I remember when the last Harry Potter book came out and I just held that ridiculously thick book in my hands in disbelief. All of the major questions I’d ever had about what would happen in the epic finale (which I debated for hours and hours with my friends for years…I know, so dorky) were waiting in my hands.
What fan stuff do you totally geek out over?
I had a similarly surreal moment a few days ago when I had the chance to style my friend D’Arcy’s workshop and a woman I’ve admired for years. She’s one of the best floral designers in the world right now. On Tuesday, she stepped through the doors with buckets of flowers and asked me where would be best to set up her work station and I tried not to act too starstruck…no idea if it worked.
I knew I wasn’t going to go to law school like I had planned. Instead, I wanted to have my own business (which was weird because I tuned out any kind of business talk. Marketing and advertising and money were like dirty words to me. But…Instagram made having a business look fun, right?). So when my babe was asleep, I’d lay on the couch and do a deep dive on Instagram hashtags to find inspiration for what was out there. I wanted to do floral design at first because I was skilled enough to do it for friends and family. But after a few weeks of research, I realized there was this whole beautiful garden-y, naturally flowing world full of floral design out there that I had no idea existed and was sooo much better than anything I had ever done. I stayed up late at night in bed, looking at huge arches in grand green houses and scaling vines up the walls of the doorway of small churches and dreaming of the day when I could do that.
I was an instant fangirl. It was embarrassing. My husband and my mom knew all about her. And I kept seeing that some of my favorite photographs of her flowers were done by one D’Arcy Benincosa. So I fell in love with her too. I memorized their images. (go look them up on Instagram or Pinterest if you don’t know them already. You will fall in love. Quickly.)
I decided several months after all of this stalking that my genius zone is not in flowers. Honestly, I came to the realization that I’d rather work with people like Sarah Winward than do what she does.
So I worked hard to build my portfolio, grow my audience, make a bit of a name for myself, serve my audience with lots of good value, blah blah blah. AKA I was growing. And growing pretty quickly. Enough that D’Arcy invited me to style her Utah workshop and told me Sarah would be doing the flowers. She would be teaching photographers her ways and my job would be to curate something amazing for them to shoot.
And I had that moment of feeling like “okay, this happened. The dream happened!” And I texted my mom immediately and gave my husband, Michael, a giant hug. And then I played it cool on social media (sorta).
But when I showed up on Tuesday, Michael was helping me unload and I kept shooting him nervous looks because I knew Sarah would be coming soon. Again, I tried to play it cool.
But soon, Sarah and I were discussing the logistics of the table setting, she flitted off to create a gorgeous centerpiece, and then throw together 3 perfectly wild floral headpieces in the mirror using her own head like a mannequin. And I worked on the table to get the scene deconstructed just right. I asked if she could put some more blossoms on the table and she came back with handfuls of ranunculus and pansies and other little blooms and threw them on the table saying it always looked better that way than if she tried to place them perfectly. She stretched a wild branch around the cake, saying that she felt like Klimt’s paintings (the inspiration for the shoot) feel like love nests to her. And how she loved the way the whole shoot felt sort of reckless. I nodded, inspired by her insight. I watched a master who also listened to my ideas, let me have the autonomy I needed, created exactly what we needed, and so much more.
But the strange thing was this: at the end of the day, even though I was working with some women I had idolized for years and felt very intimidated in the beginning, I had worked hard to do just this sort of thing before. I had done it dozens of times. I knew how to do my job.
Instead, I was able to enjoy working with women who have mastered their arts. It was an honor, but it wasn’t like…I don’t know…a fairytale? It was real. Wonderful. But still real.
It’s strange how it often feels like this when we accomplish goals. When we see them from the underside and we’re deciding we want to scale a mountain we feel we have no business climbing (sorry, I know that’s so cliche…), these dreams we have can seem impossible. We say things like, “no one will want to work with me because I’m not _____.” Or, “I’ll never be good enough to _________.” Or, “no one notices me. I’ll never _________.” But I’m finding as I continue my journey, that that’s not true. As I surmount portfolio goals and income goals and networking dreams, it’s possible. It’s happening. It’s actually doable. And I’m ready for what’s next.
But remember this: You have to choose your dreams again and again, even when you’re scared. Especially when you’re scared, more accurately. I know you know this. But I also know you can do it.
Image by D’Arcy Benincosa for The Path Workshop; Hair and Makeup by Bellacosa Beauty, Gown by Leanne Marshall, Styling by Emma Natter; Florals by Sarah Winward
I’m Emma Natter, a path-to-success paver and art-trained business coach who first shattered her own career expectations by selling out of handmade styling goods from her little NYC apartment. Now as a strategist to thousands of creatives, I teach you to harness your passion so you can do the same.
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