T.E.S.T. Interview: AllofTheThings

We hope to introduce you to all the great etsy sellers to be found right here in Toronto. Here at the T.E.S.T. blog, we plan to interview them all. This is the 99th in our series and is with Ivana Musich of All of the Things.

How did you come to open your Etsy shop? What was your first item?

The idea was born from my infatuation with motivational quotes and sayings that inspired me, and triggered possibility within me. I would collect them from the books I read, or posts I came across on social media and blogs. I would save them to my phone and read them out loud every morning. I found this would put me in a positive state of mind and get me excited about my day. I used these words as a cue and trigger to snap out of negativity.

I decided to print them out and tape them to my bathroom mirror. From there I made them more visually appealing and turned them into wall prints. I framed them and hung them up in my bedroom. That was my way of creating a positive space, where I felt safe, motivated, encouraged and supported. I noticed that every time my friends would come over they would take the time to carefully read through them. They would often say “Why don’t you just start selling these?” If they had made such a difference for me and those around me, I’m sure others would enjoy them too.

Shortly after, All of the Things was born. My first ever product was a 4 x 4 square print of one of my favourite quotes by Gabby Bernstein “Choose a loving thought”. It signifies that, in every moment, we have the choice of how we want to view things. So why not choose a positive, more loving perspective? The designs and ideas improved over time, and I eventually expanded the product line from wall prints to stationery and T-Shirts.  

What is your day job and how do you manage to balance that with your Etsy shop?

I have a very demanding full time job. I lead the client service team at a large digital advertising agency downtown Toronto. The knowledge and experience that I gained in this position directly helped me with running my business, as I led e-commerce and digital marketing initiatives on a daily basis for my agency clients. They key to balance for me has always been planning ahead and scheduling. On Sunday evening I would typically try to plan out my week ahead and schedule specific times for me to work on the store - whether it’s designs, website optimization, marketing, etc. It’s something I do on weekends and in the evenings, and it honestly doesn’t feel like work. I see it as alone time that allows me to focus on what brings me excitement and joy.  

You’ve lived in 6 cities across 4 countries in your life which must have been both amazing and trying at times. How has moving and living in different places inspired your work?

I think that living in so many places allowed for richer experiences. I feel like it has taught me something new, and contributed to my character and lessons learned. It has helped shape who I am today. Moving around was tough as I was required to build resilience and get outside of my comfort zone. I think when you are constantly being tested and thrown into unknown environments, it forces you to step back and check in with yourself. I believe it has made me even more motivated to expand my thinking, become more open and look to a variety of different cultures and sources for inspiration and life advice. This is why my products are inspired by everything from pop culture, to hip hop and Buddhism.  

How does your career as an NCAA tennis player now contribute to your motivational pieces? Can you attribute any of the pieces you make now to motivation you used as an athlete?

Playing tennis at that level and the expectations that come with it definitely pushed my limits - both physically and mentally. I learned the value of dedication and the importance of teamwork in providing emotional support. It showed me that as long as I set my mind to it - it can be done. There were days I wanted to quit. Last few laps I didn't want to run. Circuits at the gym I didn't want to finish. The last few match points that brought me to exhaustion. I think about those moments when I feel like giving up and when I design the quotes. I think the one quote that really resonates to the athlete in me is “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure”.  

I love that your shop has both funny, pop culture related quotes and motivational quotes that support loving yourself. How do you think these two concepts work together?

I can personally relate to both. Some people are not very spiritual, so some of the Buddhism and spirituality inspired motivational quotes may not appeal to them. At the end of the day it's about creating something that makes people feel good. The clothes we wear represent our identity, who we are and what we stand for. This is why I chose some of the pop culture influencers such as Beyonce and Oprah, as they are very empowering. For example, many of Beyonce’s Formation quotes are bold statements that say a lot about her as the individual, and a lot of people aspire to be like her. So when you put on that shirt with a Beyoncé quote, and you feel like a badass or a superwoman - that’s the point! That’s the feeling I want to invoke in people.

Your “Don’t Drake N Drive” T and sweatshirt are such cute items. What were the steps for creating them?

That happened in a matter of 2 hours! I heard somebody say “Don’t Drake and drive”, and I asked, what does that even mean? They said - well, if you Drake and drive you're bound to end up at your ex’s house. I loved it. I decided to put it on a shirt and use the same form from Drake's mixtape “If you're reading this it's too late” that just got released around that time. That font was super recognizable, and I thought it fit well with the overall quote and theme.  

You reference Beyoncé, Oprah, Rumi and Buddha, among others, in your prints and clothes. Who is your favourite figure to draw inspiration from?

I love Oprah. She has been my idol for a very long time now. To me she represents the ultimate feminine power. She has overcome so much adversity. It’s not your typical from rags to riches story. She teaches us that you are where you are in your life based upon the beliefs you have about yourself. This includes your shadow beliefs, that are holding you back from moving into the life that you BELIEVE you deserve. The choices that you have made in your life are a direct reflection of what you believe you are worth, and what you believe you deserve. So the first step to achieving your dreams is to change your beliefs about yourself.

Oprah’s teachings are grounded in practicality and truth, and resonate with a lot of people. She is the living proof that if you want to achieve abundance, you can, as long as you commit to doing the self-work, becoming more self-aware and shedding yourself of beliefs that no longer serve you. Whether you think you can, or whether you think you can’t - either way you are right.

It’s clear that you want to support and inspire people and give people the tools to support and inspire themselves through your work. What is a quote or saying or mantra that’s really getting you up in the morning these days?

There is one particular mantra that is not yet fully reflected in my creations. I’m still trying to master it, and trying to figure out how I can incorporate it into my prints. A friend of mine who is a life coach introduced it to me.

The idea is that “happiness” and “expectations” are on the opposite ends of a see-saw. So if you increase expectations you decrease happiness. If you decrease expectations you increase happiness. From then on, I have tried to be mindful of my expectations. Whenever you expect something to go a certain way, or if you intend to control someone or the outcome of something, you are bound to get disappointed. It’s better to drop expectations and go through life ACCEPTING each situation, trusting that whatever happens happens FOR you, instead of TO you.

It is when I have no expectations of something or someone that I get pleasantly surprised. When you don’t expect, you don’t get disappointed. I guess this is where the general idea for “Zero fucks given” print came from, it’s just that, when I created it, I wasn’t fully aware of the power behind it.  

What is your favourite item in your shop right now?

My favourite items right now have to be the latest 5 x 5 square prints that were inspired by my recent trip to Bali. They all feature my own original photography as the background, with some of the most famous Rumi and Buddha quotes that I came across at this amazing cafe in Bali.

These powerful quotes, combined with some breathtaking shots of Bali’s landscape, remind me of the supernatural and the true power of the Universe, and make me feel like anything is possible.  

You can check out more of Ivana's items at her Etsy shop and her Instagram feed.

Interviewed by Liza Wallman of Halyard in Toronto July 21, 2016.

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