I understand that this quarantine can feel isolating, the news can be terrifying and the outlook right now seems quite dim and bleak. I acknowledge you and respect your feelings, but I want to try to shift your focus...

The first thing we have to do is release ourselves from any pressure. You are not obligated to "make the most" of this quarantine time. The house does not have to be spotless (although it might help to tidy up a little), you do not need to get "shredded" (but please keep your body moving) and your business doesn't need a complete overhaul (although this is a great opportunity to work on your business if you can't work in it). You are obligated, however, to respect yourself and others. Creativity is a beautiful way to do this. It allows you to accomplish something small, explore ideas and soothe your mind all from the comfort of your home.

Jump In
Oftentimes the idea of starting a creative endeavor can be so daunting that you never actually get to make something. One of the best ways to combat this "paralysis" is to just jump in. Grab your camera, (yes, your phone works too!) and take a walk, now is a wonderful time to reconnect with nature! Turn on some music that inspires you or choose a playlist that evokes a mood and see where that takes you. Light a candle and write a poem by the soft light. Put pen to paper and draw a shape over and over again to create a pattern. Splatter different colors of paint across an empty canvas. Take the plunge and let creativity lead you. 

Gathering inspiration often proves just as fulfilling as the actual creation process. I just revamped my Pinterest to cover a wide variety of different creative interests. Check it out and then create your own board with images that inspire you! 

Experimentation can also lead you down a creative path. Just DO IT. Stop researching if this will work if you do this. Instead of asking people what they use, try it out yourself. Learning what works through experimentation can leave you feeling so inspired and has strengthened my art in ways I cannot describe with words.

Admiration and Retrospection
Another way to keep up your creative focus is to admire other creative or makers. When I'm not creating, I'm watching somebody else do it or scrolling through Pinterest and Instagram connecting with the art that really speaks to me. Supporting the makers whose art and creativity guides you is truly fulfilling. And, while we're on the topic, you don't need to box yourself into admiring the creators and makers doing what you want to do. Watch people turn wood on a lathe or cast things out of resin. You can learn a lot from other people's passions, too! 

Lastly, looking back through history to see how processes have evolved or how a traditional craft began and asking yourself how we can expand on that today can really stretch your creative mind in a positive way. A lot of precesses that were originally done out of necessity are now considered crafts, specialty skills or hobbies today. Calligraphy, soap or candle making, book binding, foraging, pot making, etc. all originate from some basic need being fulfilled for a community. Now, we consider it "artisanal" if we buy products being made with these traditional processes. 

And even if you're not feeling creative; often history has a habit of repeating itself, so looking back can prove quite helpful in challenging times like this.

Wishing you creativity, strength and peace. 
My studio walks the fine line between wedding vendor and independent artist. I thank my lucky stars daily that I have steady work that does not rely on an event. But for many in the wedding industry this is not the case. I want to take a moment to acknowledge any couple or small business that has had to postpone plans or has closed their doors. Although my business stands largely unaffected at this moment, I feel a shift coming and wanted to share my thoughts and keep you informed of what I think is to come. 

Photo Courtesy of Corey Lynn Tucker

The Shift
The weddings originally scheduled for the beginning of this wedding season are now being postponed to the end of the season, or next year, which means that anyone who was planning their wedding for those later dates now has a larger pool of couples they're "competing" for dates with and vendors can only stretch themselves so thin. If you were one of those late 2020 or 2021 couples, you might want to consider locking in your vendors sooner than later. Especially if you have specific vendors you're dreaming of working with. 

My heart absolutely aches for you if you've had to change your date. I do not want to minimize the pain or frustration anyone is feeling right now, nor do I want this post to incite panic in your planning process. I do, however, want to keep you informed and armed with knowledge so you can stay in control of your event plans! 

The Vendors
I have been watching from the sidelines as my fellow creatives man their different professional roles and share their game plans and actionable steps for their couples and future couples. Keep in mind that vendors are here to work with you, so the best step you can take if you are overwhelmed or concerned is to reach out and ask questions!

If you're had to postpone your event or are quarantined (who isn't anymore?) and looking for connection, check out the resources below from local vendors who are here to help! I will continue to update this post as I find more services and offerings;

Complimentary "Change The Date" Announcements
Karri Lee Designs family and friends update
Whole Weddings love is worth the wait

Isolation Aids
Apotheca Flowers kindness and connection

Something that is constantly on my mind as a small business owner is my "why" and my "how" aka why am I creating and how am I creating? Answering the why is often harder than the how, but I often find that my reason for creating is either to fuel my creative passions or to serve a greater purpose.

I believe that it is very easy in today's world to lose sight of the "why" and "how" that fuels creation, especially when social media is full of content creators often carelessly sourcing and cranking out the most lavish and jaw-dropping inspiration for you to admire and covet. But often times that content isn't really serving anyone. Particularly in the wedding industry this type of content can make you feel like you missed out if you didn't have this as an element of your wedding day that has already passed. It can make you feel inadequate if you weren't the vendor to come up with that "ingenious idea". And worst of all, this content can make couples believe they need to make expensive plans for their weddings if they want to "stack up" with the others. 

No matter what you feel you need as an individual, as a business owner, or as a couple planning your wedding, I hope that your "why" is being accessed with each purchase and each plan made. Which leads me to my "why" for this jacket I'm writing about today. Corey, my talented photographer friend, had a plan to work with a few eco-passionate vendors (myself included) and offer a prize to anyone who could make a solid effort to pass on plastic for the whole month of July. It was an amazing opportunity for me to create something that could inspire people to give plastic-free living a try. What an impactful reason to create! 

With my "why" crossed off, I needed to get my "how" sorted out. Could I buy a jacket off the shelf of some big-name retailer? Sure! But why would I do that when there are already countless jackets hanging in thrift shops across the country, in great condition too might I add! With my two biggest struggles as a business owner figured out for this project I got to work on this whimsical design with a full heart and a happy mind. Creating for a greater purpose fuels passion and makes you just feel damn good about what you're doing.

All photos in this post courtesy of Corey Lynn Tucker- Elopement Photographer

With my first *official* anniversary of being in business coming up in July, I wanted to share the meaning behind my brand name; Black Tulip. All of June and July of 2018 were spent creating business plans and logo designs around the name "By Hand Calligraphy", which was a pretty solid name, but has absolutely no backstory other than the obvious; my calligraphy was being done by hand.

Photo Courtesy of Corey Lynn Tucker

Before Black Tulip
I developed a color palette of pastel blues, greens and pinks because that's what I saw others were doing. Light and airy photos, bright whites, crips linens and swirly letters to compliment. I've been making art "seriously" for almost 10 years, and never have I ever created anything from the heart that had pastels as the main color palette. But I had also never tried to market my artwork to a niche of clients before and I had no idea what I was doing, so I followed everyone else's lead. 

Just before my official public "launch" in August, I had a complete breakdown. I felt like my personality and creativity were missing from my brand. As an Aquarian, I pride myself on being quirky, weird, and different. My business looked just like all the other, albeit beautiful, but Uber-pastel calligrapher brands. What I was doing was not authentic to who I was/am as an artist. My message and purpose were not apparent and it made me feel like I should just throw in the towel before the adventure even began. 

I needed that authentic, raw, real and imperfect element to my brand to make it feel like my creative home. I needed a welcome space to be who I truly am. So I stopped trying to be what I thought others would want me to be. I swapped my pastels for dark and moody blacks and browns, earthy greens and a bold and powerful red. I thought of my life, my inspirations, my happiness and that is where Black Tulip was waiting for me. 

The Netherlands + The Color Black + The Month of February = Black Tulip
I'm pretty sure this is common knowledge, but tulips are kind of like the "poster child" for the Netherlands, the country where I was born. Holland is where my dad kind of taught me how to drive a stick shift (lol, thank God automatic is the standard in the USA). It's where we celebrated my birthday every year in February. It's where my family lives. That country is home to some of my most cherished memories, so it only felt right to have a tulip as part of my brand. 

The color black has been my comfort through difficult years. It is my safe place, and a major part of who I am and what I create. It is a color that embodies who I was and who I grew up to be. It was only natural that any color palette I create for my business be centered around black.

Black Tulips are actually a very deep shade of purple. Purple not only symbolizes royalty (my name Stephanie means "crowned one") but also the month February by way of the amethyst. Being born in February, I have always surrounded myself with this beautiful stone. 

As you can see, this brand is unapologetically me. It is my past, my present and hopefully also a part of my future. 

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