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how she did it

Case Studies // Travel, art & creating a ...

Travel, art & creating a life and business she loves

This story is about…

Name: Valerie Parisius

Location: Netherlands

Company: Valerie Parisius

Industry: Design


What motivated you to start your business?

My dream was always to have my own business, but I was too scared to take that step and I didn’t exactly know what to do.  I felt like I was swimming against the current in Holland as I was creatively blocked and it was hard to find my dream job. So in 2011, after a long recovery from an operation, I set out to travel for 2 months – to reflect on my life and to find out what direction to take it.  I have been on the road ever since…as it turned out, I had to go out there and create it myself.

Tell us about your business…

During my trip, I kept a travel diary where I draw my feelings and the people I meet along the way. My illustrations are a meditative practice, where I work through my emotions healing myself with colors and repetitive lines. Supported by the positive feedback I got from fellow travelers I started to make postcards of my illustrations, holding exhibitions wherever I go. This developed into printing my illustrations on iPhone covers, pillows, making murals, book covers, designing logos and having my own jewelry line that I sell online. All of which I design first in my travel diary.

What were the first few steps you took to get your business up and running?

The first steps I took was to make postcards. As an artist I was also struggling with the negative beliefs that you are going to struggle and that your work is not valuable. The postcards made little shifts in my head – that people were willing to pay money for my work and appreciated it. The next steps were approaching shops and also unconventional places such as yoga studios and cafes to hold my exhibitions to sell my work and postcards. By being seen, different opportunities came to me such as designing book covers, logo’s, murals…all different things which I haven’t done before but I don’t limit myself and I’m willing to learn and see it all as one creative adventure where I can try out everything.

What has been the most effective way of raising awareness of your business and getting new customers?

As I started with no money to do any advertising, I’ve been raising awareness of my brand mainly by word of mouth and also by Facebook, as now I have the chance to reach out to people who I would’ve normally never met in real life. I also find that sharing my story passionately with people I meet has opened a lot of doors as people recognize the love for my work and my willingness to work hard and make it happen.

What have been your biggest challenges so far with running your business?

I guess that would be self-doubt and fear. The fear of going to a new place and not having any security – the fear that most starting entrepreneurs have…only I feel like I’m starting from scratch every time I head to a new place. Also doubt if a new project, product or idea will be any good and if there is any point in pursuing it.  And fear of failure – which can be very paralyzing.

How did you overcome these challenges?

I just do it anyway and try to always keep in motion.  I’m trying out so many different things right now with minimal financial risk but where lots of work and creativity is involved.  I shoot ten times and I score a couple of times.

I have gratitude for everything I have experienced so far.  Knowing that if this magical journey comes to an end, I know I’ve lived my dream and have been so fortunate to experience all of this.  So far this state of mind has brought me lots of good and I believe has enabled me to do this for almost 2 years.

What do you love about running your own business?

I love the freedom that I have to go to new places – stimulating my senses and meeting wonderful new people. I love spotting something on the market, having an idea and trying it out with the local people immediately, while still feeling that excitement and that creative spark. I love the freedom that I am the boss of my own time and that I can steer my business in a new direction if I feel it needs some adjustment. I love the fact that I cannot complain about not liking my job as I know that I am solely responsible for how I am filling my day.

What advice would you give to other business owners?

To always stay true to yourself and your passion and dare to take risks.

How do you keep motivated through difficult times?

I always go back to drawing in my diary which is my meditative practice. I also work a lot with visualization. Wherever I go I always put pictures on the wall with the most important moments in my life, my first postcard stand, places I’ve been, my friends and places I want to visit. It keeps me on track and helps me not lose sight of who I am and where I want to be. I also think of new ideas or try to reach out to others so I won’t only focus and worry about myself. I go out, dance and have fun and I always keep in mind that this too shall pass.

What’s your favourite quote?

“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”

{Paulo Coelho}

Who inspires you?

Wayne Dyer, Louise Hay

Do you have a business philosophy?

Do everything with passion or don’t.

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