Let’s Start From The Beginning

I’ve been wanting to start this blog for a long time. Not because it is something I felt I should do when creating a business, but for the beauty of another creative outlet. So today marks an exciting day as I sit staring at a blank page with a cup of coffee, listening to the sounds of the washer running, watching a peak of sunshine over the river, on a Tuesday mid morning.

Expressing my thoughts and ideas through writing does not come natural for me, so bare with me as I settle in and find my voice in this new channel. I know I have a lot to figure out but the new adventure excites me. Feedback and encouragement is always welcome :)

First things first, let me introduce myself. I’m guessing most who are reading this are reading because you are a close friend or family member of mine (my biggest thanks to you and all of your support for stopping by!). This is more for those who find this post a year later and like to dig back to the beginning of blogs like I do. I am Allie, the founder, designer, painter, creator of Windswept Design Studio. I have been a creative lover since day one. Drawing has been an activity of choice ever since I can remember. Drawing always stuck with me, but also came scrapbooking, then beading, then knitting and crocheting, then graphic design, then painting, then weaving (oh and cooking!). My mom played a large roll in this creative journey growing up helping to support our craft addictions and fill our home with yarn, beads, paper (sorry Dad). She was, and still is, my number one crafting buddy.

I graduated with a MA in Graphic Design and MS in Marketing from Winona State University in 2014 (go Warriors!). I knew I was on the right career path for myself. I loved the countless hours spent working on art and design projects. Homework was never homework to me (ok … sometimes). I quickly settled into my first job in the real world as a graphic designer at a corporate company in Madison, eager to work up the ranks and with a goal set to one day become a Creative Director (so I thought). With a young and narrow mind, this is what I believed was the career path option for me. I grew up with the most loving family and giving parents who worked hard at their same lifelong careers as a teacher and in a corporate office. Stability was the norm for our family. It was our happy, safety and allowed my brother and I to play at countless sporting events, take many family vacations and gave us a debt free college education. Thankful can’t begin to sum it up. I am truly blessed.

During the first year after school and moving back home with my parents (something I am so thankful for but boy was this an adjustment after college independence!), I was looking to explore a different artistic approach rather than the tight, realistic style I used for my drawing work. I quickly fell in love with the playful and free qualities of watercolor and could see the endless possibilities of color and pattern. Painting with this medium felt organic, natural and unpredictable - which was challenging and exciting. I spent most of my nights after work sitting on the family room floor painting, with no idea or direction on what to paint, besides to just do something that made me happy.

Back to my day job. To keep myself filled and my mind energized throughout my 8-5 work days, I day dreamt in watercolor and what I would paint next. I started an instagram account as a way to share my new explorations with others. Windswept Design Studio wasn’t born yet…. Though was quickly forming in the clouds.

It was soon after my dabbling in watercolors that a good friend asked if I could design her wedding invitations. Yes, without a doubt! A real purpose and end product for my watercolor love. Going through the first experience of working with a client and creating pieces that served as a special memory for newly married couples sparked my vision to start my own business. This gave me excitement and something to work towards while trying to navigate the confusing years right out of school. Why doesn’t college prepare you for those years?! I settled on naming my little studio after my Grandparent’s small town Wisconsin farm, Windswept Design Studio. Quite possibly my favorite place on this earth and a foundation of my upbringing, their farm will always hold a piece of my heart and is the inspiration behind my natural, organic approach to my work. I will share more about this special place and the memories made in a future blog post. I strive for Windswept Design Studio to share the legacy of this beautiful place with my clients through my love for creating.

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I didn’t give up my day job, though my soul believed one day I could. It was a dream I had, an eager goal to some day start my own art business. I began to see that my path for applying up the corporate ladder was not the path I wished to head anymore. I spent the next couple of years brainstorming and building the foundation of what has become my little studio. I would take on free (lance) jobs in my nights and weekends after work to start forming my portfolio. Making money for my art was not important to me at this point of building my business. I had so much to learn, confidence to build, systems to create, and I still needed to find my style …  but this I realize is, and should be, a never ending process. I kept plugging away at my 8-5 job and filled my free time building my dream, whether it would take off or not, because it truly made my heart happy.

Feeling held back by my full time job and craving to push my own career forward, I had many conversations with my mom telling her I wanted to take the leap and do this. You can imagine how that went over! She told me time and time again that there would one day be the right time to start my own business but until then I needed to make a living for myself, hold onto my health insurance and savings account. Remember earlier when I said stability was a staple of my upbringing? Risks were a foreign language for our family. All I knew that inside I was ready to try something different and take a risk. This conversation rollercoastered for a of couple years. Until a few months ago when a new, unpredictable and exciting journey began …