On Creative Spirituality: Cecily Sailer of Typerwriter Tarot
this fall, our theme is: flourish.
flourish (n.): to grow or develop in a healthy or vigorous way, especially as the result of a particularly favorable environment.
When we make work under our best conditions, we do more than survive—we thrive.
And what grow toward (or say no) to has a lot do with it. Whether you’re a small business owner, independent artist or side hustling creative, your career pathway will take resilience and strategic decision-making. Where do you choose to go? What makes something a yes? Which environments are best for your growth?
Those answers are nuanced, and for the most part they vary. So, as we prepare for craftHER Market Fall ‘19, we’re interviewing some of this market’s featured makers to learn more about their businesses and the ways they create favorable environments for their work. Read on for a peek into their process.
about today’s featured maker: cecily sailer
“I’m a Texan who grew up in Houston and came to Austin as quickly as I could. I work full-time for The Library Foundation, curating events and programs, as well as fundraising and advocating for the Austin Public Library. I launched Typewriter Tarot a little more than two years ago, after falling hard for an art form that adds vibrancy, creativity, and community to my life.”
How would you describe who you are and what you do?
I’m a Texan who grew up in Houston and came to Austin as quickly as I could. I work full-time for The Library Foundation, curating events and programs, as well as fundraising and advocating for the Austin Public Library. I launched Typewriter Tarot a little more than two years ago, after falling hard for an art form that adds vibrancy, creativity, and community to my life. Typewriter Tarot is a collective of female readers with a love for books and writing. We see the inherent overlap and echoes of writing and Tarot. Both are vehicles for narrative; both help us mindfully notice the stories we craft about our lives; both provide opportunities to revise those stories for our own benefit. We try to honor that in our work. We offer readings for individuals, couples, and events; Tarot-inspired writing workshops; Tarot classes; retreats combining Tarot and writing; and little love notes we call Mystic Messages. These are envelopes containing a Tarot card and a corresponding poem typed on my 1960s Smith-Corona typewriter.
Our theme for this Fall’s craftHER is flourish. How are you looking to grow your business at the moment?
We’re looking to grow our audience and connect with people who want to broaden their spirituality and explore different tools for self-reflection and creative growth. Tarot has infused our lives with so many magical and fascinating moments. It’s helped us move through life more easily, and we want to share that with as many people as possible—to help others use Tarot as fuel for personal growth.
What are some of the biggest growth moments you’ve experienced as a creative and/or business owner over the last year? What can others learn from your experience?
Last year, we invested in a booth in the book fair at the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) Conference in Portland, Oregon. My intuition told me writers would be hungry for Tarot readings (in a sea of booths inhabited by literary journals and writing programs). But my mind told me those thousands of writers gathered together would be too busy or too uninterested in our work. I felt unsure of the decision to go and share what we had, and it was a big investment of time, energy and money. But we got there and opened our booth. We quickly became one of the busiest stops in our area of the fair. Over the weekend, we completely sold out of Mystic Messages. By the final day of the conference, we had taken over the abandoned tables of our neighbors to try and accommodate the demand for readings. The panel we hosted on “Tarot for Writers” was held in a room far too small for the audience who wanted to attend. Though part of me doubted the experience could be so successful, we went for it, and my intuition was completely reinforced. My advice: Listen to your intuition, notice the doubts that arise from the mind (not the soul). If you have something to offer that you believe in, put yourself out there. Don’t let doubt slow you down. Go and find out for yourself.
How do you handle criticism and feedback?
I tend to be curious about it. (Not taking things personally is completely liberating.) I’m dying to know how other people perceive and experience the things we create. That’s valuable information I can’t access on my own because it lives inside other people. I need people to share their perspectives so I can see beyond mine. I value criticism and feedback. (But bombard me with Twitter trolls, and you might get a different answer.)
What is your approach to working with others and/or working in community?
My grandmother is a true connector. She pays attention to people and notices their strengths and experiences, and where they’re still learning. She comes up with big visions and then invites those in her circle to help out and combine their strengths and expertise to create something they could not have created otherwise. (She’s very King of Wands, very Three of Pentacles!) I try to approach community in the same way -- to notice where others shine and look for spaces where we can collaborate in meaningful ways, combine forces, and learn from one another.
Sustaining a creative business is tough. What are some money mindsets you’ve had to learn as an artist / entrepreneur?
I’m lucky because Tarot requires very little overhead! But I try to spend conservatively and DIY as much as possible, even though my bandwidth is limited. I learned to be scrappy and conservative in the nonprofit realm, and I look for free or low-cost resources I can quilt together so I can teach myself as much as possible. I also try to think about the business as vehicle for helping the women who work with me supplement their incomes. It’s hard to live on a single income and pay off debt and save up for your dreams. I hope the growth of the business is helping all of us achieve financial goals.
How do you hold yourself accountable to the goals you set? How do you bounce back when something doesn’t go as planned?
Most of my goals center around trying something rather than securing a certain number of purchases or followers. This helps me flex new muscles and gain strength in areas where I’m still a little wobbly. As a small example, I recently signed up for a “Double Your DMs” Instagram challenge with Alex Beadon. She issued a new Instagram Stories prompt each day for five days. I was less motivated by “getting more DMs” and more motivated to try the strategies she was offering. I did my first on-camera IG Story as a result, but fell off the challenge for the rest of the week because I was totally overcommitted. But trying the challenge got me over one hump (going on camera!) and I plan to finish the challenge when I have time. I find that trying something in earnest will almost always create expansion in me and the business. It’s fun to see that unfold.
Would you like to meet Cecily in-person? Come out to craftHER Market Fall ‘19 on October 12 and 13, 2019 at Fair Market and stop by her booth. Click here to learn more.