20 Something Entrepreneur: Isis Smalls

This post is part of a series: Slow Cooking, 20-something Entrepreneurs, which I created to shed light on what it's like to start your own business in your 20s. Meet the other beauties here

Happy Monday, friends!

It's an especially exciting day around here because our amazing 20-Something Entrepreneur, Isis Smalls, is launching her very first book. The e-book launches today, in fact! Ah! am so proud of her and honored to share it with you. Her book, Beauty in the Making: Learning to Radiate from the Inside Out, is targeted toward helping young women learn to experience the Lord, establish a walk with Him and lean on that relationship during hard challenging times. 

She resigned from her job as a sixth grade teacher last spring to pursue writing the book and public speaking. She's also an amazing singer, All-American volleyball player and was Miss Houston 2014. She rocks :) 


What is your morning routine? How do you get the day going?

My morning routine begins with a warm cup of coffee and my daily devotional time. The first thing I do before talking to anyone or turning on my phone is read the Bible. It puts me in a good mood and relieves any anxiety I have for what is ahead that day. I always say, “You don’t want to talk to me unless I’ve talked to Jesus first.”  

Mr. Snooze Button is my best friend and worst enemy. Unfortunately we’ve been dating too long, but in this new season where I am working for myself, we’ve had to take a break. I have to get up early if I want to have a fruitful day, so it’s my daily goal to be in the 5 a.m. Club. Early bird gets the worm they say, right?

You resigned from your job to pursue your dreams. It seems like you have it all together when it comes to knowing what you want to do with your life. Has it always been that way?

This question makes me laugh hysterically because on a yearly basis and sometimes even daily, I am always redefining myself and asking what in the world I want to do with my life. As I continue to grow, I am learning to release the need for official titles and traditional roles, and pursue the passion instead.

So, regardless of whether I am teaching, singing, or speaking, the mission is to inspire, encourage, and motivate people to become all God created them to be. What form that takes is something I am learning to be flexible with and leave it up to Him.

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Now that you're in the latter half of your 20s, if you could, what would you tell yourself at 22?

What do you wish you'd known? I would tell my 22-year old self to trust your instincts and know that God will never lead you astray. Since graduating from college I have had incredible opportunities, but I have not always enjoyed them to the fullest because I allowed worry, anxiety, or fear to steal my joy. I am learning to release the outcome to God and that I don’t have to hold my breath out of fear of making mistakes. I can trust that I will do my best and He is making my crooked places straight.

What was the most influential book you read in your 20s?

Lioness Arising: Wake Up and Change Your World by Lisa Bevere was by far the most influential book for me. It’s about the power found in a woman’s strength, passion, and beauty. This book gave me the courage to pursue the title of Miss Houston. It was my very first pageant ever and being completely introverted and shy, I lacked the confidence to believe I could actually win. By the time I got done with this book, I was sprinting towards the stage with a stronger sense of purpose, self-esteem, and direction.

What’s the biggest misconception people may have about you from watching you on social media?

Judging from social media, people might assume that I have always been a “glam girl” who competed in pageants. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Before I competed for Miss Houston, I was a proud jock. I was an All-American volleyball player who did not know how to do her hair, make-up, or walk in heels. The closest I ever got to caring about fashion was picking out the color of my headband for the next game. Needless to say, the transition to pageantry was rough, but because of it I have learned that presentation is important.

For so many of us, our 20s can be one big comparison trap. How do you keep yourself from constant comparison? The internet makes it so hard!

Oh my goodness, comparison is the slickest of evils! I have to constantly remind myself to run my race. Some days I am better at it than others. I am learning to trust that what God has for me is for me and that His stage is big enough for all of us to shine. If I am really struggling with jealousy or insecurity one day, I pray my way through it. I ask God for wisdom to help me see that person and myself through eyes of love instead of intimidation.

What do you consider play? And! What are your creative outlets?

When I speak to youth, that is play for me! Kids are so receptive and it’s an honor to pour wisdom into them. I enjoy that I can be extra fun and crazy while presenting to kids because they don’t judge you! They just love on you, smile, and laugh while they are taking in nuggets that could change the trajectory of their life. That makes my day!

Other than that, I really value quality time with friends and family. I am always on the go so any time we can steal to go to dinner, grab coffee, or just catch up over dessert refreshes me. In terms of creative outlets:  sweating keeps me sane! Few things are better than turning my music all the way up and getting a nice, hard workout in. This is where I get rejuvenated with clarity and fresh perspective to keep going. I absolutely love it!

Can't get enough of her? I get it.

You can check out her Facebook and Instagram pages to keep up with her.

20-Something Entrepreneur: Danielle Ivy

This post is part of a series: Slow Cooking, 20-something Entrepreneurs, which I created to shed light on what it's like to start your own business in your 20s. Meet the other beauties here

I am so (SO) excited for you to meet this angel of an entrepreneur today: Danielle Ivy!

Danielle did my hair and makeup for our wedding and, first of all, she is super talented and made me feel so beautiful. But, the best part is how generous, kind and patient she is. I hired her to do my hair and makeup, but left my wedding wanting to be her friend. She's a gem! She's also only 22 and runs her own business, which is incredible. I wasn't nearly so wise or sure of my plan to run a business at her age.

I am thrilled to introduce you to sweet Danielle!

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Let's start with an easy one. What is your morning routine? How do you get the day going? Do you snooze? Do you drink coffee?

I get the day going by hitting snooze maybe about 10 times. When I finally decide to drag myself out of bed, the first thing I always try to do is something my church calls the "first 15". This is 5 minutes of prayer, 5 minutes of scripture and 5 minutes of worship! It is super easy to do and a great way to start the day by putting the Lord very first. Most of the time I do this pretty spontaneously. It usually happens like this: I read the One Year Bible while I am still in bed. Then I get in the shower and pray while I am in there. And then I worship while I put make up on and most likely the whole car ride to work.

Oh and don't forget the coffee. I can't function without my coffee. 

You balance a super busy calendar with weddings every weekend. It seems like you have it all together when it comes to knowing what you want to do with your life. Has it always been that way?

I definitely have NOT always known what I was going to do with my life. It is actually comical to me that I am a MUAH artist now because I NEVER, I mean NEVER, wore make up in high school. I flat ironed my hair or wore it in a messy bun to school every day. I went to college thinking I would become a nurse…. and well, God had a WAY different plan for me! 

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If you could, what would you go back and tell yourself at 20? What do you wish you'd known? 

My 20th year was probably one of the hardest times of my life. This was when I decided to drop out of Alabama Nursing and go to cosmetology school (I'm sorry, what?! WHO am I!!!). It was not an easy transition and I was so focused on myself and getting my own life worked out that I abandoned the mission I knew the Lord set me out on.

With that being said, I would tell myself to wake up everyday and make a conscious effort to put God's agenda first. I, of course, thought I was doing that by going to cosmetology school. However, God's agenda is to SAVE the LOST and not to save myself. I would constantly remind myself to focus on serving other's needs FIRST and love love love and loveee some more on the girls I went to school with.  

What was the most influential book you've read in your 20s (so far)?

The most influential book I have read so far would be Love Does by Bob Goff. I AM OBSESSED with this book and could type up a storm telling you all about it. However, I will give you my biggest take away: every day, fill your life with your loves, passions, interests and HIM and you'll get His plan for YOU. 

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What's the biggest misconception people may have about you from following you on social media?

Hmmm… this one is hard. I would say that the biggest misconception people have from my social media is that my life is perfect. That there is nothing wrong. However, I would make that statement about everyone on social media. People only post the best version of themselves. And that is OK, but we cannot live based on social media. I struggle. A lot. I have hard days. I have days when I do not want to get up or I am grumpy all day. But I have learned to keep on going and pushing through those hard times. 

For so many of us, our 20s can be one big comparison trap. How do you keep yourself from constant comparison? The internet makes it so hard! 

This kind of goes along with the last question. Social media and comparison are death traps for most girls. I don't care what age you are, we all struggle from time to time with comparison. I have learned that I have to limit how much I check all social media. I have learned that if I do not meet with Jesus and remind myself who HE says I am, that I will fall hard into that trap.

To keep myself from it, I do not allow myself to live on Instagram. I am actually currently fasting from all social media for 21 days of prayer. I want to get my heart back right with God, so I can keep my heart and mind in check. I firmly believe that we can control what we think about and how we think. However it takes discipline and it is a hard lesson to learn!

danielle-ivy

What do you consider play? And! What are your creative outlets?

My creative outlets and what I consider play would probably be the same thing: I love to do calligraphy and paint. Those are the things I do to have fun and relax on my day off. 

20-Something Entrepreneur: Jen Robin

This post is part of a series: Slow Cooking, 20-something Entrepreneurs, which I created to shed light on what it's like to start your own business in your 20s. Meet the other beauties here

Happy Wednesday, friends! I could not be more excited to introduce you to my friend, Jen Robin. Like me, Jen is now in her early 30s. However, at the end of her 20s, she left her job to launch Life in Jeneral, a professional organizing company. Aaaand she's killin the game :) 

I met Jen years ago on a trip to California and knew she was someone I wanted to be friends with. She's full of life & energy, insanely generous and so kind. Also, all of the organizational solutions on her Insta feed will make you swoon. I dream of having her organize my whole house. 

Meet Jen below! 


Let's start with an easy one. What is your morning routine? How do you get the day going? Do you snooze? Do you drink coffee?

I am an early riser. I love getting a good workout in before the day starts because if I don't then - it won't happen ;) After my workout my favorite part is grabbing (or making) coffee and walking my dog Charlie. I try my best to stay away from the emails until I am ready to dive in. Most days that's a little tricky since there's so many moving parts to my company -- always something that needs to get taken care of and I like to stay on top of it. 

You have a thriving business that you launched pretty quickly. It seems like you have it all together when it comes to knowing what you want to do with your life. Has it always been that way?

To be honest, I wasn't expecting the business to thrive this quickly. I do take great pride in the hard work that I have put in for this company to succeed. I definitely don't have it all together (does anyone?) but I do feel fortunate that I have created this company to be my biggest passion and greatest accomplishment to date. 

It definitely hasn't always been this way in my life but I have always had an outlook like my father had, which is why I think the success has come. He told me at a very young age that I could do anything I wanted if I worked hard, stayed humble, and kept an honest and kind heart. 

Now that you're in your 30s, if you could, what would you tell yourself at 22? What do you wish you'd known? 

I would have told myself to take care of ME first. All my life I have been putting others before me because I thought it was selfish not to. It's my best and worst quality. I love people to their core, and that tends to put their needs and wants over mine. I am finally learning that I can't give the best of me to others if I don't care for me first. 

I wish I would have known at 22 that would be the last full year with my dad. I told him every single day that I loved him and that he was my hero so I don't regret anything in terms of making sure he knew that, but knowing that a year later he would be gone is still hard. For anyone that has experienced that kind of loss, you will never forget the last days and conversations with those people.

I remember crying myself to sleep one night shortly after knowing I would never be able to speak to him again and how I would be able to thrive in this world without him. I woke up thinking I want to live a life where I know he would be proud of the woman I am. So I had two choices to make; 1. Let the loss of break me. Or 2. Live his legacy of joy daily and do something that inspires people. Every day I wake up, thank God and him for another day and just do and be the best I can. This company is in honor of him. So, at 22 just know whatever life gives you you can survive it and thrive. 

What was the most influential book you read in your 20s?

I have quite a few so it's hard to choose just 1. My dear friend Emily, who owns her own company as well, told me about this book, You are a Badass by Jen Sincero. I have read it countless times. Just a reminder of choosing happiness daily and owning your own self in this world. I am obsessed! 

What's the biggest misconception people may have about you from watching you on social media?

My personal social account always shows me at an event, or a wedding, or traveling. I laugh when people say "you live the life" always traveling and attending events. They don't realize I wake up early, work on those trips all day, and am working on the weekends up until those few hours of those events. You never know what REALLY is going on. 

For so many of us, our 20s can be one big comparison trap. How do you keep yourself from constant comparison? The internet makes it so hard! 

Your 20's are tough but so wonderful as well. My favorite quote about this is that "comparison is the thief of joy" and couldn't agree more. I stay FAR away from comparing. There's always going to be someone taller, smarter, prettier, skinnier, funnier (okay maybe not funnier :)) but you get it. I don't want to live my life comparing but rather being so grateful for what I have and who I am. 

What do you consider play? And! What are your creative outlets?

I recently discovered "taking me days" and my life has pretty much changed, ha. Play for me is working out, discovering new restaurants, and spending time with friends. My work is extremely creative daily so thankfully that side of my brain is always spinning. 

20-Something Entrepreneur: Natalie Puls

This post is part of a series: Slow Cooking, 20-something Entrepreneurs, which I created to shed light on what it's like to start your own business in your 20s. Meet the other beauties here

Happy cyber-Monday, slash are you still full from Thanksgiving Monday, friends! I am very excited to introduce you to my friend, Natalie Puls, a wedding photographer and 20-something entrepreneur

Natalie is best friends with my sister-in-law, Abbey. Per Abbey's recommendation, we hired Natalie as our wedding photographer. And, alas, we fell in love. She lives in Oregon, but flies all over the world shooting weddings. She's a gem! 

Below, Natalie shares a little bit about her experience as a slow-cooking, 20-something entrepreneur. She has wisdom beyond her years and she reminds me that there are so many ways we can go about this process. For some of us, it's with a five year plan; for others, that doesn't work. I love her perspective and I hope you enjoy getting to know her! 


Let's start with an easy one. What is your morning routine? How do you get the day going? Do you snooze? Do you drink coffee? Walk us through it. 

On days when I don't have to set my alarm for bible study, a sunrise shoot or a wedding, I let myself wake up naturally and then I get up and run or get ready to go work at a coffee shop! I don't have much of a routine. I just wake up and decide where I want to work that day!

You travel all over the world taking photos. It seems like you have it all together when it comes to knowing what you want to do with your life. Has it always been that way?

Definitely not. I graduated college with a graphic design degree but a photography passion. I stumbled into wedding photography by a couple people asking if I would second shoot for them. Then all of a sudden, I was shooting my own weddings and getting my own clients. There was no 5-year plan involved. And there still isn't! I love shooting weddings but even today, if you ask me what I'll be doing in 2 years, in 5 years, in 10 years. I will not have an answer for you.

Now that you're in the latter half of your 20s (!), if you could, what would you tell yourself at 22? What do you wish you'd known? 

Some of the best advice I've ever heard is a mixture of "don't compare your beginning to someone's middle" (it's okay to be a novice while other people are experts) AND "there's room for everyone at the top." Basically, just because someone is better at something you do doesn't devalue your own work, your ideas, or your contribution. They are valid and you are valid in whatever stage you are in.

What was the most influential book you read in your 20s (so far)?

Last year I read Donald Miller's Scary Close. So good, you guys. It was so honest and real, like reading Donald Miller's diary. It taught me a lot about myself and relationships. Talking about it makes me want to read it again!

What's the biggest misconception people may have about you from social media?

I guess that every day is exciting and easy. It's a hard balance because followers expect to see something exciting and that's worth their time. So while I'm not out hiking and shooting every single day, it might look like it.

For so many of us, our 20s can be one big comparison trap. How do you keep yourself from constant comparison? The internet makes it so hard! 

That is a difficult one! You will always be able to find someone who is doing better than you. Someone who seems to have a better life, who is doing your job better, etc. First, always remember that no one's life is perfect. Social media is usually a "highlight reel" where people broadcast the BEST things that are happening. Of course someone's best portrayal is going to make everything you know about your life (good and bad) seem inferior. I follow a lot of photographers who have more followers, are getting paid more, etc. but instead of comparison, I try to let their work inspire me.

What do you consider play? And! What are your creative outlets, if any besides photography.

I love rock climbing, hiking and traveling but you can also find me watching a movie with friends, dog sitting or enjoying Oregon's natural hot springs!! Basically anything with friends (not much of an introvert) :)