“They say you should start a business that you wish already existed, so we quit our day jobs.” So that’s what I did, I opened a creative studio + social space, My Social Heirloom, last month in Upper Montclair that allows people to self-invest without guilt. The studio is filled with workshops + gatherings on different lifestyle desires from crafting to healthy living to meditation. It’s a space to feed the soul.

That wasn’t always my mantra. In fact, up until the last 2 1/2 years, I lived exactly how I thought I should be living: corporate job, non-stop ladder-climbing and people-pleasing.

I had the “dream job,” creating makeup products for companies like Avon and Sephora as well as celebrities. However, when living in San Francisco by myself, my priorities came sharply into focus when I was dedicating every hour and ounce of energy to my career. I told my mom one day on the phone, “I don’t know what I’m going to do with my life, but working at a desk for the rest of it, is not it.”

With that being said, I left and started over. I’m not going to say it wasn’t easy, I was really scared and had to start from scratch on becoming the person I really wanted to be and start the life I wanted. It took a lot of time and patience but I came out of it happier than I’ve ever been in my life.

During that time, a series of events and people came into my life that enabled me to make My Social Heirloom a reality. The journey also taught me extremely valuable lessons that I would not have be able to open the business without:

1. Don’t “should” on yourself

We are a very comparative society. We are consumed with how much we should make at a certain age, when we should get married, when we should have babies, how big our house should be. Follow and live by your own pure truths. You are doing better than you think.

2. Be in the moment

We move too fast, emails flying back and forth, impossible deadlines. MSH is a place that allows you to put the phone away, slow down and enjoy your time here. We are constantly stressing about the future, but we waste the present moment and a possible great memory.

3. Build small but dream big

I was someone who wanted everything at one time and NOW. It just can’t be done, so now I focus on quality over quantity. I have big dreams, but I’m much less stressed and know that I’m building a better “product” and life piece by piece.

4. Be your own best friend…but have a great support system

Life gives a lot of detours and starting over can be lonely. I learned to be my own best friend. I wanted to be happy with who I was and where I was going everyday. When you decide to go a less “traveled road,” there are doubters, because to be honest, change makes other people uncomfortable. It makes them look at their own life and choices. So keep the bond strong with those in your corner who get you, trust your judgment, love you and want to see you truly happy.

5. Kinder To-Do Lists

I love a good to-do list. I have to-do lists for to-do lists. I used to create long (overachieving) to-do lists every morning. Now I create a “Priority” list of the absolute top things that need to get done that day, the rest will get taken care of tomorrow. I also create a small “Busy” list if I have a bit of spare time to get personal items checked off. I get the hardest/boring things over with first or else I will keep pushing them off. Also, unexpected to-do’s can come up during the day that weren’t on my list, so I always jot them down under “Done” because it’s nice to see what you’ve accomplished!

I hope that my learned lessons spark an idea, a positive thought or even an understanding nod. If you’re reading WiO’s blog, it’s because you’re on the same wavelength and we are all so much better off because of it, so stay true to yourself!

Take a trip to Upper Montclair and visit Ashley in her social space, My Social Heirloom. Check out their calendar of DIY workshops like pumpkin decorating and candle making. You can also plan your next Girls Night Out in her Social Space. Speaking of pumpkins, Ashley is the talented artist behind WiO's striped painted pumpkins in the studio this Halloween!

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