Creative Entrepreneur Brandy Amstel on Fulfilling Your Purpose
I know that each one of us has a purpose on the planet. There's something that only you can bring forth into the world. It’s just a matter of digging inside and figuring out what your unique essence is; what is that “thing” only you can bring to the table?
I was always an artist as a child. When I went to college I ended up majoring in fine arts and worked mostly in painting and sculpture. Once I got out of school I thought, "Okay, what do you do with an art degree?"
I was fortunate enough to find a position as a display trimmer. The ad said they needed someone with two years’ experience or an art background. I didn’t even know what a display trimmer was, but it was an opportunity to use my art background—my own unique essence.
It turns out that display trimmers are the people who dress mannequins for the window displays at department stores. I got the job and excelled in this position. It was really a great job for me because I got eight stores in East Texas and every day I was in a different store with a different group of people. There was a lot of freedom and I was basically my own boss.
Later, I was promoted and moved to San Antonio, where I managed 12 stores in Central Texas. After just a few months I found an opportunity in my dream location of Austin Texas and ended up at Sears. I was one of five people in the nation hired to do their visual merchandising and help build, “The softer side of Sears”. I went as far as I could within a corporate structure in Texas—a state I didn’t want to leave—and then I decided to start my own business. I had enough relationships with different people in the store fixture industry that I decided to create a store fixture and decorative design company. We did a lot of really cool stuff like building hands for JCPenney to display its jewelry on and display tables for Victoria’s Secret.
I think my career journey took me on this path to show me that a traditional corporate structure wasn’t going to work for me. It wasn’t the right environment to highlight my personal purpose. Entrepreneurship, instead, was a better fit but I was still struggling to incorporate what I'm really passionate about with the entrepreneur vision. It wasn’t until I began to embrace my most powerful asset, my unique authentic voice and combined it with my gifts, skills and talents that I was able to position myself to fulfill my purpose and serve others in a bigger way.
My work has evolved through the years, as has my entrepreneurial journey. I have continued to expand my creativity developing skills as a filmmaker, painter and sculptor. And the common thread that has always been there is a deep desire and yearning to be fully self-expressed, to share my personal truth and help others to do the same. I grew up on a ranch out in West Texas with no electricity and no telephone. Just me and the land. There, I was totally inspired by nature and by Native American art because it was everywhere. Later, my work moved more into an abstract, non-objective, more contemporary style. I love the use of textures and color to be able to express. I think that's really fascinating. I’m also exploring how to merge art with feminine expression. Really what it means to bring the head and the heart together to create something bigger. A lot of my pieces have a feminine aspect to them while being grounded in the other energy so that we're really being integrated and fully utilizing all of our resources.
When I'm working on a commission piece with someone and creating something they're inspired by as well it's a true collaboration. We're doing it together and creating something bigger than either one of us could've done alone.
Overall, my goal is full self-expression and passion—whether that passion starts with me or with the person commissioning me. You, too, can use your passion to fulfill your purpose and express your personal truth, you just have to be willing to take the necessary steps and be present enough to see what part of you is really running the show. Is it the little inner child that's scared to death to step outside of your comfort zone, or is it the inspired person coming from passion, or is it the critical thinking part of your brain saying things like, "Oh, you can't afford this." Just know who's running the show, and decide if they’re the right part of you—or if you should put some other aspect of yourself in charge.
I’ve had to do the same thing in my career. It is actually a moment-by-moment choice. Here is an example of how it played out most recently in my life. A friend of a friend visited from Germany. We hung out, and found that she was an intense lover of art. During her visit she made a remark about me visiting her in Germany in order to create a piece for her home. When she said that, I kind of laughed, but I just shut it down like that’s a nice idea, but not very realistic. That evening I sat with it for a while and I was like, "Why did I so quickly disregard it, like that wasn't going to happen?"
After I reflected on it, I saw where I had made a decision and where, all over my life through the years, I had shut down opportunities because I had gone so quickly to the probability or the likelihood that they weren’t really going to happen. I'm already in the background, unconscious, making decisions about whether or not that was a fit for me without actually, truly thinking about it.
After I realized that, I actually took two hours sat there and just dreamed about what it would be like if I went to Germany. I really connected with my passion and excitement and what was really inspired by that initial comment that I had so quickly dismissed.
I called her back and shared some of the things I had come up with during my reassessment and she got really excited about it. We started bouncing ideas back and forth and now, it's a reality that I'm going to Germany and doing a piece for her home in Germany and one in St Moritz, Switzerland, which is brilliant.
That was one of the biggest lessons that I have learned recently: how quickly I allow the voice in my head to say, "That's not going to happen," when instead it is much more empowering going to my heart and experiencing the passion and excitement of being open to possibilities.
I believe that if we’re all being the best versions of ourselves, then we will be better stewards for the planet. When you’re working from a cup that’s full and you can experiment with the overflow of that cup, there’s so much more possible and we can see how to better the world around us.