I haven’t been to a conference or summit in over a year. I miss the feeling of purchasing a ticket, researching every speaker, planning what snacks to take, and securing a new notebook to fill out with fantastic bits of information. Thankfully Indy Maven organized an epic two-day virtual conference, to curb my conference loneliness, dedicated to pursuing your passion.
The day began with a soothing stretch + meditation workshop with Jessica Nicole of Self Love Collective. Just 5 minutes into the relaxing half-hour workshop the stomach problems I woke up with vanished. I kid you not I felt like I was walking on air! Highly recommend checking her website out.
Kitchen Table Talk
Next up was Friday’s only panel with Candace Boyd & Tanorria Askew of Black Girls Eating Podcast! I’m not the biggest fan of podcasts but after hearing these lovely women speak, I need to take a day off and binge it. They started off by telling us a bit about their backgrounds, their lives growing up, and how butter has been with them through it all. Yes, you read that right. The creamy, yellow, semi-solid condiment took center stage as Boyd and Askew got into the nitty-gritty topic of unseasoned and bland food.
“Good butter is self-care,” said Boyd. What are their favorite brands? Askew swears by Kerrygold with Louis as a close second.
Next, they talked about social injustice and what they as Black women do to cope in today’s society. Boyd briefly talked about the George Floyd trials saying “Black trauma shouldn’t be a form of entertainment.” Along those lines, she also mentioned “it’s ok not to be everything to everyone” and how important it is to check in with yourself and know when to say no. Whether that be through cooking, therapy, or reading, make sure you take time for YOU!
Day two! After a few sips of coffee and a warm welcome from Indy Maven’s Co-Founder Leslie Bailey, the day began with, you guessed, another panel all about starting your side hustle.
Starting Your Side Hustle
The bulk of this panel focused on how three women started or kept their side hustle alive after the brutal hits from Covid. Photographer Faith Blackwell wasn’t scheduling any corporate headshots or photoshoots and finally had the time to start her Etsy business where she sells coasters, prints, and more. When asked how she moved her side hustle forward she said “Just start! Feel the fear and do it anyway.”
The Strength of SHE founder Aisha Rose added “Expect the unexpected and be able to go with the flow.”
Edible Indy owner Jennifer Rubenstein said “It’s about who we are moving forward and how we adjust…Don’t accept every kind of business that presents itself. Do what feels best for you.”
Sustaining Your Passion
Next up was panel #2 all about sustaining your passion with The Baer Minimalist’s Maria Baer, Ambre Blends’ Ambre Crockett, and Onatah General’s Jessie Eskew. Not only did the panelists hit on how they learned to sustain their business, but also what they do to sustain their mental health.
“Taking a day off for my mental health is a bit more important than people buying plants.” Well said, Eskew!! Baer mentioned that when she’s planning months in advance for her business, she blocks out a few days or hours for herself. I’ll definitely be incorporating that into my schedule!
As far as how to sustain your business? Crockett said to “grow slow, find your people, find inspiration, and learn to trust.” Eskew added, “I value email lists over social media.” She went on to discuss how she’s found more success in email marketing, which reaches most of her audience, than posting a photo on social media, which depending on the algorithm, may not work to her advantage. Lastly, Baer said, “I treated my business as a business and not as a hobby. I charged from day one because I knew the worth of what I was doing.”
KEYNOTE: Pursuing Your Passion
During our lunch hour, Indy Maven Co-Founder Leslie Bailey gave a wonderful keynote speech about how she turned her passions into a business, sustained it through a pandemic, and had a baby along the way.
Most people assume Indy Maven has been around forever. Little do they know it started in October 2019 and like every business, has its ups and downs. From trying to build their network during the pandemic, to bringing this amazing group of women together for this conference, they’ve seen a lot in the past 19 months and Bailey attests that to living with unapologetic ambition.
Several of her closest friends and family members, including her father, didn’t understand her career at Indy Star and really couldn’t fathom her ideas for Indy Maven. To that Bailey said, “The people closest to us are the hardest to convince when turning your passion into a job.”
She went on to discuss the pros and cons of turning your passion into a job. Not only were making money doing something you love, more flexibility over your schedule and income, and spending time working on things that matter to you on the pro list but so was personal satisfaction of seeing your vision come to life. With the highs came the lows. Separation of work and personal life become blurred, experiencing loneliness, pressure building up that your passion has to make money, and friends and family just not getting are simply a few.
When your passion pushes back
Next up was an awesome (I’m not biased or anything) panel with PATTERN’s Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief Polina Osherov (who am I kidding, totally biased) and Race Car Driver Pippa Mann. Moderated by Abby Gardner, the three women talked about how to keep moving when your passion isn’t working out how you dreamed it would.
For both, funding has always been an issue. To run an organization or business, you need money to make things happen. Pippa said “getting funding has always been an issue. You need it to work on the car, to do research…” and Polina replied “The creative economy has been the driving factor. It’s not traditionally the area that’s gotten funding from Indianapolis. Everyone that’s engaged in creating has so much talent but there’s not a lot of money behind them. It’s been a mix of educating leaders and citizens on why art and artists matter and what the impact will be. I’m in my 11th year doing things and feel like I haven’t made a dent in it.”
If things get hard, how do they pick themselves up? Mann likes to remind herself that if no one is doing what she wants to do, then she has to do it to make the change. Osherov said it’s important to remind yourself why you’re doing this difficult thing. She loves “embracing the fact that it’s not about me, I’m doing it because it needs to be done.”
Creating a Life You Love
Magley and Dimit touched on how they came to love themselves when noise or other people got in the way. “Instead of changing myself, I learned how to expand and love my flaws,” said Magley. Dimit took another approach by “block[ing] out the haters and focus[ing] on you and what feels right.”
Not only was that great advice, but it’s great practice in putting yourself first. My favorite quote from the entire panel came from Magley when she said “you are more than enough because you’re here.” That hit me like a ton of bricks! Like several of my peers, I’m my own biggest critic but having this reminder that showing up is half the battle really puts things into perspective. I know I’m on the right path to being the best version of myself and creating a life I love.
The conference was not only eye-opening, it also filled me with more passion for my future life and career than I’ve had in a long time. During a few of the panel breaks, I even started building my social media side business website that I haven’t felt prepared for or had the urge to do. There’s no time like the present to follow your passions, take time for yourself, and live the life you want to live.