Telling the stories of twenty-somethings to
inspire risk taking., motivate change., celebrate the defining decade., stir ideas., encourage fun., challenge apathy., illuminate the journey., ignite innovation.

Ashley

The Known Project is creating a space where honesty is sacred, and where ordinary, everyday people will inspire hope through their bravery.

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“I have no other foundation for doing this other than I know that this is what I am supposed to be doing,” said Ashley Snyder, 29, founder of The Known Project.

The Known Project was an idea sparked by Ashley’s own personal revelation of feeling seen by many but never really known.

“I realized that there wasn’t this space for honesty amongst each other. A lot of times we just sit down for coffee and we never go further than the surface,” Ashley explained. “I wanted to create a space where people could be honest about their stories.”

The original idea was for people to blog their secrets, but last February Ashley launched an event instead. It was deemed Known Nights, a place where secrets stirred hope. Ashley invited 6 people to join her on stage to tell their secrets to a room full of strangers. The secrets didn’t necessarily have to be ugly or shocking, they just needed to be something that the person wanted to share with the world. Within 23 days the event was planned and 100 people walked through the door with no paid advertising.

“I went first because I believe strongly in leading by example,” Ashley said.

There were no Instagram photos of that night because no one picked up their phones during the 67 minute program. It built instant community and connection. People lingered for hours after the program to talk with each other and share their own stories.

“Some people said it was the most uncomfortable thing they ever sat through, but they felt so brave afterward,” Ashley said. “I didn’t want it perfected. I wanted the awkward and the real. I think some things are too orchestrated.”

The night launched a city tour in which Ashley and her team traveled to different cities and filmed people sharing their stories.

TOMORROW you have a chance to attend the event in Nashville! You can reserve your ticket here.

Watch this video for more information:

Ashley | Website

Founder, The Known Project • 29 • Nashville, TN

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Courtney

The story behind how twentysomething Courtney Weil grew Crafts and Love Jewelry from hobby to successful business.

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Twentysomething Courtney Weil is the owner and designer of Crafts and Love Jewelry, a beautiful jewelry line crafted with vintage and romantic-inspired materials.

As an engineering student at Georgia Tech, Courtney set up an Etsy shop so she could begin selling pieces of her unique handmade jewelry to raise funds for short-term mission trips. The response was good, and she was able to raise the money she needed at the time.

Though sales continued to come in even after the money was raised, she never considered growing Crafts and Love into a full-time business.

Due to her interest in global water solutions, Courtney attended Emory University to pursue her Masters in Global Public Health right after undergrad. She also got married. Life was very busy, and Crafts and Love only seemed to match the pace as sales grew.

Courtney couldn’t ignore the fact that her hobby was developing into something much bigger, a brand. She began to think of ways to steward the brand and build what was becoming a full-fledged business. Courtney studied other Etsy shops to see how to take her shop to the next level, from amateur to professional. She took note of product photography, packaging, and brand consistency, as well as pricing and affordability. As a twentysomething, it was important to Courtney to make sure her jewelry was priced with her peers in mind.

In order to gain awareness and exposure, Courney attended craft markets and shows, like Indie Craft Experience, and connected with other Atlanta crafters and buyers. Eventually Courtney became a vendor herself at these markets. All the while, she was still designing and creating new pieces and collections, which included hunting for the perfect materials and inspiration.

Courtney was wife, grad student, designer and business woman all at the same time. Her hard work paid off. She recently graduated with her MPH, and decided to stick with Crafts and Love full-time. Crafts and Love has since grabbed the attention of brick and mortar shop buyers, bloggers, and magazine writers, and is now featured in 40 locations across the United States.

“Figure out what inspires you to be passionate, creative, honest, and loving. That is the thing (or things) you should be doing and developing in your twenties,” Courtney advises her fellow twentysomethings.

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View the latest lookbook from Crafts and Love Jewelry here.

Photo credit: Rustic White

Courtney | Website

Owner, Crafts and Love • 24 • Atlanta, GA

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Leah

Twentysomething Leah isn't waiting around to fulfill her dream of being an author

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Is your dream practical?

prac·ti·cal / ˈprak-ti-kəl /

: relating to what is real rather than to what is possible or imagined

: likely to succeed and reasonable to do or use

: appropriate or suited for actual use

Let me ask again, is your dream practical?

Probably not. If it were practical, by definition, it wouldn’t be a dream. It would be doable.

Yet, some people do end up fulfilling their dreams. What’s different about those people and their dreams? The difference is those crazy few choose to redefine the power that practical has in their lives. They decide to loosen the grip of guarantee that threatens to choke the life from their futures. They come to the conclusion that though following along the expected path gives a sense of security it will never produce strength.

Twentysomething author, Leah, was creating stories before she could even actually write. Her very first documented story was written in the third grade, and she’s been writing her stories ever since.

Once in college Leah switched her major right before her junior year to Early Childhood Education because “it was practical.”

“I really chose to do teaching out of fear,” she said. ” I was so focused on needing to have a job, so I stuck it out even though I hated it.”

After graduation, Leah married her high school sweetheart, Zach, and began teaching at a private elementary school because they needed the money as newlyweds. After a full day of teaching, Leah would come home and write her own stories all evening, essentially working two full-time jobs. At the same time, she also started freelance writing for various clients as well as editing for the popular lifestyle blog MaieDae. In addition to her full plate of writing and teaching, Leah began her martial arts training in Hapkido and Taekowndo, in which she is now a black belt and blue belt, respectively.

“I really loved working with kids, but I couldn’t do the drama and the politics that came with the job. It just became so soul killing,” she said. “I realized that teaching is not just a job, but a calling. It wasn’t my calling.”

Recognizing his wife’s passion for writing was only continuing to grow, Zach encouraged Leah to stop teaching and to find a way make writing her profession. After two years of teaching, Leah took a leap of faith and resigned from her job to pursue writing full-time. Though it was a financial risk, Leah walked into the unpredictable world of freelance and self-publishing confident that she was making the right decision.

That was a year ago. She has since self-published two books in a trilogy as well as a novella.

“Self-publishing has let me learn the process at my own pace,” Leah explained. “Plus, it’s more cost effective.”

With traditional publishing, you have to pay people like agents, editors, and graphic designers. By publishing her books independently, Leah filled all those roles herself while learning the ropes. She is currently working on two new novels that are set to be released by the end of this year.

Leah also formed her own LLC and her freelance career is growing. She is the “Administrative Maven” behind MaieDae as their chief editor and business administrator. She is also writing for various blogs, including her own blog.

Leah’s first love will always be her stories. She is energized by developing her characters and plots. She says she ends up putting a bit of herself in each of her characters.

Leah’s advice to other twentysomethings is “Don’t be afraid to pursue your dreams and don’t be afraid to make mistakes.”

Photo Credit: Savannah Wallace

Leah | Leah’s Blog Leah’s Books

Author • 25 • Rome, GA

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A chat with a talented fashionista who utilized her twenties to explore how to apply her passions and skills to a deeper purpose.

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Q. How did you get involved with Nisolo Shoes? What was the journey like getting there?

With my liberal arts undergraduate degree in Economics & Spanish and a minor in Math, I wasn’t exactly sure of my career path. I worked at UCSB for a bit with international students, I moved to Italy and worked for a small marketing firm and then moved back to Santa Barbara where I worked for a school in their business office and coached volleyball. That’s when I started a handmade swimsuit company on the side, working with small scale seamstresses in Mexico and my interest in the fashion industry peaked. I decided to move to NYC in order to gain as much experience as I could working in the heart of the industry and going to graduate school at night. After spending 3 years in NYC, the corporate world that I had been working in lost it’s appeal to me and I realized that my ideal work would combine my love of fashion and my passion for work in developing countries.

I began researching fashion brands that had a social cause behind them. While I was interviewing for some of those organizations, a friend who I met in NYC sent an email introducing me to her friend, Patrick, who was in Peru and was working on starting a shoe company. Our first Skype call was 3 hours long and we quickly realized that our interests and vision were very aligned. A few weeks later, I flew down to Peru to check it all out. In Trujillo, Patrick showed me a town full of amazingly talented and gifted shoemakers. After seeing this, I decided to quit my job in NYC, sell all of my furniture, ship most of my belongings home to California and head to Peru, this time on a one way ticket. That was in June 2011.

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Q. Your background is in the fashion industry-  what was the transition like from high-end corporate fashion to a start-up? How did it affect you personally and professionally?

This was a transition I always wanted and hoped would happen. I moved to NYC to gain experience working in corporate fashion, but knew that it was not where my passion lay. I relate to and get more excited by the contributions to fashion that handmade products and more boutique type brands and manufacturers bring.

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Q. Tell me about Nisolo currently- how has the company transitioned from what it was in the beginning until now?

We’ve moved Nisolo from a garage in Oxford, MS, to working out of my house in the 12th South neighborhood in Nashville to now a beautiful and spacious showroom and office space in the Germantown neighborhood of Nashville. As I type this, I’m currently in Peru also moving production to a larger space so that we can scale in order to meet our projections for the coming years. Stateside, we now have an amazing team of more than the 3 co-founders, which includes 2 staff members and 5 interns. It’s an ongoing journey – with exciting changes every day. Last week, Patrick and I organized a retreat with all of the shoemakers in “el campo”- the countryside outside of Trujillo – where together we played soccer, BBQ’d and talked about our Nisolo vision and future and their part in it. It was an incredible time with over 40 people and their families, people who in some way are involved with Nisolo: from leather suppliers to shoemakers to shoebag seamstresses.

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Q. What does the future hold for Nisolo? Where are you guys going in the next year or two? 

We’ve started introducing more accessories to our line – including hand bags that strike a balance between high quality, rugged leathers and bright-colored, Peruvian woven fabrics.  This Fall we are also coming out with some more dress styles for men and women. I hope one day to create a knee high riding boot modeled off a vintage pair that has been passed down to me from my mother.

Over the next few years, we plan to continue to develop our line of shoes and accessories while creating more jobs in Peru in this sector. In addition, we plan to empower more artisans by developing further high-quality handmade products – we have some ideas in mind but nothing concrete yet.

Q. Any other projects you are working on? Any projects you are excited about?

We are very excited to be working on a new website for Nisolo. We won a prize to work with a top branding agency out of NYC for 3 months and amongst other things, they are going to help us re-do our website, which will be huge for us. Our website was launched when we first started with very minimum funds in October 2011 and has not been updated since – it is long overdue for an overhaul!

Q. Since you are at the end of your 20′s, looking back, is there any advice you would give to those just starting out? Any lessons you’ve learned the past 10 years that you want to pass on?

Working experience was invaluable in helping me figure out what I like to do and what I don’t like to do. I moved to NYC when I was 23 after already having several years of an established, well salaried job. In New York, I took various non-paying and paying internships and jobs ranging from small 3 person teams to designers in the Meat Packing district to a luxury department store and then finally working for a world wide brand with annual sales of over 2 billion dollars. From there I was able to piece together and really figure out what direction I wanted to head and what I was passionate about. It was definitely a journey that was not easy at times and took a while, and not only helped me to understand myself better but also led me to a place professionally that I’m very proud of as well as stimulated and challenged every day.

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