We had the good fortune of connecting with Mikayla Gierut and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Mikayla, how has your work-life balance changed over time?
I have always been either being self-employed or working remote since graduating college, so you could say I’ve had my fair share of battles with finding the elusive “Goldilocks zone” of a work-life balance. Especially as a creative, I would say that this is no easy task. You are constantly looking for inspiration from your surroundings while also having the pressure to sustain an income viable enough to keep a roof over your head- it can be real scary stuff

At the beginning of my artistic journey, art was just a side-hustle and a source of therapy – I was creating works without any inhibition, and was having so much fun doing so while just living in the moment. Like most creatives, I had a goal to take my passion on full-time, and by November of 2020, I was fortunate enough to do just so. I sold out of every collection, worked with influencers across the nation, and signed commissions with clients around the world… it was such an incredibly rewarding milestone after 3 long years of consistent work. I learned the importance of creating space in my day instead of searching for it- there was no longer any time for excuses and it was clear that my work ethic was paying off.

While I still strongly agree that one must make sacrifices to sustain the path of success, I learned the hard way that above all else, your health should always come first. November 2021 (in the height of the holiday rush) I came down with a severe double ear infection that landed me in the ER, followed by covid. My doctors made it clear that my immune system was suppressed by the stress and my body had enough, yet I continued to push my limits and finish the year strong.

What I didn’t anticipate were the mental and physical repercussions that still lie ahead. Despite finishing one of my highest gross revenue quarters in my artistic career, I had become bedridden and on medication throughout the month of December through January 2022. Once I eventually healed enough to return back to the studio, I was at a creative loss- it had been over 2 months since I last created, and I knew that if I continued my debilitating work ethic, my craft would no longer be my own but rather a byproduct of demand.

I would consider this shift in perspective as one of the most valuable lessons I learned in my career. Creativity cannot be forced – it ebbs and flows like the seasons of life. Some months are incredibly productive and you feel in control, while others may call for a time of reflection and rest- both absolutely necessary in the recipe of future success and personal fulfillment.

I took this lesson to heart, and pulled back on my expectations as I planned my year ahead. I knew giving myself time and permission to grow comfortable in adversity and return back to my playful roots would be the best investment in my business, and more importantly, my long-term health. While it may mean less revenue and financial security, it would also mean the creation of art that is a genuine extension of my heart and soul. After all, there is no better gift in life than waking up each day and doing what you love only to end your day looking forward to the next.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
If I went back in time 6 years ago, I would have never guessed I would be where I am today- I was on track to graduate with a degree in Environmental Science from a prestigious research program at the University of Arizona, and set to pursue a career in environmental consulting or working in a lab (you could say I did a huge 180 in career choices!). However, creativity has always been a major strength of mine and something I always gravitated towards when times got tough.

After graduating with my degree, I honestly felt a little discouraged by the job market, and just overall where my life was at that time. So what did I do? I turned to art.

I had a vision to bridge my education in Environmental Science and passion for art into one. It was during this time I stumbled across a form of fluid art using an epoxy resin (the same material used to glass surfboards). Eventually I went on to expanding my artistic scope and experimented with making Grazing boards 100% by hand out of my Laguna Beach atlier (I was brought up by a family who loves to entertain, so these grazing boards really resonated with my roots!)

These functional works of art are inspired by elevating the hostessing experience, while complimenting coastal art and contemporary home decor. I strongly believe that there is truly an art to gathering- whether it be over a decadent grazing board with old friends, or through philanthropic action with new faces-When it is done properly, it has the power to build a community. Over the years, I have brought together an amazing community that has helped me donate thousands of dollars to local philanthropic initiatives since opening my doors in 2017. It is something I take great pride in, and hope to build upon in the coming years.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Laguna Beach is full of treasures- from hidden coves to hidden gems of small businesses. I would probably spend the days at a few of my favorite local beaches (Oak st., West st., Three Arch Bay to name a few) followed by dinner and drinks in downtown. The overall summer vibe cannot be beat down there, and there is always something new and exciting happening on Forest Ave.. Another fun activity that I highly recommend is the Sawdust Festival – they feature some of the most incredible local artists, and it also happens to have live music going on at almost all hours of the day making it such a fun summer afternoon activity.

Website: www.kaylaraeresin.com

Instagram: @kaylaraeresin

Facebook: kaylaraeresin

Other: tik tok: @kaylaraeresin

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