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What's Your Story

Welcome to What’s Your Story, an interview style podcast with Meighan O'Toole. She sits down with artists and creative individuals for casual conversation surrounding their professional lives, the path that led them there, and anything else that comes up in between. Expect laughs, unique insight, a sense of community, and relatable anecdotes! New episodes drop every other week.

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Emily McDowell: Learning What Works

Today I’m sitting down with writer, illustrator and designer Emily McDowell. Emily has been transforming the stationery industry since 2013 with her “greeting cards for the relationships we really have.” You most likely know her empathy card line that went viral in 2015 and launched her into the public eye. Emily has been killing it over the past 4 years creating cards and products and she’s recently ventured into a partnership that gives her a whole lot more freedom to create. In today’s show we’re going to talk about that partnership, why she made that decision, what she learned in 10 years of advertising, and we also talk about a dance neurosis resume, watermarks, and much more. I'm also offering a couple resources at the top of the show for your online business and have a special announcement! 


13 Jan 2017

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Jennifer Orkin Lewis: Daily Painting, Showing Up, & Holding Yourself Accountable

In January of this year I decided to end What’s Your Story, or at least take some time off and rethink the show. Now that I’ve let about 10 months pass, I’ve gotten some perspective about the show, and I realized most importantly how much I missed it! So here I am! Going forward it'll still be the same show, with just a few tweaks. I’ve got some exciting guests lined up, and I'm looking forward to diving deeper with guests on the show about how they grew their business, what steps they took, and how social media and having a presence online has helped them. All with the intent to help you grow and build your own business. On today's show, I’m talking with Jennifer Orkin Lewis, an illustrator based in New York. You might know her as August Wren - which is her business name, and the name she uses often online. Jennifer has gained notoriety through Instagram and within the illustration world (and really beyond) due to her daily painting project that’s now in its 3rd year. I spoke to Jennifer back in December of 2015, and sadly, in January I decided to not move forward with the show. Unfortunately, this meant a bunch of shows I had conducted were left on the proverbial cutting room floor. But this interview always felt so good, and too good to leave it. So thanks to the magic of technology, I'm bringing you this recording as we kick off the season of What's Your Story, and it's an inspirational one! Today we discuss how Jennifer came to her second career as a freelance illustrator -- how she literally willed herself to do it and what that looked like, we also talk in depth about her daily project of a painting a day that's now in its 3rd year, and what it's like to continually show up, even when you don't want to. We also cover how glorious it is to be older with the perspective one gets, Jennifer's community, continuing to learn, and much more.  Be sure to check out Jennifer's book, Draw Every Day, Draw Every Way: Sketch, Paint, and Doodle Through One Creative Year.


31 Oct 2016

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Craft Industry Alliance: Community & the Power of Success

Abby Glassenberg and Kristin Link are the founders of Craft Industry Alliance, a membership trade industry organization dedicated to supporting professional crafters, makers, designers, retailers and much more in their business endeavors. Craft Industry Alliance -- or CIA as it’s now refereed to --  is a membership platform that launched this fall. It offers forums, articles, webinars, and much more for their members. They also publish a bi-weekly journal with in-depth business and industry articles both for members and the greater public. Abby and Kristin are both veteran bloggers within the craft industry. They’ve created incredible communities individually, contributed valuable content for years, and supported their communities extensively. Creating and building Craft Industry Alliance was the next logical step for them on their journey online, I was thrilled to hear why they started it, how it’s been, and more. Topics we discuss today are how Abby and Kristin’s backgrounds as educators and bloggers have underlined the importance of sharing information to help other businesses grow and succeed, and how CIA now encompasses those beliefs. We also talk about actually building community, what the platform offers, why it was important to them to pay their contributors, their own tips for starting a business, and how success is an incredible motivator.


16 Dec 2015

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Windy Chien: Exit Strategies, Creative Practice, & the Big Picture

Windy Chien is a product designer and artist living in San Francisco. After long careers at Apple and in the music industry, she launched her business in 2015. Windy offers beautiful, signature items such as hand carved spoons and macrame light fixtures. Launching her latest endeavor has allowed not only the ability to explore, design, and develop products that speak to her and carry her personal style, but its also fulfilled an existential need she had after sitting behind a desk for 8 years. We explore this as Windy shares openly with me about how she made an exit strategy from her job as an editor in the App Store at Apple to fully realize a dream to be a working artist in a way that’s sustainable. We also chat about how her creative practice has allowed her to really refine her personal style within her products and how finding her authentic self within her business has been a constant process. I specifically wanted Windy to come on the show today because I find her ability to keep innovating within her personal and professional life incredibly inspirational. She continues to explore her needs and desires even through serious change and that in and of itself is super powerful. I also admire the way she’s been able to focus on the big picture - which as we all know, isn’t always easy. I walked away with a lot to think about within my own business, and I hope our discussion inspires you to make the necessary plans to move towards your own goals what ever they may be.


2 Dec 2015

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Rosalie Gale: Shower Art, Listening to Your Gut, & Getting Things Done

Today’s guest is my friend and very funny lady Rosalie Gale. Rosalie lives and works in Seattle Washington where she co-owns the shop Ugly Baby and La Ru.  Today on the show we discuss how her product Shower Art, a colorful rubber sculpture filled with glitter, came to be. We also dive into feelings and when to really listen  — like when every fiber in your being is telling you it DOES NOT WANT TO DO SOMETHING. Rosalie learned this through years of dabbling in standup and we discuss how this really opened her up to paying attention to her feelings. I loved this because I think so often people think they know what’s best for us and we can be swayed by what we should be doing as opposed to what we want to be doing. At the end of the day we’re the one who are in touch with what’s going on and it’s important to honor that regardless of what the larger culture tells us. We also cover how the book Getting Things Done by David Allen helped Rosalie end years of making to-do lists that never got done. She shares with us how the book’s guidance helped her to create projects, how it improved her productivity, and how by breaking down your to do list can actually help you accomplish much more. Lastly we discuss her unexpected reaction when the website Instructables created a step by step process tutorial guiding readers how to make Shower Art, albeit incorrectly.


17 Nov 2015

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Kiva Zip: Micro-loans, Crowdfunding, & Asking for Help

Welcome to a new feature on the podcast! Starting with this episode once a month I’ll be putting together a short episode where I chat with someone about a resource, an organization, or some other entity that I feel may help you explore choices within your life to make your dream a business, or help you focus on making things better for you - what ever that may be. This week's guest is Suzanna Rush the U.S. Operations Manager at Kiva Zip. Kiva Zip is a crowdfunding micro-loan platform that offers 0% loans to small businesses within the U.S. A few facts about Kiva Zip: its lent over $10 million dollars through the platform within the United States through 47 states to small businesses. Seventy-five percent of the loans have been loaned to women owned businesses, and I am one of those businesses! In September, I applied for a loan through the crowdfunding micro-loan site Kiva Zip for $3,000 to buy a new laptop and a monitor. My experience with the platform and the support I received from my community was absolutely incredible. It was also my only option, and I wanted to share this valuable resource with you in the hopes that it may help you or someone you know. We discuss what the platform is, how it works, who it's for, and all of the information you need to get started. I hope it inspires you to pursue your business goals and maybe even support someone else's!


7 Nov 2015

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Betsy Cordes: Impostor Syndrome, Accepting Your Path, & Breathing Life into an Old Book

This week on the show I sit down with Betsy Cordes. Betsy is an artist, an art director, and much more. She lives and works in San Francisco with her husband Chuck, an attorney - together they run February 13, a consulting firm to help artists build and run their business. I met Betsy when I first went freelance in 2012 and started hanging out at Makeshift Society in San Francisco, and I was immediately drawn to how warm and thoughtful she was, as well as completely on the ball. Betsy has done much in her life and has a lot to offer her clients, blog readers, and her peers and I wanted to have her on the show because of this. Today on the show we discuss impostor syndrome, the blog she and her husband write which offers excellent advise on navigating the world as an artist,  and we touch on dealing with the overwhelm of social media and her love hate relationship with it, and lastly how she and her family brought to life a family favorite Christmas book through Kickstarter Mr. Dog's Christmas at the Hollow Tree Inn. I think there’s a lot to relate to and learn from in today’s show. I hope you enjoy it!


31 Oct 2015

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Chawne Kimber: Race, Identity, & Social Justice Through Quilting

This week my guest is Chawne Kimber of Cauchy Complete, a modern quilter and a math professor. Chawne is well known within the quilting community for not only her beautiful quilts but for the subject of her quilts. Through quilting and needlework she explores a wide range of political and cultural topics, creating work that addresses subjects regarding race, identity and social justice. We discuss wide range of things; how she got involved in quilting, particular quilts that have caused a stir both online and off and why she made them, and briefly on her creative process. Just a note to those of you listening with children, are at work, or have other people around you, we do talk about Chawne’s quilts that have been inspired by censorship and other cultural happenings here in the US. Nothing super graphic, but we do use profanity, talk about the murder of Trayvon Martin, and use the word rape quite a few times when discussing Chawne’s quilt Todd’s No Baby Quilt. It’s nothing over the top, but I want you to be prepared.


17 Oct 2015

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Dear HandMade Life: Working Together & Making It Work

On todays show I talk with Delilah Snell and Nicole Stevenson of Dear Handmade Life, artists, makers, and entrepreneurs.  They’re the women behind Patchwork Show - a bi-annual festival showcasing emerging artists and makers taking place in various spots around California, and Craftcation, a 4 day business and makers conference that takes place in Ventura, CA every year, and as of today they’ve launched 3 online workshops - Craft Show Success, The Home Artisan Bar, and Sketchbook Adventures.  I was excited to bring Delilah and Nicole on the show because they are a great example of a successful business helping and enriching their community and doing many different things. Today, we talk about why they do what they do, their passion for empowering their community, what it’s like be in business together and how they make it work. We also talk about being children of single moms and what that has done for us as women and business owners, and as always much much more!   Music on today's show is Nectarine by Twin Sister.


19 Aug 2015

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Will Lyman: Frontline, F.O.M.O, & Selling Out

This week on the show my guest is actor and narrator Will Lyman. You will know him best as the narrator of the PBS documentary news series, Frontline, and the voice behind Dos Equis The Most Interesting Man in the World campaign. I grew up next door to Will and his family here in Boston Ma., and I’ve known him my whole life as a neighbor and a friend. So it was extra special to sit down with him and talk to him about his career, experiences, and his feelings around them both. Today we talk about his job as a narrator and actor, and what it’s like to work on such a prestigious and well known show like Frontline. We also touch on working in advertising and a specific experience Will had when a fan criticized him for “selling out” after narrating a BMW campaign. We also discuss what fame really entails, coming to terms with FOMO (fear of missing out), and recognizing that we never miss out on experiences we're meant to have.


16 Jul 2015