I come from a family of doers that are always problem-solving, creating, thinking,—so I believe my creative spirit came naturally to me. In grade school, I was known as “the artist,” but it wasn’t until high school that I took it more seriously. My art teacher recognized that I could be using my talent and gave me a push that became my springboard for creating. I began to dabble in oil paint and also colored pencils, and I figured things out myself and just created. Several years after graduating from art school with a degree in design, I landed a job at a design agency. It was during that time that I picked up a paintbrush and decided to paint and sell my work on the side. I showed it at several galleries, and then I had children and put my painting on hold. When the boys were young, I rarely painted, but when I did, it was mostly for myself. When the boys turned four and six, I decided to really “launch” my career and journey as an artist and give it my all. It is the only way I know how to do things — full speed, with intense passion. So I knew I had to wait for the right time to do it—it’s been a good ride ever since.
I grew up in Monmouth County and moved back here after living in the city and Hoboken, so I’m close enough to the beach to spend a lot of time there. I almost prefer the shore in the off-season—it’s calmer and more peaceful, especially in winter. My family also prefers to travel to coastal destinations, which has been a source of inspiration as well. I am a big collector of things, and my kids and I are always scavenging on the beach or along a walk. I find inspiration in nature—it’s what grounds my creativity. I celebrate these natural objects for their beauty, fluidity, and unpredictability in my work.
It’s been quite a juggling act, as it has been for all mothers right now. I would say it’s almost comical. I’m trying to paint while two boys (a year and a half apart) are running around while I navigate remote learning, respond to needs, break up fights and clean up who knows what from the ceiling, all with a paintbrush in hand. I know all working mamas can relate to this feeling. To avoid this chaos, I spend a lot of time painting after the kids go to bed. There are lots of very late nights to keep up with demand. I have learned to take things day by day and be grateful that home decorating has had an influx during quarantine that’s been keeping me very busy. There are tough days, especially when I have deadlines to meet and kids’ meltdowns to go with them. But the joy from making art supersedes those moments. Fulfilling my passion makes me a better mom and wife. It’s my release, and as mamas, we sure need those. I could say that in this dark time, art has brought me moments of calm, light, and community, which has gotten me through the hard days.
My children are always creating, whether with cardboard boxes, Legos, or dirt and sticks. I encourage them to think outside the box and to break the rules a bit because I believe it builds a strong character. I always tell my boys—”you be you.” They have had a big interest in mommy starting a business as I see their curiosities and involvement. I am fairly transparent in terms of parenting, so I hope they soak up my journey and learn from it. It makes me proud to call myself a mom, as well as an entrepreneur. I believe showing my children this side of me and involving them as much as I can, will help them grow to be strong, independent individuals.
When it comes to food, I love Talula’s in Asbury Park, Heirloom Kitchen in Old Bridge, Yumi Sushi in Red Bank, and Seed to Sprout in Avon. I can always count on a good meal at those spots. There are so many shops near the shore that I love—Noon in Bayhead, Main Street Gallery in Manasquan, Patriae, and Interwoven in Asbury. Salt Design in Fair Haven and Nest, Currant, and Forge in Red Bank are well-curated for art, home accessories, and the like.
If you have an urge, find a way to begin your path. I think of my mother’s words—”do what makes you happy” —simple, yet so true. I gave every ounce of my being to motherhood for years, staying at home with my boys attempting to fill my creative void with kids’ crafts, extravagant birthday parties, life-sized cardboard box pirate ships, and homemade costumes. I don’t regret it one bit. However, I bottled up my passion for way too long and finally released it. I can’t tell you how good it feels. I waited until my children were in school full time, and I can say there is nothing more gratifying than being a mompreneur. It’s more stressful, and I’m more tired, and it’s been uncomfortable and uncertain along the way—but I am happier because I filled that void. The most important advice I have it to tackle it with baby steps, as the bigger picture is daunting. I hope I inspire just one mama out there to do that thing she has wanted to do.