Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Cool Creative Chicks - Heather/Shop Embo

Welcome to the third interview in my new monthly series (to be featured on the last Wed of the month) – Cool Creative Chicks. I am fortunate to know so many CCCs & wanted to share these gems with you & foster community. That’s why we’re all online right? So hopefully, you will connect with one another & make new friends or even just take away something from each interview

Today’s guest is Heather George, the owner of the fabulous eco-friendly store EmBo. Heather & I became close friends our senior year of high school & unfortunately lost touch over the years as happens sometimes. We just recently connected on Facebook & I can’t say enough how grateful I am to have her back in my life. She is amazingly talented, supportive, smart & not to mention gorgeous (all the boys were in love with her in high school).
East coast transplant loving the Midwest. Undecided between country girl and city girl. Likes to be herself and follow her passion. Doting mom of 2 pups. On a search to fulfill her soul. Oh yeah, and small business owner since 2011. :)

You can find Heather: WebFacebookTwitter, Instagram: shopembo

Those cute pups
You chose to leave your successful job in the finance industry in order to chase your dream of opening a brick & mortar boutique. This must have been somewhat terrifying, though exciting of course. Can you describe why you made this decision & the steps you took in becoming an entrepreneur?
It was terrifying, and some days it still is. For as long as I was old enough to think about it, I have always known that I would work for myself “some day”. And everyone around me knew it too. It is just part of who I am. I can analyze a million different things to identify why that is, but my assessment leads me to believe that it basically comes down to a few characteristics: 

Confidence: the unwavering belief in yourself that you are smart enough to learn anything and that you truly can do anything if you want it badly enough. Part of this is innate (thank you Mom & Dad!) and part of this gets reinforced through life experiences.

Over-the-top Work Ethic: I don’t have any idea where this comes from. I suspect it’s part of my family’s ancestral genealogy. I guess that’s a fancy way of saying that perhaps it is genetic. It seems that everyone in my family has some of this. It comes from both my Mom’s and my Dad’s families. It’s a natural drive to do what it takes to not only get the job done, but to do it to the best of your ability. I say that very seriously. It has to be your best. You have to want that. And the reality is that it often means that other areas of your life can get neglected, but I just know that I don’t know any other way to be.

Open-mindedness: What I mean here is that you have to be able to put your ego in check. You have to be able to downright push it aside. You need a natural willingness to learn from others and believe that you can and should grow as a person. This means that you readily ask for help and feedback when you need it. It means that you really listen to other’s opinions and ideas and you actually ponder them and take them into consideration. Believing in yourself doesn’t mean that you believe that your natural inclinations are the only ones or are always the best ones.

Owning a store devoted to eco-friendly fashion requires major creativity. Can you share your process of how you designed your store concept/decor/layout & how & why you choose the pieces of clothing, jewelry, handbags, shoes, etc..that you feature.
What I do know is that there is no magic formula. What I aim to do is to create a space that I feel is beautiful and magical and offer things that people can love and feel good about. I once described it as a place where I want people to feel at home and feel like they can be themselves. Where they feel like they can be open and true to their choices and desires. If everyone that leaves my shop could have the same joy that you get from petting an adorable puppy, then I will be happy! I work towards that every day. How people feel in my shop is very important to me. That said, there is a ton of work that goes into it.
Designing EmBo.’s retail space - this was tricky. I only used vintage, antique, repurposed and pre-loved furnishings and fixtures as much as possible. This takes time. Time to search for things. Time to create things. Time to flush out the design process. But what I did all along is trust my gut and use things that I think are special and beautiful. Eventually it comes together.

Regarding merchandising the store - this is even trickier. Search and network is the only way to do that. I hand select every item I sell. It has to be environmentally friendly and from a company that I believe in. I have to understand their mission and trust in their ethics and social responsibility. The hardest part is finding items and designers that are a good fit for EmBo. I can’t carry an item just because it’s cute and I think people will buy it. I have to ask myself: Is this item produced in an eco

You described a portion of your creative process above. Now, we’d like to know how you combat creative ruts/blocks.
When I am in a rut, I feel like I have a few choices. First I can get quiet with my thoughts and let ideas flow. This is also a reason that I always carry a small notebook (yes, pen and paper!). I jot down anything that comes to me for the business whenever it comes. And you never know when that will be. Second, I look to others for inspiration. The web is a wonderful tool for this. People share their work, their vision, their creative efforts online. Blogs, articles, websites… all of this inspires me. Generally, however, I try not to create a pressured environment. If I don’t feel inspired today, it’s okay. It will come to me tomorrow. :)

How do you keep organized & find balance between work & your personal life? How do you carve out time to create?  Also do you have any words of wisdom for inspiring entrepreneurs?
I wish I were a more positive role model in this department. Remember the work ethic I described above? What I do make time for is enjoying time with others. Enjoy the company of strangers and new acquaintances, of friends and loved ones. Talk to them. Spending time with them. It is good for the soul and good for the creative piggy bank. Share your ideas with others. Ask for suggestions and opinions. You never know what you’ll walk away with if your heart and mind are open. Let others help and inspire you!
What/who inspires you?
So many people everyday inspire me. I don’t have a single role model or hero. I am inspired when I share experiences and ideas with others. I am inspired to grow as an individual, friend, family member and partner.

What are some of your future goals? Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I will always be on the path and the journey to be happy. To experience happiness now and follow my heart and soul to happiness in the future. I am open to the universe to evolve. In 5 years hopefully I am still following my heart wherever it may lead me!

For fun (you know how had this is for a girl that doesn’t like to declare favorites :) ):
Favorite beverage: My ole faithful is Diet Mountain Dew, but we are trying to break up right now.
Fav dessert/snack/food: Cheez-Its (salty) and Double Chocolate Klondike Bars (sweet).
Fav music band at the moment (I know its hard to pick just one): While I always enjoy discovering new artists, my favorites will always be classic. I am a die-hard Bruce Springsteen fan.
Fav book: Oh my… my reading interests are so diverse. I always have a dozen “in progress” at any given time. But I have loved anything by Kahlil Gribran since I was 14.
Fav movie: Baraka (an earth peace film from the 90s)
Fav boy celebrity crush: Jude Law
Fav celebrity girl crush: Charlize Theron

Hope you enjoyed this interview & thanks so much Heather - you are the quintessential cool creative chick. XO my friend! . 
*All pics used are property of Heather/Embo.


Linda said...

Love these posts. Looking forward to the other ones. I find them inspiring. Also loved that she called used furniture as "pre-loved."

Danielle said...

@Linda - Thank you for commenting. It means the world to me & I'm sure to Heather as well.

Heather G. said...

Yes, Thank you to Linda & Danielle both!

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