I am over the moon to share my most recent interview with the incredibly talented Jessica Lee. I was introduced to her textile and clothing label, Willow Knows several years ago and we quickly developed a long distance admiration club. We started our businesses around the same time and she has been a huge creative inspiration for me ever since. On those days when everything felt hard or even impossible I took refuge in her beautiful photos and creative process. I am grateful Jessica is out there taking risks in her life and practice.
Jessica’s textile design explores the intersection between our inner and outer worlds. She is fascinated by the way energy moves and creates custom pieces that embrace the beauty of imperfection. In our interview Jessica shares how she navigates her self care, what it looks like to follow your intuition and the deep love that comes from learning to hold space for your own heart.
How do you stay true to yourself?
Following intuition, fulfilling creative ideas, allowing for comfort in vulnerability & power in honesty, slowing down.
What motivates you to create?
I am passionate about art and design and truly believe it has the power to shift individuals and the world for the better. It is a form of communication & encourages connection. As living beings contributing to life on this earth, I believe it is our responsibility to participate in healthy forms of conversation and connection in order to move forward.
Creativity allows us to dig below the surface, something a lot of us are scared to do. When we do we are able to be vulnerable with ourselves and with those around us, and I believe that creates beautiful shifts. Visual art is a means to translate and receive ideas about the world without having to use words, which is a powerful opportunity.
Have you ever struggled with self care in your life? How did you navigate that?
Of course. In Ayurvedic terms I am considered a Vata constitution. One of my teachers has a term “vata deranged” that I can easily relate to if I am not mindful of what I am eating, drinking, doing with my mind and body. With that said, I have also found that the more I force sticking to a strict diet or deprive myself from things my body is asking for, the more I actually feel imbalanced.
If I am in tune with myself, practicing yoga, sleeping enough, and living mindfully – my body asks for the right things and I am able to listen to that knowing it is exactly what I need. When I am craving things that are not healthy for me (this could be food or more emotional) I try to take a step back and figure out the root of the cause. It has been valuable to learn through Ayurveda that our bodies (mind, spirit, physical) want to live within the rhythms of nature, and nature is in a constant state of change. I am in love with the ebb and flow of it all.
Also, running a small business and supporting yourself off of that is not easy work. I am “working” a lot. I used to guilt myself for not giving attention to my art and business during practically all waking hours. This dedication has allowed me to fulfill a lot of dreams but is also a constant balancing act for me. It is not a simple thing to clock in and out of creative work, so allowing myself time in the mornings, afternoons, and weekends to have creative time that is separate from my “job” leaves me feeling more inspired and productive in the end. It has become very important for me to be able to create work that I do not need an immediate response from, or does not need to be shared with the world right away.
What does your spirit need to feel nourished?
Valuable time with those that inspire me to be my best self, silent conversations with nature, the ocean, meditation, space to find humility, space to dream, clean mind & body, early mornings, my love by my side.
Share some words of wisdom for women entrepreneurs.
As soon as you feel the pull to do something creative, start making/doing anything right away, even if it does not feel like your ultimate end goal. Don’t let your ego get in the way of creating something. When I first started willow knows I was dying pieces of clothing that I would find in thrift stores and selling them on Etsy.
Honestly, most of what I was doing those days was hideous. There was part of me that knew that and also part of me that knew I was pushing through a barrier. That is called intuition. By starting small and continuing to learn the craft and nurture my own personal aesthetic – I’ve continued to be led to where I am today.
Any small act of creativity will open your heart and hopefully lead you closer to your calling. (whether that is being a creative or not.) Also, surround yourself with women you look up to. Let go of people that are bringing you down emotionally or energetically, that was an extremely important lesson for me in my 20s. Find women who are doing things that you are interested in and reach out. You always hear that having a strong circle of like minded people around you is key and I really can’t express how true that has been for me.
Your current playlist.
We have a really amazing local public radio station where I live and every Sunday morning they have a Sunday Morning Bluegrass show, I look forward to it every week. They play new & old bluegrass made in and around the Virginia, North Carolina, & Tennessee area. It connects me to these areas of the country where I never thought I would, but turns out I am building my life.
My general spirit lifting sounds come from artists like Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, Joni Mitchell. My mom has the most incredible taste in music and the artists that she loves and that we grew up listening to always bring me back to feeling home.
How do you strengthen your intuition?
By continuing to listen to the wisdom that rests in my heart. The more I honor and listen to what I intuitively know to be true, the stronger and more clear I feel. Also by continuing to learn to be my own best friend. When I love and respect myself, I want to listen to what I have to say.
Love & support one another in every possible way. We are truly all in this together, and everything and every one of us is connected to everything else. Do not compete, competition is ego driven and your ego does not have your best interest at heart. History has proven that women are capable of incredible things when we join together with strength & love for each other.
Share a favorite quote or piece of wisdom you love.
The lyric “When all the broken hearted people living in the world agree, there will be an answer – let it be,” has always stuck with me. We are all here living this life with the deep rooted need to love and be loved. Hearts break and our greatest challenge is understanding the ways to put them back together. When we struggle with that, walls are built and hearts become hardened. When we live with a shell around our hearts – anger, hatred, and ego wins. Imagine if many of our world’s leaders were living life with an open and vulnerable heart. It always comes back to the heart. We have to be comfortable talking about it in order to heal it. Only then will we know peace.
Tell us one thing you haven’t done yet that you really want to do.
What are you most grateful for?
Each new day.
Photos by Meredith Coe