Life is for learning: An interview with Laura Mazurek of Roots and Feathers

Laura MazurekShe’s a bohemian queen who dwells deep in the heart of Texas, but designer Laura Mazurek’s inspiration reaches far beyond the state lines.

Founder of Roots and Feathers, a line of hand-crafted creations, and The Bohemian Collective, an online project that brings together artisans and designers with a shared vision to create a visionary, sacred online space, Mazurek’s work has been winning her major fans.

But people aren’t just drawn to Mazurek for her designs – it’s also her ability to inspire others to lead an authentic life. Mazurek wears her influences on her sleeve – literally – frequently sharing her latest looks ’60s and 70s’-inspired looks. She also lives openly through photos of her works-in-progress, and personal blog updates. “bohemian trinkets for your body and home,” Mazurek’s grassroots, nature-ins

In everything she does, Mazurek comes across as a woman who lives on her terms, which is what makes her so magnetic. When someone buys a piece from Roots and Feathers, they’re not just completing a transaction – they’re coming into contact with someone’s artful dream, fully realized in the waking world.

Mazurek’s presence is so potent that those who discover her are likely soon taking steps to live their own truths, no matter what they’re rooted in.

Mazurek kindly took the time to answer some question about her creative process, inspirations, and more.

You have a really strong online presence with a lot going on: etsy, Pinterest, blogging, Facebook, Twitter, your website. And then there’s the photography, astrology, and all of the aspects of creating your designs and shipping them out.

How do you stay focused throughout the day when you have so many different areas to think about?

Funny enough, I never really feel like I have a lot of focus. Maybe that is because I am always busy on the things you mentioned above, but sometimes it makes me feel a bit scatterbrained.

I think if I had some sort of real schedule I could actually get more done in less time, and have more time to focus on other areas of my life.

Is there an area you’re craving to break into more but feel your schedule doesn’t quite allow it right now?

Well, if we are speaking in terms of my creations, yes, always!

I have always desired to learn metalsmithing, macramé and greater sewing skills. I do get so wrapped up in what I am already creating or doing that those things never seem to come into play.

As far as life, I tend to allow certain things to suffer, like daily exercise, yoga, and better meal planning, as well as creating art just for myself. But, I am working on these things.

How far out in advance do you plan your online updates and work schedule?

It depends. For lookbooks and such, I definitely have to plan ahead, sometimes a month or two in advance.

For most other projects, they are just released as I create them. I rarely plan blog posts way in advance. Every now and then I’ll have a few photo shoots that get finished up around the same time, so I’ll pre-post a few posts together, but usually I’m blogging daily as things happen.

Another thing that would probably save me a lot of time if I could be organized enough to pre-post blogs more often.

How much time do you spend creating versus managing your social media accounts? Do you ever find it’s a struggle to balance them all?
 

This can be a struggle sometimes, but really I do love it all for the most part.

I love blogging, and really that is my biggest social media update. Posting my blog to Twitter, Facebook and more just takes a few seconds once the post is made, (but) probably one of the worst things I do is keep my Facebook open all day. The plus is I can answer questions throughout the day as they come if I happen to be around the computer, so I can keep from having an insanely huge inbox, but the downside is that I can get easily distracted, and Facebook is never a good thing to be distracted by. It has played a huge role in my business, though.

My other social media, like Instagram and Pinterest, never feel like work. They are just things I love to use. I post to Instagram as things happen throughout my day, so it really just takes a minute or two. Pinterest is my I-just-want-to-lounge-around-and-do-nothing-but-look-at-pretty-things escape, which usually happens sometime at night.

So really, I never feel stressed out about social media. I don’t take it that seriously. It is a wonderful tool and I couldn’t run my business the way I do without it, but the actual creating is the most important part!

 

What is the biggest distraction you’ve had to work through in the past? How did you finally overcome it? Or, alternately, what is the biggest distraction you’re currently working through and what steps are you taking to do so?

In the past I think my biggest distraction was allowing myself to be brought down by those who would blatantly copy my work. It took a lot of searching within myself to get to a place where it didn’t affect me as an artist. I would find myself afraid to release certain things.

Luckily, I have worked through that enough times that I feel like I’m in a really good place with it. It really came down to learning from within that I am being true to myself through my life and my creations and that is all I can do. Feeling secure in myself was a journey I had to work through, and still do in some ways. Life is for learning.

 

I was reading your interview with Hillary Rain at Spirit Soul Earth and noted you said you don’t have specific rituals that guide you as you create, but do you have other rituals that you feel help guide you on a whole?

I don’t really have specific rituals when I create, besides music. But in life I do.

Every new and full moon I check in with myself, through sitting outside under the stars, taking long baths, drawing tarot and journaling. Every two weeks I create this time and space for myself. My husband knows when I grab my journal, cards, incense and go into the bedroom and shut the door, that this is my sacred time.

For a long time I was starting every new month with a fresh altar in my home, something I would pull together as my gut told me that always ended up with messages to work on throughout the month. Sadly, I have let that fall aside the past few months once I rearranged and took away the area I was setting it up and replaced it with my shipping desk. Time to carve out a new space!

I always feel like these things come full circle – if we’re attuning ourselves to the world around us, we’re more likely to be picking up on intuitive hints about what to work on next.

 

How do your surroundings influence you? All of your photos are so rich with nature, and so much of what you make incorporates pieces you’ve found in nature. What do you think would happen if you moved – would your creations take on a different direction?

I’m definitely inspired by my surroundings. Growing up in the hill country is a huge part of my heart.

I think if I were to move my creations would most likely grow and evolve from my influence of surroundings. But I’d never move to a city, so the nature would just change. I would love to be able to travel more to explore nature in other areas of the world. There is so much diversity in this beautiful earth we live on and the hill country is just a tiny little part of that!

You have also talked about the need to constantly evolve as a designer. I think change and grown is what keeps artists interesting – it’s hard to become boring when no one can predict your next move, and I think it can help people avoid hitting a creative plateau. Would you agree?

Yes. I’ve always been the type of person to have several things going. I think I would die of boredom if I had to create the same thing over and over. That’s partly why I’m always creating new jewelry instead of just tons of multiples of the same styles like many jewelry artists do. I guess there are probably pros and cons to both routes.

I love being able to produce a lot of one-of-a-kind pieces, and I think a lot of my customers appreciate that too, knowing they are getting something only they will have. Of course not all of my items are one-of-a-kind, but many are.

I’m actually surprised I have stuck with just jewelry as my main focus for so long. Having The Bohemian Collective as my side project really helps it from getting stale.

Who are some other artists – designers or otherwise – whose evolutionary spirit you admire?

Rebecca from Gypsies Caravan has been an inspiration to watch, especially her connection to spirit through her work.

Watching Christina from Spiral Drift’s creations evolve over time has been amazing. Going from simpler monochromatic pieces to insanely detailed and colored leather work, it’s just been a joy to watch as she evolves.

Moorea Seal always inspires me as she grows and evolves, from her personal jewelry line to now having her own website hosting other artists, to her entrepreneurial and giving spirit in general.

Elsie & Emma of A Beautiful Mess inspire me to know there are no limits. If you can dream it, you can make it happen!

 

If you weren’t working as an artist, what kind of job do you think you would be working right now?

Honestly I’d probably be a waitress because I wouldn’t know what else to do.

I guess if I can daydream here a bit about other things that would bring me joy, I think I would love to work at an animal rehabilitation center, be a yoga instructor, teach kids art, work for Novella Royale or work as an herbal apprentice again.

I wonder if anyone in the world gets paid to collect sea shells – if so I’d take that job!

Do you have favourite times for different projects? For example, is there a favourite time for writing? Or for jewelry making? Or photography?

Yes – for writing (journaling), usually at night before bed.

Blog writing usually happens in the morning over coffee.

Photography, when the clouds are out and when its slight breezy.

Jewelry making, at night. I get really into it right before I need to be in bed, of course.

What you think have been the most influential factors in helping you grow your business to where it is today?

My parents. Watching them run their own business, with all of its major ups and downs, really taught me a lot about the highs and lows of owning your own business.

It’s not all rainbows and money! It is a lot of hard work, and a lot of set backs, and some really scary financial times.

But then there are major wonderful highs. Knowing from the beginning that it is all part of it was huge for me, otherwise I might of given up when times seemed too tough.

 

What were the biggest doubts you’ve had to face?

I had some doubts on whether or not I’d be able to financially make it working for myself full-time.

There have been some months when things are so tight it’s scary. Learning to set aside and save for those times has been a huge lesson for me, and one I’m still working on.

There have also been times I’ve doubted whether or not I’m a good enough artist. In the world of art, or anything really, you will always be able to look around and see those who are just killing it with their skill.

I’ve had to come to learn overtime that my art is just as valuable as anyone else’s. No one is better than anyone else, just different in their own ways.

How do you work through doubt today? It’s something that I think every creative person struggles with, no matter what stage they are at in their career.

I try to remind myself of what I said above. And to always remind myself to never compare my beginning to anyone else’s middle or beyond, you know. We are all in different stages of our growth and art and that has to be respected.

Comparison really is the thief of joy. As far as when things get tight financially, I just know I need to watch myself during those times. It’s happened enough times I’ve learned to ride the waves, knowing a break will come soon enough.

When do your best ideas come to you?

In my sleep. I have had countless dreams of designs in my sleep and they are some of my favorites.

And when I am just feeling good in general. Usually around the Full Moon I get a lot of energy and tend to get really creative.

How do you capture those ideas to make sure you don’t forget them?

Usually I get in my studio and start working on them right away. If I can’t do that I occasionally sketch things out.

Do you have any unexpected sources of inspiration?

I think my best example would be reading Women Who Run With The Wolves (by Clarissa Pinkola Estes). It really inspired a lot of my work while reading it.

Is there one thing you tell yourself when you need a little pep talk and there’s no one else around?

As corny as it sounds, “this too shall pass.” My Nanna always says it, and it’s so true.

 


Laura Mazurek’s recommended reading for a creative journey:

Women Who Run With The Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes
Animal Speak by Ted Andrews
Handbook for the Soul
by Richard Carlson & Benjamin Shield
Your Sacred Self
by Wayne Dyer

Think on These Things by Jiddu Krishnamurti

**All photos via rootsandfeathers.com

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