Wise Women Wednesday: Hillary Norman

Hillary Norman

Q. Who are you? What is your background? 
A. Hey!  I’m Hillary Norman.  I guess I would call myself a classic jack of all trades master of none.  My passion lies somewhere in the intersection of the arts, sciences, and good ideas.  My educational background began with Economics and Art History at Duke but I transferred to Savannah College of Art and Design for Furniture Design and Industrial Design.  I also have taken continuing ed classes at Salem College in their Design Program.  I have worked as a freelance furniture designer for a while and in business development and 3d imaging for my family’s 3d Laser Scanning Business.  I also love painting, metalworking, and generally making a mess of my kitchen counter or living room in the name of an art project.

Q. What is your work?
A. Freelance design and recently entrepreneurship.  I have founded/cofounded 4 businesses in the past year and a half.  They range from feminist apparel with a sense of humor (sayitwitholiveoil.com) to e-commerce modern furniture (5axisfurniture.com) to merchandising for musicians and artists and nonprofits (chordandcanvas.com) to a podcast about science from a layman’s perspective and how it affects our lives (www.thankyouscience.org)

Hillary Norman

Q. What is one project you are excited to be working on right now?
A. All of them!  I’m interested in so many things and I’m constantly coming up with new (sometimes half-baked) ideas to pursue… One thing I am excited to do is start my role as a resource for photoshoot coordinating and art direction for SheWolf.  I am doing a bit of work on an amazing photoshoot for a line of tuxedoes for women, and already the project has been soo much fun! I love creating an overall aesthetic vision that can help further develop the context of a brand concept, website, Instagram, etc. I never considered art direction as a career before, but after recently putting together a photoshoot for my apparel brand Sayitwitholiveoil.com I find it’s really fun work (and I seem to have a knack for it, which is always helpful!)

Q. What is one thing you've done recently that's scared you and took courage, but you're glad you did?
A. Generally being more open and honest about my personal struggle with severe depression and bipolar disorder and how I have overcome it.  It has been such a relief and a gift in that I have found that most people are a lot more understanding than I gave them credit for.  It’s cool to find out that most people I know are understanding, compassionate, truly good people!  It invalidates all the fears I once held about how people would perceive me and judge me if they knew. Being honest about my struggle is still scary, but it has brought me closer to everyone in my life. 

Hillary Norman

Q. What is the work you most want to be doing and are you doing it?  If not why not?  What's stopping you? 
A. I think I am still learning what I most want to do.  For a long time, my passion was dulled by depression, so I am just glad to be doing anything at all right now!  I know that I’m most at home in the world of design. Whether it’s furniture or fashion or jewelry, I am not sure at this point. I hate to pick just one thing, but I probably need to specialize and focus more. 

Q. What would you tell your high school or college self?
A. Don’t beat yourself up for being salutatorian instead of valedictorian.  First of all, that’s dumb.  Secondly, no one cares in the future!  Also, don’t pick your college based on where your boyfriend is going. Be your own woman!  You’re going to do great things, don’t be so hard on yourself.  (And don’t use that cranberry red hair dye from the grocery store, it is not as cute as it looks on the box!)

Q. What's one piece of advice or motto you love and use in your daily life that you would like to share with my sweet readers?
A. “If it’s not a hell yes, it’s a no.”  I do not heed this as often as I should, but it’s on a post-it on my monitor.
Lots of people have ideas about what success looks like.  They’re a distraction.  Success isn’t something you chase, it’s a vector—a current.  The trajectory you’re on matters more than where you are this moment. 

Hillary Norman

Q. What keeps you creating when you don't feel like it?
A. When I feel stuck, I try to engineer randomness or force myself to look at things differently.  I draw blind contours of objects around the room, listen to music I have never heard, watch stupid you tube videos on subjects I never look up… I translate texts into other languages in my head.  Anything to create a shift.  The world is so saturated with content, and I can either gain insight from taking in new material or creating a mental prism through which I can view the things you already know.  Usually that shakes loose an idea, or at the very least I get to watch some awesomely bad foreign commercials or learn a new word in Portuguese.  Also, exercise helps a lot.  I get on the stationary bike and pop in some headphones and trick myself into forgetting that I’m supposed to be creating and all the sudden I want to be creative again!

Q. Anything else you'd like to share?
A. I’m learning not to be intimidated by the things that I don’t know.  I always relied on my own knowledge to get me ahead in life, but I find that opening up to the expertise of others is the greatest challenge to my ego but the one that has brought the most value into my life!  (Shout out again to my new fellow SheWolves!)  Embracing what I don’t know also is what enables me to find areas for growth.  I hope I never lose the impetus and desire to keep learning.

Hillary Norman

Q. What's your favorite yoga pose? 
A. Dhanurasana  (Not gonna lie I had to look up the name and how to spell that!) aka bow pose.  I like how it’s kind of the inverse of the fetal position.  There’s probably some heavy-handed underlying symbolism there actually!

Q. How do you live a life of abundance?
A. I try to be open and generous with my (hopefully helpful) ideas and with compliments. 

Hillary Norman