Interview with Andrea Johnson

The Queen of Flowers sits down with us for a fireside chat!

This month we decided to reach out to Toronto-based creative and Feed the Juice follower, Andrea Johnson, or the queen of flowers as we like to call her! We caught up with her to learn more about her story from account manager to small business owner!

Who is Andrea Johnson? How did you discover your passion for flowers?

Simply put ... I don't really know who 'Andrea Johnson' is. I kind of feel like I am in an endless search to figure out that question, and I like to believe that is where my creativity comes from.

Growing up, my family remembers me as a child that was always making something, always trying to create something different. I had a craft table that was never clean (except for the small corner where I would construct all of my ideas into real-world creations), the glue was usually in my hair, and paint or cake icing was pretty much permanently on my clothes. Somewhere along the way of growing up, I stopped walking down that creator path and pursued a six-year career in advertising as an Account Manager in New York City. 

It was July of 2019 when I decided to take a much-needed vacation, and while most people head to a beach somewhere, I decided to do something that took me back to my childhood - creating something. I made a conscious choice to try something completely new that I had never done before; I chose to practice floral forms with the New York Botanical Garden. During this four-day intensive workshop, I rediscovered my passion to create, and I found my medium, all at once!

Like, right now, as I am answering this question, I want to buy new flowers and make something!

When did you realize you needed to pursue this as a main hustle?

I immediately fell in love with the workshop about an hour into my first class with the New York Botanical Garden. My gut told me then that this was going to be my main hustle. However, I didn't decide to make the leap until August 2019. Serendipitously, I woke up one morning, turned to my husband, and just said, "I think I am going to do flowers. I want to try this as my career." He simply responded "Ok. Go for it." I am so thankful for him being my number one supporter!

I felt this moment coming after turning down my dream advertising job in Toronto. I found a totally perfect job on paper - a great team that gave us time to move. But, when I thought about going to work every day to another ad agency, it honestly made me sick. I then forced my husband into a deep conversation about this decision in terms of its impact on our family finances and our big move to Toronto. The rest is history! 

Did you always want to start your own business?

Yes. 100% yes. But I felt this goal was infeasible since I could never fully commit to what I wanted to do for a living. I had never felt a feeling of "I could do this forever." I have a ton of creative passions (if you couldn't tell by the picture I painted of my youth, drowning in sparkles, markers, construction paper and more) but every time I tried to think about doing one of those things day in and day out, I was turned off. Once I found flowers though, all bets were off. I crave them every day! Like, right now, as I am answering this question, I want to buy new flowers and make something! I will do anything to get my hands on fresh stems. These feelings validated my decision, and I knew flowers were my ticket to being my own boss. 

Who is helping you build your empire?

Right now, credit goes to my husband, friends, family, and the abundance of free information on the internet!

Seriously though, everyone close to me has been beyond amazing. They are helping in the obvious ways like sending leads my way, sharing my content, coaching me through decisions, being my muscle on photoshoot days, processing flowers, etc. I also want to give a special shoutout to Oscar Saylor of Estudio Bodega, who owns the brand design. He donated his design skills to create my brand aesthetics and to set up a skeleton version of my website. 

BUT ... they are also helping in the less obvious ways that are just as important. Some examples include, being patient with me when I am super frustrated with an administrative hiccup or giving me the space to go through my creative process. Sometimes my process is so enjoyable that I'll be singing and dancing while I work. More often, the creative process is actually quite painful. It takes a lot out of me to create my pieces and my husband is incredibly supportive of every new project. Each design is completely unique, requiring a different artistic perspective for every wedding or commissioned piece! 

Since July 2019, I have dug into an odd creative world that's pretty tough. Each time I'm immersed within it, I'm thankful for the people who support, nurture, and embrace my new lifestyle. These are the helpers that are building my empire with me.  

What services and products do you offer? What are your initial customers saying?

I specialize in floral art pieces for just about anyone, including brands, production teams that are looking to design a set for a video/photoshoot, events, pop-ups, and launches, or individuals that want to send a fresh arrangement to their home or to a friend/family member. I do also create for weddings, but only a select few each year.

I also teach DIY tutorials for corporate teams, which is an awesome way for businesses to give their teams a creative outlet! It's a win-win as the teams experience something new and I get to share all that I love! 

So far, my customer feedback has been extremely positive and supportive! I have a fan base that offers up such kind words out of the blue and those messages help push back all my fears and refocus on what could be! 

How have you been building up your brand?

Slowly--and by listening to God and the universe. I am faithful and believe that I have a path which I need to follow. The only way to make sure I stay on that path is to reflect on everything going on in my life and pray. I make a very conscious effort to be mindful of my previous decisions and those that I will have to make in the future. 

This soft skill is key to building my brand slowly each day. I didn't just wake up one day and think, "I'm just going to call this thing 'Andrea Johnson Floral Design' and my core brand color is going to be Green." No. After careful reflection, I made my decision based on wanting my business to be a complete artistic expression of me. I want my clients to feel as if they are getting a piece of the floral art world that exists within my head. 

After I made that decision, I made decisions for my brand that were rooted in a truly artistic expression of myself. Every time I post a photo on Instagram, it has to be authentic to my personal brand. Sometimes, posting can take me a few hours because I think through the content in order to create art, not noise. 

How can the Feed the Juice audience see your brand and reach out to you?

The Feed the Juice audience can check out my work here!

Website: www.andreajohnsonfloral.com

Instagram: @andreajohnsonfloraldesign

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/andreajohnsonfloraldesign

Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/andreajohnsonfloral

What inspires you daily?

Nature. The world of color. Different textures. And the idea that 'nothing is just what it seems'. 

During the past few weeks in quarantine, I've actually been able to re-imagine a lot of our household items into different scenes. Before all of this, I would get grumpy that I don't have X, or Y is too small to work with, etc.. Being forced into a state where you have to work with what you have is a far more exciting and inspirational environment. I was being too closed-minded to see the opportunity in common objects. 

What are some hard lessons learned that you've already realized?

Firstly, do not just start using QuickBooks without going through a tutorial. I've had to wipe my account within the 90-day window because my books were a mess. I have had to back-track and it's a complete nightmare. 

Secondly, I am not going to be able to do this alone. While I want to be an individual artist that creates for a small, but loyal client base, I need to hire someone that can manage the business side of my shop. I cannot be both the creator of art and the operator of the business once our client base grows. 

Do you regret leaving your full-time job to launch your small business?

No way! While I might have daily panic attacks about making the right decisions and worrying if I'm good enough to sustain a legitimate business, I feel great about my decision overall! I love the feeling of working for myself. I know I can do this! I just have to be patient and work hard. 

Interview with Andrea Arreaza

Better known as Hungry Hungry Drea!

This month we decided to reach out to NYC-based creative and Feed the Juice follower, Andrea Arreaza, or Hungry Hungry Drea as her fans know her! As we’ve been isolated in our homes, Andrea has been constantly cooking up new, delicious recipes. We caught up with her to learn more about her story!

Who is Hungry Hungry Drea? How did that persona come to be?

Hungry Hungry Drea is the representation of my passion for food, and the part of me that loves to cook almost as much as I love to eat. I’ve always loved art and creating things, so now as an adult, I get to enjoy my favorite form of art: cooking!

The essence of Hungry Hungry Drea has always been within me, but the name did not manifest until I created my unique Instagram handle. The name came from my close friend, Hanna, who recommended a spin-off of “Hungry Hungry Hippo”.

The best experience to come from my cooking is seeing others make my recipes! It warms my heart to know that I’ve inspired people to cook!

When did you realize you loved cooking and that you needed to pursue this as a side-hustle?

My biggest influence was growing up in a Hispanic household with two parents that cooked. As a family we spent (and still spend) quality time in the kitchen and at the dinner table. I grew to appreciate that very quickly because so many families don’t have that daily tradition in their homes.  

From a young age, I always helped out in the kitchen, but it wasn’t until I went to college that I first started to cook on my own. I started with a sound base of knowledge, but I quickly realized how much more I still had to learn! 

At this same time in college, I started posting videos and pictures of my meals on my personal social media accounts. I received so many positive responses from my friends, which was very reassuring! They often asked me for the recipe or cooking tips, which is when the idea of sharing my passion started to bubble. I truly enjoyed cooking and I loved sharing it online!

Were you always cooking for others?

No, hahaha! It’s taken me some time to become confident enough to let others really taste my food. Not all my meals come out great, but it’s a constant learning experiment. My roommates definitely benefit the most from my hobby. 

What did it feel like when you first started posting your recipes and cooking process?

Amazing! I was overwhelmed by the amount of support and positive feedback, which continues to motivate me to cook more and try new recipes.

The best experience to come from my cooking is seeing others make my recipes! It warms my heart to know that I’ve inspired people to cook!

How have you been building up your brand?

I’m still working on my brand but being authentic is the biggest key. For example, I’ll never post a recipe that I don’t think is delicious. I also try to have fun with my posts, incorporating some silliness when I can on my stories.

In terms of production, I’ve managed to figure out some creative ways to capture content. 

In terms of followers, word of mouth is my main source of new fans. In the future I'm working to partner with brands and other artists like you!

How many times have you worn a "Kiss the Cook" apron?

Not often enough but I’ll work on that. 

Did you own an Easy Bake Oven?

Yes, I did and I loved it! Sometimes it feels like my NYC kitchen is the size of an easy bake oven. Hahaha. 

Who inspired you growing up and who inspires you now?

Growing up, I was inspired by my parents and our Spanish heritage.

I now gather inspiration from many outlets like - Bon Appetite, Chrissy Teigen, food-related documentaries and tv shows. Some of my favorites are Ugly DeliciousChefs TableFinal Table, and Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat

It’s funny because I will literally spend hours each week planning out my upcoming recipes and creating a perfect grocery list. And I thoroughly enjoy doing this!

What's a piece of advice you wish you had when you first started building your brand?

Better proofreading! I’m still working on my brand so ask me this question in a few years. 

How are you keeping busy now during quarantine? 

Now that I’m quarantining at my parents’ house and have a more proper kitchen (instead of my tiny NYC kitchen), I’ve been spending the majority of my time cooking and learning with my parents (which I’m so thankful for). My family has so many great recipes yet they aren't kept anywhere safe, so I'm trying to write down as many family recipes as I can!

For each recipe, I want to write a little family story or background that ties back to the dish so that this is more than just a cookbook (e.g. where the recipe came from, where the name came from, a family tradition, our family heritage, and so on).

Once completed, I plan on printing several copies and handing them out to my entire family and our closest friends!

Aside from cooking, I’ve also pulled out my old art supplies - reigniting my love for painting - and picked up baking bread, playing chess and running.

What do you think the future of art will be as people have more time to focus on their side projects?

I found that at my peak boredom, I'm also most creative! So I hope this quarantine inspires others to also make art; for example, people learning to make bread. Making bread is an art. It takes time, focus and patience. Before quarantining, I’m not sure I would have challenged myself to make bread, but now that I have the time, I’m going for it! 

Another example: Gen Z and TikTok. Yes, I have the app and I’m blown away by people’s creativity on it.  

Truly, the possibilities are endless during the quarantine. Maybe someone will finally find enough time to finish the project they started, turn their side hustle into their main hustle or even find a new passion! 

Interview with Taylor King

In March 2020, we interviewed Taylor King - a New York City-based creative director with crazy skills behind a camera!

Who is TKTHREE? How did that persona come to be?

It started after I got into working in the music industry, the first label I worked for only saw my instagram handle, "TKTHREE", and so he started calling me TK from then on. I had to then change my email signature so people weren't confused, and now we are here. More honestly though, I changed my handle to that around the time I moved to NYC, and for me it was just a way to rebrand myself as an individual to who I really wanted to be. I think this city gives you the space to do that. 

I truly believe that if you're hesitating on a risk or business action, it's the universe testing those who will push the boundaries or just give up.

When did you realize you loved the creative arts and that you needed to pursue this full-time?

Young man, all credit to my mentors and people who were around me. My photography teacher would take time after school to review my photos on the smartboard, and essentially tear them apart so I could get better haha. I thought the jump was to start film school, which it wasn't, but I was in pursuit at that point. The chase was on. 

Were you always walking around with a camera?

It feels like it man, I recently came up upon some "vlog" style videos i shot of myself at 6 years old. I made an Instagram post about the, the one with the old looking TVs. I didn't see that footage until recently but it's always felt like a part of me. 

What did it feel like when you first started selling photo and video services?

So, unofficially the answer is high school, but it was just here and there. $60 for this. $80 for this. Free for this and that, ha. I was learning, but it was all necessary. 

Officially, I started my business in February of 2018, and that's when I really made the jump to freelance in my adult life. 

How did you build up your brand?

People. People. People. When I first moved to the city I got a placeholder job and my only goal was to use that time to meet as many people as possible. In NYC especially, your network is your end-all-be-all. Those are going to be the people that recommend you, vouch for you, and give you advice. 

How did you find your creative style? How many times has it evolved?

So many man, it feels like every 6 months. The problem is I keep getting bored or distracted from a specific art type, and just move on to what I want to learn next. I think it's good though, it promotes diversity in my style and keeps me on my toes. 

Who inspired you growing up and who inspires you now?

First and foremost, my dad always. To this day, in the creative field though, it has to be people like the Dave Krugman's and Mike Szpot's of the world. People who turn themselves into a zeitgeist of creativity. Honored to call these dudes friends. 

What's a piece of advice you wish you had when you first started building your brand?

Just do something. It's astounding to me how many people have great ideas but never try anything because of this and that. I truly believe that if you're hesitating on a risk or business action, it's the universe testing those who will push the boundaries or just give up. I try to always keep pushing. 

Interview with Hannah Goebel

In January 2020, we interviewed Hannah Goebel - a Nashville-based Pop/R&B star in the making. Her unique vocal flair provides distinct versatility to her sound, which spans across multiple genres. She is actively releasing a new single each month throughout 2020, and we can't wait to listen!

So what drew you to music, specifically being a singer?

Ever since I was a little girl, I've always had a passion for music. My parents discovered my vocal talent at a young age when I started singing around the house at the age of 5. They helped me develop my craft through local outlets - singing with other professional singer-songwriters, performing the National Anthem at local sporting events and getting me involved in choir and with local bands through middle/high school.  

Neither of my parents is musicians, but they always had music playing throughout the house growing up and made sure that we appreciated the art. Both of my older brothers play piano/guitar as well, so there was always music in my life from an early age.

Who were you inspired by growing up? 

I've always been particularly drawn to Pop, R&B and Soul music. Growing up, my sound was heavily influenced by listening to female-power singers like Alicia Keys, Amy Winehouse, and Norah Jones. Their sound and storytelling abilities are where I derive a lot of the quality/tone in my voice today.

When did you first know that you were extremely talented as a singer?

When I was 7 years old, I sang the National Anthem for the first time in public at the I-80 Speedway in Nebraska (classic Midwest race track event). There were a few thousand people in attendance - funny enough, I wasn't the slightest bit nervous doing it. I remember hearing the crowd cheer when I hit the song's finale ("Home of the brave") and knowing that this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.

If you're a younger singer / artist, just keep believing in your craft while keeping grounded in reality about the successes / possibilities of making a living from your art.

What was it like performing on The Voice? How did that shape your future?

I have nothing but positive things to say about my experience on The Voice. I got the chance to meet many incredible vocalists from around the country and perform Alicia Keys' 'If I Ain't Got You' right in front of her, Kelly Clarkson, Adam Levine, and Blake Shelton. Receiving all four judges' chairs from my performance was one of the greatest feelings of my life. The experience taught me a lot of lessons about working with other artists and performing on the big stage

How are you juggling the come up as a singer with life's responsibilities?

Being a musician, particularly in Nashville where there is so much great talent, it can be difficult to make ends meet. Everyone down here is hungry for paid gigs and talented enough to play any set in the City. 

I moved here immediately after high school when I was 18 years old in pursuit of a full-time career as a vocalist. After four years of freelance work and playing all around the city (particularly Country gigs/songs) while working part-time, I was able to form some crucial connections to help me build a career down here as a vocalist. I have evolved in my sound/genre significantly over the past four years and now perform almost exclusively Pop, R&B and Soul music, as it fits my voice/style much better. Nashville is undoubtedly one of the best cities for music genre versatility. 

Did you ever consider working odd jobs or going down the corporate route instead of pursuing music?

I'm committed to doing everything I can to make music my full-time career. I have held a number of jobs around the city to help pay the bills part-time (nannying, food delivery, grocery stores), but this is the year that I'm aiming to play enough gigs and release enough original music to be a full-time artist/vocalist. I think a path in the corporate world sailed for me when I decided to move to Nashville instead of going to college.

What's life like currently? 

A typical day in our week would look something like this: 

8am: Wake up / head to the gym

10am: Head home / get ready for the day

10:30am-1:30pm: Write / track original music in the studio

1:30pm-5pm: Co-write with other artists / photoshoots / work on performance repertoire for gigs

5pm-7pm: Wrap up projects / get ready for live shows

8pm-11pm: Writers' rounds / live shows / networking throughout the city

What are your goals in 2020?

My ultimate goal is to get signed by a label. While remaining independent would definitely help preserve my autonomy as an artist, I believe that the marketing horsepower of a label can best help my voice be heard across the world, allowing for easier collaborations with established artists and providing key relationships that could take my career to the next level. 

To get the attention of a label, my brother, David, and I are super focused on building my social media presence and streaming catalog with great original music. I don't have a ton of music out there yet, as I was super focused on local / live shows for the first few years that I lived here. Now, with David as my producer and a studio at home, I will be releasing a new single every month of 2020 on all platforms. This will hopefully give me the greatest chance of getting put on an editorial playlist on Spotify / Apple Music, which would take my voice to a larger audience. 

What's your advice for young singers and artists as they enter the music industry?

The music industry is a tough place and a hard way to make a living. However, I don't think I've ever found something so fulfilling in my life. If you're a younger singer / artist, just keep believing in your craft while keeping grounded in reality about the successes / possibilities of making a living from your art. If you are able to remain creative while finding a market for your talent, this is something that you can definitely do for the rest of your life.

Interview with HighKeyRandom

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In early August we interviewed HighKeyRandom, a 21-year-old rapper from Boston, MA, who recently released two mixtapes ahead of his debut album, The Gentle Savage.

How did you get started making music, and when did you start?

I started because I wanted to make music that I like. I started when I was 2 years old in the womb. (laughs) That didn’t make any sense.

What were things like when you were growing up? 

Mayo sandwiches. Fried onions. Cereal with water, no milk. Same clothes 5 days no shower. Holes in my shoes. That wasn’t because mummy didn’t care for me though… I was just ghetto as f---.  (laughs)

What kind of stuff did you do as a kid?

I was dancing and doing ratchet s--- with my friends, jerking and crumping. I tried to b-boy but the Asians were too nice so I gave that up.

I’ve really been out here chasing it. They thought I was the best drawer in school but I was just tracing. I’d go home, print out the Dragon Ball Z character, and trace it. I’ve been finessing bro.

I was 7 years old going door-to-door selling candy for a fundraiser to support my family. I would say, “I need a dollar no change.” Then bring it back home like, “Here you go mummy.” Stealing from corner stores and reselling it. They didn’t know nothing about that in elementary school. 

Who do you view as your biggest competition?

Me. I am my biggest critic, my biggest fan, and my biggest competition.

What do you think is holding you back right now?

Being on house arrest. I feel like everyone wants to leave me. I’m mad depressed and anxious all the time. *UGHHHHH*

What’s your next goal, and how are you going to accomplish it?

To get rich or die tryin’ – no 50 Cent though. I’m gonna make the next big hit. 

I might need a distribution company for HKOD the label – but I’ll do it myself if I have to.

I just gotta stay true to myself, my team, and my fans. I need keep pushing and keep faith – and it’s gonna happen. 

Who is your biggest inspiration?

Myself, my kids, and my wife. 

I say that because if you find inspiration in anyone else, and that person loses inspiration, then you’re out of inspiration.

If it were 5 years ago and you saw yourself now, what would you think?

I’d be proud. I’d say, “You didn’t give up. You’re strong. You’re still here, still going. You’re still out here in the trenches of the trenches.” I’m still alive bro – I made it to 21. 

Last question: who do you think is the most successful person right now in 2019?

Oprah. 

Image result for oprah success powerful

Why?

Because she’s still doin’ it. She’s doing whatever she wants. She doesn’t have to be doing it, but she does it. She’s rich, no kids, new sheets every day. Oprah’s lit bro.

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Feedback is always welcome !
Email: highkeyrandom@gmail.com

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