Please tell us a bit about yourself and give with joy.
I grew up with (mainly) my mom and three sisters. I’ve experienced some pretty hard stuff growing up. Things that I find myself working out in my adult years, but it’s all beautiful and it’s part of my story. We all have one and each our stories include joy and sorrow - it’s what we do with it all that matters.
What I’ve learned is that people - you and I - are powerful. We have the capability to make or break others. We have the opportunity - with our words and actions - to build up or tear down. Thankfully, I’ve had many more people make me and build me up rather than break me and tear me down. I hope that all I create and put out in the world encourages and inspires others to love, affirm and encourage co-workers, neighbors, family and friends.
One of the greatest joys of my job and of give with joy is hearing and watching people respond to my work. This past year at markets, I saw so many people pick up my art prints with scripture and begin to cry. They shared with me why it impacted them so much and how they were deeply moved by it. That right there is why I do what I do. Honestly. I want nothing more than to inspire joy in your home and the home of others. I want to inspire people to celebrate, affirm and spur each other on in a world that feels so lonely at times.
Why did you start this journey?
There wasn’t a strategic plan behind it in the beginning. I was recently thinking about “how did I get here?” I’ve worked hard to build up give with joy, but it seems that this is a story of - it all unfolds the way it’s planned to. The story of how it began starts with my college experience, but that’s a long version. I’ve always been into illustrating and art in general. I’m the second oldest girl out of four and I was the one in the backyard finding sticks to make a frame for my mom. I was planning on being an art major, but found myself in Marketing.
I worked in the marketing industry for five years, but worked on give with joy after hours for two years before I decided to quit and focus on it solely (plus, I was pregnant). I worked two years in the for-profit world and when we moved to Denver, I was at local non-profit. Child care was out of the question, but I had already grew give with joy into a business that could provide for my family financially.
So here I am, a wife, a mother, and an artist. My marketing degree is helping immensely, but I am doing what I was doing since I was a young girl.
Could you bring us back to when you were just starting out? What was that like?
I was cleaning up my files that I’ve had since 2012 when I started out with give with joy and there was some laughing involved! It was fun to see what I've done in the past versus what I am creating now and it’s not that the designs were bad - I sold a ton of it - but it wasn’t my style. I’ve got confidence now in who I am as a stationer and artist. There are trends out there and I find myself wanting to compete with that but it’s not worth the heartache. You’ve got to stick with your style no matter what’s trending.
The mistakes I made were huge, but now I have so much wisdom to share with others. I know some people like to keep their business secrets and I have a few things that I don’t share because it contributes to my brand and style, but if you need a paper vendor, a printing company or a place to shop for shipping samples then I am your gal.
What makes give with joy different?
I invented the greeting card. JK. It’s hard to find something new under the sun, but I would like to think that I make give with joy different. I’m a relational person. I love connecting with others and hearing their stories. My friend Rachel, from green chair stories, loves to share this story with others about me. We use to work together at Denver Rescue Mission and when she first began - like her first day - I went into her office and started sharing the depths of my life and then asked her about hers! I jump right in especially when I sense that I’ll be BFF with someone. We became quick friends.
My designs and lettering are also inspired by my life. Currently, I have a full line of baby cards and nursery room prints! I choose scripture, quotes and illustrations that I know will encourage and brighten someone’s home.
The online world can be a noisy place sometimes. What does “being authentic” mean to you?
So noisy! We spend so much time on our phones scrolling through people’s feeds and reading every single opinion about everything. We see people’s beautiful lives and want in on what they have - stealing our joy at times. But it’s not all bad. In fact, the online community can be a place of authenticity and friendship. I have a handful of people I’ve never met in person, but they are loving me well from their corner of the world.
Authentic isn’t always synonymous with being flawed and highlighting all the struggles. We all know in life, joy and sorrow accompany each other. We ebb and flow out of beautiful seasons and then some really really hard ones. With that, I choose to invite people in my life and in conversations about it all - the good, bad and ugly. The response to the ones listening, observing and engaging should be far from trying to compete in joy and judging the hard times. Real relationships speak in love, act in love and respond in love. Not the fluffy, conditional love, but the kind that spurs one another on to have more grace and more grit in life. Those kinds of relationships fuel us to press in and press on.
As creatives, we often have a lot of old stories and beliefs that we carry with us. What are some fears and limiting beliefs you had to overcome? And how has that helped you?
Working from home, for yourself, growing a hand lettering paper goods shop isn’t always taken seriously. I had to overcome what others “may” be thinking and what they have said. I work hard and I know it. I know my talent and I am confident in that. I also know I am not great at keeping track of the finance end - it’s a business weakness, but I am aware of it and making steps to be better at it.
give with joy and parenthood have really helped me embrace both my strengths and weaknesses. I move in confidence more but also strive to do better (or ask for help) in my weaknesses. I know my business and talents have been given to me for a reason. I know I am in the right place.
How have you learned to deal with things like rejection or people not responding well to your work?
Rejection. Who loves that!? It’s always hard. I think my first response is to be hurt, but then I pep talk myself. I love everything I put out, but not everyone will and that has to be okay. It’s dealing with reality that my brand may not connect with someone and my prices will be too high for others. But I am not willing to sacrifice my brand, my values, etc. trying to please everyone.
What is your favorite part of the creative process?
I just love the pencil to paper. I could just letter and illustrate all day. I keep an Idea Book next to me in my studio and quickly sketch it out. Going through that a few times a year is the best - watching it go from idea, to a sketch, to a final product!
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received from someone else?
You do you and they’ll do them! It’s nothing new, but it’s a reminder to embrace your talents and gifts with confidence not looking at what your neighbor is doing. When you begin to compete or try to match the trend, that’s when you start to feel worn by your business.
When you’re first growing your business, you grow through a hard learning curve. I created a few cards I look at now and I don’t love it all, but I had to go through that period to find give with joy’s brand and my style.
Do you have any advice or nuggets of wisdom to give other women who are in the beginning of their journey?
Find women who are creatives, makers and business owners and meet with them once a month. I initiated a Creative Meeting where I brought my close friends who are business owners and creatives. We share the good, the hard and we celebrate and encourage one another. I feel like I have a team rather than feeling so isolated in my work.
What’s next for you in your journey? How can we support you, and where can we find you online?
Follow @anetanina on Instagram and just support me on there. I would love to hear from you!
Thank you so much for letting me interview you, Aneta. One last question before we leave, what does being a woman mean to you?
There’s so many views on what makes a woman a woman so I’ll answer by stating what I think does not define being a woman. It is not dependant on my hobbies, interests or my personality. I define being a woman by our enate gift to bring people together however we do it - we connect others. I embrace my personality that tends to be more sensitive but that’s what I bring to the table - a listening ear and empathy. I’d rather share my heart than a filtered photo of my life. So embrace your personality and bring people together. There’s no room for competition or judgment. We are all beautifully and wonderfully made.
Rapid Fire Q’s:
- A woman who inspires me: Lynn Marshall - she’s another mother figure given to me during a pinnacle moment in my life. She brought me into her home and life as if I was her own. She has and continues to teach me how to be patient, kind and gracious in this crazy, beautiful life.
- Favorite place to hang out online: Wholehearted Woman! I love publications online like this one that take time to share what other’s are doing. It’s such an amazing place to connect.
- Best book I ever read: “Bests” are hard for me because I appreciate a variety of genres. One book that has stayed with me was A Long Way Gone - Memoirs of a Boy Soldier. Reading real stories from real people impact me deeply and this book has never left me. There’s so much to gain when you open your eyes to the realities of this big world.
- My core values: Love God, Love People | Have Grace | Forgive Quickly
This artist, wife and mom of one creates cheerful, inspired and joy-filled designs for you and your home. Aneta lives in Denver by the way of Milwaukee running after her 1.5 year-old and running her business, give with joy. She's passionate about bringing people together through art and a simple hand written letter.