I knew I was an artist and author at around age 4, when I would pass hours ‘redesigning’ bird books or cereal packets, which later evolved into cassette tape covers and greetings cards. Creative projects at school and scrap books at home were elaborate affairs!
In my teens we were encouraged to ‘pick one’ job or identity, so at age 14 I made the decision that it was graphic design that allowed me to utilise all the things I loved and hopefully I could forge a career out of it. I dedicated everything to it… 4 creative A-levels (plus Maths) and an undergraduate degree at (then) Norwich School of Art and Design, a course with prestige for having great contacts in the packaging design industry.
When, at age 21, I found myself at a desk at Pearlfisher working on jobs like Crabtree and Evelyn, Cadbury and The Spice Tailor I thought that all my dreams had come true. It was a heady few years thriving in London.
Until I wasn’t thriving anymore. Until I didn’t know what my creativity looked like anymore. Until I was pretty numb. I knew what my creative directors’ creativity looked like and constantly went against my intuition to try to create what was in their minds. That wasn’t their fault perse, it’s part of the binary structure that our cultural conditioning includes; the notion that things are either ‘good’ or ‘bad’.
The colonisation of my creativity began to unravel when I journeyed deeper into the South Asian practices of Yoga, mediation, Ayurveda and rituals. Initially, I attached myself to equally patriarchal lineages that quietly enforced hierarchy and control because they felt familiar to me, and yet at the same time they taught me practices that would essentially help me come to know myself on a deeper level. And ultimately empower me to have the courage to say no to anything that didn’t feel right, even if that meant being outside of the social norm.
For a brief time, I thought I would have to release my creative endeavours completely, to dedicate myself to a spiritual practice because my mind couldn’t separate the wild creativity of my childhood with the corporate industry that I’d ended up in - I thought that to be a creative adult I had to be trapped there. However I did eventually realise that my creativity was my spiritual practice, that it was all entwined: the yoga, the personal development, the creativity, the charity projects… they all fed into and supported each other. I had created my own unique concoction, as we all do on our dance through this wild, precious life. I just needed to own it.
The charity world was something I was quite literally shaken into with the Nepali earthquake, and you can read about what this has become for me now on the Giving Back page. However I had always known on some level that my work was destined to serve people and the planet, from designing shoe boxes made of hemp at college to being called the ‘organic’ one at university there were so many little signs, although I tried to ignore them sometimes to fit in. That makes me laugh now because fitting into the corporate world definitely wasn’t my destiny!
In 2018, I started Stop Breathe Grow, a platform where I could celebrate three of my loves: yoga, design and my creative charity projects in Nepal. And the concept of that evolution in my life’s adventure still rings true.
I still believe in the power of pausing to know where to go next.
I still believe that what’s happening in one part of life is intimately connected to another.
I still believe that together we are stronger and that collaboration is a game changer.
I still believe in the power of the breath and simple movements that ground us back into our bodies, rather than floating away in our minds.
AND, now I’m ready to fully own the frankly fucking fantastic work that has come out of me in the last few years, particularly since the earthquake. Through the personal and collective grief, through the joy, over the hurdles and in deep and very necessary rest, I have cultivated magic. I have turned pain into unprecedented projects that nourish communities and build bonds.
Some experiences have been tough to say the least, but they have brought me to an understanding: that I am an integral part of so many incredible processes and I no longer accept the capitalist concept of being a cog in a machine that can be replaced - that idea is simply designed to keep us small and prevent us from asking questions.
That’s not to say that I’m better than anyone else, not at all, but it’s recognising that I own a special brand of magic that is unique to me and that deserves a name.
We all have our light to shine.
Stop Breathe Grow was an amazing concept that I could hide behind and a method that I still use. The Firefly Creatrix is unashamedly, unapologetically ME. It’s a little bit scary, but mostly it’s exciting! It gives me permission to be all of the things I dreamed of as a child: an author, an artist, a designer, an animator, a teacher, a ritual space holder, an architect, a designer, an explorer and so many more… I am a conduit for all kinds of wild creativity that connects a constellation of amazing beings around our precious globe. I vow to continue to shine, simultaneously working to improve the pitfalls in our societies and highlighting the successes, so that we may leave a brighter legacy for our future ancestors.
I share all this to say that I see you. I see your unique journey, your struggles and your successes. I see your wild ideas and all the work you’ve put into bringing them to life. I’m here to meet you exactly where you are… all the joy and all the tears are welcome. We’re in it together. And while I’m definitely not here to tell you what you ‘should’ do for your business, passion project, organisation, book or unique concept that you’re birthing into the world, I’m here to share my expertise, love and network of connections with the intention that we all rise together.
All images and designs created by Sophie Maliphant, The Firefly Creatrix, unless specifically stated. Subject to copyright ©.
Please do not use images professionally without permission and credit me when sharing on on social media (@thefireflycreatrix)