Meaning to Share Podcast: Ep 002 - Aga Siuda
6:15PM Jun 22, 2021
When I dive in, I dive in hard and deep and I delve into that job so deep that there was no more room for anything or anyone else.
This is Meaning to Share, the podcast where we explore the amazing gifts of seemingly average individuals, proving that everyone has a meaningful skill, talent or strength that is unique only to them, and which they are destined to share with others during this lifetime. I'm your host, Meredith McCreight. I spent decades painfully trying to fold myself into the boxes that other people, the media and society created for me, until I realized there was only one authentic version of me. And that is more than enough. In fact, it's divine. I want to show my guests and you, the listeners, that each of us is meant for greatness. It's already in you, you just have to choose to see it and embody it. Now my guest doesn't know ahead of time which gift if there is we'll be discussing. So please enjoy this unscripted, honest, delicious conversation with one of my favorite people. This is Meaning to Share.
Today I'm sitting down with Aga Siuda. She's a branding and design expert and owner of a small creative business called Grassroots Design. She also co-owns another template design business with me called Done for You Content. Aga lives in Charleston, South Carolina with her husband Sebastian, daughter, Olivia and son, Henry. Her Polish upbringing, mixed with more than half a lifetime spent in the US, contributes to Aga's unique design style and her perspective on life. She loves to surround herself with beauty and meaning both in relationships and material items.
I met Aga in 2012 on our first day at a new job in Charleston. I remember I had just moved across the country a few weeks earlier from Phoenix, Arizona, and I had stayed with my folks in Charlottesville, in Virginia, until my apartment was available on the first of January. And I was so so sick. I had some sort of cold or bronchitis or something and it just like really kicked my ass. I remember I had to pull over at the North Carolina visitors center and take a nap in my car. And I had my dog with me, so it wasn't the easiest thing to pull off, especially in the winter. But we did it. And I was sleeping on an air mattress because my movers weren't arriving for another few days with my things. So this first few days on the new job. I was really on the struggle bus. I just remember that even when I felt so absolutely shitty. Aga was such a bright spot. She and our friend Ben, whom we call our brother, the three of us just clicked instantly and we've sort of been family ever since.
So in this episode Aga and I explore her incredible talent for creating beauty and physical spaces. She gives away some of her tricks for styling a home including rehabbing furniture other people have thrown out. And we reminisce about how we met and we talked about the roots of her gift and how it is so deeply tied to her Polish culture. I just had so much fun talking with Aga about one of her many gifts today and I think that will be obvious when you hear us get the giggles quite a few times. I honestly can't imagine my life without her. Please welcome my dear friend, Aga Siuda.
Welcome to Meaning to Share, Aga, or as I affectionately call you, Agabot or Bot. Thank you so much for being one of the first guests on my show.
I'm so excited to be here. Thanks for having me.
Of course. So Aga, tell us a little bit about you. Where are you from? What's your cultural background and upbringing?
Well, there's so much to tell. I'm from Poland. I came to the US when I was 20 years old, which I thought I was so adult, you know, and so grown up when I was coming here. And now looking back, I realized that I was just like a spring chicken. You know, a baby. I didn't know what the hell I was doing. And it was a long time ago. But yes, I'm from Poland and about to go back there in a week after two years of not being able to travel. I first came to [the US from] Boston and I have such fond memories of that city. I made so many beautiful friends there. went to college for design. And you know, life happened. I was supposed to go back home to my family. And I stayed. I decided to stay. I got a really good job as a designer in the city. That was so fun. Met my husband and that was it. Stayed in the US. Then, you know, about a decade later, we decided to move to Charleston—change of pace, change of culture again, you know, totally different moving from Boston to Charleston, but we made our little nest here and that's where we've been for the past, you know, 11 or so years. 12 I guess now. Yeah, it's been good. Life's good. And so that's that's sort of like, where I've been and where I am. Professionally, I am a designer. I'm a graphic designer and brand designer, a strategist, a UX designer. What else can I do? I mean, lots of things... content strategist.
Oh we're going to talk about some of it today.
I do all of this the things!
Awesome. And you're you're really close with a lot of people in your family, specifically your mom and your grandma.
Yes, very close.
Tell us a little bit more about your, your family.
Oh, well, I'm feeling very tender now about that subject, because I'm about to go see them. And I miss them so much, you know. You know how we are like, I call them every day and they tell me about their, you know, who walked by their house and what they said, and it's all the little mundane things in life, but it keeps them entertained. And I just love hearing it. You know, our lives are so vastly different. Me being here. And them being there, like everything about it, from the culture to the language, climate, you know, people in our lives, everything's very different. But we stay so connected. And we're just so incredibly embedded and immersed in each other's lives that just feels like we're together. You know?
Yeah. And did your family, I mean, when you were younger, did you experience kind of like a slower pace of life living in Poland?
Yes, and no. So I was born and grew up in the city—in a big city. And it was very industrial, lots of people. I lived, up until I left Poland, we lived in this apartment building of 13 floors, 100 families in one building. And unlike in the United States, you know, people stay their whole lives in the same apartment, in the same house, for generations, often, right? And so I grew up with all those people, like, on top of one another, literally, we all knew each other, you know, I still go back and I see them. So growing up in the city, I can't say that was a slow pace of life. Um, it was very saturated with activities and lots of people. That was a very densely populated populated area. However, my parents own, they have owned this little cottage / log cabin type of thing, where my grandmother was born, you know, about three hours away from the city. And we would drive there, you know, for long weekends. And I always, every year, my brother, and I would spend the summer there with my grandmother. And she, you know, she lived in the city with us, she helped raise us but, she would pack up and we would all go you know, and spend the whole summer there. And that's, when I go back, that's where I stay. That's my happy place. That's where, you know, most of my really meaningful, really sweet friends come from, those friendships, I still maintain them. And that's sort of like where I find my peace. I dream about that place. You know, I think about it all the time.
Aw. Love that. Before I do the big reveal of what we're going to talk about today. I have one question for you. And I want you to just—I'm not going to clarify what the question means. So I want you to just say the first thing that comes to your mind, okay? You ready?
Yeah, I'm ready.
What is something that you've been meaning to share?
I've been meaning to share more of, I've been meaning to share me more with the people that mean a lot to me. I sometimes have a tendency to make myself unavailable in many different ways. And it has, you know, I have different reasons for it. As a true Gemini, you know, I sometimes go totally overboard one way, I'm this like, crazy extrovert, going like, ya know 100 miles a minute, and then I have to pull back because I give so much that my brain goes "weee", you know, and I have to pull back way, way, way back to sort of protect my sanity. And so I guess my goal has been for a while to try and even out the scales a bit more. Not go all in when I'm in that mode and not regress so much when I'm not, and sort of create more of a balance and keep myself sane. And also, you know, I feel like it weighs on some of my friendships when I do that, because people don't know what to expect, you know, Oh, she's missing in action again, you know, for two weeks, you don't hear from Aga. Whatever. And then I'm like, all in. And I think it creates a confusing experience. So I guess that's what comes to mind, like giving more attention to those who I care about in a more meaningful, consistent way.
Mmm, that's interesting because I feel like you're already very good at that. So that's interesting to me that that's something that you want to focus on. But yeah, I think it's, you know, it's part of self care. And that's something that I think a lot of us are kind of learning how to recalibrate that moving back into like, what feels like more normal life now. It's like, Oh crap, like we can actually like go to parties and stuff! Like, am I socially ready for that? I think it's so funny too, that you mentioned that you are a Gemini because I thought about doing like as one of my introductory questions asking people what their sign was. And I was like, nobody's gonna want to talk about that. But on my first episode, Audrey talked about hers, too. So that's really funny.
You know it's funny. We have this joke in the house because my husband Sebastian is also Gemini and both of our kids, Henry and Olivia are Gemini. We were all born within the same week.
Oh my god.
Well, yeah, but we're all totally different people. And I'm like, crazy. You know, I this is like superstitious, I guess, Polish upbringing, I don't know. But my mom and I are like super into this stuff you know we read horoscopes and of course, if it's bad, like we don't even discuss it. But if it's good, we always shared with each other. Their like, only believe the good stuff, which I think is a good mindset, you know. But Sebastian, just doesn't believe it at all, you know, and I always tell him, and he just ever so slightly rolls his eyes with me. Like, Here she goes again with this crap. I like it, I think it's meaningful.
I like it too. I feel like, like with a lot of things, it doesn't have to be something that you subscribe to every single tenant of it right? You can just let it sort of be a filter that you pass things through. And like you said, you can take what you want from it and leave the rest behind.
Well, I've always been a strong believer in making your own destiny, right? And try to tell me what to do, oh my God. Part of the reason why you know I own my own business is because I love to be in charge of my own destiny of my own life. Of how I spend my energy and time. And it's the same sort of thing with these types of astrology, telling you or predicting how your life's gonna go. I mean, yeah, loosely. It entertains me. I loosely believe that. But I, you know, I'm the boss here.
I do what I want.
Yes, you do. I like that too, because it kind of provides you like what the energetics are around the planets on any given day or week or month. And that's like, like I said, kind of a nice filter to pass things through. But you still have your agency as a human being and your ability to make choices. So I think it's kind of how you put those two together.
Do you have any guesses what I want to talk about today?
No. And you know, it's funny, because we talk so often, and about so many things. And I probably should know, but I don't know, just tell me.
Well, you have so many gifts. I mean, truly, I admire you so much. You're an amazing mom, you're super creative. You're like the strongest person I know. And I mean that because you also know that part of strength is being vulnerable. And so I think you have like such a nice balance of, Yeah, try to tell me what to do, but also like, I'm having a bad day, and I'm going to go cry right now. So I love that about you. You're a fantastic cook, and you're like the hostess with the mostest. You throw the best dinner parties. And you're so funny. And you're just such a nurturing friend and neighbor and coworker like you just take everyone in. And you're an active philanthropist, like you're so involved with nonprofits. And I mean, just all the things.
Thank you. I'm tearing up.
Oh, well, I'll give you a minute, because I'm going to say some more stuff. But the thing I wanted to highlight today is you have this gift of creating beauty, and specifically in physical spaces, because your trade craft is obviously graphic design, and you do a lot of marketing strategy. So you create a lot of beauty in the digital form. But you already know that because that's how you make your living. So I really wanted to talk today about your talent for curating these incredibly gorgeous physical spaces, particularly ones where other people wouldn't necessarily see potential there. So how do you feel about talking about that today?
That's very surprising. I love it. Thank you for bringing that up. I did not expect that one? That's really cool.
I feel like I would have said, I did not expect that one, about anything you said because like I like I said, I didn't have a clear expectation. But um, that's cool. I'm so glad that you chose that. Because that's something I really enjoy. And I spend a lot of time that I probably shouldn't spend on thinking about spaces and recreating them. Constantly.
Interesting that you said "shouldn't" be spending time doing that. That's exactly what I wanted to talk about it today. Yeah, so... Okay, so before we get into some more questions around how you create beauty, I wanted to share a little anecdote with our listeners that highlights just how classy you are and how much you cherish and exquisite experience, especially when it comes to food and dining. So as long as I've known you you have always plated your food. You're not an eat from the package type of gal.
I know where this is going, I'm crying laughing.
So when we we shared a cubicle and I shared a cubicle for to about two years, and I remember she had "work" china so she had like dishes that she brought in because she doesn't use like disposable plates or flatware, that's not happening. And she certainly wasn't going to drink her coffee or her tea without her cup and saucer. So she had this beautiful like, china tea cup and saucer. And I'll never forget one day I looked over and you had plated a Snickers bar. You had gone to the vending machine, gotten a Snickers bar, unwrapped it, and cut it into small bites, with your own knife of course that you brought. You were just over in your corner savoring each small bite of the Snickers bar, which is just so truly Aga like just to make a Snickers experience so beautiful. That's like, so on brand for you.
Oh my God, what a loser.
No way. It's the best.
You know what, it's funny. But I I think about how I eat my food all the time. And I just can't it's like, it's like I said, the beauty it exists in so many different forms and ways, right? But there's something about food, it just has to look good to me, you know, I, I will eat it out of the box. If I'm hungry enough, right? Or if I want it enough, but I just I eat because I enjoy eating. And I truly love food. And I love to make it and I love to feed it to people. You know, at the time you mentioned I loved entertaining and and I just I love it because I can see that people enjoy what I've prepared for them. It doesn't have to be some exquisite, complicated dish, right. But even putting together a cheese board, you know, it brings me pleasure to present it in a beautiful way. And yeah, I remember having my own set of china at work. And you guys giving me shit about it daily.
Although, you know, there was this one time when I was pregnant, and I was pretty advanced and Ben still gives me crap about that one, where I was caught red handed eating cake straight out of the box. But I mean, that was an emergency situation! You know.
I don't even believe that this happened.
Unfortunately Ben captured it in a photograph.
If I can find that photograph, I'll put it in the show notes for listeners.
Don't. Please don't. It was one of my lowest moments.
Oh, man. Okay, so let's talk about your wonderful gift. You just moved to a new home but in your previous home, you had done a lot of work. You renovated the kitchen, you added on a sunroom and you created this beautiful outdoor space, which I remember you even like upgrading it right before you put the house on the market. So tell us about your vision going into that like house renovation project.
I create spaces that... I don't have any training and interior design at all, I just have this yearning for creating and being in spaces that make me feel very comfortable and peaceful. And I love to sort of bring in the elements from you know, from my culture, right, from my country and use lots of natural materials and sort of go back in time and try and figure out what people used and how they lived. Like raw linens, right? And, and those sort of handmade textures and fabrics. And I try to bring in those elements into the surroundings in my homes. The old home, you know, you know, I still like cry at night about that house.
It was really beautiful.
You know, it wasn't. It was an ugly house. But we made it so ours like, you know, we walked in and was like, you know, your shoulders are like up by your ears all day at work. And then you you walked in there and you're like, Ahhhh, you know, you just wanted to take a deep breath. It just felt like home and I think that's what guides me in creating the spaces that are livable for us. It just has to feel like us. It has to be ours and it has to have natural materials and textures and just creating that oasis that ya know soft space where living can happen. And we live on top of one another, there four of us, you know with two kids and the best times that we have are when we're together. I grew up in a tiny tiny apartment, very small quarters. For 20 years there were like five of us in this tiny little place, one on top of another and we never thought that it was too small, you know, never occurred to us. There was no privacy. The concept of privacy came to me in America when I was 20 years old. We never had this issue of like being on top of one another, you know, Europe, everything's small. And so we bought this new house last year, because we thought we needed more space. Now, I love the house, don't get me wrong, but I don't like the fact that we are not all togeth-- like, I don't know where my kids are. And it bugs me. You know, bugs me that I don't know where they are, reading their books, and I can't see them when I just, you know, crane my neck.
So yeah, go back to the... sorry about the tangent. Going back to how to create those spaces. I think it's just selecting elements that feel good. You know, I never, I hate shopping online. I just I hate it—for clothing, for dishes for you know, stuff at home, which I had to do for this new house a lot because of COVID, I couldn't go anywhere. But for the old house, I mean I really went around and you know, it took me some time. But I collected these items, you know, they weren't like, Alright, boom, one day shopping online and everything in one store, you know, it's done. It's just it was the collection of things, ya know paintings that a friend of mine made or, you know, graphics that I imported from Poland and you know, different types of things that just makes us they they make us feel at home.
Yeah. What's your process for picking out the design of a room? Because it's like I can understand those elements that you've sort of curated over time. But like when you go to pick a wall color and pick a couch and a table like for the sunroom like you created the most beautiful sunroom, like what was your inspiration for that and where did you find those pieces?
So the creating a room is sort of like designing a website. You can't have a home page that looks totally different from everything else, right, you still have the same design elements that repeat every page on the website is unique, and it caters to different needs. But it's really very, very similar. If you think about it, you know, that user experience still carries over to the spaces where we physically live, not just digitally. And it's that kind of thing. Like you have to look at the house and really think okay, this house, you know, has a certain sort of style and look at the surroundings of it and think about every room as a page that you're going to be looking at, right? How is it going to be used? Who's going to be using it? You know, you make it functional because if it's not functional, if it's not comfortable, no one will want to spend a minute there. So that's sort of the most important criteria, how is it used and who's going to be using it, and then you make it part of a whole. You kind of stick to the general style. Like, I feel like my decorating style at home is sort of soft and comfortable, a little eclectic, but nothing too crazy. So selecting colors for the room, it's still part of a greater scheme. It has to be. Otherwise it starts to look a little cuckoo, you know?
Yeah, I think that's such an important thing to put together. I mean, I love that you compared it to web design, because it's like you don't have a totally different color set on a different page. It's all part of the same brand. And it's the same thing in your house. But yeah, you can still give each room its own personality. But yeah, that functionality piece is really important. I think a lot of people don't think about that, either. It's like, oh, I bought this beautiful couch, but it's so uncomfortable. You didn't bother to put your butt on it first. Like that's the purpose that it serves.
Yeah. And then, you know, just like with websites, you have to have a focal point, right? What's the most important thing on this page? What's the most important thing in this room, you know, where are we going to be spending time what are we going to be looking at? And then you sort of plan around it, you pick your beautiful pearl of a focal point and when you build around that.
I love it. I remember at one time, this was a long time ago, but when we shared a cube you were like rehabbing old furniture pieces. Tell us about that. And are you still doing it?
I really want to. I think Sebastian's banned me out of the garage now. Yeah, I definitely will continue to do that because I just really enjoy it. I think uh when we met I was sort of like redoing IKEA pieces, you know, cheaper type of furniture just making it our own, you know, make it fit and a little bit better. But in time I started buying more antique pieces that words are damaged or you know didn't look so great the way they were but they had great bones and beautiful forms and so for the sunroom you know i that big piece that was sort of on the wall, that big cabinet, had been you know it had a really ugly color on it and but it had the you know handblown a tiny little glass windows you know all the all the like beautiful details in it. I just fell in love with that piece when I saw it and I brought it home I lugged at home with a friend because Sebastian was away and when he came home he was like, What the heck is this ugly piece of crap? And I was like, Don't worry, don't worry. I see it. He's like, I don't see it. I don't see it at all. I don't see it. But you know, I redid it and it took me a long while you It was a labor of love but it became beautiful and I loved using it and it's that sort of thing you know again that comfort functionality and beauty they all have to all those pieces have to be part of it. Because if it's just going to stand there unused, you know, that's not, I don't want that in my house. I want everything to be used. I want to touch everything and put my beautiful little tchotchkes in it. You know, my 1000 different bowls that I make. They have to go somewhere.
Okay, you're in your new home now and I haven't gotten the full virtual tour yet and haven't been there in person. But I saw your bedroom, your master bedroom and you have this delicious wallpaper in there that has birds all over it and you put these beautiful like gold or brass light fixtures over it. And you guys, it's so pretty if Aga lets me I'll put some pictures in the show notes but, didn't you say you did like special order that wallpaper from Italy or something?
Yes, the internet can be a very very tricky place. I yeah, I spent a lot of time and energy sort of planning out this house because it was being built, you know, for for five months. So for five months, literally like every day I was on my Pinterest account just adding to those boards, you know, looking at different textures and the types of furniture and thinking through the different spaces. You know, I have like very good spatial imagination—not orientation, like I can't find my house if I leave the street and have to come back here—but somehow I can visualize spaces in the house. My husband cannot so we would have this conversations where he would just stare at me blankly it's like, Uh which room are you talking about? You know for that bedroom specifically? I knew that I want to you know the kids are big enough now they're not sleeping with us, they're not coming in in the middle of the night. I wanted to have this like spa luxurious experience when I go to bed. I knew I wanted to have a great mattress and great bed, you know, beautiful sheets. And so I was like yeah, I'm gonna do it. And so all these like great fabrics, they deserved to be in a beautiful room, you know? So yeah, that wallpaper serves, uh, it's an accent in the room, a focal point. You know, it's behind our bed. Yeah, I'll send you the photos. You can use them.
Yeah, and just for people listening, describe it. Describe what's on the wallpaper.
So the wallpaper has this beautiful, rich green background and it has white cranes on it all over these large birds with spread out wings. And when I saw it I literally I just gasped when I saw it on Etsy. I was like this is mine. It has to be mine. It's coming home with me. And I have a slight obsession with cranes you know living here in Charleston, they are everywhere these beautiful majestic birds and I just love them. I think they're just so graceful, just so so gorgeous. So I thought perfect this is like this is gonna fit in great with the surroundings. You know, like I talked to people we talked about before, you know, you kind of have to figure out where the house is and what's around it and I thought, Okay, this is appropriate, you know, we live in the south, there are cranes everywhere. And so this wallpaper, it was expensive. I ordered it from Italy, it comes and it's cut into rectangles. So it's like, all right, fine, I can probably figure this out. I'm crafty, right?
Not like the long not like long floor to ceiling rectangles, like small rectangles, right?
Like Yeah, like, I don't know, three feet by about two feet. You know, they're like small. Yeah, they're pretty small rectangles. So I'm gonna go right so I can this probably just easier you know? Because how hard can it be to match four sides of a wallpaper to another rectangle on the wall? Then the glue stopped working because it's like some European glue that's problably made for a totally different wall texture. Ya know, I think a day into it, I had like two squares up and I was crying on the ladder. Like ugly crying, you know? Sebastian wouldn't even dare coming into the room. He was like alright, just leave her alone. Leave mommy alone. Mommy's busy. You know, I finally called a friend who had some experience laying wallpaper. She came and we barely could like make it work. We bought American glue. You know? Finally worked. Stuff wasn't sliding off the wall. And yeah, I there are a lot of mistakes in that wallpaper that only I know about. And I just love it. It was all worth it. I don't know if I was so sure about the worst part. Like that day when I finished doing it. I was so mad, but but I just love being in that room. You know, it makes me happy.
It was worth it. It's so pretty. I love it.
Yes. And I have I have these really great friends Marta and Dave. They live in Boston. They came down to visit with us over Christmas and Dave is a very accomplished martial arts teacher and he walked in he saw this wallpaper he goes, Ahh, this is such a good omen Aga, you know, cranes in the Asian culture, they have a very good symbolic meaning, you know, he's just like, this is perfect. I can't believe you chose this. I was like, Yeah, man. I totally knew. No. But it's just nice. You know, sometimes those little signs come through.
Yeah, well, I also want to talk about... you've been like planning all these events lately. And normally, you're more of like an event planner for your friends just kind of hosting stuff. But you have been working for what is now a nonprofit, I think it was just a group or a community group before, but there's a Polish society in Charleston. And so you've been posting all of these, these beautiful events with them. And our mutual friend, we call him our brother, Ben, he's been to some of these events. And he said, they're just absolutely beautiful. So tell us about some of the design concepts you've had for the past few events and how you came up with those?
Sure. Yes. So I am the proud president of this little society here. We try to bring Polish culture closer to the people of Charleston. And yes, we have put together several different events here, you know, with COVID, it was very challenging, but but we did it. And I think generally speaking, you know, we try to bring in that flavor of Poland without being kitschy. That's the goal. Like not to... ya know Polish colors, the flag is red and white, and it's it's just, you know, bringing a little bit of that flavor, but still making it feel like we belonged in Charleston, and everything has to gel somehow. But I have been extremely lucky because the ladies who are on the board of trustees, uh the board of directors with me, and the volunteers, are so extremely talented. And they just, you know, they help with that. So I can't take the credit for those events. You know, we did sort of a community community work a group of us work together and just comes together beautifully. Every time.
I'm sure that some of it was your vision and guidance, though, but I like that you're giving credit to to your team there. Um, what were some of the concepts like what were some of the themes of the events that you've done recently?
So this year, we had this sort of Christmas gathering, which, which is, we have this tradition in Poland, where we share the holy wafer before, before the Christmas Eve dinner, which is a really important night, like we celebrate on that night, you know, there's a big meal of 12 dishes and all this, all these traditions. So we try to bring that to Charleston every year. And typically we have it at this little stable downtown, but we couldn't have it inside. So the stable owner offered his horse farm to us and we did it outdoors. And so we had a unique opportunity to be out in this gorgeous setting, you know, with horses grazing and these huge oak trees, you know, covered in Spanish moss, if you can visualize that, you know, the southern landscape's just gorgeous. And so we decided to decorate the barn you know, with with Christmas wreath and set up tables where we could display very elegantly some of the holiday decorations, you know, we had some Polish decorations from Poland that were being sold, we have a vendor who always comes and sells them. And so that was beautifully presented. We had a bake sale, not a bake sell, but I guess like... yeah, a bake sale. That was you know, also beautifully set up on that table. And and actually we had our mutual friend, Raheel Gauba come and and set up a table for for his businesses for the photography and everything just worked together. It sounds like so many different things were happening. But you know, we unified everything with black tablecloth very elegant, and we had these sort of rustic accents, you know, little chalkboards where we were writing things down what's on what's happening on each table and prices of things if they were for purchase. So again, that sort of consistent theme of keeping it very elegant because it's such an important tradition for us for the Polish people, but also fitting in within the setting. You know, we're in a horse farm at a horse farm, so make it a little bit rustic.
That's awesome. I love that. Ben said you also had something on a beach?
Oh, well, that was not me. That was my birthday. That was this week on Monday, so my...
Well, happy birthday!
Oh, thank you. So I just so I always say I'm so so lucky with people. You know, I just meet the most beautiful people in my life. Like this is my biggest accomplishment really. So I met these three other Polish women in Charleston and we've you know I've known some of them for more than seven years. And and you know, some of them were very close friends. Others were not they were more of an acquaintance. But this past year brought us together so closely and we've rediscovered each other. It's just been such a beautiful experience. Like I feel so loved and so respected and self supported by them. You know, you know, that's like we have that, you know.
Yeah and so they, uh, we have started doing these birthday surprises for each other for every girl, you know, we always do something fun and creative and, and all of us love to decorate right? So we always make it beautiful. But for my birthday, they set up... it was it was stunning. I literally, I was jumping up and down at that beach, they set up this gorgeous picnic on the beach. It had gourmet food, it had furniture, it had this beautiful boho umbrella, it had rugs, girl, I mean, it was the whole shebang. Like I can't believe it. So that's, I didn't do that. But I wish I had done that for somebody. That's amazing idea. I'll have to do that for you when you come to visit me.
Oh, I don't even need that much fanfare. I just like your, um, every time I visit Aga there's like a full spread of food. And I just like get lost in the beautiful food. And she just hands me a glass of wine because she knows that's what I want. So.
We like it. We enjoy our food and wine, you know.
It's little pleasures in life.
Yeah, good food, a glass of wine and a comfy place to sit and some good company. Well, awesome. So there was one more thing I wanted to talk about. And that's I know, this past year, I don't know if it was because of COVID and you needed like some sort of outlet, but you've been taking painting and ceramics or pottery classes? And I've seen some of your pottery pieces, and they're amazing. Your color choices and designs are like a nice modern balance for such a traditional craft. But are these interests that you've always had? Or have you dabbled in these in the past or are these new?
No. So yes, the pottery I started that almost two years ago, and it was at the time where I had left my corporate job. And I felt like okay, and I made that decision to leave that job, not because I hated my job or whatever, it was just a very conscious decision to change the pace, you know, find the balance, really bring in the balance of work life back to my life.
And part of why I was lacking the balance is that I you know, like I said, in the beginning, when I dive in, I dive in hard and deep. And I dove into that job so deep that there was no more room for anything or anyone else. Including myself. So when I left I thought okay, what have I been wanting to do that I couldn't afford to do because of time, and it was pottery. I love making things with my hands. And I don't do it nearly enough. I thought okay, what better time than to try it now. And so I took this class, I went in thinking I was so cocky, there it is, I want went into that class thinking, I'm the creative. I'm gonna do great. Okay, I'm gonna walk away from you with like, a full dinner set after this class. Holy crap, was I wrong. I got there and for like, the first three months, I was so frustrated. And I have another designer, graphic designer friend who's taking classes there. And she's the same way she's like, what? I thought I would rock this. It's just a completely different craft, but once it clicked, about after a year, of damaging every piece of clay, it clicked that it's it's not about you know, trying to make something it's about having a relationship with that with with the clay, you know, and I just when that change happened, I started having almost like a meditative spiritual experience, you know, in that setting. And I love going there because the women in that class, it's a very small group, we've all become very good friends, you know, they're just beautiful people. But I also it's also a place for me to sort of like be, you know, and it's a very unique way for me to relax because you are working with your hands, all of your focus, just all of a sudden goes to that medium and how it's behaving and how it's responding to you and the crazy stuff is, Meredith, like, if I'm not balanced, like if I go into class, feeling upset, anxious, you know, oh, my God, I have all these meetings after this, you know, clients are freaking out, whatever, I break everything, like nothing comes out. And it's like the clay just listens to you. It takes in your energy and if you're frantic, it's just going to go all over the place. But if you're centered, and you're focused, it responds in the most beautiful ways, you know, and you can create, you can make something. I chose clay because I like making functional things, useful things and also to jokingly spite my husband a little bit because I have an obsession with collecting bowls. And at one point he said no more bowls, okay? One in one out.
But he said you couldn't *buy* any bowls, right?
I couldn't buy any bowls. Yeah, you can't buy any bowls, one in one out. So now we love that I took a clay class to make more bowls, because he would make me throw them out.
Exactly. I love it.
Don't tell Aga she can't do something.
I'll find a way. I'll figure it out. But yeah, the, you know, playing with the glazes, you know, it's so unpredictable, because you don't know how they're gonna fire when when it comes out of that kiln. Like it could have so many different effects. And it's so exciting. You know, it's like this anticipation, because nothing happens right away, like you have this instant gratification with working with digital tools, right? Because you can just undo on the keyboard, there's no Undo, you screw up, you screw up, you live with it, you know, it's forever.
There's some beauty in that though, too. Because it's like, even if something's imperfect or doesn't come out as you expected it, I feel like in that scenario, because you can't throw it away, you almost have more appreciation for it, because you put so much work into it. And like you said, you have that relationship with the clay. And it was like this thing that you like, you know, collaborated with nature on and it's like, just has so much more weight to it, then yeah, like, Oh, I designed a website, and it looks really shitty. So move on to the next concept. You know, it's like, delete that file. But that's interesting. I also think it's cool what you said about that relationship with the material and how like, if you come in and you're in a bad place, like nothing good comes out. And I almost think it's that way with digital material as well. Right? It's like, if you're trying to create something from a place of forcing it, and you're not like in that creative flow. It's so hard to get anything good out of your brain.
Absolutely. Yes. I mean, I was in that place this morning, you know, I have so much work, I have this deadline, but I just I've worked a lot this week. And you know what I was like, You know what, I just I don't have it in me, I'm gonna wait a little bit and have another cup of coffee and listen to some music. And I'm gonna go for a walk on the beach. And then it was like 11 o'clock. And I felt a little bit guilty. But then I was like, You know what, I'm my own boss. And my boss just told me I could take a break. It's okay,
I'll get it done... when I'm good and ready, you know, because I will be able to make something great for my client, not when I'm spazzing. And you know, don't feel like doing it. It's like you said, it's just, I mean, it's gonna happen because you have to do it. But it won't be as good as when you're ready for it.
Yeah, and it takes so much less energy and like drains you so much less when you will kind of wait for inspiration to strike. And that's such, it's such a tough balance when you are a professional, like a creative professional, because you can't like you said, you can't wait forever, you have deadlines. So yeah, it's like really hard to find that balance. But sometimes I think actually giving yourself the space and taking breaks is what allows that flow to come back in. So it's really awesome that you can recognize that and give yourself those breaks.
I mean, you and I, we're so lucky and being able to do what we are very good at and what we really enjoy, you know, we love doing this stuff. And I think that's why, you know, while I appreciated having a steady paycheck. And you know, I'm very grateful for all the relationships I made at my corporate job. I think that's, you know, when people say it's soul sucking, I think that's what I think, you know, like, Is it just because you have to generate, you have to constantly generate, you know, stuff. And at some point, you know, it's quantity versus quality, right? I mean, how much creative output can you generate every day every single day for eight hours a day?
It's tough. So I think that's what I enjoy. about owning my own business is definitely being able to recognize that the flow. You know, when I'm ready to do creative work versus strategy work versus, Oh today is going to be bookkeeping an admin kind of day, you know, and that's okay.
And remind me what is your human design? Are you a generator? Manifesting generator?
You just said generator. And I was like, I think you actually are a generator,
I think Manifesting Generator is right. Yeah.
Yeah. That's funny. I'm a projector. And a lot of times projectors, especially ones who are freelancers or run their own businesses, they tend to they tend to pretend to be generators. So they try to do and do and do and they can they can do that but only for a very limited amount of time because we have like finite energy for doing so I've This is something I've been learning about myself is like when I do hit that wall, I have to stop because I will not recover from it if I keep going. And that's kind of been a godsend, it's it's forced me to be Be a little kinder and gentler with myself and let myself sort of have those ebbs and flows and just lean into it.
Yeah. Yeah, I don't know. That's, you know, it's funny because my, you called me Bot, right? And that nickname comes out of our days in the corporate environment, and I would just bot through a project. You guys would laugh at me, because I would put on those big ass headphones on my head and have my cut up snickers bar on my plate, and like 50 cups of coffee and just plow through a pile of work. And I still do that. It's funny how people get through work, right? I'm just a terrible procrastinator. But when I'm ready, oh, gotta watch out. You know, I like destroy that pile of work.
There's been, I won't, I won't give away who the client is. But there's been a couple of projects for one client in particular that Aga has that she literally waited to like, a couple of hours before the presentation to do the work. And I'm not kidding. Like, like, the best stuff came out of her brain she created she would create, like for logo concepts or whatever, you know, design layouts she had to make in like an hour. And like that would usually take me probably four to six hours, I would say on a good day. Yeah. And she was just, it was amazing.
Usually that's what it takes me. But I have my moments, you know.
Well, maybe that's the lesson and like waiting for the inspiration to strike, right? Could be risky, but...
If only we didn't have to make money.
Well, on that note, like you're doing, you're doing the whole— Aga owns her own creative agency called Graphroots Design. But so you're doing all that. But have you ever thought about like making income from any of these other like hands on things that you create, because you're so so good at all that.
My god, every day. Every day. So my dream and like my Polish girlfriends laugh so hard on me because they just don't see me because I think people have this vision of me as being sort of high maintenance. And it's like, you know, I like my china and my little cup and saucer. But I'm a country girl, you know, I like being out in the nature and making things with my hands. And so I have this, I don't know if it's ever gonna happen. But this this dream of owning this little bed and breakfast place back in Poland in the countryside and being able to offer something to people that the things that I cherish the most, which is that peace and quiet. And the balancing of being out in a beautiful, simple setting. And sort of just going back to the basics, and you know, the airbnbs in Poland, they always offer food in the house. So the hostess or the hosts, they cook for the people and they usually eat together and they entertain them, you know, I just I sort of have this vision of like having this rustic, beautiful setting where people can gather and be together and be away from the city hustle. And we can get to know each other, you know, share something meaningful, meaningful moments together, and then I can send them back to their daily lives with a beautiful memory.
And would you do that in Poland? Or would you do that here in the States?
I think I only know how to do that in Poland. Like when I think about it, it's always back there. I don't know if I'll ever move back. I love it here you know I love living in America but I think it comes from that longing you know, for my country, you know, I was an adult when I left. I'm very attached to it. And there's definitely the feeling of longing and so it's sort of a fantasy, you know that I that I have this creating this peaceful place for me and for other people.
I love that. I hope that you do that one day— not that I want you to move to Poland, but I hope you figure out some way to make it happen.
I mean, like think about it. How cool would it be to have a little spot just to do it in the summer, right? Because winter is brutal. I don't like winters. I like being in Charleston for the winter. But like you know, have a little cottage right have places for people to stay and have a little pottery studio there where people could take classes and make beautiful things themselves and I don't know, it just sounds magic.
I would come.
I would go there for sure.
We could take herbs and do yoga and my girlfriend's love this one. I could have goats and milk them and they just looked at each other and they were like, What? I would totally milk a goat, would you?
Yeah, I'm about it. Goat cheese is so good.
Well, after our conversation today, it sounds like you're already you're using this gift so much already sort of as you know, a hobby and in decorating your home. But is there any way that you think you'll change the way you share this gift because of our conversation today?
Hmm, that's a good question. You know, I don't know. I'm about to go home, you know, go be with my family. And I think a lot about how we share the space together. And so I think in the immediate future, what I think I'm going to do is, you know, create beautiful spaces, but not with stuff. And beautiful spaces a space where people feel connected, and they feel safe, and they feel welcome and wanted and loved. And so, you know, when I go, I will strive to create a space for all of us to feel that way.
I love that. And I know you will.
Yeah, yeah. And then in the future, you know, maybe one day have a little place in Poland, where I can spend the warm months and cook for people and make pottery and...
Yeah, the Bot Spot.
The Bot Spot. That's what I'm gonna call it.
Well, if people want to follow along on your journey, if they want to work with you, if they want to see pictures of your beautiful crane wallpaper, where can they find you on the worldwide web?
Oh, sure. Yes. So I have a Facebook page for my business Graphroots Design, Graphroots with a PH. Same on Instagram. And you can also find me as @agabot on Instagram.
Amazing. Well, I love you so much. Thank you so so much for coming on today and spending some time sharing your voice with me and letting me see your beautiful face. I know our listeners can't see it. But it's so good to see you. And I just appreciate you so much.
Aw, thank you, honey. Same here. Thanks so much for having me.
All right, bye.
That was so good. Right? If you want to follow Aga you can find her on Instagram @agabot and @graphrootsdesign. She's also on Facebook as Graphroots Design and that's graph with a PH. You can visit her website at graphrootsdesign.com to learn more about her business and how to work with her. You can also check out our shared business at doneforyoucontent.co. If you want to follow me, Meredith McCreight, you can find me on Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook with the handle @createwithoutbounds. You can visit the podcast page at meaningtoshare.com and check out more stuff from my brain at createwithoutbounds.com. You can find all of Aga's info, my info, all the social links and more in the show notes which also includes some pictures of Aga's gorgeous designs like the crane wallpaper that you don't want to miss. Thanks for tuning into this episode. Share something meaningful this week, friends. See you next time.