I don’t typically use the word hate. Hate is a strong word. At least I don’t use it in regard to people. I try not to say I hate people, I just dislike certain things about a person.
Elysia Walton popped up on my radar after she liked a photo of mine on IG. So I check out her account, then her website, her Twitter, I watched a video or two and when I found out she’s just 19 years old I decided I hated something about her. I hate how I know for a fact that in about ten years, possibly less, she’s going to rule the world.
Not the whole world, just a specific chunk of the world in either literature, fashion, social awareness or possibly all three. She’s going to own whatever she does. She’s already launched a thriving clothing line called the Inspire Thread Company, won first place in the Writer’s Weekly short story contest and has a rabid following of fans and supporters on basically every social media platform. But who really says she has to concentrate on just one when she’s already making waves in all three?
Perhaps what I hate the most is how she figured it all out at such a young age while it took me years to find my true passions. Though maybe I’m hating on the wrong person.
In case you’re dense, I really don’t hate anything about Elysia. After getting to know her during this interview I’m probably now one of her biggest fans (who isn’t a blood relative). I asked her a bunch of questions. I obviously wanted the answers to all but what I really wanted to know was how a 19-year-old finds time to do it all, and do it all so well.
You completed your first novel at 12. How in the hell did you motivate yourself to stay on track as a 12-year-old? At 12 I couldn’t even remember to breath daily. I’d forget often and would constantly pass out.
Elysia Walton: Here, I’ll paint a picture of 12-year-old Elysia for you before my explanation: I was a stick-thin, homeschooled, Hawk Nelson (That’s a band. They were awesome and punky) -loving and moderately nerdy child. And I loved books, which probably led to my love of writing. I decided that I would write a novel, because I had this story in mind of a girl my age who lived in a mansion, had much blonder hair than I had, and found a legend in her attic that told of a precious gem hidden on her property. (This idea perhaps had something to do with the fact that I found magical mansions particularly intriguing, and wished that I lived in one.)
Long story short, my motivation came from my strong passion for what I loved, which was and is still writing. I wrote my first novel when I was 12, but I wrote my first chapter book when I was seven. It wasn’t good, but I loved it, and I loved the idea of creating something from nothing, and the fact that I could become good at something that I loved. Also, someone once told me that I was dreaming too big when I said that I wanted to be published. Since then it’s been one of my missions to prove that there is no such thing as dreaming too big.
I’ve often considered purchasing a typewriter for fiction writing purposes and to keep focused on just writing. Is that why you bought it or do you just have a fetish for outdated technology?
Elysia Walton: I have some very sad news to share. My beautiful, outdated typewriter isn’t exactly in working fashion. The keys are type-able, but they stick, and I have yet to have the thing repaired. I felt as though, as a writer and a lover of outdated technology (OK, you got me), I had to own a typewriter. I found one at a flea market and I couldn’t resist it, especially since it was for sale for $50, and I talked the seller down to $25. I’ve since been on the hunt for a working typewriter that will make me feel like a wannabe Earnest Hemingway (minus the mustache).
What made you want to start Inspire Thread Company? Was it the first business venture out of the gate?
Elysia Walton: ITC wasn’t my first business venture. I ran a small portrait business called The Portrait Pencil, and once tried to make a business out of frozen jelly and peanut butter chips. I am not kidding, and in case you were wondering, the latter endeavor was not successful. I also once made purses and shoes entirely out of duct tape and sold them. Well, I say shoes, but they were more slippers, and they were surprisingly comfortable. Believe it or not, I actually made some money (this may have been partially due to the pity of my family and friends at the fact that I was using duct tape as a fashion staple), but ended the business after I got tired of hand-making shoes from materials used to repair pipes and rusty bumpers.
Inspire Thread Company is, however, the first business that I have required a) help from outside sources–AKA, photographers, graphic design artists, AWESOME people to inspire shirts after, etc., and b) an actual marketing strategy and advertising budget. And I love every minute of it.
Inspire Thread Company arose from a medley of a few facts. First of all, I loved skateboard and urban apparel brands, but disliked the fact that the majority of said brands didn’t have a mission to them. They were simply shirts with logos on them. Secondly, I loved ambitious, forward-thinking young people, and believed that they deserved a little spotlight. Lastly, the entrepreneurial spirit in me couldn’t be extinguished, and I was ready for something bigger than my past business endeavors.
Every shirt in the Inspire Line is inspired after a young person doing something extraordinary. Inspire Thread Company aims to inspire young people to step outside of what society deems is this generation’s potential, and to reach for their dreams.
I feel like sometimes it’s good to start things when you’re young because you’re not afraid of failure as much as a person in their 30s-40s. Do you feel your youth was an asset when starting a business?
Elysia Walton: I love being young. When I got started in the writing world with my blog JustaTeenWriting, I put my youth out there, as you can see by my old blogging name (I’m now blogging at elysiablogs.com). I ended up building a decent following on the site, which is still live in case anyone wants to check it out at justateenwriting.blogspot.com, and wasn’t ashamed to be edging into the literary world before I was even in high school. My youth has helped me to make a name for myself, because I believe that people find millennials that are going after their dreams interesting.
When it comes to starting a business as a young person–I was barely eighteen when I founded Inspire Thread Company–I think that there are two ways to look at it. You can look at it as a hindrance, because people in the business realm may not take you as seriously as they would a thirty-year-old, or you can look at it as an advantage; young people have fresh ideas, as you said, time to fail, and an uncanny ability to discover trends, since we’re the ones creating a lot of them.
Was there a time you thought your youth worked against you?
Elysia Walton: Yes, there have been times where it has felt as though my young age has worked against me. In particular, before starting Inspire Thread Company, I remember walking into a printing company, and being looked at like I was “just messing around”. I looked young, and the company obviously didn’t take me seriously, even though I came to the meeting in a professional manner with a business plan in hand.
Sometimes it’s much easier to convey professionalism when you have age to show. That’s the main downside of being young in the business world–the problem of being taken seriously.
What are some of your habits, routines or tricks that keep you motivated or on track with your goals.
Elysia Walton: My number-one tip to staying motivated, is to keep your goals in front of you. A lot of times when you have a big project in the works, or big goals in mind, and you’re “in the thick of things”, it’s hard to see the end result that you had envisioned in the conception of said project. Always remember why you got started. Keep physical reminders, like photos of what you’re working toward, and reminders on your phone about why you started, and not just what you want, but what you will have. I keep Post-it notes randomly around my room with things that I’m working toward. For example, since I’m currently seeking representation for my latest novel, I have a Post-it note just above my desk that reads: I WILL be represented by (my dream agent/s), and I WILL be published by (my dream publishing houses).
Another tip on motivation, is to listen to and read the works of people who have what you want, whether those are physical things, or success stories. I love listening to audiobooks while I’m driving, cleaning, or even working on my art. For suggestions on motivators, I would look at Gary Vaynerchuk‘s works, specifically Crush It! and Jab Jab Jab Right Hook. I heard Gary speak in Vegas about a year ago, and it changed my life. He’s a huge proponent of time management–which is of utter importance in handling multiple projects–and “the hustle”, AKA working your butt off until you have what you want, because most things worth having don’t come easy. Stephen Covey is another great motivator, as well as Robert Kiyosaki, Napoleon Hill, Dale Carnegie, Brian Tracy, Tony Robbins, Lewis Howes, among many others.
Lastly, work hard on personal development, which includes listening to and reading the people I listed above. Sometimes you have to become a better you to gain the things that you’re reaching for. Build yourself. Confidence is key in success. Believe that you can achieve what you want, see yourself as not just as who you are, but who you’re going to be. If you sincerely believe that you can do it, and that your success is just a matter of how hard you’re willing to work for it, and what you’re willing to put into what you love, then I have no doubt that you can achieve it. Confidence in your ability is one of the biggest motivators out there. Literally tell yourself that you can do it, and eventually you will.