For Amy Woodside, fulfillment is about being where she’s meant to be.
At first, for the native New Zealander, that meant moving to New York City to work in branding and then organically launch her career as a visual artist. Next, that success spiraled into collaborations with everyone from Converse to AYR.
Then, in 2014, Woodside decided to combine her lifelong love of language and passion for connecting with people and launch OKREAL, a forum for women to share stories and advice in order to support each other.
Here, Woodside shares her own story of seeking balance through moderation:
Live The Process: Have you always been interested in connecting with people via mediums from storytelling to art?
Amy Woodside: I grew up in New Zealand and was pretty much barefoot until I was 10 years old. I spent a lot of time in the water, at the beach and in the bush (or “the woods” as it’s known in the US). I loved to read and begged my mum to teach me how to write as a toddler. I have story books and diaries from around that age.
At 4, I wrote what I called a “newspaper” about my life, which I illustrated, photocopied, bound and distributed to family members—so, yep, storytelling has always been in my blood.
A couple of decades later, I landed on another small island, worlds away from home: Manhattan and New Zealand could not be further apart—figuratively and literally! When I arrived in New York City, I worked in the branding world and continued to write on the side. I had a role as a project manger at a design agency and, while the work was great, it wasn’t creatively fulfilling. I started playing around with screen-printing during the weekends and kind of taught myself how to do it. I put up a website with some work and ended up getting a consistent amount of projects and commissions, which allowed me to leave my full-time job and work as an artist.
LTP: What informs your individual artwork and also your many collaborations?
AW: My artwork is a mashup of my writing and branding background. As a writer first and foremost, it’s really fun for me to play around with words and letters. From a visual perspective, I love using color and composition to create different forms. I don’t take my art too seriously—it’s fun to make and I love that people will experience and interpret it differently. I try and keep it simple and graphic like the letter series I did for Converse. I have an exciting collab coming up with a female music artist—but it’s top secret for now!
LTP: How and why did you launch OKREAL?
AW: While art is enjoyable, I knew I wanted something more for myself career wise. I’ve always had a huge curiosity about people and a passion in connecting with others. OKREAL was born in late 2014 out of these two things, alongside my love for writing and ability to make things happen (for which I thank my project management days).
I knew I wanted to start my own business; I knew I wanted it to be based around the idea of sharing down to earth advice. And that’s what OKREAL is today: a curation of wisdom distilled from real lives. We help women figure out their lives by sharing the stories of others. Through interviews, advice, events and mentor circles, we look at how women define fulfillment and the choices they make to create it for themselves. Seeing how smart, strong women have carved out their own paths in life can help you carve out your own. OKREAL is about learning from others to help you see yourself more clearly. Mentor circles are our most recent addition to what we do: We have a monthly theme (October is all about confidence) and each week we gather seven likeminded women to talk about what we’re going through and how we can help each other. They’ve become like little supportive sanctuaries; it’s pretty special.
LTP: What wellness rituals and regimens do you practice to keep yourself feeling balanced and healthy?
AW: My health and well-being are super important to me, even if I’m not a saint 100 percent of the time. I’m pretty good about what I eat: mostly veggies, good fats, some fruit, a little meat. I try and go easy on grains, dairy and booze. That said, I’m not scared of a burger or pizza once in a while. I’ve gone on long stints with no coffee, but I’m back on that train again. I work out about five times a week—I go to dance cardio classes or see my girls at Sky Ting Yoga. I try and get my workouts in as early as possible; I’m a 6.30am class freak. Otherwise, it just won’t happen. Oh, and water. Drinking a ton of water makes a huge difference. Sleep is a big one for me too; I truly believe in a solid eight hours, which unfortunately doesn’t happen as often as I’d like! I do my best, and try not to stress when I’m not as on top of things as I should be.
LTP: What does happiness look like to you?
AW: Knowing that I’m doing is what I’m meant to be doing. I think that’s where fulfillment comes from—regardless of what life throws at you, knowing that you’re where you’re meant to be. For a less deep and meaningful answer, put me by the ocean on a sunny day with friends and family, good food and lots of laughs. Nothing better.
LTP: What does it mean to you to “Live The Process” and how can we all do that more each day?
AW: Living the process is not getting caught up in what’s ahead of you or what’s behind you. I never dwell on the past, but I am very guilty of getting caught up in the future. I have a really hard time being present, even though I know this is not the best way to live (and that the present is all we really have). But I’m aware of this and I try. Things that draw me back to the present are: being grateful for simple things, being with my family, swimming in the sea, being able to laugh at things (myself included).