaclyn Souza — Founder and Ceramist behind Uzumati Ceramics. Creative endeavors have always been a passion of mine and a driving source of my happiness. If you walk through my home in the Bay Area, Ca — you’ll notice that almost everything was made by myself or my husband and I. It wasn’t until September of 2017 that I finally made art my full-time job when I launched Uzumati.

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When and how did you come up with the idea for your shop, Uzumati?

I was working a job that was not satisfying and just pushing through till the weekend when I could get outside. My schedule gave me a lot of early evening free time and I was looking for something to fill the space, so I signed up for a beginners ceramic class at a local studio and fell in love instantly! A few months after starting, I purchased a wheel so I could throw at home any chance I got.

Rolling into 2017, I unfortunately lost my sister which prompted me to start making a lot of changes in my life. A couple months passed and I purchased a kiln, quit my full-time job and went for it! It was by-far the best decision I have ever made and I haven’t looked back.

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Describe your connection to nature, and how it influences your art?

I grew up in a small town in Northern California. From an early age I was drawn to nature, vividly remembering collecting grasshoppers during elementary recess and sneaking them into my desk cubby to play with during class. My parents also took us kids camping a lot but as I transitioned into high school and went on to college, my time was taken up by sports. I was introduced to my now husband Alex and it was our connection and the end of collegiate sports that reintroduced nature back into my life.

We starting climbing together and since then have carved out a lifestyle that fosters adventure. Most of our free time is spent scaling the granite walls of the High Sierra. My experience in the mountains influence my work and the artist I am today.

1% of your sales go towards important environmental causes. Is there a particular environmental issue that you are passionate about?

Keeping public lands in public hands is something that I am passionate about. Without public lands, I would not have my circle of friends, lifestyle, hobbies, career, and happiness. Educating people how to recreate responsibly is the ticket to keeping these beautiful places wild and in our hands.

Keeping public lands in public hands is something that I am passionate about. Without public lands, I would not have my circle of friends, lifestyle, hobbies, career, and happiness. Educating people how to recreate responsibly is the ticket to keeping these beautiful places wild and in our hands. Most recently, my husband and I took 6 kiddos backpacking for their first time — It was such an amazing experience! Watching them discover the wonders of the high country along with teaching them proper etiquette like leave no trace principles was priceless. While hiking out, my daughter (6) said “If I could have any super power it would be to clean up all the trash off the ground”. This moment was so special to me!

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Do you have creative habits or rituals that help you stay focused? 

When I first started working from home as my own boss I was stoked, but right away I realized how easy it was to get distracted. For me to be as present as possible I need to have a clean creative space and movement. Most mornings start with coffee and a quick clean up of the house. After, I hit the gym or a local yoga studio. Once home, I settle in by lighting candles and burning an incense while I write out my to throw list for the day.

The first piece I throw is always something random and usual an epic fail. As my husband often says “you always throw out your first pancake” — such a silly saying but so true. As a self-taught ceramist, who works alone, everything I’ve learned was through trial and error.


Earlier this year, you forced yourself to take a vacation and went to Thailand. As a creative whose work and passion are so intertwined, how was time away beneficial for your craft and business?

I was so nervous to take off to Thailand. Would people still be interested in my work? Would I still want to do this when I got back? Would I have way too many emails to handle when I got home? I had many worries leading up to the trip but honestly it was the best thing I could have ever done for myself! Self love and stillness is so important and its something I am slowly learning to add into my life more often. After returning from the trip, work picked up right where it left off, and I was more refreshed and inspired than ever!

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What is the proudest moment in your creative journey so far?  

When I decided to take the leap and start this journey, one of my main goals, besides keeping a roof over my head, was to be able to give back to my community and causes that I feel passionate about.

I’ve had many small victories throughout my journey but my proudest moment was launching Uzumati. It’s such a surreal moment when you finally open yourself and your personal work up to the world. Uzumati has been so well received and I couldn’t be more proud!

Second to launching was when I officially becoming apart of 1% For the Planet. When I decided to take the leap and start this journey, one of my main goals, besides keeping a roof over my head, was to be able to give back to my community and causes that I feel passionate about. Last fall I hosted my first fundraiser and surpassed my goal for a donation to the Bears Ears Educational Center Kickstarter Campaign. It’s a damn good feeling when people are supporting my work and the environmental issues I am passionate about.

Are you creatively satisfied? 

100%!!! I often get asked ‘how can you throw mugs all day long and not get bored?’ First of all, I don’t normally throw the same product all day long unless it’s holiday prep. But even when I do, each mug feels different than the last and it's so satisfying bringing a lump of clay to life and knowing that it will soon be apart of someones home and daily rituals. Making the first throw of each day a new form that's way out of my league also fuels my creativity. I get a rush seeing how far I can take the clay — odd I know! 

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What are you most excited about right now?  

Im coming off a high from a show (Renegade Craft) I recently did. It was my first big show and to say it was successful is an understatement! I often think about my work and how touching the clay or smelling the handpoured candles would really be a selling point — and the show proved just that. I was thrilled and beyond grateful for how many people came out to meet me, chat, see the pieces first-hand, and support my small business. I am also really excited for Uzumati’s 1 year anniversary and the holidays. I have a lot of fun ideas coming down the pipeline that I cant wait to share!

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Finish these sentences


My guiding value is accepting that I am human.
1. Experience the journey and the results will come.
2. Keep your attention focused on your goals, but don't miss out on all the great experiences going on around you right now.
3. Make time for self love.

I lose track of time when I step inside a nursery.

I can listen to "The Doctor's Pharmacy" over and over again.

Mt. Conness holds a special place in my heart because I married my best friend on it’s summit last summer.

I believe "when we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.” John Muir


Uzumati on Instagram - @uzumaticeramics
Uzumati Website - https://www.uzumaticeramics.com/
All photos taken by Alex Souza 

The Best Gear for Summer Hiking

I will preface this post by admitting I am not a gear junkie, or a technical expert. I don't shop every season for the newest products, or even know what the latest and greatest performance apparel is.

But I do appreciate quality made products that are built to last, and I like supporting companies that advocate for the environment and actively participate in taking care of it.

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When I'm purchasing new gear, I ask myself a few questions; 

Quality/Functionality - What are the materials? Can I wear or use it for more than one activity? How long will it last? 
Comfort - Can I move and groove without ripping seems?  How well does it fit my body type? Will it still feel good day 3 of a camp or hiking trip? 
Sustainability -  How is the product made? How does it affect global environmental issues? Does the company have a mission that aligns with reducing pollution and using recycled materials? 

Below are 10 items I've tested (and fallen in love with) on the trails from the Pacific Northwest to New Zealand. *Before purchasing straight from the store, look for used gear at second hand shops (like Assent Outdoors in Seattle) or online at REI's used gear website. They select and inspect the gear and clothing before putting it up for sale. This helps keep useful products out of landfills! 


1.) Patagonia Ascensionist Pack 35 LB
I dig this bag because it's light and versatile. On longer hikes when I need to pack more, I can release the compression straps on the sides to manage a larger load. There is a foam back panel that provides structure and it has super soft/padded hipbelts. The top pouch is great for keeping important things within reach and the only qualm I have is that it lacks a seperate section for a hydration bladder.

2.) Sawyer Water Filtration System:
I have the squeeze water filtration and the S1 filter and purifier. You can get over 1500 uses out of the S1 filter and it was designed to remove bacteria, protozoa, chemicals and pesticides while improving the taste and odor of the water.  The purifier uses a proprietary foam membrane in a durable silicone bottle in which molecules stick to the surface of the adsorbent foam. Kinda wild right? 

* Get Involved: Help bring clean water to people that need it by donating a filter–or any amount toward the purchase of one–through one of their many international humanitarian partners.

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3.) Non-Toxic Sunscreen: 
SPF 15 is the minimum rating dermatologists recommend, and it should be applied 20 minutes before sun exposure. The FDA recommends re-application every two hours regardless of the SPF rating. Look for a sunscreen that’s labeled “broad spectrum” which will shield skin from both UVB and UVA rays. And remember that the higher you climb, the more intense the sunlight (and potential to burn) will be. 

4.) Sawyer Picadin Insect Repellent
One thing that can ruin what should be a wonderful outdoor experience is a swarm of relentless biting insects. Mosquitos are particularly pesky in the Northwest as are ticks early in the season. One time, Jared and I backpacked to an alpine lake and the mosquitoes were SO bad that we immediately pitched our tent and stayed there for the rest of the evening. The sun wasn't setting for another 5 hours, but there were droves of them so we cooked dinner in the tent and fell asleep early. 

  • Sawyer’s 20% Picaridin insect repellent is non-greasy, offers all day protection, actually has a pleasant smell (citrus), and is safe for use on adults as well as children. The repellent comes in a spray and lotion form. 
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5.) Topo Women's Tech Pants:
I can't walk out of the house without receiving a compliment on these pants. I wore them hiking all over New Zealand and they've become my trusty travel pants. The tailored fit is ultra stretchy, lightweight and breathable. I use the cinch chord locks at the ankles to crop them below my knee in hotter weather, and they have a durable water repellant finish which is great for someone like me who spills often and loves the water. 

6.) Keen Women's Hiking Boots Targhee 2: 
A trail tested favorite. I've hiked in these boots for the last 5 years and appreciate how easy they are to break in. The boots are super supportive, comfortable and lightweight. They have durable waterproof protection that stands up to wet weather, and the outsoles have great traction. I prefer low cut boots to high cut that wrap around the ankle and have used these for day hikes as well as 4 day backpacking trips. 

7.) Chaco Sandals - Women Z2 Classic Wide Width: 
After miles of hiking, nothing feels better than taking off my boots and switching over to sandals. Gotta let those feet breath! I stole Jared's pair (which he has had for a decade) for the longest time before finally getting my own. The adjustable straps custom-fits to your foot and a toe-loop for additional forefoot control. They are on the heavier side for sandals but they are the most durable I've ever used. 

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8.) Marmot Dreamweaver Jacket: 
I wish summer automatically meant solid 80-degree temperatures no matter where I am and what time of day. But summer storms are real, and wind tends to visit us on the summit of a mountain. I throw this jacket on over my fleece or puffy for extra warmth. It's waterproof, breathable, seam-sealed and incorporates stretch shell material. 

9.) Eno Double Nested Hammock: 
This hammock tucks into a integrated stuff sack, making it super easy to toss into your backpack for a day hike. It's lightweight (weighing just over a pound) and can sleep 2 people - great for that afternoon nap to rest your mind and muscles.  

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10.) Hydroflask Water Bottle:
The build quality is better than most water-bottles (I can attest with the number of times I've dropped it) and the insulated double-wall keeps your water ice cold, or coffee piping hot. It's not that lightweight, and the wide mouth version doesn't fit in cupholders, but I will sacrifice for gulps of cold water after a hot hike day. 

Creator's Corner: Laura Hughes | Women on the Road

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Laura / Podcast Host

 

Laura Hughes is a podcast host, photographer, writer, and full time traveler living on the road in her Ford Transit camper van. 

Here, she talks about how human stories influence her creativity, and why saying "yes" in the midst of fear are her proudest moments.

You are a multi-talented woman! Tell us a little about your creative background and how you spend your time: 

I do like to dabble! It’s taken me a while to see that as a strength, but in the past year I’ve really been leaning into it and it’s allowed me to be open to more opportunities and projects than I could have imagined. 

My creative work has its strongest roots in photography. From the time I was 10, I was taking photos with a cheap point and shoot of the horses that lived at the end of the street in my neighborhood. That passion slowly evolved over time into various side hustles that would support me during grad school, invigorate me on my travels, and ultimately become a facet of my creative career as a women’s retreat and outdoor recreation tour group photographer. If I’m being completely honest, the reason I asked for a camera from my parents in the first place was because my sketch art was always being compared to a very talented childhood friend, and I wanted to try something else that nobody else was doing and remove competition from my close friendship.

While it might have been to avoid unwanted critique, photography gave me the freedom to be ‘me’ with my art.

Writing, for me, falls into a similar bucket, but unlike photography I have never worried about comparison with my words. It’s been a passion since childhood and something I will always do because I love it. I am infatuated with the power of language. I strive to make people feel something. My childhood self wanted to publish a book someday, and I hope to make that happen eventually. 

 Photo by  Janette Casolary

In the past year, I’ve grown into creating audio stories as a podcast host and producer. It’s been a completely new experience for me-- not just in the technical aspect, but also in the medium. Our voices are mediums. And in a text-driven culture, it can be easy to feel disconnected from your voice. But our voices hold so much emotion and vulnerability. We make deep connections when we use our voices. I love that podcasting not only requires that I bring my most genuine and thoughtful voice to the table, but it calls others to do so as well.
 

Writing, for me, falls into a similar bucket, but unlike photography I have never worried about comparison with my words. It’s been a passion since childhood and something I will always do because I love it.

When and how did you come up with the idea for your podcast, Women on the Road?
I can’t take much credit for the concept of “Women On The Road”, but sometimes with being a creative, opportunities really hinge on relationships and pitches. Women On The Road began as a written interview series on She-Explores.com (founded by Gale Straub), and as it happens I wrote a short piece there on how the podcast got started. I encourage you to check it out for the whole story!

 Laura's home and office where she records Women on the Road episodes. Photo by Shane Eubank

Laura's home and office where she records Women on the Road episodes. Photo by Shane Eubank

What has been the biggest challenge of working on the road? And how have you handled it?  Because sound is one of my main mediums currently, I’ve become keenly aware at how difficult it can be to truly find a consistently quiet place to record or interview! Everything from the whoosh of a truck passing by to the wind or rain slapping the roof of the camper can make a difference in the quality of the recording. Some things are within my control, and I’ve learned some techniques to help dampen sounds (it’s called pillows around the mic, and a blanket over your head-- true story!), but sometimes the ambience is unavoidable. That’s when I have to decide to either be patient and record again another time, or to let the sounds add to the story and the feel of being on the road in some way. Making that call always depends on my feeling at the time, or any deadlines I’m up against, but in the end the show always comes out how it’s supposed to: raw and real and a little bit quirky.

What does a typical day look like for you?
I typically make the most of my mornings by getting in calls, interviews, and recordings as early as possible before lunch. That’s when I’m most productive, and so I leverage that. I make decisions less effectively later in the day, and that’s when my creativity begins to come to the surface in a more prominent way. So I’ll tap into my creative side then: editing photos, writing pieces, and piecing together podcast episodes. Sometimes that means I stay up way too late, but I try to keep that in check most nights.

 Photo by  Shane Eubank

Photo by Shane Eubank

And being a dynamic creative (the doer-of-all-master-of-none type), I am also a huge proponent of switching things up if I’m not feeling inspired by a certain aspect of my work on a given day, so long as no deadlines are riding on it.

Do you have creative habits or rituals that help you stay focused? I think it comes back to the time of day, for one-- leveraging the energy I know I have, when I know I’m most likely to have it. And being a dynamic creative (the doer-of-all-master-of-none type), I am also a huge proponent of switching things up if I’m not feeling inspired by a certain aspect of my work on a given day, so long as no deadlines are riding on it. If I’m feeling like I want to listen to more music while I work-- something I can’t do while I’m editing audio-- then I switch over to writing for a day, or even a few hours, to get that jolt I need to get back to my podcasting.

What influences your creativity? 

I’ve actually been thinking about this a lot recently! Conversations are, first and foremost, the biggest influencer of my creativity. I love human brains, human stories, and human emotions. Human hearts. They’re beautiful, and imperfect, and often times people will say the most inspired things without realizing it. I always make a practice of calling those thoughts out when I hear them, and taking those moments back with me to weave into my writing, my storytelling, and my own personal reflections and growth. 

 Recording for the Women on the Road Poscast with She-Explores Founder, Gale Straub Photo by  Jules Davies

Recording for the Women on the Road Poscast with She-Explores Founder, Gale Straub Photo by Jules Davies

I look to the outdoors as another crucial source of my creativity. Everything words and conversations can’t give me rest within the outdoors. As a visual and an audio creative, I love seeing and hearing what nature shows us daily. I’ve always been about appreciating the little things, and on days I feel uninspired I am often forgetting just how miraculous this earth is. There’s nothing like bending over a small stream to listen to it trickle through headphones, or laying on the ground to get just the right rays of light on a tree, to remind you that everything on this planet counts. Including us.
 

What is your proudest moment in your creative journey so far?  

Oof, that’s a tough one! Honestly, the most proud moments I’ve had in my creative journey have been all the small, seemingly meaningless times I’ve said “yes”. Yes to opportunities that made me nervous. Yes to an idea someone pitched to me that I wasn’t sure about. Yes to myself when am idea registered in my mind that wasn’t quite fully baked, but felt good on gut instinct.

One of the biggest “yes” moments I have ever had as a creative was the summer I said I would begin shooting weddings, about 10 years ago. It was my first season of paid photography work, and I dove in with no prior experience, no second shooter, and arguably not enough memory cards (which I learned all too quickly!). My very first wedding was stressful. I worried about my batteries dying. I was anxiety-ridden about making sure I got the couple’s first kiss. I didn’t know the right way to make sure I got food at the reception. I went to bed in a daze when I got home, unsure how I was going to complete the season of gigs I signed myself up for-- but when I saw the photos I took the next morning, I was immediately energized and ready to do more. Somehow, I had pulled it off. I knew I would have a lot of growing to do that summer, but I also knew that my gut “yes” response had led me in the right direction.

Honestly, the most proud moments I’ve had in my creative journey have been all the small, seemingly meaningless times I’ve said “yes”. Yes to opportunities that made me nervous. Yes to an idea someone pitched to me that I wasn’t sure about. Yes to myself when am idea registered in my mind that wasn’t quite fully baked, but felt good on gut instinct.

Are you creatively satisfied? Right now, more than ever. I’m in a fortunate place of continual growth and challenges within my three disciplines. I know it won’t last, but at this point in time I feel like I’ve bitten off just enough to chew on for the foreseeable short term. And when that satiation fades, it’ll be time to say “yes” to something I’m more unsure of but feels good on gut instinct.

What are you most excited about right now?  

The Women On The Road podcast is doing incredibly well when it comes to generating new content, building a supportive community, and giving back to every person out there who wants to know more about road travel from a feminine perspective. I’m excited for how far we’ve come with the show, and also for the potential it holds in the short and long term future.

I’m also incredibly excited about finding my photography niches. I’ve come a long way from taking any gig that came my way, to taking the gigs that I know I’ll be the best fit for. You have to have a reasonable amount of confidence to say no when a client wants you to be their photographer. It’s flattering and it feels nice to have your work be sought after  in this competitive space. But I’ve learned that saying yes to work that doesn’t serve your purpose is not only doing the client a disservice, but it’s doing you a disservice by limiting your ability to get what you want in the future. I’m excited that at this point, I’ve said no to work that doesn’t fire me up enough times that I don’t hesitate anymore… and it’ll hopefully set me up to attract more of the work I want moving forward.
 

 Photo by  Shane Eubank

Photo by Shane Eubank

What's your vision for your future? I want to keep furthering my ability to help others tell their stories, whether that’s through modeling raw stories myself, or crafting podcasts, photos, or written pieces showcasing the experience of others. Also-- I believe in the power of manifestation, so I’ll just say it: I want to publish a book. 

janettecasolaryphoto-59-min.jpg

Finish these sentences


My guiding value is growth.

I lose track of time when I’m finding just the right music for a podcast episode!

I can read The Alchemist over and over again

Sedona holds a special place in my heart because its golden colors and warmth fill a deep need within. 

I believe you can.
 


Laura Hughes on Instagram - @howsheviewsit
Women On The Road on Instagram - @womenontheroad
Listen to Women On The Road on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, on She-Explores.com, and anywhere you stream stories.