Welcome to Week 47 of Motherhood by Design – the series where mothers who also run creative businesses share their inspirations and their experiences juggling the demands of raising children while growing a creative career.
"My business was launched only after my oldest daughter was born. As I started showing off photos of her – photos I had taken – I got some pretty strong reactions, including a coworker who smacked me in the back of the head and asked why ON EARTH I was working in a bookstore instead of out taking photos for a living."
Brianna Hall is on on a mission to help others design a whole-hearted, hand-crafted life and business, through spiritual and creative practice. She believes that by trusting and following our passions, we make sparks that can ignite the world. This firecracker of a mama is multi-talented, as she does her work through intuitive art, writing, business coaching and art-based soul work.
Welcome to Motherhood by Design, Brianna – can you please describe your family?
I have a cozy little family – it’s just me and my two sparkling girls. Aisling is 12, and Arabella is 10.
What is your business?
I own a wildly soulful business, Creative Static Studios. I’m an artist, spiritual writer, and creativity + small business coach – so basically, I have creative ADD.
When you were a child yourself, how did you spend your free time?
I shadowed my grandfathers, who were my rocks. They taught me photography, and encouraged my creating, and so I spent a lot of time making photos and drawing and in deep imaginative play. I also devoured books at an alarming rate, reading nonstop. In fact, I still haven’t stopped!
Did crafting or handwork play a significant role in your childhood? If yes, in what way?
I was constantly learning new crafts, inspired by my mom. When I was growing up, I explored all sorts of craft genres alongside her. She was always trying different things, and she’d let me craft with her. We did craft shows, and I remember always having projects and new techniques to learn – from punch-loom embroidery to wheat weaving to plastic canvas to lollipop making to painting ceramics to rubber stamping. Every time she took a new class or found a new craft, we would dive into it as a new adventure in creating!
When you were a child, did you have ideas about your own future as a mother? Was motherhood something you’d always imagined for yourself, or is it an idea you grew into later in life?
I always knew I wanted to be a mom. I oddly always imagined myself as a single mom, actually, which may have been a self-fulfilling prophecy! (Or maybe just intuition?) When my (now ex) husband and I found out we were expecting when I was 19, I was overjoyed! I felt like motherhood was always part of my path, and one that would heavily tie into all my other work.
In your early years of motherhood, did you have/make time for your creative pursuits, or was your creative work put aside for a while? If the latter, when did you pick it back up?
I actually think that becoming a mom is what pushed me down the path of creativity, in a very big way. Up to that point, I had gotten a lot of pressure to do something “important” and serious with my life. I had been voted Most Likely to Succeed in school, was valedictorian, and served as president of a handful of clubs. Everyone around me assumed I’d become a psychologist or researcher or lawyer, so that’s the direction I started to take. When my daughter was born, though, I had realized that I would rather take a spoon to my eye than continue into a dry, dull career for the sake of status. I began to take my photography more seriously, and I got way into scrapbooking. I transferred to an art school and studied design and art, and things have snowballed from there!
Did you start your creative business prior to becoming a mother, or after?
My business was launched only after my oldest daughter was born. As I started showing off photos of her – photos I had taken – I got some pretty strong reactions, including a coworker who smacked me in the back of the head and asked why ON EARTH I was working in a bookstore instead of out taking photos for a living. I launched my photography business “officially” about a year later. It allowed me to work from my home and be with my baby full-time.
What prompted you to start your creative business? Is it something you saw yourself doing when you were a child?
I had never really taken my art and creative pursuits very seriously. I saw them as hobbies, and not something that could be transferred into a career. It wasn’t until I started actually showing some of my work that I got the encouragement I needed to give myself permission to pursue it. Of course, when I was a little girl, I had dreamed of being an artist and a writer and just living in my imagination. Somewhere along the lines during school, I had been rerouted into more studious pursuits. So the moment I saw the permission I’d been needing, the floodgates unleashed and I found myself chasing creative possibilities in every direction!
How do you balance your creative work with your role as a mother and how has that changed over time?
For me, it’s less about balance and more about harmony. I include my daughters in my creative world, and they flourish from it. They’re both intensely creative, as well, and I’ve taught them everything from photography to crafting to painting. Our world is very vivid, very colorful, very alive with the freedom of creating. Every element of our life is enhanced by it, and we find ways to weave it into our everyday world. I don’t separate out or compartmentalize it, and so it flavors all we do.
In what ways does motherhood affect your work processes?
It’s definitely a matter of prioritizing and awareness. My girls always come first, so if they need me, everything else is on hold. I plan meetings and focused work time for while they’re in school or otherwise involved, so that when they’re home with me I can be fully present for them. They also understand that when I’m under a deadline, they may have to step up and help out – but for the most part, I’ve always tried to make sure they know that they get top billing in my world.
In what ways does motherhood affect your creative products?
I think the inspiration for a lot of my products comes from my experiences as a mama. The struggles, the loss of self, the challenges of motherhood and divorce and single parenting all go into my creative stew. The products and services I create, then, tend to relate to (or be geared toward) women who have similar life experiences, or who find themselves trying to make their way through that same path.
What is the biggest impact that your children have had on your business?
My girls inspire everything I do. Their influence covers almost every aspect of it. The growth and evolution is triggered by our life together, and my drive to succeed in my work is due in large part to the fact that I know they are watching me, every step of the way. Not only are they looking to me as a model for the kind of women they will become, but they are also depending on me (and my work) to provide for them. On days when I feel like maybe I should just throw in the towel, I am reminded of their love, and it pushes me to keep going, to keep fighting.
How do you think your creative pursuits, including your business, affect your children? Is there something you hope your children learn from you by having a creative business?
I’m showing them, by example, how to dream big and live authentically. By creating a business that fits my life and who I am, I am teaching them to embrace their own unique attributes and live the life that God intended for them. I don’t hide things from my kids, or sugarcoat anything, and they see it all – so I show them how to be resilient, not perfect. They see all the things that are possible in their own future, and they already have taken on entrepreneurial attitudes.
Is there something you hope your children learn from you by having a creative business?
I want to teach my daughters that when you embrace who you are – at a soul level – and ignore the ‘shoulds’ of the world, God can take your dreams and make them bigger than you can even imagine. I want them to understand that they were created on purpose, with purpose, and that through creativity and with an open heart, they can walk out their mission and make a difference in this world. I want to show them that miracles are always possible, and that expectations of others don’t matter.
What advice would you offer the mom who feels drained by the demands of motherhood and wants more hands-on creativity in her life?
Motherhood can be challenging, especially when you look to others for approval. Am I doing it right? Am I screwing up my kids? Am I good enough? I would encourage other moms to stop looking for answers outside of themselves, but rather to turn inward. Our intuition is more powerful, more magical, than we give it credit – and all the answers we ever need are already within us. When you feel overwhelmed, or not good enough, pause to create. In the act of making something out of thin air, we are reminded that we (as mothers) are the ultimate creators here on earth. We have the power to make life, to nurture life, to give life. And any time you can reclaim that through art or other creative outlets, your own battery will be recharged and you’ll have more to give to your children and your family.
Thank you so much, Brianna, for sharing your thoughts with us today! You can find Brianna in the following places: