Posted April 5, 2021 in Podcast
Stop Ignoring the Nudges
Imagine spending three wonderful, fun-filled consecutive days creating something — like artwork, an app, or an invention. Now imagine taking pictures of what you created, posting them to Facebook for sale, and having everything you made or created sell out within a day? Would you think that what happened was life’s way of telling you that you just found your calling? Or would you believe that everything happened out of sheer luck?
This situation isn’t something new to Cassie Everton. For those who don’t know, Cassie is the founder of the Wanderlust Skulls, wherein Cassie, herself, takes skulls and turns them into beautiful, one-of-a-kind handmade art. In 2020 alone, she sold over 125 pieces of her artwork.
If you’re wondering if Cassie has always known that art was her calling, think again. It took her two years to realize the potential of her art skills! Two years may not seem like much time to some of us, but the point is that paying attention to the directions in which life nudges us is how we pave the way to success.
In this interview, Cassie shares her story about what it took for Wanderlust Skulls to go from a simple idea to a thriving business. She also shares the challenges she encountered, and lastly, how she’s been able to find a healthy life and work rhythm.
Sounds inspiring? Then, let’s dive into it!
Who is Cassie Everton?
Cassie Everson is a mother, wife, and artist who specializes in painting buffalo skulls and other animal bones. She was raised in rural Wisconsin, where life was a wild assortment of barefoot adventures. She is the oldest of five kids, and grew up running around her parents’ dairy farm. This led her to receive a college education in Agricultural Business and Science Technology, and to earn a degree in marketing. However, she didn’t end up using these degrees for very long, and worked in retail instead.
Today, Cassie is an ex-retailer turned stay-at-home mom who discovered her calling after she stopped resisting the nudges that wouldn’t leave her alone. These nudges or burning ideas led her to create Wanderlust Skulls. This company allows her to design uniquely curated modern, bohemian and western-style skulls.
Cassie’s work can be found in homes in seven countries around the world. Her unique modern-western approach to longhorn and buffalo skull art is transforming the way people see it.
What I love most about Cassie is the evident passion she has for what she does and the originality that she brings to her craft. She is now an “artpreneur” aiming to bring joy and empowerment to people looking to tackle their dreams.
Stop Ignoring the Nudges
After she graduated from college, Cassie thought she would build a career out as an agronomist. For those who don’t know what an agronomist is, Cassie explains:
“Agronomy deals with seed sale, and an agronomist deals with herbicides, insecticides, pesticides, and other agricultural commodities. They’re helping grain farmers get the best fields, products, and all that stuff. “- Cassie Everton
However, Cassie found out very soon that she was pregnant. This meant that she couldn’t work on the fertilizer plant anymore, as it could be toxic to the unborn baby. Her company decided that she’d be better as an office girl, which she didn’t like. She quit her job, and soon she found herself in retail. Though retail wasn’t something she originally wanted to get herself into, she decided that at least it was something she could do with her life for the time being.
Deep inside, though, Cassie always believed that she was born to be an artist. She consistently ignored it until one day, her lifelong fascination with the western, cowboy lifestyle led her to buy a skull from a thrift store. Using her creativity, she transformed it into something of her own. Everyone who saw it readily acknowledged her gift.
“Everybody that came over told me how cool it was and that they would love something like that in their home.” – Cassie Everton
If you think that such an experience would encourage Cassie to immediately pursue a life of artistry, sadly, you’re wrong. Instead of following the flame of inspiration inside her to start designing skulls, she let it stifle. She felt like she lacked confidence at that moment in her life.
In 2016, she decided to quit retail and stay home with her kids. While she genuinely loved being a mom, she admitted that she struggled with it. During that time, the idea of painting and designing skulls kept coming up in her mind. So, she finally decided to find some skulls to paint again.
After buying three skulls, Cassie designed them, stuck them on Facebook, and sold them within a day. Every time she did this, everything sold fastNow 400+ creations later, she continues to be driven to make unique works of art that stand out, and stand the test of time.
When I asked her how long it took her to transform her idea into a thriving business, Cassie humbly admits:
“It took me two years. The idea bugged me and burned me to my core for two years. I didn’t even tell my husband about it. I just let it eat me alive until I finally took action on it.” – Cassie Everton
Now let me ask you a few questions. Have you ever experienced those little voices telling you what your calling might be? And if you did, what did you do about them?
Cassie’s story reminds us of the importance of listening to life’s nudges: the ones occurring in our minds and in our daily lives. She has successfully demonstrated that listening to our inner voices and fine-tuning our talents can create massive possibilities in life.
Inspiring Adventure Through Art
So you’ve got an idea. You go for it, but run into challenges. Some people, faced with those challenges, would simply quit. I asked Cassie for her opinion on why creators and aspiring entrepreneurs stop.
“I think that a lot of people think that instant success is going to be the thing. If that doesn’t happen, then they shouldn’t do it. It’s influenced by the world of social media that we live in, where all we can see is what’s on the screen. We don’t see the behind parts of it. We fail to see the tenacity and dedication that people put in to be successful. Thus, if something doesn’t work in weeks, months or years, might as well stop.” – Cassie Everton
I agree with Cassie a hundred percent. I also asked her if there were any annoying questions she got from people often. I think that her answer resonates with another challenge that new business owners face.
“I definitely know that I’ve inspired a lot of people to begin the same type of artwork, as in working with skulls. However, when people message me on specific things like, ‘Where do I get skulls from? How should I do the exact thing that you do?’, those questions can be frustrating. …The thing is, I can’t tell you how your art journey is going to be. It’s something you’ve got to figure out on your own, because true art is not copying someone else. You can’t expect to see the same level of success as this person is.” – Cassie Everton
I believe, too, that when we aim to copy others, it only makes it clear that we’re looking for a shortcut to success.
Of course, it’s challenging to succeed on our own. Sometimes, the thing we want to create can be extremely hard to do! Cassie understands. Here, she shares two of the most challenging parts of creating her art.
“The first challenge is that I have to clean all of my [skull] heads. I usually get them after they just met their maker. Once they’re clean, I need to let them dry out because the bone needs to be fully free of any condensation. Then there’s degreasing. So it goes just beyond me actually creating the final art piece, and they take days! … The second one is I had to train myself to be a numbers person. I had to make myself sit down and actually look at and figure out what the numbers mean.” – Cassie Everton
So with all these challenges that she faces, you might ask, why doesn’t Cassie stop? Her answer is pretty straightforward.
“Honestly, I want people to feel inspired. I want to bring them joy and feel empowered to do something. I want them to create a demanding presence that really boosts how they feel like human beings. … I want them to tackle life’s adventures, because life’s too short to not get to see all these things that we have in the world, or the experiences we wish we could have. By having a skull artwork at home, I may encourage them to tell themselves, ‘I’ve got this skull, and now I’m going to take this trip because I feel like I need to hit the southwest, or the mountain range, or just do something that I really want to do’.” – Cassie Everton
To sum everything up, Cassie emphasizes two things: One, there’s no shortcut to success, and two, have a strong reason behind what you’re doing. With these, you’ll be able to topple all challenges that might come to your business and life as well!
Work-Life Balance: Why Boundaries Matter
I believe that to live a life of fulfillment, both at work and outside of work, one shouldn’t have to sacrifice their personal balance sheet for their professional balance sheet. So as an artpreneur, a mom, and a wife, you might wonder how Cassie manages keeping her work and personal life balanced..
She gives some pieces of practical advice:
#1: Take time to schedule.
For creative people, sometimes it can see like we have ideas constantly popping into our minds that need our attention urgently. However, people like Cassie who also have a family to support and care for, stopping to work on every idea when it hits isn’t possible.
For Cassie, she sets a schedule for when she’s going to work on her ideas. Typically, it’s after 8:30 in the morning, after she’s taken her kids to school.
#2: Ask for your partner’s help.
If there’s anyone who can help you manage all your responsibilities, that will be the people you’re closest to. For many of us, that means our family. Not only can they be your biggest cheerleaders, they can also be your biggest source of support.
In Cassie’s case, work-life balance sometimes means asking her husband for extra help keeping the kids busy and happy when she has custom commissions that might take up her weekend time.
#3: Have rest days.
If there’s one drawback to following life’s nudges, it can be that when we do, we can get so passionate about the work we’re doing we forget to stop and take breaks. But you have to make yourself stop and rest.
Cassie believes in this too. That’s why she makes herself set aside a little time each day free of work, to focus on her family.
Some people believe in the idea of “seasons”. These are moments in life and business where everything’s all about the hustle and the grind. However, if you never evolve out of those seasons and allow them to change and pass, they can become your whole life. Not only can that start to isolate the people you love, but you’ll feel burned out, too.
This is why I believe that boundaries really matter. They allow you to recharge and take a break from things that can be stressful or exhausting. However, it requires willpower to stick to them. Anyone can decide what their boundaries will be, or make a schedule,, but if you don’t have any discipline to enforce them, they won’t help you.
Why You Should Listen To This Podcast Episode With Cassie Everton Right Now…
Friends, this interview with Cassie Everton is an eye-opener — especially for those of you who are still ignoring those burning desires. Not only that, this interview contains a wealth of knowledge that you can use to boost your inspiration, stop burnout, and fulfill your passion.
Before I end, I want to share something that Cassie said which really stuck out to me. I asked her what her definition of success is, and here’s her answer:
“Success is feeling fulfilled knowing that I’m working in my passion and showing my children that it is completely and totally possible to do that too.” – Cassie Everton
As an artist and a mom, Cassie has genuinely shown that following your talents and having a life is possible. I hope that you all feel inspired to do the same. If you want to connect further and learn more about Cassie’s work, you can check her website and Instagram!
If you find value in this show, it would mean a lot to me if you could take a few moments to leave it a five-star rating on Apple Podcasts. Maybe, you can share it with any of your friends, too. I’d be eternally grateful! I’d also appreciate it if you tagged me, @kyle_ depiesse, and Cassie, @wanderlustskulls, on Instagram with your most important takeaways from the episode!
Cheers to your success! I’m rooting for you.