Lisa Leonard | Five Tips on Finding Inspiration

Lisa Leonard has been making jewelry since high school, but decided to get serious after her first son, David, was born.  In her words, “I wanted to start a small business that would enable me to quit my job and stay home with my boys.  At the time, I had never taken any formal classes or received special training in jewelry making. I just went for it!   I am kind of the ‘jump in and learn as you go' type.  Creating jewelry has not only allowed me to work from home, but has connected me with many amazing women.” 

In this post, Lisa responds to the question, “How do you fill the well from which to draw inspiration?”  Her answer came in the form of five tips:

Keep Learning

There is so much to know and so many new things to discover.  Take classes; research other artists inside and outside your field.  I took a couple jewelry classes last year at our community college and learned some new techniques, while connecting with seriously creative people.  Many of my team's design ideas started with those classes.

Leonard paint

Clear Your Mind

My home and workspace have to be tidy (not perfectly organized, but not a complete mess) so that my brain can function.  I try to keep a really good to do list so my brain isn’t working overtime trying to remember things.  Then I am free to notice details, enjoy a moment and be creative.  I love the way the sunlight hits a laundry line and how the clothes smell after being outside.  The beauty of these things sparked my imagination and translated to a design idea.

Leonard Laundry Line

Take Breaks

Move away from your project to rest your mind and regain objectivity. Play, laugh, and engage with friends.  Sit on a blanket in a grassy field.  Do the laundry.   For me, working too much leads to less productivity.  Let your mind refresh.  I love to sketch an idea and then let it swirl around in my brain for a while.  I had been cooking up the idea of a laundry line necklace for about a year before I created it.

Jump In

Don’t overthink an idea or try to perfect it before creating.  There are days I make myself sit down and create something—anything just to get the juices flowing.  Some of my best ideas have been happy mistakes!


Think Big and Bigger

Stretch your imagination.  Think outside of your box.  Entertain the ‘what if’s?’.  Let yourself dream.  Then plan realistic goals to move in that direction.  I try to push past insecurities.  Failure is not the worst thing that can happen, right?  Seeing the progression of an idea from sketch to reality is so exciting!

For me, inspiration is more than just an idea — It’s an idea that makes my heart tingle with delight.

How do you find your inspiration?


When I'm puzzling through something — and I get stuck — which I invariably do, rather than trying to force it (like pushing a pan into the cupboard when there's no room, and getting more and more frustrated), I'm learning to walk away.  Sometimes naps are helpful, sometimes a walk.  In general, doing something that engages a different part of my brain.  In writing a paper, presentation, blog, for maximum creativity, I'll do a first draft, let my conscious mind leave it for a few days so that my intuition — those wonderful little ants that sort the seeds — can do their work.

As for the jumping in…. this is huge, huge!  for a wannabe recovering perfectionist — which would be me.  We learn as we go, this ‘dare to dream' adventure being a good example.  In the doing I discover.  Research has shown that in over 90% of all successful new businesses, the strategy that the founders had initially decided to pursue was not the strategy that ultimately led to the business's success.

As I looked at Lisa's Laundry Line, and how her inspiration came from an everyday part of her life, I again thought of Laurel Thatcher Ulrich whose approach to history has been described as a “tribute to the silent work of ordinary people”, an approach that aims to “show the interconnection between public events and private experience.” 

What inspiration is there to be drawn from the everyday of our lives?

What ideas have made or are making your heart tingle with delight?

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