It's Wise Women Wednesday, each week I interview a woman that I believe is inspiring, living abundantly and following her passions. These are all women who live a life of abundance and bring creativity into the world.
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Q. Who are you? What is your background?
A. My name is Alexa Terry Wilde and I’m 29 years old. I am from Reidsville, NC but I’ve lived in several major cities up and down the east coast since I graduated from college in 2010. I graduated from Elon University with a degree in Corporate Communications and decided that I wanted to pursue a career in the fashion industry. Unfortunately, I graduated into a terrible job economy and, after months of applying for corporate positions, I had little choice but to apply for a part-time job at Anthropologie here in Greensboro. Joke’s on me, I suppose because I ended up falling in love with retail and grew in management very quickly. I concentrated in visual display, merchandising, and event planning with brands like Free People, Club Monaco, and Madewell.
Q. What is your work?
A. I own a business called Antlers and Astronauts, a brick & mortar store that carries a highly curated collection of vintage clothing, antiques, and handmade goods from artists throughout the southeast region.
Opening a brick and mortar has been a dream of mine for nearly a decade. When I was younger, my grandmother would take me to yard sales and thrift stores where she coached me on the art of a good deal - I grew to fall in love with “the thrill of the hunt” and became an obsessive collector of old things. I was also very active in the theatre when I was younger, which cultivated in me a deep love of costumes and of storytelling. I wore vintage clothing in high school and in college and I spent hours scouring thrift stores and antique malls for special pieces that I could add to my personal collection. I didn’t realize it then, but the time spent in those spaces, with those secondhand goods, was crucial to developing the aesthetic for Antlers and Astronauts.
Since 2010, I’ve been dabbling in selling the goods that I’ve collected by showcasing them in booths at antique malls and at local craft fairs. Customers would comment on the quality of the goods, or commend me for the rarity of my finds, but I wasn’t truly achieving what I wanted to with the brand in these settings: an experience. I came to the conclusion that establishing Antlers and Astronauts in a permanent space was the only way to tell a cohesive story and provide an environment for customers to experience the brand fully.
Q. What is one project you are excited to be working on right now?
A. Over the past year, I’ve spent countless hours dreaming about what this brand could become and what value it could add to the community. I wanted to create a safe, inviting space where customers knew that they would be welcome, regardless of who they are, what they look like, or where they come from. I want customers to think of this space as somewhere that they can come to get their creative juices flowing, so I have made workshops a big priority for 2018.
Every few months, we’ll be hosting intimate workshops in the space. Topics will run the gamut: jewelry making, weaving, indigo dyeing, macramé, and more! We hosted our first jewelry workshop last month, and it was an incredible success! We’ve got a weaving workshop coming up in April that I’m really excited about. I want customers to begin to associate my brand with a community space, one in which they can dream, create, and enjoy a night out with their friends!
Q. What is one thing you've done recently that's scared you and took courage, but you're glad you did?
A. Opening a brick & mortar…! It’s funny: the idea of opening the store and the process leading up to it wasn’t scary at all to me. I think I just felt so ready, as though all of my experiences had lead to this endeavor which felt so right and natural. I think courage comes into play for me most on days when business is slow. When you own a business, you take everything so personally, even when you know you’re not supposed to. A slow day feels like such a defeat! You go home and question whether or not you’re doing it right…but you wake up the next day and start fresh, keep your head down, and push forward.
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. Yes, I finally am! It’s really so awesome. I saw an Instagram post recently that said “remember when you wanted what you currently have” and it really struck me. I have to remind myself every single day that this is what I’ve worked so hard to get to, that it is a joy and a privilege that I get to come to my space every day and that I get to mold and shape this brand into this robust thing that I’ve dreamt about for so many years.
Q. What would you tell your high school or college self?
A. My grandpa used to say (something to effect of) “You can please some of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time.” I was such a people-pleaser growing up, which isn’t inherently a bad thing, but it did cause a lot of heartache for me. I held a lot of leadership roles in high school and in college but I’m the type of person that, rather than pay attention to the 9/10 positive comments that might have been made, I’d agonize over the 1 negative comment.
It’s taken a lot of practice and, in many ways, becoming a mom has made it lot easier for me to say: it’s okay. You did the best you could. And as long as you’re being true to yourself and doing what you feel is right and fair, then you have to take the rest with a grain of salt. It’s still something I struggle with, but I think I’ve come a long way.
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. Just one…!? So hard! I’ll choose one that feels very relevant to me right now: a customer recommended the book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance. I just finished reading a chapter about talent and how it’s really a fallacy that possessing natural talent is the only way to achieve greatness. The author developed an equation that she believes is an accurate gauge for success or greatness, where your efforts count twice. The equation is this: talent x effort = skill, skill x effort = achievement. If we break greatness down as a series of achievements and view it, not as this unachievable, inherent thing but as something we just have to chip away at, then it becomes less daunting.
The quote that I pulled from the chapter, that I have written on my whiteboard in my office, is “greatness is doable.” It’s so encouraging!
Q. What keeps you creating when you don't feel like it?
A. When I’m running low on inspiration or I feel totally drained, I take a trip to my favorite antique malls. It’s nice to just sit back and listen to the stories that these old pieces have to tell.
Q. Anything else you'd like to share?
A. Never doubt your intuition! Women, especially, have an incredibly powerful ability to tell when something feels off . Don’t question that feeling in your gut that says you’re really not supposed to move forward on a project, or that now isn’t the best time to pursue that thing, or that that person can’t be trusted. The more you tap into this, the better off you’ll be.
The same goes for your own body! Listen to your body! This ties back in to the idea of being a people-pleaser. You can bang away at a job or a task for years and years and let it wear away at your body. But, if you’re really listening, and your body tells you it’s had enough, that it needs a break, or that you need to move on to something else, heed that warning. If you don’t, you’ll dig yourself into an even deeper hole that will be much harder to get yourself out of. You only have one precious physical body, and it’s a gift – in Western culture, we don’t invest much in that idea, but we should.
Q. What's your favorite yoga pose?
A. I love a good chest opener and a good hip opener, so I’d say it’s a tie between camel and pigeon!
Q. How do you live a life of abundance?
A. I think the best way that I know how to live a life of abundance is to live graciously. Grace is one of those things that I think is sorely misunderstood. It doesn’t mean that someone gets a free pass for being cruel or ugly or that we should run around doing or saying whatever we feel like (YOLO, amirite??). It means that we should treat ourselves and others with a love that is unending and unwavering. And when we make a mistake, as we are bound to do - we are human and it’s in our very nature - we forgive and we move forward. When we treat ourselves and others with grace, we are so much more at peace with ourselves and our surroundings, freeing us up to live our lives so much more fully, as we were intended to do.