Saturday, March 01, 2008

Independent Spirit with French Flair

Maybe it's the American in me, maybe it's the entrepreneur in me but I love a good "leave your corporate job and start a successful business using your passions and hidden talents" story. I have enjoyed perusing the website and blog by Claudia Strasser of The Paris Apartment for awhile now, but after listening to a Podcast that tells her story about how Claudia did just that, I left even more impressed. I am drawn to anything with Paris or France in the name being a devoted Francoholic, but I also just love her glamourous, old Hollywood, starlet sort of style. I have some pink chairs that she would give high marks on in the feminine and fabulous department. Here they are.

What I didn't know about her was how she followed her instincts to open up her own boutique in New York called The Paris Apartment. She traveled all around the world growing up and learned how to have an eye for design, but she didn't have any formal training in interior design. Yet, here she is working in the capacity of a designer and very successful too. I feel that too many people are led to believe that you must have a degree to do anything, and use that as a stumbling block to pursuing a passion. I love the "why not?" approach that many entrepreneurs put into action.

If you want to hear the story on Podcast, it's Hip Tranquil Chick Podcast number 115. I don't know how to embed it into the blog. If you know how, please tell me. I just don't speak geek.

Here is the website:

I believe when we are drawn to something so fiercely that it is some dream inside of us that wants to come out. I have had a passion for cleaning out closets and clutter in general for as long as I can remember. I have an obsession for all stories and books related to this subject. They say that when you are doing something that you don't notice how time flies that this is what you are born to do. This is how I feel about helping people clean things out.

What inspires me so much about Claudia is that she went with her gut and started her business. I have to hold on to her courage and others like her for me to even think about doing such a thing. The truth is that I'm scared out of my mind to start a business. I FEAR. Yes, I fear that who would want me to do something that is really so easy. Isn't it true that when we are passionate and good at something that we think it is easy?

When I hear a story like this of someone who went beyond all the excuses they could muster and put their fear and their self on the line, for a moment it manages to quell any excuses that I may have. They do come tumbling back full force as fear usually does. I think that action is the only thing that makes fear go away, and faith. In fact, faith is the opposite of fear.

My main excuse is that I think it is easier for people to want to buy something than to pay for a service. I think that people wouldn't want to pay me for what a friend can do for them for free. Why does someone need me to tell them to let go of something when there is really no harm in having it anyway. The endless stream of excuses for why I wouldn't start a business doing this is like a ticker tape going at the back of my mind always. See how amazed I am that someone who probably isn't neurotic as me anyway, manages to push through self-doubt and find their way to the other side where the sun is shining and the grass must be greener.

What is the post about anyway--Paris, decorating, pink chairs, starting a business, fear, overcoming fear and inspiration. What is on the other side of self-doubt? I think the answer is clarity. When you manage to overcome you are awarded with clarity because you have been through it and know it. There is no longer any reason to fear, for even failure isn't that daunting after you've already been through it.

This interview didn't go as in depth as my own self probing has, but you will hear that she has made some decisions for herself that weren't always easy. I think that she is an inspiration because she knows herself and is doing what is best for her no matter what others think of her decisions.

It is still my dream to help people clean out their closets and clean out their minds and I certainly feel that I embody my Closet Therapist title. Maybe one day I'll finally break through and you'll be reading inspiring stories about how I did it. Until then, enjoy Claudia's website and her interview with Hip Tranquil Chick.


Anonymous said...

You will definitely do it someday. In fact when I get back to Texas, I'll be your first paying client.

The Paris Apartment said...

Hi there! After reading your post I feel like we know each other!
I found you through Google alerts, thus ensuring that our paths would cross. When read what you wrote, I was blown away. I'm so happy that something in the podcast spoke to you, I felt like such a dork afterward!
What I want you to know is that starting a business can be as easy as taking on one client. Anything you get paid for makes you a professional! I agree we get too hung up on letters after a name or degrees someone holds. Talent is what counts. And your name is brilliant! That's enough to propel you, a brand in itself! I can see it now, you teaming up with the Container Store, a line of products you endorse!
I believe that blind faith is the key in business. I was sort of scared to go off on my own at first too. Now I'm exhibiting at the Architectural Digest and technically have no business being there...I could give you every reason in the world. Most people said, it couldn't be done on a shoestring. And am I scared? Hell yeah! But that's when the blind faith comes in. Are you good at what you do? I bet you are! Take some pics of your work. Go stage a few closets and take more pics. Poof, you have a portfolio! I know you can do it! Start in your spare time with your own closet's photos. Put a small ad in a paper, offer something free with it, like, you'll bring wine! haha. Whatever you do, go for it without fear cause what's the worst that can happen? It would be worse to start thinking about all the things you could have done with your life. That's the main reason I'm doing this AD show. Someone called me a chicken when I said I just didn't have the finances to put it all together. I couldn't live with the regret even for that weekend. Yours is a public service, changing lives, don't forget that and let that be what leads you. After all, it's our duty to find our right livelihoods! Let's keep in touch!

The Closet Therapist said...

Jillian-I love you for saying this. :) I read your comment this morning and it really made my day. Thank you so much!!! We are thrilled you are coming back to Houston!! xoxo

The Closet Therapist said...

Claudia, I'm blown away by your email!! I'm just thrilled that you are writing me a message. Thank you for such kind and encouraging words. I have planted them straight into my heart because they are exactly what I needed to hear. I feel the power you have bestowed on me which is more evidence of why I admire you so!

What you say is so true, we think failure is the negative consequence of trying something new, but the worse consequence is actually regret of not having tried at all. Every time I see someone on TV giving their little "helpful hints", I think that it should be ME there.

Bless you for waving your Parisian Magic Wand of Courage over me!

Bisous xoxo

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