Meghan Shimek

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By Phoebe Sherman

I’m sitting in Meghan Shimek’s bright loft, her live-work space on the cusp of Oakland and Alameda. Her room is long and rectangular. The bed is situated right next to a mess of fiber, weavings, and looms, which  are scattered amongst the village of legos that Megan and her son, Grey lovingly built. Above the long room is a loft where Grey sleeps. The space is a gentle chaos mashed with a serene light and deep inner knowing. Her pieces connote healing and softness within the organized disarray. Her cat makes an appearance to say hello.

If you haven’t heard of Meghan, you’ve been living under a rock, and you need to check out her website immediately. As a well-established fiber artist in the Bay Area, Megan’s work hangs in places such as The Assembly, Merchant Roots, and All Birds in  San Francisco. She is a staple at the largest craft fairs, including West Coast Craft, and has held various solo shows in the Bay Area, Portland, and in Paris.

Born in Flint, Michigan, Megan lived there until she was 27. After receiving degrees in both History and Nutrition, she moved to Washington D.C., where she did nutritional research at a farmer’s market and oversaw a program for food stamps.Meghan loved working with food and people, especially because, according to her, everyone is generally in a good mood at farmer’s markets. (so true). The spirit of D.C. just wasn’t quite for her though, and she wanted a change. She and her then boyfriend packed up their entire lives, and bought one-way tickets to San Francisco, both without jobs in the middle of a recession.

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She found a job working with Farmer’s Markets out here in California, and with that work, she became interested in Agricultural systems, focusing on where our food comes from and how it is  grown and raised. Through this work, she learned about how animals are raised for wool, which in turn led her to fiber. She had always “kinda knit and crocheted” since her teens and started to use fiber in her knitting.

When she went home to Michigan, her parents convinced her to take a class at the local yarn store. She took a workshop on weaving scarfs (these are the only two scarfs she has ever woven to this day) and then decided to try her hands at wall hangings. She just started playing, exploring, and became addicted to the art form. She woke up early in the morning to weave and when Grey went to bed at night or when he took a nap. She spent every chance she got at her loom.

A couple months later, Nate, her then husband, got a job offer in Arizona, and they all moved together as a family. Grey started preschool, and Meghan, once again, had extra time to weave. She found a store in town and took Navajo weaving, floor weaving, and spinning classes. She said “which I’m terrible at. I don’t spin. Like yarn spinning not exercise spinning, which I’m also sure I’d be terrible at.” She started to weave more and began to post on Instagram. At some point she opened a small online shop.

At the end of 2013, just one year after starting her business selling weavings, Jessa Carter contacted Megan, saying that she had been following Meghan’s work and wanted some pieces for a pop-up at her gallery in Seattle. At that point Megan was using yarn, found objects- like bark, frawns, and raw fleece (curly like when it’s just been sheared and not processed).

A couple months later, Megan and her family moved back to San Francisco, where Megan began teaching workshops on weaving and fiber arts Then another gallery contacted her in Oakland. “These little opportunities started to present themselves,.” Megan said. There had been discussion of her going “back to work,” but the world’s kinda collided and she was able to put her energy into weaving and was able to get a bit of an income. An Oakland gallery owner encouraged her to apply for West Coast Craft (at the time in its second year as a craft show), and got in.  

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Then, her father unexpectedly passed away. And two weeks later, her marriage fell apart. “The rug was just ripped out from underneath me. My whole life was all of a sudden not my life anymore,.” Megan said.

“Being able to weave is what saved me. It was so mediative, it was an expression of everything I was going through.”  According to Megan, weaving through these painful experiences allowed Megan to connect to others who had experienced loss as well, especially women.  

Being able to weave is what saved me. It was so mediative, it was an expression of everything I was going through. In our world, there is so much pain...there’s always war, there’s always death, and there are all these hard edges. I think this [my art] just feels really soft, feels really comforting, and it adds a softness and a texture to things that can speak to people. And [they connect to] knowing what I put into it, and where it came from, it came out of me.

She had spent a month in Michigan when her father passed, and when she returned she had to make pieces for West Coast Craft, with not much time left. She learned she could weave fast with roving. Roving is the step before wool is spun into yarn. It is fluffy and thick and kinda looks like pieces of cotton candy. “Working with the material itself felt so good...it was really healing,” she said. “I could move my whole body. With tapestry weaving, you’re sitting there and beating it down. You don’t get to move as much.” Megan began getting more recognition from roving because of the unique quality to her work.. “No one was working with roving in this way,” she said.  “This style I started to develop was my own. It was something really different.”

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When she first started working with roving, she stuck to neutrals, whites and greys and blacks which are colors she usually wears, and also Grey’s name is Grey! In 2015 she started working with blues and greens, selecting only a few colors at a time due to the high cost of roving.

To her amazement, she sold two large scale pieces at West Coast Craft, in addition to some smaller pieces. To her it felt like she had found her calling. She was doing something for herself, She was doing something that was recognized and that no one else was doing. Weaving with roving was not a common thing. “I knew I was an artist, when I saw that I had done something no one had done before. It wasn’t informed by anyone else’s work. I spent time developing what I was doing and finding my own voice in this work. To this day if people see this work, they knows it’s mine. That’s what defines when you become an artist.”

She got a contract with the fashion retailer Splendid  to make a piece for all of their American stores. They wanted indigos and whites.She inched her way through purples and some “creamsicle” colors and then last year she discovered red.

Growing up, Megan rarely wore red (she claims it was due to her “rosy cheeks”), and she generally stayed away from using red in her work. This changed, however, after seeing a dancer wearing a bit of red roving interact with one of her pieces (a woven cocoon) at a show. Megan thought it was extremely powerful, and changed her mind about red.

After the 2016 election, Megan describes a time when she felt like “All of my nerve endings were on the outside of my body. I was so sensitive, so upset. How were we going to get through this? And I think all of us did. We felt very raw, it was very difficult.” These sentiments inspired a piece titled Exposed, made up of two smaller white weavings connected with red roving. That was her first red piece, and she decided to run with the idea, next doing a show made up entirely of red pieces

Today, Megan is working with a lot of creams, pinks, and earthy tones. She still loves working with the “creamsicle” palette and neutrals, but likes to experiment.

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Meghan gives the ladies of Girl Gang Craft some advice:

  1. Don’t undervalue your work.

Price your work to sell, not to sell fast. When you lower your prices, you lose value. “This is a creative expression, it’s not an hourly rate”

      2.  When you’re first starting out, say “yes” to everything. If something isit’s outside of your comfort zone, do it anyway-maybe you’ll love it, maybe you’ll hate it, and that is okay. Once you are more established then learn to say “no”. Say no to those opportunities that don’t nourish you. Create balance.

       3.  Keep on working, and don’t give up after rejection.

 

Meghan serves as an inspiration to artists throughout the Bay Area. Her work is unique, consistent, playful, and brings a vibrancy to any residential or commercial space. Her calming paletes and literally soft pieces bring a gentle cohesiveness to any environment. She is a joy to talk to. Her works, like her thoughts, are decisive, steady, and warm.


You can find more about Meghan and her work at https://www.meghanshimek.com.

 All photos taken by  Phoebe Sherman . 

All photos taken by Phoebe Sherman

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Phoebe ShermAn

is the founder of Girl Gang Craft.

follow her on instagram & check out her site. 

Copy editor: Aviva Maslow

Source: meghanshimek.com

The Girl Gang Guide to Nutrition

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By Carly Wertheim

How can it be that so many amazing, powerful, gorgeous women struggle with food and body image? How can it be that something as simple as the act of eating can become so complicated? 

Mixed food messages, rampant diet culture, hyper-industrialized food production and weight-obsessed media create a conflict. We stop listening to the wisdom of our bodies and move away from the traditional ways of eating that have nourished generations. 

If you’ve ever found yourself wondering why all the kale, juices cleanses, and super foods in the world aren’t bringing you happiness, this article is for you. Rather than follow the fads, here are six bites of juicy food philosophy to help guide the way you think about and engage with eating.

 

1. Eat to Nourish

Food is nourishment. In each bite there is information for both your body and your mind. We consume nutrients that converse with DNA, code for proteins, and impact biological processes like immunity and cell division. We swallow emotions and values that imbed into the psyche. Take in food that makes you feel your best, most vibrant self. Do it in a way that cultivates pleasure and gratitude rather than guilt and shame. Know that there are no good or bad foods, simply foods that promote your wellness and foods that do not. Make it a practice, meal after meal, day after day, to choose what replenishes you and gives you the power to go out into the world to live your purpose.

Tip: If you’re confused with what to eat, try asking yourself this simple question, “What does my body need right now to feel nourished?” Then trust yourself enough to listen to that answer. 

 

2. Keep it Real

There is no best diet. Each woman must learn which foods make her feel her best. However, we do know that an eating pattern based on real, whole, nutrient dense foods is key for optimal health. Choose a full color spectrum of fruits and vegetables, fiber-rich whole grains and legumes, sustainably-raised animal proteins, and nutritious fats like nuts, seeds, avocados, and olive oil. Limit added sweeteners, refined grains, and highly processed, packaged foods.

Tip: Become a savvy shopper by filling up your grocery cart with foods from the outside edges of the grocery store. Look to have every color of the rainbow in your cart at check out. When you venture into the inner aisles, read nutrition labels and choose products with ingredients you can actually pronounce and picture. 

 

3. Stay Flexible

Some years you might try to stick to a vegetarian diet, but some days you may feel like you just really need some animal protein. Listen to your body’s cravings and work to bring balance through food. Do it without judgment, without an ego. Be open to try something new when the old stops working. Our bodies are constantly changing, so it makes sense that our diets will too.

Tip: Check in with yourself from time to time and reflect on what has been working for you nutritionally. What hasn’t been working? What might you shift moving forward? 

 

4. Get Creative

Yes, food is nourishment, medicine, and information, but feeding yourself can also be an opportunity for creativity. One way to make eating a joyful, pleasurable experience is embrace the idea that food can be nourishing and taste amazing. Make your food as vibrant, bold, and exciting as you are by playing with colors, textures, and flavors. Not only will you elevate your meals, you’ll be more likely to feel satisfied after eating.

Tip: Take your taste buds on a tour around the globe and never leave your kitchen. By building unique flavor combinations with herbs and spices, you can capture the essence of your favorite cuisines. Want to go to Mexico? Play with cumin, cayenne, oregano, cilantro, and lime. Italy? Experiment with basil, fennel, red pepper flakes, garlic, and parsley.

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5. Honor the Earth

Food is a direct link to the natural world. By eating locally and seasonally we can cultivate a stronger connection to the land where we live and support ways of producing food that replenish rather than deplete our planet. Luckily, we can vote with our forks three times a day for the sustainable practices we believe in.

Tip: Choose local, seasonal, and sustainably grown food whenever possible. Cut back on food waste by saving your vegetable scraps for compost or stock. Support your regional farmers by trying celery root in winter and bitter greens in spring. Reject the food scarcity mindset and instead show gratitude for this planet’s abundance. 

 

6. Build Community

Coming together at the dinner table is a ritual all cultures enjoy. Shared meals are an incredible way to foster community, connect with loved ones, and strengthen ties to cultural traditions. Slow down to savor whatever’s on the menu with good company in a calm, enjoyable, and relaxed environment.

Tip: Make communal meals a regular practice in your life. Host a potluck and ask each guest to bring a traditional dish from their culture. If you work in an office, set out a time each day to eat with your colleagues rather than eating in front of the computer screen. 

 

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CArly Wertheim

is a health-supportive chef and nutritionist who works with people of all ages to develop their culinary confidence and create foods that nourish the body and spirit. She is a candidate for a master's degree in Nutrition and Education from Columbia University’s Teachers College and a graduate of the Natural Gourmet Institute’s Chef’s Training Program. She can often be found wandering the farmer’s market, is an avid hiker, and daydreams about vegetable gardens, redwood forests, and new recipes for her website, www.CarlysWellnessKitchen.com. Follow her on instagram for culinary inspiration and no-nonsense nutrition education.

Revealing Myself | Originally Posted on Lace in Light Blog

 Original Oil Painting by  Phoebe Sherman.  

Original Oil Painting by Phoebe Sherman. 

Originally Posted on Lace in Light Blog

Feminism came to me like a close, outraged friend. A feminism you could have coffee with and discuss the implications of the events around you.

I grew up in a privileged family in Marin County, but I understood this idea of justice from a young age.

I was a “bossy” girl, and later a “tease.”

I was taught by my peers that leadership was not welcome in female form. And later, that woman were meant to be looked at and conquered sexually.

I fed into this. I offered my body up to the world, gave this shell of skin to the people around me. I was not me. I was a service, an exhibition, an illusion of what was. I played the part. I was an actress, a chameleon, I could be whatever you wanted me to be.

I learned to throw up at 13. My friend taught me one day in the middle school bathrooms at Hall Middle School. She taught me how to hate myself. How to wear thongs under skirts and spin around on the field so boys could catch a glimpse.

I continued casual bulimia into my freshman year of high school. My body was different than the other girls. I had a tiny little waist and an apple of a butt, two barely there raisins for breasts. The throwing up gave me a sense of control, and was a good “fuck you” to my parents.

As high school continued, I was donned “Blue Balls Queen” by some seemingly nice boys. I was the girl that teased and made-out with boys but said no to sex. I was prodded and poked, boys searched for answers within my insides. They thought the higher and harder you pressed against my cervix, the more fun was to be had by all!

In college, my bulimia returned. This time it was fierce and consuming and completely taxing. I drowned myself in self-hatred and Trader Joe’s dark chocolate covered almonds. To say my thoughts were repetitive is an understatement. It wasn’t that I was overweight. (Although any or most bulimics will tell you that if you want to lose weight, binge-eating and throwing up is not the way to go about it). Binge-eating was a way to “cure” my loneliness. It was a physical reaction to my depression and anxiety. Oh you had a bad day? Have a box of girl scout cookies. Oh, you ate the whole box and you probably don’t feel that good? Think I’ll throw up now.

It was a vicious cycle.

I think I finally told my roommate. My thoughts were toxic. I couldn’t take it anymore. I was encouraged to get help.

I went to therapy, and read a book called Intuitive Eating, which made so much sense to me. Eating when you’re hungry. Stopping when you’re full. Simple. Yet, revolutionary. A theory I understood in concept, but really am only starting to embody now. I started to recover from the eating pattern itself, but what really saved me was my discovery of yoga.

Yoga cured me. It taught me I was responsible for my own happiness. It taught me my body was meant to move and be treated with respect. It taught me that I didn’t have to be perfect, that I didn’t need to look perfect, and that even the physical practice of yoga was a journey and I needed to have patience. I learned to breathe. I learned to trust my intuition. I learned that my body was not the enemy, and even the world wasn’t, and we had the power to change our own reality, our own relationship the circumstances around us.

During this same period I discovered feminism. I was already an Art Major, but being the Virgo I am I craved a second discipline. I took a World & Sex class and discovered the world sucks especially for women and women of color and women of poverty, and I wanted to help.

There was so much anger in my Feminism program though. And YES obviously there should be anger. There should be lots of anger, the world is a terrible and sucky place. But to me a lot of the feminism was jargon and deconstruction, with not a whole lot of solutions.

I wanted a solution. I wanted hope.

These are still things I want today.

For me, yoga and feminism go hand in hand. We have the power to change our interior. We have the power to change our own heart. We have the power to be kind and compassionate to ourselves and the people that surround us. THIS IS HOW WE CREATE COMMUNITY. To me, this is feminism.

Taking care of ourselves and the world around us is a REVOLUTIONARY ACT.

After school I became a certified yoga teacher, but I knew I also wanted to do something with my art. I was already painting and making prints and selling those a bit. But I knew I wanted more.

I came up with my first uterus print right before the first Women’s March. My first print was a success. I ended up screen-printing my uterus design on fabric and making pouches. I wanted to give 10% to Planned Parenthood. I made patches for jackets, and eventually pins.

Last year I gave over one thousand dollars to Planned Parenthood. That means I sold $10,000 worth of uteruses!! (uteri? Still up for debate). I couldn’t be more proud of myself. My uterus designs continue to sell.

Today I am re-focusing on community. I founded Girl Gang Craft, a resource for women artists, healers, and small business owners. We’ve had two successful craft fairs and have another one scheduled for April 14 in Oakland. This will be our biggest event! We will have 40+ artists, healers, a bar, and a restaurant pop-up. Girl Gang Craft strives to help small business owners brand their businesses and connect to their audiences. Making community is it’s own form of resistance.

Oaklanders, we hope to see you at the Spring Show.

Ladies, you can join our gang here: www.girlgangcraft.com

Support planned parenthood by buying your bestie a uterus pouch or pin:

https://www.girlgangcraft.com/shop/uteruses-before-duderuses-girl-gang-starter-pack

 

Thanks for listening,

I love you!

Xoxo

Phoebe

 

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Phoebe sherman

is the founder of Girl Gang Craft.

follow her on instagram & check out her site. 

5 Boss Babe Tips to Elevate your Business

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Are you an artist, healer, or small business owner? Feeling stuck and confused with the Instagram algorithm and why you’re not getting the attention you deserve? Feeling lost on how to translate your business visually on social media? Is it time to step up your game?

Girl Gang Craft is here to help!

(Inspired by my work with Pat Bailey at the Hell Yes Academy)

 

1. Find your audience.

Who is your audience? Can you name the age group? Gender? Location? Chances are you are speaking to your peers. Chances are, YOU ARE YOUR AUDIENCE. This is because you love what you do and you want to share it with people like you!  

Utilize this connection. You are the test audience.

What do you look for in a product/service? What do YOU want in a business that you love and support? Why do you follow certain people on social media? Is it because their pictures are pretty? Is it because they give good advice?

Find the accounts you love and write down WHY you love them.

 

2.  Tell a story.

Most likely people are following you because they like YOU. Yes they might like your handmade soaps or your yoga classes, but these are products of YOU. Introduce yourself to your community. Tell your story. How did you get to where you are today? I always get more engagement on photos of myself rather than my products, especially when I reveal a little something about myself or my process.

 

3. Make it pretty!

Make your instagram pretty! Make a brand map. What sort of fonts will you commit to? What are your brand’s colors? What filter do you use on your images? Make it consistent. SIMPLIFY! Make your page look cohesive and beautiful. You have 2 seconds for someone to decide if they’ll follow you when they see your page. You can use an app like Preview app to see what your posts will look like all together.

(We will touch on brand mapping on a future blog post. Workshop coming in May.)

MY BRAND MAPS:

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4. Your brand is a practice.

You don’t have to stick to the colors / font / layout / filter forever. Your branding is a practice. Try something for a bit, and if it doesn’t serve you find something that does. Have patience with yourself and allow this to be a learning experience. Enjoy the ride!

 

5. Take rest / have fun!

I should be listening to my own advice. I am the number one workaholic. But take time for yourself.  Ultimately you are choosing to be your own business owner because you are curating your own life! You get to choose the life you life. So make time for rest, make time for some sort of practice/self-care/meditation/exercise, and make time for FUN! At the end of the day our productivity is not a measure of our worth. Do the things that make you happy and find time to enjoy.

That’s it for now! More tips and tricks for running your Boss Babe business are coming soon. And stay tuned for our Branding and Squarespace workshops coming to Oakland (and online) in May!

I love you!

Xoxox

Phoebe Sherman (Founder of Girl Gang Craft)

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Phoebe Sherman 

is the founder of Girl Gang and an artist herself.

Find out more at her website. 

Time's Up!

 Illustration by  Phoebe Sherman. 

Illustration by Phoebe Sherman. 

A few nights ago, Oprah said, “A new day is on the horizon!”

And it is! Can you feel it? Oprah was the first black woman to win the Cecil B. DeMille Golden Globe award. In her acceptance speech, she told the story of Recy Taylor and Rosa Parks. In Alabama, in 1944, Recy Taylor was a young wife and mother who was abducted by six, armed, white men when walking home from church. She was raped and left blindfolded by the side of the road. Rosa Parks took her case, and together they tried to persecute the men that destroyed Taylor. And although they did not receive justice at that time, they started a movement that continues to this day.

Oprah used this story to say remind us that this time is up! Justice must be served moving forward.

If you haven’t seen the whole speech, you can watch it here:

Did you see the women from the Golden Globes last night? Did you see the public outcrying of truth and support? Time’s up!

This is why I’m here. Sometimes it takes a reminder in the form of the fabulous Oprah, to get me to remember why I’m doing what I’m doing.

(If you don’t know what I’m doing yet, check out www.phoebesherman.com but I will also discuss who I am and what I’m doing if you keep reading)

It’s so easy to get caught up in sales, to do lists, and “creating content.” Sometimes, the internet feels like a black hole and a popularity contest all at once.It can make me sick with greed and jealousy. It’s a spiral of, “Why don’t I have that?” or, “Why can’t I be like that?”

This thirst for MORE MORE MORE is something I’ve always had. And yes, sometimes this thirst is benefical.  My friends know that if you want shit done, you come to me. I have goals and to-do lists. I can multitask like crazy, and the sheer number of things I do in a day astound people. But why am I doing these things? What drives my passion? Why do I need to create? And why do I create what I choose to create?

There are plenty of reminders why I need to create. One of these reminders came when I listened Oprah’s speech. These moments are sometimes jarring and sometimes gentle. The reminders come in the form of spells and tarot readings prompted by The Many Moons Workbook  by Modern Women. (You can find the book here or at local stores like Resurrect, Oakland). The reminders come in the form of a Tribe, the collective welcoming of a new group I’m working with through the Hell Yes Academy lead by Pat Bailey. A new tribe feels charged and readies me to say “HELL YES.”

The more jarring reminders come in the form of  posts from my peers sharing their #MeToo stories. The truthful words sting, and remind me of my own experiences and the collective experience of women and minorities who have been stepped on, torn apart, or  taken advantage of. A reminder comes to me when a woman in medicine who lives in Kentucky (whom I met in Belize) tells me there’s only one abortion clinic in the whole state (not a Planned Parenthood even) and they’re only sometimes allowed to perform abortions. She tells me she used to work at two sister high schools that cater only to pregnant teens. Two high schools in the same town where the only students are pregnant teens!

This whole past year has been a giant reminder of why I do what I do. This man who sits in the White House has actively bragged about sexual harassment. The time is ripe with a need of protest and activism. The outpouring truths from women in Hollywood has highlighted abuse in other environments. This collective screaming of truth has ignited my power and identified my purpose. This year of authenticity and shouting from the rooftops has empowered me to create thought-provoking, political, and personal art, but also has invited me to hold space. A space to gather collectively and explore a way to better ourselves and better our world.

I hold space in my yoga teaching, I hold space in the events we create for Girl Gang Craft, and I hold space by donating to Planned Parenthood and creating a safety net for those in need.

I acknowledge my privilege as a white, sort-of Jew, woman from a wealthy suburb.

But,

Me too

Me too

Me too

Me too

All of us.

I dedicate this business to you.

To the boy in 11th grade who called me Blue Balls Queen because I was collectively known as someone who would only make out. To all of you boys who called me a tease for the same reason. To the boy I was in love with for 6 years who asked me to keep it a secret after we kissed, and wouldn’t talk to me ever again after I told a friend. To the boy who grabbed me and held me down and eventually chased me as I ran out of his house and into my car after I said no. To the emotionally abusive alcoholic ex-boyfriend who taught me the term “gaslighting” (if you don’t know what this term means check out this article). To the gay restaurant manager who would comment on the other girls boobs to me, talking as if we were friends, and as if he could not possibly be misogynistic because of his sexual preference. To this terrible, terrible absolutely incompetent president who is a known sexual predator.

This is also for you. This is why I choose to create. This is why I choose to harness community. This is why I choose to donate. This is why I choose to write and think and paint and love.

I choose to move forward with heart and passion. I ask you as well, Why do you do the things you do? I invite you to float into 2018 with the question, How do I lead with love? How do I create a business that is heart-forward? Please feel free to share in the comments.!

That’s it for now, gang.

Thanks for hanging around at Girl Gang Craft. Here's to the launch of the Girl Gang Craft BLOG!!! Stay tuned for artist and entrepreneur interviews, tips and tricks to run a business, and so much more!

I love you!

Xoxo

Phoebe Sherman (Founder of Girl Gang Craft)

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Phoebe Sherman
 

is the founder of Girl Gang and an artist herself.

Find out more at her website. 

 

 

PS Want to be a guest writer on the Girl Gang Craft Blog? Please send me an email at girlgangcraft@gmail.com.