Let me start by saying "Hola Gwapa!" AND that I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing here. God, even just typing those words FEELS GOOD. The truth is I didn't major in how to start a blog (that's a major now right?), no one taught me how to create a website (I googled it!) and I didn't have a mentor who coached me on how to start a supportive community for creative Entrepreneurs and Artists. Wouldn't that have been nice?
What I DO know is that I'm extremly resourceful, completly capable and totally unstoppable in the pursuit of my passion. And that the only way to start is... by actually starting sooo here we are! Hi! Hello! Hola!
In 2014, during my senior year at the Academy of Art University as a Textile Design Major, I collaborated with a fellow design student, to create a Women’s Wear collection that successfully walked the runway at New York Fashion Week. I mean WHAT?! I hadn't even graduated...
Wrapping up my senior year, it felt wrong to be applying for Textile Design jobs having already showcased my prints and designs at the highest level any Designer could ever hope for but I did it anyway because that's what everyone else was doing and so I thought I should too. I know, I know so shoot me for being honest!
As job offers came in, it became blindingly clear to me in today's digital world being a Textile Designer meant generating repeat after repeat behind a computer screen hoping to satisfy your boss's vision. But what about MY vision?! I wanted to get messy and work with my hands!
My family saw me struggling and encouraged me to shift and try a more entrepreneurial route and that's exactly what I did. In 2015 I turned the back of my family's business warehouse into my very own art studio and in 2016 I launched Nisha Btesh Living, or NBL, where I created boutique textiles for the bed, body, and home.
It was then that I experimented first hand with what goes into making different products, what printing techniques worked well and which ones totally sucked and most importantly what it takes to get a business off the ground cuz sister, IT AINT EASY!
I taught myself how to create a website, grow my social following, and get my product stocked in local storefronts BUT I wasn’t making enough money to sustain my passion and shut it all down in 2017.
Since then I've become obsessed with following Artists who were successfully turning their passions into paychecks, and the idea for Hola Gwapa was born.
As an Entrepreneur, you’re faced with challenges, opportunities, dead ends, and open doors. The important thing for me was learning how to pivot. You have to be your own best friend and your harshest critic. In the end your mentality is everything.
Hola Gwapa started as an Instagram account. I knew I wanted to feature Artists via dedicated posts and takeover stories 1. To give them the exposure and community that I wish I had had with NBL and 2. I really genuinely wanted to figure out how they were doing it.
Were they working side jobs? Were they waking up at 5 am to answer emails and update their websites? What materials were they using? Were their studios REALLY as "Pinterest-perfect" as they posted? I mean come on! What was their secret sauce? I was totally drinking the Koolaid, like chugging it actually. But I knew that if that if I was eagerly seeking this information out, then there must be tons of other Artists out there in my same position who would benefit from the information as well.
Ultimately I want to design and create a textile driven product line again, as being an Artist is my truest calling. But right now I'm having a blast learning from the talented women in the Hola Gwapa collective. I'm so lucky to have the opportunity to connect with and share these stories. The lives and lessons of real women in the trenches trying to figure it out just like me. I'm honored to have your support as we build this community of badass Artists and totally inspired by your desire to help create the narrative.
In full transparency, this blog will serve as my diary. I hope you can overlook the typos and grammatical errors because sometimes I just get going with it and can't be bothered to stop for punctuation. (Is it there or their?! JK I know that one!) I just want the freedom to rant here, and share my run on thoughts, struggles, fears, and challenges along the way. I hope you find inspiration in my story, the blog posts to come and all the talented and magnetic Artists and Entrepreneurs I've been lucky enough to feature.
Until next time. Adios Gwapa!
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