The decade that was...

11:00 AM

Normally, around this time of the year, I introspect about the year that passed and how much I achieved, how much I grew.

This year though it's different, there is no denying I have achieved a lot, like I do every year, but as we are about to kiss 2019 goodbye, we are also putting yet another decade into our past.
For me, this is my second decade of adulthood I put on a shelf, and this is the first complete decade I lived in India.

It's not to say that 2000-2009 wasn't worthy of a introspection, truth be told I reflected on it but never really took time to weight it in. The first decade of adulthood had me move out of my childhood home into a tiny studio apartment, then leave that all behind to move to India, got married, moved around a lot, and it culminated with me becoming a mother in 2009.

It was big, it was huge, but this decade is even more awesome...

For one, I turned 31 in 2010, this means I got out of the awkward 20's, and I started making plans, not for others, not for my family but for myself.
It wasn't really defined at first, but I knew I would want to be my own boss, have a business of some sort or another. Back in the early years of this decade blogging was a big thing, I knew I wanted to be part of it. I had no idea how or where it would take me, so I kept at it until I figured out what I wanted to do.
It's in 2014 that I decided to stop calling myself a Stay at Home Mom. I even got myself some business cards saying I was a blogger :

It's in that blog post that a commenter pretty much told me that even if I got paid for blogging it was still going to be a hobby pretty much accusing me of being privileged enough to have that luxury because my husband was working.

Let me tell you one thing about this 2010-19 decade people! My husband lost his job twice, to companies that went bankrupt.
I may have not earned enough to cover for that loss in the beginning, but my husband can tell you that the thing that carried him through these though times was my indestructible spirit. I kept going, I kept working at it, I kept believing, I kept positive, I kept fighting and today, here I am!

Here I am, earning an income, a solid one at that (not that it is any of your business). Here I am having made good on a line I wrote in my diary in 2014 :

I want Home Cyn Home to become brand synonymous with color and design.

Back then I had no freaking idea how I would make it happen, I had a vision that wasn't very defined, but I knew that until I took that first step I would never figure it out. So I went at it, first I thought of maying making it big as a lifestyle blog, and if you remember well, that is the time I was posting a lot of craft projects and recipes. 
It was fun, but the more I went with it, the more I felt I wanted to do something that involved doing more art, I also knew I wanted to inspire other people to be creative. 

It was in 2014 that I came to know about art licensing, and I started sketching and drawing more regularly to build a portfolio. I also had no idea how to digitise my artwork, so I taught myself how. I spent hours figuring it all out, learning the design terms, learning from watching YouTube videos day in and day out. This is also around that time I created my own printable calendar, with my own artwork. 
It's in 2017 that I finally launched myself on Society6 and Redbubble, right around the time my husband was about to be left without a job. 
That is when my WHY became so powerful that I knew there was no way back. I just had had enough  of playing it safe. I had enough of dangling low on the financial scale, I had ENOUGH!

So I went at it, and let me tell you, art licensing is not where you make big money quickly, but I still went at it because I felt deep down in my heart that it was the right thing to do. Art was the thing that made my soul spark, working digitally has always been my jam too. 
I got rejections, I got hard days, I got days I wondered if we could afford the art supplies I needed, I still kept going. 
I got excited at every cents I was earning, I got excited at sharing my work on Instagram, I was no longer afraid of people saying crap stuff about my art, I was no longer afraid to stand in front of my mirror and tell my reflection, without blinking : 

I am an artist

Guess what happened? The instant I started believing it that statement, so did people around me. 3 months later, a friend asked me if I would teach her daughter how to draw in my colorful casual style, she was ready to pay. Shortly after that, another friend asked me to come work once a week at their little play school group as an arts and craft teacher for toddlers. When I mentioned it to another friend, she wanted to enrol her daughter in my art class as well, then came another and another and another. I have now art classes 4 days a week and my art licensing income as well as affiliate income keeps growing. 

Last year, I decided I wanted to have an Etsy shop. I had no idea what it took, how to go about it, how the shipping would work, or even what I wanted to sell, I just knew I had to do it. So I refined the plan, joined groups of Etsy sellers, educated myself on everything I needed to do, and the instant I had the time I launched myself with just these : 



Very quickly I launched more, I even got to connect with a printer who could bring a note pad project I had to life.
I promoted my work in all channels I could promote it in, and I am now known in my circles as the designer and illustrator. I figured out along the way that even if I don't put everything I can sell myself on Etsy, I can still do it. I now print certain things on demand and will ship them within India. 

Just this year, I made it a new personal rule to just do whatever I feel like bailing out of. If my first instinct is to say "I've never done this before" I complete the statement with "I might as well give it a try" and then I just do it.

I am an artist and creative entrepreneur

This is what I now tell my reflection in the mirror, and I still don't blink or flinch. And when I say it to others on my confident tone, people believe it too. 

But, the biggest win is the fact my daughter is so inspired by it that she took upon herself to brag about it everywhere she can. She proudly carries my rickshaw key chain charms around, or show my stickers on her water bottle and tell her friends how cool it is that her mom is selling her art.
Believe it or not, she even drove a few sales my way, in a few year I might hire her as my marketing expert. 

This is the work of a decade. I went from figuring out this parenting gig (I still am, will never stop), figured out what I wanted to be defined as, worked toward that and made it happen. 
I went from being a SAHM to having my own brand and business and I make an income on my own term being nobody's employee. I carved my own path, and I've never felt more alive than when do so. 

I've never been more excited to see what's next

In two decades of adulting, I moved out of my family's home, moved across the globe, got married, became a mom, moved around India many times, started a blog, refined an idea, worked on it, kept going at it despite a lot of lows but many more highs. 
I have no diploma to my name, hubby and I had financial struggles, I miscarried, I constantly stick out, I'll never fit in, I've faced racism, I've dealt with trolls, I have dealt with people telling me it was impossible to make it as an artist without luck, I have had people ask me why I don't get a safe job in a school or in corporate environment and last but not least I've had many moments of self doubt in the past 20 years as an adult.

What I realised though, is that I perform my best when I ignore what people say, stick out and do my thing. I was made to beat my own drum, beside the louder I bang it, the less I can hear the naysayers. 

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4 comments

  1. Hi Cynthia, I have been a silent reader of your blog for a few years now. I am slowly getting comfortable with my online presence on social media only now, and that's why I hadn't ever commented before. Through your blog, I have watched you transform your life from the adventures in India stage (cynublog) to your flourishing career as an artist that it is now. I wanted to take this moment to say Congratulations! and to thank you for all the positivity, inspiration and insight you provide through your writing. All the best!

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    Replies
    1. Hi Del Dot, thank you so much for your kind words, and I'm glad you decided to take the step to comment, I know hoe social media and being online can be very intimidating. Feel free to comment any time.

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    2. Congratulations and thank you for making us part of this amazing journey. The way you changed gears was amazing like a batsman who always knew he could whack the ball but was waiting for the right opportunity to do so. Best wishes for your future endeavours.

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    3. Thank you!
      I like the batsman analogy :-) Because it really does ring true. I did indeed strategically plotted my course and did indeed wait for that right moment to hit the ball, to to be fair it was more the right moment for me internally than the right moment because the condition was right, there were no odds in my favour going in the process.

      I also see it as being a cliff diver on the edge of a cliff, knowing they can jump, but try to stall taking that jump until there isn't a way out of it, or at least that there is less to risk taking the dive than walking away from the cliff. It's an internal struggle more than anything else.

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