I left for college in the fall of 2007.
I lived in Africa in the spring of 2009.
Josh and I got married in October of 2009.
We moved in the summer of 2010.
We got Haley three days later.
I launched a Sunshine Moment in the first week of 2011.
I graduated college in April of 2011.
We moved again in the summer of 2011.
We moved again in the first month of 2012.
Citizen Way got signed in February of 2012.
We got Sam in April of 2012.
My Guide to Growing Up
Josh and I have been through a lot in the five years we’ve known each other. We have grown up in so many ways and to address each area of growing up would be a full book of words but, today, I’m particularly inclined to talk about the way we’ve grown up professionally.
Professionally, Josh and I are self-employed artists and we’ve learned that this means it often feels like we are selling ourselves to our clients or fans. Yesterday we were talking about how this requires a lot more of us in appearances. Sounds shallow but it is true whether we like it of not. In business, you are how you look.
We’ve learned that we’ve had to step it up in what we wear, cleanliness, how our hair looks, and how our house looks. As a professional it is important to look the part when engaging in anything involving your clients. I even consider it important to look presentable any time I am out in public. For me these means my hair has been groomed, I smell nice, and I’m wearing well-kept clothing.
What to Wear
Of course there is an element of style involved here so you can make it your own but there are some key elements in the three main scenarios Josh and I find ourselves in.
For gigs, whether Josh is performing at a show or I’m photographing wedding, we both dress business casual in neutral or almost neutral tones. As a wedding photographer it is important to not be distracting to guests so it is important not to wear bright, fun colors. As a musician it is important because the idea is to look better than your audience and bright colors under concert lighting can be blinding and generally give the aura of youth.
Josh and I have also discovered that money does go a long way in the world of clothing. Typically, the better the brand, the better the clothes withstand wear and tear – and the less they shrink and stretch in the wrong areas over time
I recommend to all professionals to dress to impress. So, whether you are a waitress, an actress or in business it is important to dress to impress. Whether you appear for an interview, a video blog, a presentation, a speaking engagement, a gig, or a meeting it is your job to show your clients that you care and take them and yourself seriously by dressing professionally.
Artists are absolutely not exempt from this rule. A common misconception is to look cool if you’re an artist. That is overrated and immature. Yes, I view my clothing as another opportunity to bring creativity, life and art into daily life but to get too “trendy” or “hipster,” again, shows youth and looks unprofessional. As an artist you should go to battle for your work until you reach the point when people take you and what you do seriously and with respect. By growing up in appearances you are engaging in the quickest, easiest, and most important advancement technique that showcases to others that you are serious about what you do and that you are experienced.
Up until a year or so ago Josh and I frequented the shabby and torn look. We simply had a tendency to wear our clothing into the ground. It is common to view artists in this light – their attire is slightly mismatched, seen too many days, and most likely not fitted. However, as a professional I have found it important to retire those clothes to a “just around the house” basis.
Don’t go overboard here though either. You don’t need to be prim and perfect all the time or use this as an excuse to frequent the mall. You just need to step out of the youth tendency to go everywhere in sweatpants, stained t-shirts, ripped jeans, and an overall dryer wrecked wardrobe. You simply never know how and when you will engage in a conversation about your work or business so it’s best to look the part.
Working out of the house
I know that the first thing Josh does every day is get fully ready as though he had a traditional job. This means he’s showered, dressed, and well-groomed before he sits down at his desk. This is a very helpful attitude to take because it gets the mind properly prepped for work and naturally focused. On my end I will occasionally spend the day in sweatpants and a sweatshirt – this is my strategy to keep myself comfortable enough to stay planted at my desk when I have to crank out the editing. However, without otherwise getting ready for the day though I find I am sluggish, easily distracted, and have an overall unproductive feeling.
It is important to be well-groomed and good smelling in the adult world. This element is a key separator of the youth from the professionals. It is common in college to forget deodorant, go without a shower or touching your hair. But, first impressions are key in the professional world.
Clean, dry hands
You will most likely greet your client with a hand shake. This being said you want to be sure to have clean dry hands when you go in for your firm and confident hand shake.
Done, dry hair
Notice how I didn’t say clean. I am a strong advocate of not washing your hair every day but it is important not to go so far as letting it get visibly oily and unkempt. Personally I find it is best to shower and not wash my hair everyday but to at least get it wet. Whether I hop in the shower or not, however, I always touch it – no more rolling out of bed and walking out the door. Sometimes this is just a simple braid or my natural, wavy look and other times, if I’m feeling fancy, I’ll take a curler or straightener to it.
Having dry hair, or at least seemingly so, when meeting a client is important because you will look unfinished if it is still wet. Again, this points to inexperience and youth because wet hair in public is often only worn on people of college age and under.
I do advocate deodorant but not in the traditional way. I find that by eating a diet complimentary to my body’s needs, all I need is coconut oil under my arms and I’m good for the day. If you are a heavy sweater rub a drop or two of tea tree oil into some coconut oil before applying. If that’s still not cutting it add a little baking soda and that should do the trick. Also, please note, that it will take your body several days to adjust to natural deodorant when it’s used to competing with manufactured ingredients and aluminum ridden contemporary deodorant.
I also advocate giving yourself a pleasant smell, but personally perfume gives me a headache. By showering daily you are already taking care of yucky smell build up but if you want to smell a little extra lovely I recommend going to a natural and less abrasive scent – Whole Foods carries some natural “perfumes,” you can use an essential oil (just a drop or two behind the ears and on the wrist will do), you can apply some naturally scented body lotion, or you can shower with Sabon Body Scrub every so often and the natural oil residue smells fantastic.
Grown Up Hair
I love the natural world and natural living so, naturally, I love the look of a natural hair-do. And I can do this in a way that is still professional and classy. Done are the days of bad box dyes and shaggy hair cuts. I am blessed with a wonderful hair stylist whom I can trust completely. In going to her I have learned a lot of ways to keep my hair “me” but also clean-cut. I let her take care of my split ends and ask her for recommendations in regards to keeping up appearances. I let her tell me when my roots need help, I let her choose my hair color within an idea I propose, and I let her choose how best to trim my long locks because if there’s anything that reveals youth it’s overgrown roots and bad cut and color jobs.
For the last several years I tried every hair color extreme in a manner of three years – red, black, super blonde and some in-between. So, naturally, my hair paid some damages from all my drama and Tracy has been trimming up the pieces for a while now.
Hair is one of the first qualities someone will notice it you. Therefore, if you have wicked roots or hot pink hair it will not go unnoticed. For this I would say a good rule of thumb is to let a professional take care of you, and make it someone who you can trust and want to grow a relationship with, because they will have the best recommendations for getting your hair healthy and how long you can go before touching up your color.
Shaggy hair is the result of going too long between trims – wicked split ends are a no-no.
Grown Up Home
The days of a house full of hand-me-downs and thrift buys are over. Since I launched an in-home studio space about a month ago the rest of my house had to grow up. This meant matching furniture, unified design, and de-cluttered living spaces.
I recommend doing this as you enter the professional world too because you too will eventually, most likely, host some clients or coworkers. Besides, it’s a blast!
When I started getting into interior design for Sherwin Williams I quickly started noticing how all the showcased rooms had matching furniture. So when I set out on my home improvement project that was an obvious place to start. This meant I got rid of and sold quite a bit of furniture and bought a few new pieces. My tips for matching furniture in any given room are as follows: make all your woods match, you can get away with different upholstery but be sure to stick to your color scheme, and an accent piece is ok but be sure to keep it within a set of design boundaries.
To achieve unified design it is important to stick to a color palette. You can stick to just neutrals or go color crazy like me 🙂 Successful color palettes have anywhere between 0 – 5 colors with one or two neutral tones.
Another important element is choosing your accent color because that color will be the cherry on top of your home improvement sundae. Josh and I pretty much chose yellow to be our accent color in the whole house, thus tying our whole home together nicely. However, you may instead choose a set palette for your whole house and that will also guarantee a sense of unity in the whole.
The design of your furniture is also something to consider, you will want to stick to one furniture identity. So, if you’re going for rustic, modern, eclectic, or contemporary stick to your commitment.
De-cluttered Living Spaces
A cluttered living space is like mismatched, over-worn, and baggy attire. By opening up your living spaces you are showing yourself and others that you are past putting all of your favorite things on the walls, on your tables, and in your nooks and have matured into a breathable and more conducive living standard.
This means being bold and getting rid of things. It boils down to only sharing what is most important. This, ironically, ends up showing who you are in the way you decorate your home because, in the end, you are revealing only what’s most important to you and committing to those things. For a couple examples, in my case, we have a collection of prints of Josh and me from the past three years as our sole wall decoration in our living room and instead of having a bedroom we chose to commit to sleeping on our hide-a-bed in order to have a living room for fellowship and a studio space for each of us.
It’s funny writing all of these things down since it is always wise not to wrap yourself up in material things. But I find that my most common advice and encouragement to friends is to commit to your passions and do so by giving them the attention they deserve. I so often encourage my friends and family and sometimes even random strangers I end up in conversations with to be bold and start doing what they love rather than simply doing work to get to the weekends. By following that path all of these tips will help you find success in your new career path, whether self-employed or not.