Do Your Dream | Michelle Smith

April 16, 2012

Do Your Dream is back, and I am so pleased to introduce you to someone I really, truly admire – Michelle Smith.

I met Michelle when I interviewed her for skirt! magazine three years ago, and I was completely captured by her beautiful aesthetic, her humble demeanor, and her unending creativity.  To top it all off, Michelle is incredibly generous with her knowledge and gifts, and has a way of bringing people together and inspiring them to collaborate.

Read on as Michelle tells you about herself, and about the three thousand things she has her hand to – all of them beautiful, thoughtful, inspiring.

Name: Michelle Smith

Age(ish): 32

Location: Raleigh, North Carolina

Business name: Michelle Smith

I am a product and textile designer, and a sometimes photographer and photo stylist. I also produce The Rock & Shop Market, a hip urban craft show in North Carolina featuring over 75 emerging designers selling their wares alongside local bands. And I founded indieNC an organization dedicated to promoting emerging artisans in North Carolina.

Your resumé in 10 words or less:
photographer, illustrator, pattern-lover, stylist, event producer, Mom, wife, creative facilitator, passionate food lover, writer
How did your dream begin? I’ve always had a creative bent and have been surrounded by the arts. My Dad is a skilled banjo and guitar player, my grandparents painters, and my Mom has an interior design background. In school I used to fill journal after journal with doodles and writing. I’ve just never really stopped.
What was the thing that finally gave you the courage to start? Not pursuing my own self-made path just didn’t seem like a viable option.

Have you made any embarrassing mistakes? Making mistakes is the one thing I do consistently. I think one of the keys to being successful at running your own business is learning how to deal with mistakes gracefully, and think quickly on your feet. You know what they say: “Anything that can go wrong, does go wrong.” I’ve found this to be true and that what is paramount to your happiness is really learning to embrace upsets as challenges instead of setbacks.

What advice would you give to someone trying to get the courage up to pursue their dream? When I was younger I really struggled with the idea of finding a future that could encapsulate all my passions and pursuits. I felt burdened by the constraints of academics and didn’t see how my unbridled need for creativity fit in to traditional jobs. I wish I had worried less and trusted more, had the confidence then that I have now.

What has been the single best investment you’ve made in your business? Giving myself the time and the space to fulfill them has been the best thing. Allowing myself to devote time to that which most inspires me is incredibly fulfilling.

What obstacles have you had to overcome? Being a stay-at-home Mom and business owner has been a challenging juggle but one that I am proud of taking on. I value being home with my daughter despite the fact that it has limited how much time I can devote to my business at this stage in my life.

Is there anything you miss about life before being a business owner? Just the consistent paycheck and having someone other than yourself doling out accolades. Being a business owner means at the end of the day you are the one making all the decisions and you have to make a lot of choices that only you can be accountable for.

What inspires you? Road trips, other business owners, anyone following their own passions no matter if they have a career or not. Food and cooking, photography, my friends, the color and patterns of everyday objects, textiles, interior design.

Any artists/women/entrepreneurs/anyone you really look up to? Amy Butler, Julia Child, my friends

How many hours a week do you work? My daughter is in preschool for about 12 hours a week, that is when I work. So honestly, probably about 10 hours a week. I’ve had to make compromises to the amount I can honestly accomplish and be an engaged stay-at-home Mom too.

You’ve got $100 extra to spend on something for your business – what’s it going to be? A pendant lamp for my studio that I’ve had my eye on.

What are your top three priorities in life? God, my family, living a fulfilled and creative life

What keeps you awake at night? Too many ideas, not enough time. However, I’ve learned in the past couple years to write everything down and to let things go – even great ideas if they are stressing me out and bogging me down.

Do you have a mantra, something you repeat to yourself? “I Trust You.” (‘You’ being God)

Quick-fire round:

Current favorite album to listen to? Gillian Welch: The Harrow & The Harvest

What calms you? I do yoga, I pray and sometimes I even meditate. I also like to get in my car with my camera and just drive.

Accountant or DIY Finances? My husband and I do it quarterly and then have an accountant file and check once a year.

Noise or silence while you work? Depends on the task. I tend to like silence when writing or doing thoughtful computer-driven work, but when I am working with my hands or creating a new pattern I like to listen to music, Fresh Air or The Splendid Table podcasts.

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