The shift into a Passion Project: {pas·sion  proj·ect}   - /ˈpaSHən, ˈpräˌjekt/ 

Once upon a time, this was a business. It was a full-blown, large scale business where I ordered boxes in the thousands, had commercial account contracts, and even office space outside my home. 

It was a big operation and it may not have seemed like it because I still physically made every piece myself even though I was running a 6 figure earning business. I'm not trying to brag. I'm trying to illustrate that I, Jessica decided that I can no longer run Mint & Birch like a business any longer. But that doesn't mean Mint & Birch is going away. It's just making a metamorphosis into something more meaningful. I am now working on my own, this space is just mine now.

I spent years trying to fill the demand- creating waitlists, opening/closing the site, staggering orders. But I couldn't handle it any longer. I cracked under the pressure of running a business. I gave too much to the business and I was unable to take care of myself, my children and my family in the way I needed to. It broke me so much that it eventually, the stress was bigger than the joy that my work gave me.

Recently, I quite literally broke in half. I'm currently in the trenches of a major depressive episode. I stopped learning to validate myself. I was afraid of what people think of me. I stopped taking myself seriously. And I hurt right now. For those who may be struggling right now - you are not alone. The feelings of self-doubt, low self-worth. It feels like trying to start a car only to realize there isn't gas in it. There is so much shame with depression. But I am fighting. I'm fighting to dream. I'm fighting to live and every moment that we are here, we are winning.

Most of all, the nuances of running a popular business that is popular on "Instagram," with over 100k followers is not a dream. Yes, I have worked hard for it. Yes, it has opened up amazing opportunities and created life-long friendships. Yes, the income has carried my family out of debt and provided food, shelter and opportunities for my family. However, being a brand on instagram comes with subtleties, particularities and undercurrents that ebb and flow intensely from pure jubilation to sheer trepidation. 

I love social media and Instagram. It helps me keep in touch with my friends and converse with strangers who feel like best friends. (Or even become best friends!)  I loved being vulnerable and sharing. Every time we share something or say it out loud, it's like throwing a penny into a wishing well and seeing what connection and joy the universe gives back. However, the popularity that Mint & Birch gained on social media, ultimately found me. I accepted it with open arms until the ebb and flows became too strong for me to handle. Being neurodiverse, a POC and a person healing from trauma, and also carrying so much pressure of it all.

Unfollow accounts that don't give you joy. Unfollow accounts that influence you to spend money on things that make you feel "on trend." Unfollow accounts that make you feel like comparing yourself. Unfollow anything that doesn't make you feel true to you. Unfollow anything that makes you feel FOMO.  Unfollow accounts that make you afraid or insecure.

Instead, follow accounts that inspire you to find joy in what you already have. Follow accounts that make you feel like you're capable of chasing dreams instead of things. Follow things that make you feel seen, or challenge you.Follow accounts you'd want to hang out with in person. Follow poetry, art, nature, activists, education. 

Or, just unfollow everything and come back at a later date. Create a safe space for yourself on social media - because social media can be a joy and vehicle for connection.

In the past I had joked that the "Fraser Valley Cool Mom Package" consisted of pampas grass, a boho hat, self-tanner and a bar necklace (not specifically from me, of course), and the "babe" filter on Instagram.

Oh, and perhaps a $650 rattan shelf.

I purchased a $10 rattan shelf back in 2007 that was deemed "uncool" and now people compliment on how nice that shelf is and that I must have paid a lot for it. The point is, social media, popularity can make things seem like it is not. Popularity, which is sometimes imbalanced, has far too much sway in what becomes trendy or not trendy, which leads to comparison, feeling "not with it," or less-than. IF YOU KNOW YOU KNOW, right? 

But I now realize that this is not a joke. There should not be such a thing as a "Cool" package because we are all cool in our own way. We are all popular. We don't know each other's stories or what others are going through.

What is my dream? I am an artist. I paint, draw, visualize and create. You are artists who choose to collaborate with me when you ask me to make a piece for you. Together, as artists, we create something to celebrate and honour your story.

I no longer want to contribute to popularity. I no longer want to be popular. Bar necklaces are popular - yes. But what I want is the celebrating of stories to be popular. Not the pieces themselves, but the act of celebrating one's story with art. 

As such, I'm shifting my space with Mint & Birch, and as a result, how I use social media at Mint & Birch. My social media feeds on Mint & Birch will be about your art, our art, and my art. I'm not going to worry about people-pleasing, engagements or number of likes or the algorithm. I'm not going to worry about "who contacted me first" for a bar necklace in the name of worrying if someone is going to get upset at me. I'm just going to go with my gut because I can only take on so much and I'm just going to trust that all will be okay as long as I am true to myself and who I am striving to be. And I've got some dreams of my own to fulfill that I'll be keeping to myself for now. 😉 

Custom orders will be taken on a commission basis, through a form. Yes, that income does feed my family. But this is not a business. It is a passion project. You will be seen as beloved clients and friends - not "customers." Together, we celebrate our stories.

Passion Project  (noun)
pas·sion  proj·ect   - /ˈpaSHən, ˈpräˌjekt/ 

An endeavour or activity carried out simply to find joy, create flow, ignite creativity, or simply for one's own sense of happiness. It can be a means of escape from stress, a contribution, a hobby, or for no particular reason at all. A passion project is something that is inherently ours to define, hold, shape and enjoy.