Instagram is an amazing platform, filled with courageous souls, and brave ones. Telling stories that need to be told, and bringing necessary messages to the world. It was on Instagram that I met Drew of The Beauty Project. Discovering we were both lifestyle bloggers in the same town, it only made sense to grab a cup of coffee and meet up. Can I tell you something? This woman is legit and a great friend to have. It was only time you all got to meet this beautiful soul in a new column we’re launching today! From starts in business to favorite resources, this 10 minute read is full of great advice and inspiration.
Grab a cup of coffee and let’s jump in!
How did you get started in business?
I grew up in Arkansas on a farm. My dad had a bean and rice farm down from our house, but we also had a farm on our property. There were chickens, and every animal you could imagine. My grandpa was a farmer but they also ran a gas station, a truck stop with a restaurant. My grandmother was a seamstress, but she oversaw a huge factory where they made all of these dresses. She managed the sewing factory. Working hard was always apart of my day. We always had chores and had to earn our keep. I loved watching my grandparents in the restaurant and even helping them on their farm. We were raised in their restaurant. I never worked in their restaurant or their gas station, but both of my sisters did. I loved watching how they would work with their employees and how they would work with each other. Growing up though, I didn’t believe that I could be a business owner. I had a lot of insecurity, but I knew it was inside of me. I could feel it, but I knew I needed to get over some insecurities.
I love to make decisions. I love to be creative. I’m a dreamer and a visionary. I will dream things up and that is a huge part of my childhood. I had a huge imagination and I would always be “the boss” when I played with friends. Growing up I always loved creativity, but I also loved to bringing structure to creativity. I think that’s how it started.
I went to college. My family encouraged going into the medical field due to finances and job security. I went to college, UCA, for occupational therapy. After two years, I came to a point where I just couldn’t do it. I changed my major five times and I landed on PR because I knew I wanted to work with nonprofits. I knew I wanted to run my own nonprofit one day which is definitely business related. I finished my degree in PR. Our professors would always tell us, “You just need to take a job and get some experience. Watch your career build. Don’t expect to get your dream job for the first seven years.” I got an amazing job. My first job was working with Senator Jason Rapert. He is a senator in Arkansas. I worked his campaign. This job was a divine appointment. I worked for him for a year. It was a very intense job. He is also a business owner, a financial advisor, and runs a nonprofit. (He builds water wells in Africa. He is about missions work as well.) Just being around him awoken this intense desire in me to do more. Yes I could go and just get a job or collect a paycheck. But I really wanted to create things that empower people and that really matter.
From there, I worked for Chick-fil-A as their marketing director. I was able to really connect and focus on community relations. In Conway, Arkansas, we have three colleges. I got to work with the colleges. Throwing events for the community, I got to use a different side of my brain. It was through this job that I actually met my former boss, of Silverlake Design Studio, at an event. She came with her kids and approached me. She asked me simply, “Do you want to work for me?” I started as a project manager for her for 5 hours a week and then my position grew, we grew her freelance work into her business. She started calling it out in me. She would tell me things like, “You are an amazing leader. You have so much natural wisdom with business.” I got to be apart of turning her dream into a reality.
In this process, I had my own dreams. I was in a frustrated position and I very clearly heard, “You need to make someone else’s dream come true before you expect your own dreams to come true.” Because of this, I dove in head first and gave her mission and vision my everything. I would work extra hours I didn’t get paid for. I would work at night because I was so passionate about what we were doing, about her vision, and what we were building. That’s so important when you’re in business. It’s vital to know your why and the core of what you’re building.
WIth Silverlake, it was the dream job where I could marry creativity and structure. It allowed me to do that in a space where I didn’t know that it was possible. I was telling Jessica, the owner, I was so thankful for this. I don’t see myself as a creative. I don’t know how to paint or do graphic design. I love to write, but it’s not my number 1 skill. Because of this, I never felt like I fit into the creative community. It always seemed like this unobtainable bubble that I was never invited into. But having that opportunity to work in a creative business showed me that I am creative in a different way. I’m creative in business.
How did the Beauty Project come about? What are some of your dreams for the blog moving forward?
To be really honest, when God started telling me to quit my job back in September, I was incredibly resistant. With the Beauty Project, I got multiple encouraging words about women, pouring into women, and I was incredibly resistant. In January, I heard starting in May that I would be on a sabbatical. Then in February, I was sitting in class, incredibly distracted. It was around 12:45. My friend leaned over to me at the top of my paper wrote, “You’re a beauty queen.” I had gone through so much inner healing about my identity and being beautiful. As a kid growing up, I never thought I was beautiful. God just restored that this past year. When my friend wrote that, it was like The Beauty Project fell into my lap from that moment. I wrote the mission, vision, and plan down on the paper. The way the website was laid out, I got it all sitting in class that day. From there, I had some dreams and I had the choice to either do another year of school or to do The Beauty Project.
I’ve always wanted to start a blog but have never had the courage to do it. One of the areas I’ve also had a lot of breakthrough in is discovering my voice. I’m pretty loud and opinionated. I had some trauma that happened and it crushed my voice. It was something I regained in my year of school. I regained my voice and discovered that I have something to say. With The Beauty Project, I wanted women to receive the same freedom that I have gotten. It’s easy to say to one another, “No, you’re beautiful. You’re beautiful!”
I really want to empower women to own that. Can you imagine this world, where women take their place? Where they know who they are and they operate out of that place? We would have already had the “me too” movement a long time ago.
What does your day typically look like?
My day to day constantly changes because The Beauty Project is constantly evolving. (As it should as it is not yet a year old.) Right now, my day to day either looks like writing, meeting with women, or reaching out to people. I’m either in an interview or sharing their story. I am a brainstormer and an information collector. I’m a researcher so I’m always looking out for inspiration, a podcast, or any way I can learn. At the same time, I am also trying to rest. I try to include rest in my daily routine, because I know I can be a workaholic. There’s taking care of the animals as well.
What are some of the dreams that you have for The Beauty Project moving forward?
These are all dreams that I hold loosely, but yet they’re big and give me hope moving forward. I would love to produce a magazine. I would love to be invited to speak places about this topic. I would love to start publishing 3-5 articles a week. I would love to really, really be connected, not just in Redding, but also internationally. I see The Beauty Project as being a global movement and connecting women. Women who are in fashion, women who are in graphic design, women who are farmers, or stay at home moms. I want there to be a network of women who have different strengths that come together, and learn from each other. That’s just the beginning. Eventually I’d love to have a podcast too where I could interview all of these amazing women.
Recently you’ve opened up about a diagnosis you’ve received. What is the balance between being authentic and vulnerable on social media? What do you keep for yourself?
For me, because The Beauty Project is all about vulnerability, that is one of our cornerstones. It’s a core message of ours. We give women permission to be empowered and vulnerable at the same time. Life is imperfect, it’s messy. you need to be seen in those moments. Perfectionism isn’t relatable. For me, I actually thought, “Should I share this online or should I not?” I was meeting with a woman a really look up to, Caitlin Zick. She and her husband oversee Moral Revolution. She is also passionate about vulnerability and I asked her, “What’s the balance?” She said, “Drew, I would share it all. What do you have to hide?” The reason I shared my diagnosis, is if I’m empowering women to be vulnerable, seen, authentic, and to create a community based on substance and not this surface level crap, I have a part to play. I have to be willing to do the same. When I posted this on Instagram, I specifically stated, “This isn’t for pity. This diagnosis isn’t my identity.” We all get diagnosed with things throughout our lives. There’s no point in being alone in it. That’s the reason why I did it. I wanted to practice what I preached and to invite other women to be vulnerable as well.
What are some of your favorite business resources and books you’d recommend?
Art and Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland. It’s my favorite book right now and is absolutely changing my life. I’m also reading Multipliers by Liz Wiseman. As far as podcasts go, I absolutely love the Goal Digger Podcast. Love Jenna. Then there’s Business Boutique (a podcast) by Christy Wright. Other resources, honestly? Other women. I’m so relational. My husband Nathan always laughs at me. He’s such a researcher and I learn from other people. I love to learn through interviews and getting coffee with people. I love to learn from local women.
What is one piece of business advice you’d give to someone starting out?
Define what is your “why.” You really need to know this quickly. Be willing to fight for something. Chances are it’s not going to be puppies and rainbows all the time. There’s going to be a fight. By having your “why” honed in and clearly defined, you’ll be able to revisit it. Have your mission statement visible. I revisit mine twice a month to be grounded in what I’m doing. Have really amazing people around you to support you, to pour into you, and that can answer your questions. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and to let people into your process. Don’t wait for things to be perfect and to have all the answers figured out, because you’re never going to have it figured out. Don’t expect yourself to be perfect in the process because you won’t be. You just need to do it. Don’t know where to get started? Read Art & Fear because that will help you to step out and do it.
What are some dreams you have for Redding?
I would love to see the fashion community in Redding rise up! I don’t know what I’m going to do in that regard yet, but I’m so passionate about women and men expressing who they are through fashion. I would love to see it become a bigger deal in our community. I want a creative space, a co-working space in Redding that is beautiful, inspiring, and is collaborative. I want people to walk in, feel inspired, and it to smell of amazing coffee. Those are two big dreams for Redding.