I’m so chuffed that this ladyboss feature has an international flavour.  Natalie Newman calls Vienna home, and she’s the gentle soul behind Vanillery Garden.  I first came across her work approximately 2 years ago on my journey around Instagram.  Her work spoke to me and I had to find out more.  I found out that she has a YouTube channel where she chats about life as a sensitive creative, and the spiritual journey.

I have been a fan of hers for a while, so I had to reach out to her and feature her in the series.  I love her spirit and the generosity with which she shows up in the world.

Also, she paints foxes, owls and dachshunds.  Look at this beautiful work.  Follow her on Instagram for soulful art.

Q:  Briefly tell us about your business journey.  (What helped you decide to start your own business?  What did you do before working for yourself?)

A:  I started the Vanillery Garden as an online school for arts and crafts as my dissertation project back when I was studying graphic design.  (Which also brought me an award for best concept among 400 students.)  When I started working for my regular job, I found it hard to manage both the online school and work.

So, it quickly turned into a creative-lifestyle-with-spiritual-aspects blog for a couple of years.  While working in my job as an illustrator, graphic designer and conceptionist for an award-winning eLearning company was very pleasing, I always heard that silent cry of my creative soul in the background, that wanted me to return to art.

I followed that calling two years ago, when I decided to go part-time at my day job and have the rest of my week just for my illustration and art projects.


Q:  What was the process you followed when starting to set up your brand?

A:  Since I did all the corporate identity design myself, it was a very intuitive process.  I could try on many facets before I found the one I felt most at home with.

So over the years there was a phase where I used a soft yellow in the background always (because VANILLEry Garden….) and then there were bright triangles and sweets and birds and flowers and…  It´s more an inner work.  When you find yourself inside, you know what that will look like on the outside as well.


Q:  How do you manage your branding and make sure everything you do (from business cards, to packaging, to branding collateral) keeps in line with your brand?

A:  I´m not too much of a strict designer.  To me it is important that everything carries the same vibe, evokes the same emotions.

It has to be very clear when you look at a design, that people go:  “Oh, I bet Natalie made this!”  I have a very distinctive style and my artwork speaks to those who search for something with a deeper meaning, a soulful visual world, that welcomes them in.


Q:  How do you manage your social media commitments?

A:  Again, I´m not too strict here.  I don´t have set times, I don´t force myself into a schedule when I know that this will block my creativity.  I´ve set myself under pressure enough to know that this is not how I want to work.  If it isn´t fun and I don´t feel inspired to post, I don´t.  And mostly when I admit to myself, that I don´t feel like posting and I give myself some space, something changes and inspiration comes in.

But I´m not bypassing myself by thinking “Oh, I give in, so that inspiration comes!”  It´s not a means to an end, you cannot trick yourself into productivity when doing creative work.  Forcing it will always carry a hint of negativity.  Your clients will feel that.  So I keep it as free as I can.


Q:  How do you motivate yourself to keep going when your inner critic’s voice gets a bit too loud?

A:  To be honest: Since I´m a highly sensitive person with a lot of anxiety going on, making art is my medicine.  It calms me down.  I am very lucky to not have a very strong inner critic.  Of course, I have bad days, especially when I start to compare myself with others.  That is like punching my inner child in the face and screaming at her “WHY CAN´T YOU BE LIKE THEM? WHY CAN´T YOU BE BETTER?”  I don´t want to do this to myself, so I mostly catch myself when it happens and I see how I can be more compassionate with myself.  Mostly I have to step away from the creative process I am in at this moment, so I can calm down and change the energy of the moment.

I don´t want criticism and negativity in my work.  Since I mostly paint Spirit Animals, I feel very connected to their nature and I want to honour them while I create them, not pollute their energy.  So, it is important to have a very good self-care routine (especially with food, sleep, rest, dancing, nature).


Q:  What are some of the biggest lessons you have learned since you started your business?

A:  Follow your own timing, your own feeling.  Give yourself the space to bloom.  Don´t force your creativity to bring in ALL the money right from the start.

The more peaceful you can be in your work, the more you will attract the right clients for you.  So, say no if something feels off with a job at the beginning.

Find what feels good for you and stick to it, as much as you can.  No force, all flow.  Self-care comes first.


Edit – 27 March 2018:  Natalie has changed the name of her business to Moonshadow Garden.  Her rebrand is beautiful, obviously, and you need to follow her on social media.

Follow Natalie on Instagram at @moonshadowgarden and take a look through her website here.

melissa de klerk

Melissa De Klerk

Writer, Web Designer, Digital Media Strategist, Typophile, Inspiration Junkie, Yogi

Melissa is the owner and creative brain behind Fox & Owl Media. She loves creating content strategies and has considerable experience with Website Design and Brand Management.

You can contact her here, and find her on social media by clicking the links below.

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