Be a Person, Not a Brand

As a freelance writer, a lot of the advice I’ve come across for building a blog, a client base, and social media following all boils down to one mantra, humming over and over and over:

Build your brand.

It’s the mantra of many a millennial. In the internet age, the dream is that we can all achieve success with our passions. We just have to market ourselves enough, post on social media enough, add a healthy dose of capitalism, and boom. The career of our dreams.

The phrase means that if you want to be an entrepreneur or creative, if you want to have a nontraditional career where you work from home or build a business, you must market yourself, sell yourself like a product. You must create an empire of one: you.

Every time I hear that phrase, build your brand, my soul shrinks back and grits its teeth, as if my entire being has just bitten into a metaphysical lemon. The mantra sounds good, and it’s worked, really well, for a lot of people. And I’m happy for them; I really am. But the idea at the root of branding yourself is one that absolutely terrifies me, because I think the implications of it go farther than we’re willing to consider.

A brand is a created entity. A brand is something a corporation makes to sell another thing. A brand is a surface-level household name constructed to be consumed. Oreos: you eat them. Nikes: you wear them. Sharpies: you bleed them dry. (I think I have a future in slogan writing, by the way.)

The truth is, human beings are so much more valuable than that. Humans are fragile and strong. We are terrifying and beautiful. We fly high and sink low. We are perfect and flawed, and the work we create is the same. There is so much more to us than the selling of a product or service.

Maybe you insist that I’m misunderstanding this phrase. Maybe it doesn’t mean what I’m taking it to mean. But then I have to ask: why are we using words like “brand” to describe people? People, with minds and souls that are somehow, magically, blessedly able to transcend the physical and inject everyday life with resilience and beauty and hope. The term “brand” to describe personhood is not just inappropriate; it’s insulting. Perhaps by using such paltry words to describe something so inherently magnificent, we are unconsciously saying what we tend to believe. Perhaps we are falling into the universal human trap: to take something valuable and trash it.

I’ve tried, as a writer, to build my brand, to treat my craft like a business and my self like a product. I’ve tried to blog in a way that sells, with flashy catchphrases and trendy buzzwords. I’ve tried to use social media to optimize my followers, with perfectly-curated pictures and relatable captions. I’ve tried to make flimsy business connections that are no more than a click on a web platform.

And all due respect to those who’ve achieved great success this way, but it’s not for me. When I write, I want it to be what I was born to say. When I post photos and say things online, I want it to be sharing something beautiful and making someone laugh. When I meet people, I want it to be in person, and I want it to be a real relationship.

The build-your-brand mentality may seem innocuous, but the problem is that this mentality doesn’t stay in the business world; it seeps into our mental states and social lives and personal development. I see a generation just a little younger than me growing up thinking that it’s normal to always be building yourself as a marketable image, never getting the chance to close the blinds, loosen up, have fun, and just be a person. I see us unable to accept each other as complex, three-dimensional people, instead choosing to commodify each other, to buy each other and throw each other away. I see us compromising the purity of our passions, crafts, and trades in the name of what seems like an easy ticket to a career. The internet may allow us to pursue our vocations like never before, but it has the danger of making our vocations the only thing people see in us. And this is a tragic, tragic thing.

So please: don’t be a brand. Be a person. It’s awkward and painful and vulnerable, but it’s also wild and beautiful and unique. You can create and accomplish far more meaningful things, a far more meaningful life, by just being a person. Because you already have, and you already are.

Thoughts for the Creative Juices

“Here, these ought to get your creative juices flowing.” my aunt presented me with a box of vibrant purple glass beads. I was twelve, and in the middle of a jewelry-making phase. Heck yeah it got the creative juices flowing. For the next few years I made necklaces, bracelets, and key chains with those heavy purple glass beads. I paired them with leather cord, silver charms and glass seed beads. It was grand.

The jewelry making craze has passed me by, but the phrase “creative juices” still comes to mind every now and then. Now they pertain more to writing for me. I’ll have bursts of creativity where my cup of juice runneth over and I crank out writing like crazy (today was one of those days). Other times, however, the cup is dry and it’s a struggle just to put a post on this blog.

So, in an attempt to get creative juices flowing, for me and for you, I had some questions and I’d love some feedback. Whether you’re a writer, a painter, a seamstress or any other kind of artist, I hope these thoughts help to spur you on to more creativity and love for what you do! Let me know your thoughts in the comments. We’ll have a bit of a party! :o)

What subject or item do you most love to write about/paint/create?


Is there a particular theme that always pops up in your writing? Does some kind of symbol always show up in your art? Do you really like to sew the same thing over and over? For me as a writer, I love writing about nature, at least in poetry. To me there’s something about every day that’s beautiful. Nature has so many facets, so many hidden pockets just waiting to be discovered. Even the most dreary, soggy days can be so beautiful. I call them “poetic days” because of their potential. :o)

What emotions/situations cause the desire to create?


When you feel lonely, do you head for the knitting needles? Does elation make you want to write until kingdom come? Does anger fuel inspiration at your piano? I can get in these really thoughtful moods where I contemplate and question everything (usually on poetic days). These times are best for burrowing deep into my thoughts, usually with a good cup of coffee or tea, and writing what I find. It’s like mining. Other days, though, I skip around clicking my heels and can’t wipe the silly grin off my face. My writing grows whimsical and sweet. Gosh, I’m a very emotional writer, aren’t I? How very womanly of me.

What do you want to use your art for?


You devote yourself to your art, whatever it is, for hours a day. You gain knowledge and make mistakes. You soar and you plummet. The question is, what do you do it all for?

A lot of people see art in its various forms as a way to express oneself. Some people see this as the only reason for art at all. That reason has never sat well with me. Yes, creative people have to express their inspiration, but just regurgitating your inner creativity for the heck of it doesn’t feel like a good enough reason for me. To me, art is a way to take and interpret the world around us, and to cause others to think about it in a different way. It should build up and encourage the artist and audience, not destruct or discourage. It should bring something new and good to the world. That’s how I want my writing to operate. What do you think? Why do you create what you create?

So, let me know your thoughts! I’d love to get a discussion going on creativity, writing, and art in general. This isn’t usually the kind of post I write, but I don’t hear enough from you folks out there. :) I’m excited to learn more about your art, whatever it may be (and trust me, it can be anything). Hopefully this discussion will inspire you and get your creative juices flowing!


Crafterday: Knitted Headwraps

Happy Saturday folks! I realized just now that my Crafterday posts feature a bunch of knitting, and I know that that might get dull. But never fear; I have some non-knitted crafts in the works! With that being said, today I want to share something knitted :o)


I found this headwrap pattern on Pinterest, and I love how easy it is. If you can do the knit stitch, you can make this headwrap. It’s the perfect project for my busy school days because it’s simple, quick, and lovely; I made two of these this week! They make great gifts and accessories because they are so warm and stylish!



There you have it! I definitely recommend checking out the link above. You just might find this to be your next favorite project!


Belated Crafterday and Weekly Reflection: Sorry guys!

Hey everyone! Sorry for the lateness of this Crafterday post. This week has been a leetle busy!

I wanted to share this super fun and easy craft idea with you. It’s a great way to add some vintage flair to your decor and to get in some recycling in the process! Meet vintage newspaper bottle-caps.



Anyone who knows me knows that I love glass bottles. I can’t even really explain why, but to me there is so much potential in a bottle. There are a million things you can do with one long after what it originally carried is spent. I love to use bottles as vases or containers for change or buttons. The possibilities are endless!

So this project has probably been done before, but I thought I’d share it. It’s super easy and fun!



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Bottle with lid

Lightweight pretty paper

Glue stick


Start with any glass bottle. Take off any paper or plastic wrapping and rinse the bottle out completely, making sure that it is completely dried. Then, take any lightweight paper (I used a vintage newspaper print, but you could use any kind) and with a glue stick glue up a portion of your paper that’s a little bigger than the lid. (make sure to glue on the wrong side so that the pretty part is what you see! :) Put the lid onto the patch of glue, and glue more about an inch in every direction so that the lid is sitting in a big patch of glue :). Cut around the edge of the glue. With the lid firmly stuck to the paper, start to fold the paper around the edge of the lid in nice, neat folds. When you are done, partially screw the lid onto the bottle and set it upside down for a few hours. The weight will make sure that the paper adheres to the entire lid. After the glue dries, trim the edges of the paper so it is nice and neat all around the lid. And you’re done!


Sorry I’ve been a little slack this weekend. I am very tired and not feeling my best. But have a great weekend and I will be sure to post on Tuesday!


Crafterday: Knitted Hedgehog!

Gosh darn it; I’m calling it Crafterday. Life is short. Use bad puns.

This week’s featured craft is the knitted hedgehog I made for my boyfriend. That’s a bit of an odd gift, I’ll give you that, and even I was surprised when he showed interest as I was showing him my Pinterest knitting board. But interested he was, and so I knitted him a hedgehog. It’s the most cuddly thing ever.

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(Again, sorry for the bad pictures. It was late in a dimly-lit coffee shop.)

The pattern I used was from The Purl Bee. (Click the link to see the pattern!) I love how easy it was. If you are a beginning knitter who isn’t opposed to learning a few new tricks, this could be a very fun pattern to get your feet wet! It knitted up quickly (I finished in less than two days), and the end product is sooo cute! ^_^ The pattern called for the same thickness (but different colors) of yarn for both face/tummy and the body, but I used what I had on hand and ended up with a thinner, lighter yarn for the face and a thicker, darker yarn for the “prickles”. I used the same size needle for both (the pattern had you switch sizes), but this made the “prickly” part more dense. I actually liked it better!

So give it a try! And if you do, show me your creations, either in the comments below or by email. I’d love to see your hedgehogs, and maybe even feature them in an upcoming Crafterday post!

Happy Saturday everyone! :o)


Nifty and Crafty: Feather Wall Art

Happy Saturday Folks!

This is the start of a weekly series of craft posts, which I am planning to do every Saturday. I was going to call it something clever like “Crafterday” (get it?), but figured that was a bit corny. If, however, you happen to like that moniker, please let me know! :o)

As you may have guessed, I am currently attending college and right now I am living in the cute little dorm room with my roommate, who also happens to be a dear friend. We’ve done a bit of decorating, but not nearly to the extent of some of our peers. So, in an attempt to pretty-fy my little corner of the world, I put together this wall art project.

(Please excuse the bad picture quality; I am a poor and harried college student.)




This project was so fun and incredibly easy, and also absolutely free! Which is what I like to hear :o)




The steps are simple: I got about twenty paint sample chips from Wal-Mart and cut little feather shapes out of them. I felt a little guilty taking all those samples out of the store, but hey! they’re free.




I got colors that match my belongings, which mean a lot of blue. It’s my favorite color and I seem to get just about everything in it; bedspreads, lamps, storage boxes, books, feathers…





The feather shape is nice and easy to work with because it’s very foolproof. You pretty much fold your paper in half, cut out a leafy/feathery shape, and then make little cuts for the bristles (technically, barbs. But you know what I meant.) Then ruffle up the feather a little and you’re done!




I also cut a few feathers from this delightful old-timey newspaper-like paper that packaged a dress I once bought online. I like how it gives a vintage feel.

After I cut out the feathers, I planned out my arrangement. I decided to do a tonal pattern, from darkest blue to lightest blue, with shades of green in between. I attached the feathers to the wall using sticky-tack because we can’t use tape.




So, if you are wishing for an easy, pretty, and best of all free project, give this one a try! It adds so much to my corner of the room. I absolutely love it, and I get lots of nice comments from my floormates, as well :o)

Happy Saturday folks!