We had the good fortune of connecting with Daisy Fontenot and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Daisy, have there been any changes in how you think about work-life balance?
Balance. Well, it has most definitely changed. I am very much a go getter, and have a go, go, go mindset. I naturally operate like that, but it comes with pros & cons. It can bring in a lot of clientele and a packed calendar when you have that mentality but it can also burn you out. So the first couple of years I learned to create boundaries for myself, and to not “give in” to last minute clients. I had to set a standard for myself, so that there can be a standard for my business.
Then, I had a baby. And everything seemed to slow down – yet my life was still moving 100mph as I transitioned into a mother. I wanted to take time off to be able to focus on this new role with my baby, during that time – the pandemic also hit. So it kind of went hand to hand. However, when everything stopped…my mind did not, my mind went into overtime – physically, mentally & emotionally. It may have been my hormones from having a baby and or the combination of the pandemic + life in general. I discovered I was struggling with postpartum anxiety. And it was taking a toll on me. Its actually been 2.5 years since the birth of my baby and while I am definitely better now, there are still days where I feel…..like I am not me. And nothing feels worse than not being able to recognize your own self. So I took the time to allow myself to be vulnerable, to feel, to not understand but to still put in work. And that meant dissecting myself from the inside out. Finding discipline in a plan to better myself helped me become not only a better mother, but a better woman. And ultimately that is where I found myself growing with my business. Now, I don’t operate on a go, go, go mentality. I operate more on doing things that make me happy, things that bring me joy so that I can share that love and passion with my clients. There is going to be days you can tackle it all, and days you cant finish one thing. IT IS OKAY. And when we understand that, we realize the importance of the real meaning behind balance. Because for me it isn’t always just about my business, or my baby, or my husband, or my household. Finding balance is for ME as a human, as a woman. So that I can be the best mother, the best wife, the best….Daisy. And with being the best version of myself, I’ve allowed myself to grow and create more and more, and in the midst of all that I started to feel… normal, again. The truth is, life is full of tug and wars. Some days you tug hard, other days you realize its okay to let it go. Finding the peace in that will help you have balance in more than just your business.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Choreography wise, I have been dancing since a young age. I danced through school. I was able to pay for most of my education after graduating highschool by taking on clients who needed choreography for Quinceaneras, solos, team routines, dance lessons, etc. There was definitely multiple times that I thought I was done with dance, but I have always been blessed to get a call at the right time for choreography – and just like, I was back to being motivated and inspired. When I was engaged, I choreographed a fun piece for my husband and I to do as a “save the date” video. It was after that, that I started getting calls for wedding choreography, non stop. First dances are an important, special part in a Bride & Grooms day. And I always keep that in mind during lessons with my couples. The more calls I received about first dances the more I grew as a wedding choreographer. With me, its never about “IF” you can dance. Its about showcasing the love between a couple. Yes, you can hire me to have a fun, creative dance or you can hire me to be able to showcase a sweet memory on that dance floor. But regardless of your vision, one thing I can guarantee is that beautiful bonding moments will happen during the practices that lead up to the special day. Showcasing their dance, will truly just the icing on the cake.
Fast forward a couple of years, and I got pregnant, I knew that I wanted to take time off to really focus on becoming a mom. So towards the end of my pregnancy I stopped taking dance clients and saved my energy for baby. I, however, don’t know how to sit still. So while I “sat” I pulled out my iPad and started “doodling” on it. It was very therapeutic, and it allowed me to still be creative even if it wasn’t with choreography. I self taught myself how to create illustrations and by the time my baby was born I was creating monthly drawings with him. I remember being so excited to take his picture, and to brainstorm that months design. By the time he was one – I remember thinking, “What am I going to do now?” lol! It was also the time that I was struggling the most with my postpartum. So I channeled a lot of that built up energy into teaching myself a new skill. I got more confident in my work and the more I shared on social media the more questions and requests I got for illustrations. Many people have no idea how much this was part of my healing journey. No one knows how hard, how dark, how lost I felt. I am usually a very happy, optimistic, full of laughter individual. But my anxiety was through the roof. It was crippling me…I have never in my life felt so alone while being surrounded by so many people. The mind is a powerful thing and I truly thought, I could shake it off on my own. But the truth is I couldn’t, I wanted to, but for the first time in my life, I didn’t know how to use my voice. I couldn’t talk about it without shaking with fear, without wanting to curl up in a ball and just cry. And I tried so hard to hide it. No one knew, hell – I didn’t know. I couldn’t explain what was happening My husband knew something was off, he is the only person that got an inside look at how ugly postpartum anxiety can be. And bless his heart, because he was so patient and he was the one who helped me see, that it wasn’t ME. That I had to fight for me. Not for us. Not for my dreams. But for ME. It was that reason, I made an appointment with a doctor. It was that reason I sought after therapy, self taught myself a new skill – I needed to occupy my mind differently. I was not going to allow fear to take over me anymore. So I drew, sat with a therapist, hugged my baby, talked to my husband, drew, sat with a therapist, hugged my baby & talked to my husband on repeat for a couple of months. What a blessing those months truly were. Close friends knew that I was struggling but no one aside from my immediate circle knew the intensity of it all. Every single digital illustration request or client that would hire me to help them with a logo or an image had no idea how much THEY were helping me. Drawing became a form of therapy for me. I truly have a great support system. And I am so thankful that I found this hobby during a time that I was at my weakest. Since then I have definitely found my “groove” so to speak with digital illustration. I have even been able to expand my projects and have created merchandise to go with it. I am looking forward to taking wedding choreography clients again, and even more excited to tie in digital illustration with my choreography and wedding clients.
I have a lot more plans in my head. I got tired of letting fear get in the way of my life, my goals, my dreams. And truthfully, I am at the point in my life where I am ready to let a lot of these visions fly free. If it sells and it is loved, than yay! But if it doesn’t, its OKAY. Because, at the end of the day I did something I love – I took a risk. And if that is not happiness and success – I don’t know what is.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Well, there is so much to do. I’m from the south side, so I would definitely start of with visiting Nasa and the surrounding restaurants. I love Main St. Bistro in League City. They have an amazing brunch menu. Kemah Boardwalk & the Galveston pier are also fun. Between both, is also Pier 6. A new restaurant that sits on the water and makes you forget that you are in a small town. The restaurant is beautiful, the food is delicious and I highly recommend staying at their bungalows. We did a staycation there for my husband’s birthday and what a great place to stay and unwind. The rooms are spacious and the sunsets were magical.
When in Houston, I love eating at Cuchara. Brunch there on a Saturday morning is a favorite. They have delicious and authentic Mexican bistro styled food. It can be a little pricy but SO worth it. Their 5 leches cake is a must!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My husband is an angel on earth. I get emotional just thinking about how much work he put in to help me find myself again. He believes in me, my work, my goals. And each time that a vision or dream of mine felt harder to obtain it was him motivating me in the background.
When I was struggling mentally, with postpartum anxiety: it was him that was patient, it was him that asked the tough questions, the one to make me laugh when all I wanted to do was hide and cry. It was he who asked more information about therapy when I started seeing a therapist to see if there was anything HE could learn to help me in the meantime.
With my business, he’s the first one to hear and see all my projects come to life. His enthusiasm about my work is my push. He never hesitates to help me and I cant thank him enough for not only believing in me but helping me see that my thoughts matter, that my goals are obtainable, that my dreams are much more than just a business. Those dreams make me who I am. And who I am as a human, trying to make a small difference in this big world, is the ultimate success.
AJG Works Photography