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February 13, 2023

My mom always says that even as a little tot, I was a perfectionist. I've always been deliberate and intentional – I took my time. When I finally did start walking at 16 months, I cruised clear across the room like I owned the place.
As a kid, my space was always neat and organized. Having to share a room with my messy sister was such a drag that I actually put tape across the middle so her chaos could be separated from my order. My drawers were filled with neatly folded clothing and I washed my stuffed animals regularly.

As a jewelry designer, I sometimes find myself wondering whether we’re born creative, or if that calling to create is just something that simply comes to you from some higher place (I love this Ted Talk by Elizabeth Gilbert on this very topic).

I often feel like my deep love of art, drawing and creating might partly run through my veins as some essential part of my blood. I can recall spending hours after school each day hanging out in my room, drawing with pencil and paper or plastering my walls with collages of photos I found in magazines. At school, I found my zone… my zen… in art class.

Fortunately or unfortunately, perfectionism is creativity’s trusty sidekick. The two come hand-in-hand for me, and I’m starting to think that dynamic duo isn’t as uncommon as I once had thought. While writing this blog, I’ve had several conversations with other creatives who seem to relate! How about you?

I was the kid that would come home and rewrite all my notes so they looked neat and tidy… it was also my way of reviewing my work. I would often rewrite a composition two to three times to make sure it sounded perfect. As I’ve gotten older and deeper into this chosen, highly creative profession, I’ve come to believe that perfectionism can be somewhat of a curse.

About four to five years into my career, I started realizing that my perfectionist tendencies were really holding me back. I remember a dear friend and colleague asked me why I wasn't selling my wares at NY NOW, one of the biggest trade shows of the year. I told her that I was worried we wouldn’t be able to handle production. In truth, the whole thing seemed SO overwhelming that I was just too scared to try. I thought to myself, “How will I make my booth look show stopping?” or “is my collection cohesive enough?” The aversion to potentially making a mistake held me back. I was actually afraid of my own success without even realizing it.

In 2013 (three years later), I finally took the plunge and not only attended to NY NOW, but also signed up for another big event in LA called Dwell on Design. I tirelessly prepared my booth design and collection. The crazy part is that we completely blew it out of the park on the first day of BOTH shows. I couldn’t believe it! I was beyond excited.

Looking back, I wonder what would have happened if I started sooner? Would I be further along would I be in my career? Maybe. But, the good news is that none of that matters! I started when I was ready - the same way I walked clear across the floor as a 16 month old.

As my business has grown and evolved, I pride myself on having a strong team that I can trust to take their appropriate reigns. As the visionary and creative director, I’ve also had to master the art of letting go. Yeah, my desk is occasionally cluttered these days, but I don’t mind as much anymore. Knowing that I’ve made some time for self-care or enjoying the evening trumps a tidy desk any day.

In a way, my perfectionist qualities have also been a gift. I fully believe high standards are a contributing factor of my success. But being a recovering perfectionist (I’m still working on it!), I can also now see that it’s much less stressful when you’re not always obsessing about every last detail… especially when those thoughts prevent you from even getting started. I’m no longer anxious about the little things, as I’ve come to find out that life is more so about being happy and finding balance.

As a recovering perfectionist, I can thankfully say that I’ve come to love the mess a little bit. So long, perfect everything. I've come to realize that little chaos seems to keep things interesting.

Colleen's Signature

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