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Coming Home to Art

In the summer of 2021 I paused for an indefinite amount of time, not only for my health, but my safety. While I fell into a deep depression, a racially motivated act of violence towards my family drove me further into depression, and forced me to walk away from Mint & Birch for safety purposes. 

For those who may be struggling right now - you are not alone. The feelings of self-doubt, low self-worth. It feels like trying to start a car only to realize there isn't gas in it. There is so much shame with depression. But I am fighting. I fought, and I won. I am here. I am safe. I am -dare I say it- happy. I have found power in my story, my voice, and my dialogue.

A bit of history and the shift: Mint & Birch began in 2012 and I grew it into a full-blown, large scale business where I ordered boxes in the thousands, had commercial account contracts, and even office space outside my home. I did this all while creating every piece on my own while trying to fill the demand, often bulldozing over my own boundaries. Or, pushing boundaries when my boundaries were pushed. I am still working on that, and recognizing that no is a complete sentence. But I couldn't handle it any longer. I cracked under the pressure trying to please everyone. 

Most of all, the nuances of running a popular business that is popular on "Instagram," with over 100k followers was not my dream. Yes, I have worked hard for it. Yes, it has opened up amazing opportunities and fostered life-long friendships. However, being a brand on instagram comes with subtleties, particularities and undercurrents that ebb and flow intensely from pure jubilation to sheer trepidation. 

I love social media and Instagram. It helps me keep in touch with my friends and converse with strangers who feel like best friends. (Or even become best friends!)  I loved being vulnerable and sharing. Every time we share something or say it out loud, it's like throwing a penny into a wishing well and seeing what connection and joy the universe gives back. However, there is an element of toxicity that comes from a certain type of culture within social media: picturesque snap shot moments, influenc-y talk, unattainable standards, "cool" must-purchase trendy items and so much more.

Unfollow accounts that don't give you joy. Unfollow accounts that influence you to spend money on things that make you feel "on trend." Unfollow accounts that make you feel like comparing yourself. Unfollow anything that doesn't make you feel true to you. Unfollow anything that makes you feel FOMO.  Unfollow accounts that make you afraid or insecure. Unfollow anything that is annoying.

Instead, follow accounts that inspire you to find joy in what you already have. Follow accounts that make you feel like you're capable of chasing dreams instead of things. Follow things that make you feel seen, or challenge you. Follow people you'd want to hang out with in person. Follow poetry, art, nature, activists, education. Follow your heart.

In the past I had joked that the "Fraser Valley Cool Mom Package" consisted of pampas grass, a boho hat, self-tanner, a shacket and a trendy necklace, and the "babe" filter on Instagram.

           Oh, and perhaps a $650 rattan shelf.

I purchased a $10 rattan shelf back in 2007 that was deemed "uncool" and now people compliment on how nice that shelf is and that I must have paid a lot for it. The point is, social media, popularity can make things seem like it is not. Popularity, which is sometimes imbalanced, has far too much sway in what becomes trendy or not trendy, which leads to comparison, feeling "not with it," or less-than. IF YOU KNOW YOU KNOW, right? 

But I now realize that this is not a joke. There should not be such a thing as a "Cool" package because we are all cool in our own way. We are all popular. We don't know each other's stories or what others are going through.

What is my dream? I am an artist. I paint, draw, visualize and create. You are artists who choose to collaborate with me when you ask me to make a piece for you. Together, as artists, we create something to celebrate and honour your story.

I no longer want to contribute to popularity. I no longer want to be popular. Bar necklaces are popular - yes. But what I want is the celebrating of stories to be popular. Not the pieces themselves, but the act of celebrating one's story with art

As such, I'm shifting my space with Mint & Birch, and as a result, how I use social media at Mint & Birch. My social media feeds on Mint & Birch will be about your art, our art, and my art. I'm not going to worry about people-pleasing, engagements or number of likes or the algorithm. I'm not going to worry about "who contacted me first" for a bar necklace in the name of worrying if someone is going to get upset at me. I'm just going to go with my gut because I can only take on so much and I'm just going to trust that all will be okay as long as I am true to myself and who I am striving to be. And I've got some dreams of my own to fulfill that I'll be keeping to myself for now. 😉 

Custom orders that involve signatures or drawings will be taken on a commission basis, through a form. Yes, that income does feed my family. But it is it is a passion project - a space for art. You will be seen as beloved clients and friends,  not "customers." Together, we celebrate our stories. 

Welcome to Mint & Birch 2.0. I’ve taken some time to pull back and assess on what this brand means to me and offers to you and what I want her to be. 

As always, I’m keeping my heart and my art at the centre of everything I do. In order to do that and serve you as best I can, I’m introducing some changes to the way Mint & Birch functions.

I will now be running part of this as a passion project, much as an artist, (like a tattoo artist) doing designs that light me up and are even more meaningful to you. There will be a form on the website where you can submit your ideas, and I look forward to creating and drawing designs that I didn’t have the capacity to do before.

What will it look like logistically? Though I think I did well in keeping Mint & Birch small, wearing both the Artist and Business hat became too much of a challenge. This space will continue to support, feed my family and pay bills. But I am artist before I am a businesswoman. There will still be business-like aspects to it, but I am an artist first. To clarify, it is not a waitlist. All responses will be kept safe and nothing deleted. I am an artist before a businesswoman. My canvas is Mint & Birch. I will go with my gut and with what inspires me. I will go with what I feel drawn to in that moment. There will be days where I feel drawn to simple things. Or, on another day, I might be inspired by something detailed or emotional. I will sift through all requests to see what I feel called to that day. Yes, I realize it sounds like I am just going to “do what I want.” But this is exactly what an artist needs in order to produce meaningful work. An artist needs to go with their heart, and that’s what I’m going to do. I need to rotate to keep my artists' eyes fresh! 

Being neurodiverse, I understand forms can sometimes be overwhelming, so there will be a selection of a couple of items that can be requested directly from the site that will rotate on a regular basis. I’ve done my best to make the form as simple and fun as possible so we can get straight to art. Another thing that will be different is that custom commissions will be done even more personally, and I’ll set up appointment times where we can chat over the phone.

I’m way going back to my grassroots. I am choosing specifically to keep this small because I want each piece to be a work of art. This is my love letter to the world and I’m making art for you. I ready to return home to art after what was a hard year for many of us. I am coming home to art. I’d like to invite you to my space if you would like. Let’s make art together.

LOGISTICALLY, this is how it will work. There will be TWO categories.

1. OfferingsThese necklaces can be ordered from the site at at your leisure. They are mostly the name/word necklaces that do not require as much custom work. I will try to rotate these pieces. You can order and pay for your necklace right on the site, and I will work on it right away and get it to you within my promised turnaround time, which has remained the same for a few years. 

2. Commissions: Specifically, this is anything that is not in the offerings page. They include loved one's writing/signature, footprints, portraits, custom drawings, etc. These require more detailed one-on-one work, depending on the complexity of the request. Requests will be taken through a form. Once a form is filled out, it is not official until I contact you to discuss design and send you a custom link to order and submit payment. Once payment is submitted via the private link, I will begin your order right away and it will be shipped out to you within the promised turnaround time to applies to all paid orders. .Around 10 business days, but I may need up to 20 or 25. Please see the FAQ page for TAT.

The thing about commissions is that it is not necessarily a waitlist. I've tried that before and it completely squashed my creativity. Some days, I may take on custom portraits, other days I may take on signatures from loved ones, and on another day, I may take on footprints or fingerprint engravings. Yes, I realize it sounds like I am just going to “do what I want.” In order for me to produce meaningful and inspired work, and to balance my new additional role as a student. This does mean that the timeframe may be undefined, depending on what my current plate looks like. I still have to parent, run a household, do my schoolwork, homeschool my kids, take care of myself as well as continue to support my family via the Offerings collection on my site. 

If you are uncomfortable with an undefined timeframe, you are not bound to your request nor are you expected to order, no hard feelings, I promise! Of course, at any time you may contact me to inquire to check on your request. Sometimes this helps as I may need more information to be able to properly design. However, I may most likely re-phrase what has been said here as this is a boundary I have set between my work and myself. 


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