“When I get married, I’m totally having you do my invites.” – Why I’m Changing the Business Offerings of S2 Stationery & Design + When

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An advertisement I snapped a picture of just before leaving Japan in January, 2013. That was 3.5 years ago and this sign seems more relevant now than it did the day I took the photo.

I’ve been running S2 Stationery & Design for over seven years now.

Yep, you read that correct, SEVEN YEARS!!

And it’s time for a change.

You already know the story, the idea for S2 came to me while traveling around Italy a month after my father’s death in 2009. It was a series of signs that came to me and then a dream that resulted in this dance I’ve been doing since. A dance that has turned into a full-fledged and non-stop Merengue (the kind where you’re left gasping and wondering when the damn song is going to end) in 2012.

There are moments where I honestly believe that I’ve worked my ass off to get to this point. Then, there are moments where I don’t believe I’ve worked my ass off to get this point. Those moments are the most difficult. Those are the days and nights where I struggle to sleep because I don’t have enough money to pay this bill or do that thing with my friends, or to pay back someone I borrowed money from a few weeks prior. It is exhausting and I wonder if I should at that point pack it in and be an adult – find a 9-to-5 job that pays me well enough to stop the stress. Those are the nights that have and continue to leave me feeling stuck.

People like me love to talk about following their passions. As they should. We are following our passions that come across as outrageous and/or out-of-the-box, and that anyone who is looking for stability wouldn’t understand. What I’m doing is not for the faint of heart, but nothing about following your passion is glamorous or inspiring for that matter. That last point often gets glossed over when people choose to deal with the awe of tossing common sense for a passion.

Following my passion, has required me to become comfortable with asking for help (which I rarely did before), saying no (even to people I love the most), feeling lonely (I barely go out any more), gaining weight (stress beats the shit out of your body), and living in a space of doubt, so much doubt, that I’m continuously uncertain of my accomplishments.

Something that people who talk about following their passions never really discuss is the sticky space of what happens when, like me, you don’t have thousands of dollars saved up and have to work a job to help bring in money so that you can survive and afford the basic necessities. There are so many people, gurus of this “follow your passion” movement, who have taken office jobs to save money and then quit. They talk about this as though it’s a temporary solution that is magical. And it may have been for them, but as someone who has sat in this space for a while now, it’s killing me.

I found my current 9-to-6 job at a point where what I was doing was not working. Where I was bouncing from lots of part-time jobs that kept me from focusing on S2 Stationery and had me resent my decision to quit my job. Let me be a bit more clear -I was resenting the loss of the steady income I no longer had, not the job itself. Working for the last company I worked for was not all that pleasant and I know I made the right decision by leaving.

I know this sounds dramatic, but I feel the same way I felt a few years ago when I was working for a big corporation in NYC. While I haven’t reached the point of crying for the 30-minute duration of my commute, the unhappiness has resulted in overeating, not exercising, not wanting to get up in the morning early enough to do work I need to get done for S2, etc. And I’m fed up with it. Honestly, I’ve been daydreaming about quitting and all the ways it can happen.

Now, the part of me that wants to maintain my car and apartment, fight this and that’s why I do eventually get up and get dressed and go to work. And that part reminds me that I need to motivate myself and do the work that I need to do. And this same part reminds me that it’s time to create goal deadlines to get out of this situation.

All of this leads me to changes…and you may be thinking that you’ve gotten to this point and still don’t understand the quoted bit in the post’s title, “When I get married, I’m totally having you do my invites.”  Let me explain…

When I started S2, I was a diehard fan of creating wedding invites. I wanted to spend a ton of my time working with brides and catering to their needs and whims in a design capacity. I have been told so many times, I’ve lost count, the quote above, and finally after seven years, I’ve decided that I don’t want to hear it any more. Primarily because it’s not true. Every single person who has made that statement has in fact, not used my design for their wedding, nor have they even reached out.

Now, before you accuse me of sounding bitter, note that I’m not. I’m actually quite gleeful that I’m shutting down the wedding invitation design side of S2 Stationery & Design. In fact, I’m shutting down a lot of the custom design business. And I’m quite glad.

It’s been seven years since I started this journey and while I’ve enjoyed every single customer I’ve worked for and every single project I’ve commissioned, as I take stock of both myself personally and my business professionally, I’m letting go of the things that are not worth my time. I’m saying, “NO!” to the stuff that isn’t fulfilling me anymore. I’m saying no to even the thought of a promise that isn’t there.

The next stage of S2 is taking shape and has been vaguely discussed in other posts that I haven’t followed up on, and is being ironed out now, but there is still a ways to go. I’m sure I’ll do some commissioned work and maybe even the occasional wedding invite during this time (I’ve had a few people say, “crap, but I really did plan on using you when the day came!), especially if it is aligned with the work I’m transitioning to, but I’m no longer holding out on promises and work that does not nourish me or my creative pursuits.  This isn’t about the money, or lack there of, either. No, this is about the nourishment. Finally! Right now, the nourishment is found elsewhere and I’m excited for this change.

I’m finalizing some creative projects now, but in Quarter 4, starting October 1st, S2 is moving away from the custom work you’ve known. I’ll still be making stationery sets and individual greeting cards. I’ll still have these wares at markets, but the real work – the work my soul has been longing for the past two years begins. I’ll do my best to keep you up-to-date in a more consistent fashion as things change over.

More soon!

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S2 Eats + Awareness Project: Entering New Waters

In the next coming months, I’m going to launch a HUGE project. And I mean HUGE. And it involves food. If you know me, or have gotten to know me, then you shouldn’t be surprised by this at all.

This past Saturday, I found myself in a magical place. It felt like a home actually. It is a shop in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, named Archestratus, that is part cookbook and cooking related books book shop and also a cafe/restaurant. They host Blue Plate Dinners every Thursday night and a monthly Cookbook of the Month Club. The owner, Paige, is incredible and so nice. We got to meet her yesterday and talk to her and well, can we say “friends?!” all together?

I told her quickly about this project I’ve been working on and said to her pretty confidently as we continued talking, “when my project is ready, I’m calling you.” She was completely for it. And I now know where most, if not every event I host in NYC for “CIC” will be located.

I should also mention that I was with a friend of mine and a teammate for a project I’ve been working on as part of a program called Do Tank in NYC. Sana is her name and she is a fellow food lover. We talked and walked around the books and carried a ton to a table and shared food while talking to Paige. Sana is going to end up being a much larger part of this project than even I am aware of right now. I’m pretty sure she doesn’t even know yet what her role will be, but she will have a role. It may even be in the form of representing Pakistan.

Anyhow, this idea that I’m vaguely sharing with you now has a ton of moving pieces and a few people, all whom I trust with my life involved. I have a cousin helping with logo and branding design, my brother and his best friend involved in videography, another friend and past roommate willing to help with web design, my mentor as a board and planning member, and my Mom, too – she’s cooking. I’m sure I will bring on many, many more people, both trusted and untrusted. That is how you bring about change, after all.

This project has been in the works since the summer of 2014. That is the summer that Israel and Palestine were at war and the summer of the massive influx of migrants traveling from Central America to the US to get away from heavy gang violence and crime. Those migrants were children, many of them traveling alone, whose parents probably took loans out that they still cannot afford to get their child(ren) across the border to saftey. With both of these instances, for the first time in a long time I looked at the world and thought, “what the fuck is going on?” It may also have been the first time that I truly felt as though I needed to get involved. That my voice needed to be heard in a constructive manner. It was also a point when I realized that no matter what I do in life, my life has to be used to help stop the injustice of others.

Now, I’m not promising to change the world completely. No, that requires collective force. I am, however, proposing to use my stationery company, design skills, and extensive communication background to help shift and shape appreciation, acceptance, and change. This is daunting. It cannot be neatly designed. I am bound to offend many. I hope to impact many more.

To get this started, I’m sharing a collection of photos of foods that I’ve recently created over the past few weeks and months of putting “CIC” together. I have a long road to go, but food is the of the main focal points of this project. From this post onward, one a week will be dedicated to a recipe – some food(s) I’m devouring religiously, experimenting with as I develop and perfect, and/or am inspired by – I cannot promise that these recipes will coincide with exactly what I’m working on, but they will help build connection for when it is ready to be released into the world.  (SOON!)

Saturday night, as I walked around Archestratus, I thought about my life and the wild ride it’s been thus far. I thought about how food has always been a focal point in my life. I carry a lot of weight because of my relationship to food, both good and bad, but this project isn’t about that. No this project is about the nourishment food brings us all, across cultures and countries and religions. My unofficial slogan for this project is: “Even the most immigrant hating Texan eats tacos.” This project is about that element that brings us together even in our fear, differences and hate.

Walking around Archestratus allowed me to remember my abuela Herminia, who was a strong and rebellious female who created change in her own way. I thought about being a three and four year old helping make Honduran tamales with her and my mom. By helping, I really ate most of the ingredients and would annoy her, but my abuelo always had extra as backup. I still help my Mom make tamales every Christmas and the legacy continues. If I ever have children, they will learn and my soon-to-be three year old niece, will learn soon.

This is what life is all about. It is about the changes we make individually as well as collectively. It is about passing down our histories, cultures and family stories. It is about connecting over the pieces that make us all human. I hope you’ll join me for this journey. I hope you’ll help me share these stories and cultures and histories. I hope you’ll help shift your conscious as well as the greater conscious. Most importantly, I hope you’ll enjoy this.

To learn more and stay up to date, you are invited to sign up for our the newsletter on the Awareness page of the S2 Stationery website. (Scroll to the bottom!) You’ll get the good, juicy bits when you do…think of it as the fond at the bottom of a pan of caramelizing onions, or from a roasted chicken. Yum!

Until next week, keep your stomachs a bit empty, your hearts full, and your mind open to expansion and food. And don’t forget to sign up for the newsletter!!