We had the good fortune of connecting with Heather O’Donnell and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Heather, we’d love to start by asking you about lessons learned. Is there a lesson you can share with us?
Confidence. Starting Magnolia Heather has brought me so much confidence. Confidence in interacting with other people, confidence in myself and my abilities. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that I am *the* most confident person, but I certainly do believe in myself more that I have ever before. This little business has given me so much, and I believe it will continue to give throughout my life. Even if I stray away from leaf embroidery, I’m sure that I’ll simply work on some other side project that continues to give me joy and help me out financially when I need it to. I look to the future and see a future. I see my work in more places, I see myself teaching, I see myself feeling fulfilled. So, to have gained this kind of confidence is definitely the most important thing that I have learned from Magnolia Heather.
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.
The thing that sets me a part from others is the canvas I put my needle and thread through, that’s the easy answer, right? What I am most proud of is that I can envision myself in so many ways in the future with my artwork. I don’t see an end in sight. This isn’t a summer fling, or a mid-twenties experiment. This is me. I am Magnolia Heather. But no, this was absolutely not easy to get here, and things still aren’t perfect, and I still am embroidering in my car on my lunch break. Magnolia Heather started because I felt lost, but I pushed it forward out of necessity. I was in a place where I desperately needed money but wasn’t making enough with my day job. So I began to sell my leaves, I began to participate in markets, I put in the work to set up a website, I put in the many hours on social media to promote myself. It’s a lot to do on your own, and I will admit, that I know I can do more, but it takes a lot of mental and emotional energy out of me. I am a busy bee. I work full time, I work part time with my art, and when COVID isn’t around, I am very involved with the cycling community, whether I’m trying to pick up training again or volunteering because I can’t get myself to train. Never give up is the main lesson. I’ve tried to countless times, but I always come back to it. I truly believe that Magnolia Heather is my future and that it will support me and my family one day. What I want people to know about my brand or story— just stick with it. “Fail” aka, learn. But don’t stop. I’m currently having my best year with Magnolia Heather, and I’ve still had my bouts of “well I should just quit.” But I don’t and I won’t. And one day, people beyond my Instagram will know who I am and who that leaf girl is.
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.
Hmm…this is a tough one. I haven’t been everywhere yet! If it was a week long trip, I would go out somewhere mountainous. We would hike and make the post-hike beers or wine so worth it. We would find some local eatery and enjoy the food. Then, we would huddle around a campfire back at our bnb and stay up late sharing stories. The next day, we would find a new hike to a new brewery or winery. Eat at a new eatery and do it all again. Maybe the last two days of the trip we travel towards water and soak up the sun and our legs. I think outdoorsy people are the best. They know how to appreciate what we are given (the earth) and the best people do their best to explore it fully. There is sooooo much beauty in nature, and it’s so difficult to truly see it all.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
First and foremost, my mom. Without her, I would have never attended SCAD, and I probably wouldn’t have looked at a magnolia leaf the way I do now. Secondly, my husband, Kevin. We started dating around the time that Magnolia Heather started gaining traction. However, it wasn’t always consistent or easy…I would play the comparison game way too hard, and I would often huff and puff and threaten to quit. But Kevin was always there to tell me to keep going, in whatever capacity I had in me.