TCE 003: My Story, The Conscious Entreprenuer

CE_web_blog

chels_webConscious:  “Aware of and responding to one’s surroundings; awake.”

Wikepedia defines Conscious businesses as “those seeking awareness of the effects of their actions and implementing practices that benefit both human beings and the environment.”

Conscious Capitalism states “Conscious businesses will help evolve our world so that billions of people can flourish, leading lives infused with passion, purpose, love and creativity; a world of freedom, harmony, prosperity and compassion.”

My definition is simple : Good-for-the world. If what you are creating in the world is good for the environment and its people on all levels- you are a conscious entrepreneur.

Why is this my focus?
Since college, it has been my goal to use graphic design as a tool to make the world a better place. My father, husband, aunts and uncles, friends and every client i have ever had is a Conscious Entrepreneur (CE). To every CE, I am their mirror, their peer, audience, designer, consultant, experience and passions. I have seen every type of business, what works, what does not, where to connect and grow, and how each one of them is fulfilled by what they do. I believe anyone can use what they are good at for good, no matter what your focus is. Because I have been designing and consulting for Conscious Entrepreneurs for close to 15 years, I have much to offer in the future success of my clients now through coaching and consulting. I am conscious entrepreneur. It is who I am, how I make decisions, how I live my everyday.

So i thought i should tell you a little bit about my story- why i do what i do and how i got here…

I was a very artistic kid, always creating and playing in the woods, beaches and rivers so unique to my northern michigan home. In my teens, I spent a few months every summer up in Canada at a outdoors camp, and I paddled with a small group of girls hundreds of miles across the canadian wilderness with everything we needed to survive in our backpacks and canoes. Being in such untouched wilderness I really saw the impact  we made on the land- and it made on us. I do believe this is where i fell in love with the environment, and had a strong conviction to protect it.

As an art student living in cooperative housing at the University of Michigan, that environmentalism really grew, and I was learning so much about social causes like fair trade and human rights.  At one point I realized that I could combine my passion for environmental and social justice with my creativity and love for art and design by being a graphic designer for good. I believe strongly that design had big role in making change in the world through raising awareness, building bridges, and educating the public through visual communication. I could make the companies that were doing good, look good and compete against the very large and well designed starbucks of the world.

I was focused. So what does a conscious kid do after college? Move to San Francisco of course! With one suitcase, a portfolio and a dream to be a green graphic designer, I found a hostel to crash at until i figured out what i was doing.  I found a local green magazine above the golden gate bridge, took the three hours and 5 buses to get there, marched in and told them why their work inspired me and what my mission was and why they needed me- and i was hired!

Within a  year, I realized I had bigger dreams of working with many companies and organizations making a difference in the world. So I put together a website, used green america’s green pages to email anyone doing anything remotely close to what I wanted to do. I got a lot of responses, but ended up partnering with Jerry Stifelman in 2005 from North Carolina who had an amazing talent for writing, creative direction, and passion for good and I had design, photography, illustration and shared that passion to do good through design.

We called ourselves The Change, working virtually with companies all over the world from fair trade, organic, addiction treatment, clean energy, campaigns against slavery… you name it. Many of our clients were fair trade, and I wanted to experience it firsthand and share the stories and photos with the rest of the world.  So my first fair trade delegation was to East Timor in 2006. This was a country who had just gained their freedom in 99 after so many decades of occupation, and was still figuring out what their culture was, how to farm their own trees- Yet they were still so filled with joy and purpose and love- because of family and community. We are all the same- no matter where we are from, all with a desire to work and sleep and love and be loved.  I met a strong woman named Maria on that trip in Dili…  She had survived through years of slavery and war. She knew a little bit of english, and as i sat there drawing maps for the kids to show them where they lived, where i lived, and where my family lived, she turned to me and said “why would you live so far from your family?” In that moment I realized that even though my San Francisco home was one of the most beautiful places in the world with everything there to please me, my heart was back in northern Michigan- a place that brought me great joy.

So I chose Traverse City to put down roots, and invest my heart in this community and my family… And keep doing the good work with the Change and traveling the world. I walked in the woods every morning, and get everywhere by foot or bike.

In 2011 I broke off on my own to open C.bay design with a similar mission- “good-for-the-world creative services” but working much closer and one on one with my clients- inviting them to be part of the creative team so we could partner in making their vision a reality. I loved the connections I made with every one of these conscious entrepreneurs, and how I could see our creative partnership fulfilling and inspiring them.

Today I live downtown with my creative and conscious entrepreneur husband Aaron, our two awesome cats midori and alegria, and Ive transferred my experiences now to be “The Conscious Entrepreneur”- coaching and consulting for entrepreneurs with a passion for good-for-the-world ideas and businesses aligned with their values, strengths… I want to see people come alive and make a difference in the world. Over the years of this design work, i recognize that all environmental and social justice is about people, and about living life more fully.

Ill leave you with a few quotes that continue to inspire me every day ….

“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” – Howard Thurman

Be the change you want to see in the world.” –  Mahatma Gandhi

“We are the ones we have been waiting for.” – Alice Walker 

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