Scaling Up My Business

I’ve had an entrepreneurial mindset since my early post-college years. It was the Great Recession, and jobs were scarce. I started trying to carve my own path. The truth is, even if the job market was better, I envisioned a career that crossed industries and boundaries. As someone with deep-seated interests in theatre, science, and society, I yearned for an opportunity that would be my “dream job.” When I didn’t see that, I decided to forge my own.

Since then, my career has taken some interesting turns, from a couple of jobs in government communications to a stint as a landscaper’s assistant. And while my dream of running a socially conscious theatre/arts production agency still lives, I’ve shifted gears into story-driven marketing and integrated communications. It’s the perfect way to combine my passion for writing and storytelling with my diverse background in science and journalism. I’ve realized that marketing is the opportunity I was looking for — and it’s survived the latest economic downturn.

That’s why I decided to turn my freelance communications work into two companies:

Free Ring Circus: a creative services and personal branding agency for artists, educators, entrepreneurs, coaches, and other changemakers.

Lyra Creative Studios: an integrated communications agency for nonprofits, health organizations, and changemaking companies.

Since lockdown began, I’ve devoted myself to growing these enterprises to form two-thirds of my full-time enterprise (with the third portion being my writing endeavours). It’s been an adventure to build sales funnels, lead magnets, content pipelines, and all the exciting aspects of a full-fledged business. I can’t wait to move away from frustrating job boards and step out on my own. I look forward to connecting with changemakers who need their stories told. At the end of the day, that’s my true calling.

New Freelance Business, New Personal Brand

It happened. I went full-time freelance!

All year, I’ve been picking up extra writing work to help pay the bills. I learned a lot of hard lessons by participating in sites such as Upwork and Copify. Then, I was laid off from the job I’d accepted to relocate to Orlando. It was time to jump into freelancing feet first.

My business is called Free Ring Circus:

  • Free for freelance
  • Ring to represent my full-circle approach to communications
  • Circus as a nod to my aerial artistry and to reflect my story-oriented approach and target market of creative clients

I’ve been scaling up my efforts with a full content marketing strategy that encompasses Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook, and I’m working on building my client network.

Meanwhile, I’ve been tickled to receive a lot of positive client reviews on Upwork. It’s been a huge confidence boost. For years, I sold myself short and was too nervous to talk myself up. Now, I’ve gotten better at both marketing myself and understanding my creative talent.

Introducing The Geeky Chica!

I’ve developed a personal brand, The Geeky Chica, and used this to market my writing. I’ve also ramped up my self-publishing efforts by regularly posting on Medium, and I’m currently pitching to a range of nonfiction publishers.

Although I’ve worked for years as a professional writer, it’s been thrilling to see my following grow as I get my geek on (hence my brand name). I love being able to write about film, culture, life lessons, and even productivity, and be part of a larger conversation. Medium has also given me the opportunity to practice my craft every day and continue to improve. I’ve come a long way since I started grad school and constantly used dangling modifiers! The one thing that hasn’t changed is that I still use the Oxford comma. You can pry it from my cold dead hands.

You can follow me on Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter, and Reddit.

Level Up: Master’s Degree

This year, I finished my 144-page, 40,000-words master’s thesis. I have never written anything so long in my life. It was 6 years of off- and on-work. I left graduate school for a long time after being broken down by an abusive relationship, and I had to request special exception to continue in the program. Since then, I have been working full-time and trying to launch my own theatre company, plus training in the circus and trying to get my life overall on track. I spent countless evenings reading 20-page academic papers just to write 1-3 sentences in my thesis (isn’t academia fun?). I stared at Excel spreadsheets far longer than normal. I spent hours transcribing interviews with awesome people. And finally, on September 7 of this year, I successfully defended my thesis and was approved to graduate with my Master’s in Cultural Anthropology, with a concentration in Film Studies.

I’m very proud of the research, which included a unique combination of media effects research with ethnography. This was, as far as I know, the first paper to approach bullying from this combined perspective and to bring respondents’ narcissistic attributes into conversation with their attitudes toward bullying. My findings were that people with such attributes were more likely to pay attention to the effects of bullying behavior, and that people who were exposed to media portraying bullying were more likely to identify it as such.

I produced one short documentary on bullying as part of this research, and I hope to continue my visual anthropological work post-degree, albeit independently. While I do not plan to seek a job in academia, I do plan to use what I have learned to hopefully effect real social change in the movement to stop bullying. This is the power of anthropology when applied to real-world issues: to inform people why they do what they do and empower them with knowledge to change it.

Summer Spectacular: An Incredible 2 Months in Theatre Education

I costumed 132 children this summer. All the pin pricks, hot glue burns, and carpal tunnel syndrome are worth the level of adorableness. I heard so many people praise our shows for Summer Spectacular, the education program at the Hippodrome Theatre. Campers love their costumes, props, and music, and so do Hippsters! I heard patrons in the hall saying these were some of the highest quality productions they’ve seen for Summer Spec! That is to say, my costumes were a part of it. Of course, Roald Dahl is great source material, and our kids are ROCK STARS! I was very grateful for the opportunity to design costumes for this shows as well as teach costuming and costume history, and super pleased that several kids told me I was their favorite teacher / the best costume designer they’ve ever had. Truly a proud moment for me—I felt that my training, knowledge, and skill in costuming had finally coalesced, and I could have a positive impact on kids’ theatre education.

Our kids were very lucky this year to have incredible directors (Niall McGinty andMatthew Lindsay), incredible teachers in creative writing (Rachel Abrams), film (Eric Martin), acting (Pablo J. Milla), great workshop leaders (Daniel,Marionne, Kelli, Elizabeth, Mariama, and many more), amazing tech by Jed Daniels and Amanda Yanes, props by Karen Arnold, videography and stage management by Ed, and all under the leadership of Gabby Byam. This is how you do summer!

A little moment of theatre magic took place during camp:

I had been working hard to exceed expectations and complete amazing costumes for all my kids, but had been met with multiple challenges both situational and personal. At times I felt very distressed and disappointed. In an improv game today, I had a student curl up into a ball of despair, moaning that he didn’t know where he fit in and felt disrespected and ignored. I pulled him aside and told him that I sometimes felt that way too. I begged him to participate in the game, telling him he would never know if his ideas would be heard and his personhood acknowledged until he tried. At the same time, I was feeling ambivalent about my words, wondering if there was any hope for those of us who are hypersensitive to others, or perhaps a little too strange for most of our peers. All the same, I asked him to take a moment to gather himself so we could play the game. He responded by hiding even more in the corner and shrinking into a ball. He was still upset when the game began and each team was building a story together. My kids were not all on the same page and the scene, which was supposed to have an inspirational message, was not going anywhere. Suddenly, the sad kid burst out of nowhere and sealed the story with this quote: “when you think lovely thoughts, the sun will shine upon you and you will look lovely.” We could all see the happiness take over his face as he realized the truth of what he was saying. He then came and hugged me. And I remembered why I was in theatre, to witness moments like this. This is why we do art…where platitudes and empty promises fall short, the catharsis of performance reminds us that it’s not all bad.

A catch-up post

A catch-up post: Recently I’ve been hunting footage for my minidoc on puppetry, which I’ll hopefully be submitting to a festival, working on my thesis project, which involves interviewing public school educators about #bullying, directing Dearly Departed, which opens June 13 at High Springs Playhouse, planning Red Soul Days, a multimedia anti-violence event in August, and producing Work is Cheap, an applied theatre and “rapidtheatre” project, which has a public play reading on May 17 8pm at Broken Shelves Books and Art in downtown Gainesville. It’s bound to be a thrilling summer!

Nailed the Interactive Art Show!!

Friday was an incredible night. I have run a combined variety/art show and an interactive art show at the Civic Media Center in the past year. I was striving for a perfect blend of art showing, performances, interaction, and donation. I wanted to give artists an opportunity to show their work in a rich environment. I named this event The MageArt Experience, in acknowledgement of the real magic that art provides, both in its production and perception.

I finally got the right formula for this show, and brewed up a delicious artistic blend. We benefited from Gainesville’s Artwalk crowd, and our participating artists brought incredible energy and beauty. We had guests contributing to the collaborative canvas, purchasing art, and watching the performers with full attention.

With this show under my belt, I think that CerridwenWorks is well on its way to nonprofit status.

2014 Here We Go!

Accomplishments so far:

P King posterThe Peppermint King at the Acrosstown Repertory Theatre: My true producer debut. I’ve been building viral and visual promotional strategies for this innovative new show at the ART. I ran a moderately successful IndieGogo campaign to boost the production budget for this show and provide compensation for our designers, and developed the viral marketing strategy incorporated in our posters and the Gainesville Sun’s preview article (see the lead).

What’s happening this year:

Dearly Departed at High Springs Community Theatre. This darkly comical family funeral show promises to deliver on homestyle, heartstring-pulling humor.

VFest 2014 at the Tabernacle: a feminist / LGBT-friendly variety show of the Tom Miller Show ilk at 1982 Bar. Feb. 10.

The MageArt Experience 2014: an interactive show on February 28 at the Civic Media Center. Feb. 28. In the vein of TigerMonkey Extravaganza but with a greater emphasis of performance.

The Irreverent Comedy Show: a safe house for all things culturally offensive yet comically brilliant. TBA.

Movie Burlesque: combining film buffitude (is that a word?) with the reemerging art form of burlesque. TBA.

Teatro de los Muertos

My anthology of 5 short plays about death and dying, Teatro de los Muertos, was a hit.
A collection of responses:
My mother:
Thankful for my children and what they have accomplished by working so hard toward their dreams. Last night I saw my daughter’s first produced play–actually five short plays–about loss. By turns heartbreaking and funny, her work gave a cast of talented actors an incredible range of emotions to play. I’m surprised I held it together. From the time my children were small, watching what they do has made me cry. Being a parent means a lifetime of tears (and embarrassing our kids) because they make us so proud.
Another audience member:
It was AWESOME! Excellent job by Rachel and the cast and crew. The subject of reincarnation in Act V is definitely Twilight Zone material.

One of my cast members:
Last night was insane. I can’t believe the show is over. Im going to miss seeing these people everyday, they’re all such beautiful people. This show was seriously one of the biggest blessings I’ve ever had. and i owe it all to my director. She’s the one that finally gave me a chance. She saw something in me and thinking about it makes me teary eyed :’) If it wasn’t for her, i wouldn’t have professional actors telling me “you’ve got it, you’re brilliant, you’re amazing.” It feels so surreal. I always thought I was going to be one of those people that never got farther than high school theater. There was a time that I was just going to quit theater forever and felt like i would never get to go as far as i really wanted to. and then Rachel gave me this huge role and now I have the confidence to go even further and further. Its all thanks to you love
Teatro features 5 one-acts:
The Light in my Life: in the late 19th century, a mother losing her daughter to fever binds her life to her daughter’s. A true medical condition called Broken Heart Syndrome, the despair and stress over a profound loss can be a cause of death or severe illness. This was the original piece in this anthology, and features an emotive piece called “Her Hands,” as a monologue.
Death is Whatever: two teenage girls driven apart by their mutual friend’s untimely death recover with the help of a hand beyond the grave. I was tired of ghost stories in which the spirit only causes trouble or enacts vengeance. I wanted a ghost story with a happier ending.
Reincarnation: a grieving widow believes her husband has been reincarnated as an oak sapling. This idea came to me in a dream and I wanted to explore the intrigue of reincarnation as a very personal encounter, rather than a larger principle of theology.
Dead Men Tell No Tales: a young woman caught in a maelstrom takes matters into her own hands. No death anthology would be complete without touching on the subject of matter. I felt it was important to address the human aspects of murder, rather than resorting to moralizing or stereotyping portrayals of murder.
Death Becomes You: a troubled young person learns the precise details of mortality. A parody of multiple religious traditions while affirming the spiritual aspects of all, I wrote this “Wonderful Life” inspired piece to have a twist: rather than not being born, what would it be like if someone else took your life? What if the rules of the universe were handled in a way reminiscient of American bureaucracy? A favorite piece of many viewers of the anthology, “Death Becomes You” was my twisty, sarcastic contribution to the genre.
Influences on this anthology include Dogma, by Kevin Smith, Made in Heaven, by Bruce Evans and Raynold Gideon, It’s A Wonderful Life, based on the short story “The Greatest Gift” by Philip van Doren Stern, and certain segments of “Six Feet Under,” “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” and “Angel,” in which characters have conversations with dead characters.

Teatro de los Muertos: Day of the Dead Play Festival

Nov. 1 and 2, 2013, at the Acrosstown Repertory Theatre! I am very proud of my brilliantly talented cast. I was extremely lucky to get an ensemble with such chemistry and emotional depth.

Teatro de los Muertos: Day of the Dead Play Festival

Nov. 1 and 2, 2013, at the Acrosstown Repertory Theatre! I am very proud of my brilliantly talented cast. I was extremely lucky to get an ensemble with such chemistry and emotional depth.