A Denim Devotee’s Tips For Pursuing Your Passion

Photo: Courtesy of Happily Grey.
Many of us are guilty of joining the "always busy" club. Between work, attempting to stick to an exercise regimen, and keeping up some semblance of a social life, having time for creative side projects often seems out of reach. Year after year we set resolutions to get more inspired, but our go-go-go lifestyle gives us every reason to procrastinate. No more excuses — it's time to take hold of our passion projects and turn them into a reality. To get inspired, we tapped minimalism darling Mary Seng, the Happily Grey blogger who balanced an intense nursing career while simultaneously turning her style blog into a bona-fide business. Because if managing a budding fashion site while juggling 12-hour night shifts in a cardio unit doesn't inspire your artistic side to get to work, we don't know what will. Below, check out Seng's words of wisdom that boast a major payoff, like how taking a class in a new subject can help you refocus and work through obstacles. Or how a simple, denim-filled uniform can free the mind for more creative thought, which you can read more about at Gap Styld.by. Now, to getting that New Year's resolution back on track.

Don't be afraid of pursuing something you know nothing about.
"I always teetered between doing something more black and white or something more creative. I got a job in critical care right out of school and worked as a nurse in a cardiovascular ICU, which is all heart surgery. At that point, my only knowledge was medical, so the marketing, technical, and business strategies of blogging were not my world at all."

Fun projects require hard work and dedication, too.
"Blogging comes across as effortless — but while it is wonderful and such a fun job, there's so much work that goes into it. When I was juggling both [nursing and Happily Grey], I barely slept. I'd work 12-hour night shifts, come home in the morning and work on the blog, and get two hours of sleep [before going back to the hospital]. In the beginning, you don't have a lot of followers or much on the other side to motivate you. You just have to put your head down and stick with it if there's a passion there."
Photo: Courtesy of Happily Grey.
Work through obstacles by taking classes and honing your craft.
"My biggest obstacle when I started the blog was my imagery. I knew it had to speak for itself, and that was my first focus, really creating an aesthetic. After I quit nursing, I took a photography course and bought my first camera, so my family didn't have to keep shooting for me. It was a huge learning curve for me because I knew nothing about photography." Always be on the lookout for inspiration.
"I feel most creative when I travel and meet new people. Hands down. It's as simple as just walking around [a new place]. You can meet so many fascinating people...just listening to what they have to say, that's when I always get ideas."

When in doubt, go back to the tried-and-true.
"I go back to the basics if I'm in a [style] slump. There's a beauty in keeping it clean and simple, and denim is the foundation of it all; it's a staple in almost every look I wear. But anyone can throw on a T-shirt and jeans, so I'm always looking for ways to give denim a new light [or wear it] in a less obvious way. With a heritage piece, I try to think outside the box to make it a little more interesting, like by mixing different washes. If you're styling it for a monochrome look or are working with simple silhouettes, you can layer in textures for dimension, like pairing Gap flares with a knit sweater. That helps make it look and feel more alive."

Don't underestimate the power of your environment.
"I favor a minimal aesthetic with neutral colors because it's easy and there's no fuss about it. Even in my home, I don't like clutter. My mind is more at peace when it's like that."

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