About Me

Hey folks!

My name is Cynde Whitlow. I'm the artist behind The Pink Envelope. I'd like for you to take a seat, have a cup of coffee (or whatever floats your boat) and stay awhile because I'd like to take some time and tell you about my creative journey.

I have always been creative. As far back I can remember, I was using my creative brain. I grew up in a family of creatives and artists. On my Dad's side, every single one of my Aunts and Uncles had some sort of creative gift and my Dad is a genius in three dimensional thinking. If he can see it in his head, he can build it. Creativity was fostered so deeply in my brother and I that it became like a mantra of sorts. If you can build it or make it, there's no need to buy it and it will be better anyway. 

I had Uncles that rebuilt muscle cars as a hobby. That was their craft. From the ground up, they would work over these pieces of history. Most would start out rusted, torn apart, buried up to the wheel wells, as if the earth wanted to consume them. Bit by bit, they would rebuild. They would choose the parts, the materials for the interior and the paint with great care. They had these visions in their hearts and never settled for less. When they were done, they had these gorgeous pieces of steel and leather. They had art! I went on an occasional salvage with them. They would always say, "Let's check under the hood." One day, I asked my Uncle Don why they did that. He told me that's where the roots were. If the car had good roots, they could make it grow. It has taken me years to figure that out.

I can remember in kindergarten, we were drawing and coloring like kindergartners do. It could be anything we wanted. I wanted to draw a horse. Oh I drew it. However, I couldn't get the head right so I drew a paper bag where the head should be and then I colored the bag brown and the horse purple. In my mind, I still had a horse. The color and bag were moot, it was the ideal. My teacher called my parents in because she wanted them to know them to know that I gave up on finishing the horse. My Dad reminded her I was a 5 year old and my mom, made it abundantly clear that I didn't give up. I adapted. I'm still proud of that horse.

I had an imaginary friend. Her name was Shelly. I have no idea where she came from or why she was there. As an adult, it seems that she had always been there and I don't have a clear idea of when she left. I can tell you with clarity what she looked like. She was a little taller than me. She was skinny and she had brown hair and green eyes. We played together, listened to music, danced and had picnics. My mom made fish sticks and mashed potatoes (hey, it was the 80's folks) for us. That was Shelly's favorite food. Years later, my Aunt Soni would ask what happened to my Shelly. It took me a minute to realize that she thought Shelly had been real. When I told her she had been imaginary, my Aunt was floored. My belief in Shelly had been so deep, so absolute, that I had made her seem real to others.

When I was in the 8th grade, I had an AH-mazing art teacher. I'm reasonably certain that the 60's had been super to that guy. He was so laid back. He said "yeah, man" a lot and never once did he make anyone feel they couldn't accomplish greatness. If you could "only" draw a stick figure well then, make it the best dang stick figure you've ever drawn. Push yourself further. Let preconceived notions go and simply make art. Besides myself, he was also the only other person I had ever known to use the word groovy. So there was that. This is where I discovered Copic's. I have no idea what his system was, but some of us were allowed to use them. They were the best thing I'd ever seen! He also had a Hero Arts wood mount stamp on his desk. It was a frog.

By my freshman year of high school, I had discovered that I had a very keen interest in sewing. I had always coveted my Gram's sewing box when I was little, but now I could explore this on my own. Boy did I. This was at a time where the class was Home Economics in every sense of the word and it was an actual requirement to learn how to sew. We had these big cabinets in the room FULL of fabrics, notions and patterns. Technically we were to all stay together in our learning units, but I took to sewing like a duck to water and my teacher let me run with it. Many times, while the rest of the class spent 45 minutes learning about a tracing wheel and transfer paper I would be at my sewing machine in the corner building things. I made sweat shirts, t-shirts, pillows, a duffle bag, a wind sock (don't ask), pants, a dress and more. Occasionally I would skip my keyboarding class to go sew as well. I was also a total metal head. We're talking to the core, torn jeans, Guns N' Roses t-shirt wearin, all the black eyeliner and aqua net a girl can handle, look Ma I made a wind sock, metal head. I. Loved. It. I still do.

After high school, I thought that I would enjoy becoming a hair stylist. I did in many ways, but I started to have issues with my hands so it was time for something new. So college it was. I've always had a passion for law and psychology and both of those professions would later serve a very special purpose in my life, but getting a degree in business made more sense at the time. I suppose it spoke to another level of my creative brain. Fundamentally, the sky is the limit in business. Think about it. You don't need to look much past the internet and YouTube to see that you can, in fact, make a business out of anything. I enjoyed many of my classes. Digital Publishing was a blast. Advertising and Promotion was fascinating. I didn't even mind Accounting too much. One of my favorite classes was Technical Writing. The technical writing aspect was excruciating for me however, I had the opportunity to draw for most of my assignments. While most of my classmates had the luxury of computers at home, I did not, I had my girls to support. That support sure wasn't going to go for an expensive piece of equipment.

I'm not the kind of artist that can draw things from my head, but I can draw with my eyes. If I can see it, I can draw it and that worked for me. While hole punches, binder rings and staple pullers may not be interesting subject matter in themselves, they can be fun to sketch in technical form. I loved the breakdown of the mechanics and movement in the art. It was fun and it forced me to use my creative brain from a whole new perspective. By the way, the irony that I now make a living from a computer is not lost on me. 

Coincidentally, it was while I was in college that a dear friend of mine introduced me to Close To My Heart. If you don't know what that is, it's a lot like Stampin Up. While I did find some of the products intriguing, I just couldn't buy in. I don't know if it was the structure of the gatherings or the soft pastel-y, cotton candy vibe, but it just wasn't my gig. During college I also tried soap making. That's a whole other ball of wax. There is nothing like playing with caustic chemicals and beautiful fragrance oils in your kitchen at 1 a.m. folks. Trust me.

When my girls were old enough to go trick or treating, I found myself frustrated. We live in Montana and by Halloween the weather can be gnarly. I remember when we were kids, we could give two hats for the candy. For us, it was ALL about our costumes. Our costumes were some of the few things we didn't make on our own. We bought them. It didn't matter that most of them were cheap. Both in quality and cost. I'm talking back in the day where you wore a plastic smock and covered your face with something that vaguely looked like a popular character. I felt like I was the best dang Strawberry Shortcake on the block. In reality, I probably looked like something that came out of a horror film. Again, it was the 80's folks. Don't believe me? Google 80's Halloween Masks. It's a good time.

So we'd be stoked to wear these stinkin (no really, they smelled bad) costumes and my parents would insist that we bundle up. Which meant our winter coats and occasionally that meant scarves too. Kudos to them for being good parents, but it was traumatic! Not really, but it really was a bummer and I decided my kids were not going to suffer as I did. If you can build it or make it, there's no need to buy it and it will be better anyway. Right?

My kids and my best friend's daughter had the rare treat of going through pattern catalogs, choosing fabrics and seeing their dream of being whatever they wanted to be come to fruition. Some of the costumes were so involved that they would choose their costumes in January so I could start buying materials to start putting them together by March so they would be done by Halloween. I would hope and pray and hope some more that they wouldn't grow much between March and Halloween night. It was a tricky task at times. I was a single parent and I had to work. The elusive money tree wasn't growing in my back yard and I worked retail hours to boot.

There were more than a few nights, I would get home from work in the evening and my kids and I had a choice. We could either sit down at the dinner table and have traditional meal, which meant I would have less time to work on their costumes or we could sit at the bar in the kitchen and have loaded sandwiches or something equally as quick, but substantial. Three no holds barred costumes were time consuming and time was precious. We made the most of it though. My girls would sit with me while I worked and we'd catch up from the day or just have random conversation. How many of you can say you know exactly what you would do if there was a zombie apocalypse?

When my kids got older, I asked them both if they wished we could have been more traditional in our family dynamic. Ya know, like sit down at a dining table and have a meal, traditional. They've both looked at me like I was the zombie. I think it's safe to say they were happy with the way of things. I am too.

Several years later, I got remarried and my husband thought it would be a great idea if I had a Silhouette Cameo. I was having a hard time making or buying some of the details I needed for these costumes. So the idea was, I could use it primarily for those tricky appliqués on costumes. Hey, when your husband tells you that you need to buy a $200 machine for crafting, you don't argue. I thought it was super groovy. I felt so fancy. I owned it for a week, used it once to cut out a "Cutie Mark" for a My Little Pony Costume and then Pinterest caught my eye.

It was one of those proverbial rabbit hole trips on Pinterest. You go on there looking for ideas on the kinds of things you can cut out of fabric. The next thing you know, you're looking at making DIY labels with your Cameo. The next thing you know you're looking at DIY organizing caddies made with a Cameo. The next thing you know you're looking at a 3D paper pumpkin carriage made out of 100% paper, 2% bling and 1000% where has this been all of my life. Made with the Cameo. 

There have been few times in my life where I've been like: Hold the phone people! Stop the presses! Nobody ask me for anything, I don't care if anyone gets a meal tonight, don't call, don't write, Mamma's goin to the craft store! That's what happened when I discovered 3D paper crafting. It fascinated me in a way that I can't explain. I wouldn't call it love, but I was deeply infatuated. I still am to this day. 

I wanted all the paper, all the SVG files, all the embellies. It was awesome. Also very, very therapeutic, albeit expensive therapy. I could lose myself in it. The wow factor of these paper creations was also fab. This was life changing for me folks. For reals. I started entering contests, discovered Facebook groups, and I started my blog. I honestly couldn't tell you why I started a blog. I think on my first post I wrote something like, I wanted to document my creations, I was doing it for myself, blah, blah blah.

I dunno. Maybe that was true. Yeah. That was probably true at the time. I enjoyed it and really that was all that mattered. I did win a couple of contests so that was groovy! I got first place in one contest and won a Silhouette Cameo 2! I started to meet people through blogs and Facebook and started share what I was making through those platforms. One reoccurring theme was seeing folks post things like "You're so talented, I could never make something like that." or "I wish I could do that." or different versions of the same tune. That makes me sad. I had been instilled with the firm belief that anyone and everyone has the capacity to create. All they have to do is try. Sometimes try again.

Fast forward a couple of years later and I going down the Pinterest Rabbit Hole again, and I come across this clear card with balloons on it. The world abruptly stopped spinning on it's axis and I dove head first into what I now know as cardmaking. This time I showed a remarkable amount of restraint to begin with. I didn't rush right out and spend 3 hours at the craft store fondling pretty papers and buying craft supplies. Nooo. I had a Cameo and I was gonna use it. I had supplies that I could use. I hadn't seen a die in my life, but I understood the concept from the video and I knew I could do the same thing with my Cameo. So I did. It was a JENNIFER MCGUIRE card and she had balloons. I wanted stars. So my first ever card was totally CASE'd. If you dig deep enough on my blog, you can find it. 

I gave that card to my daughter for her birthday. Today, you can walk in to her room and it still sits there on the shelf. She loves it because her Mamma made it. I love it because that was a new beginning for me. You see, I don't look at any of my old stuff and tell myself how horrible I am and I'm certainly not embarrassed. I may not like it all, but I can assure you it's from an almost clinical point of view. I had no idea what in the halibut I was doing. I had a lot to learn. I STILL have a lot to learn, but I enjoyed every bit of it. That's the ticket right? Do what you love, love what you do. If you can only draw a stick figure, then make it the best dang stick figure you've ever made. My cards are moments in time for me. Each one is a benchmark in my life and my creative learning. As it should be.

So I had discovered cardmaking and the possibilities seemed so endless that I wanted everything. Inks, watercolors, embossing powders. STAMPS! Markers weren't on my radar yet, but I tried all sorts of stuff. I owned all sorts of stuff. Then one day, I was going through some old boxes and I came across some of my college papers. I had kept my technical writing drawings and that's when the light bulb came on and I remembered Copic Markers. 

I would like to note my drawings have since met their demise. My craft room flooded a few years ago and they are some of the things that got ruined. 

Speaking of craft rooms...before I had one, I started out like most folks at my dining table. At the time I hated it. In the mornings I would have to get whatever I needed and then if I needed something else, I would have to go to the various locations around my house to get it. Then at night, it had to be packed up or moved to a pile in the corner of the dining room for dinner. I would have given my eye teeth for my own space.

We did eventually move in to a house that had a craft room. It was all mine! When the house had been built, this room was made to either work as a craft room or a rec room. It was huge and it even had a sink! I was in heaven. It flooded twice, as it was in the basement, but I still had my very own room. As I write this, it has been 3 months since we moved from that house and I was legit heartbroken. I was losing MY room. My craft “room” now consists of a single wall in our master bedroom. I literally woke up about a month ago, because it just hit me. Really guys. The reality is, my creativity doesn't live in a room. I am my creativity. My muse speaks directly through me, not through my creative space.

In the beginning of my cardmaking journey, I had tons of cards so I decided to send them to my friends and family. The first 2 I ever sent got lost in the mail and I was so bummed! Then I remembered that a mail carrier had told me that if you send your cards and gifts in bright packages and envelopes, they're less likely to get lost. My favorite color is hot pink, so hot pink envelopes it was. Hence the name The Pink Envelope. I've never had one lost since. The bonus is, now when someone receives a pink envelope, they know it's from me.

So, I had this vague notion that I could do pretty well with Copic's although it had been ages since I had colored anything with a legit marker. That was ok. I would learn. When I say learn, I actually mean I would just dive right in, hope for the best and figure it out as I go. It's gonna look like ameteur night at the bowing alley for awhile, but I will figure it out. I was discovering artists and paper crafters on YouTube and following them. Since I'm mostly a see and do kinda girl that was ok for me. At the time.

I put in countless hours and as time went on, I realized that I was indeed improving. It didn't necessarily motivated me to get better, but it did make me enjoy the experience that much more. Plus, I was meeting more people in the industry and those emotional connections were reinforcing this drive to keep going. 

At some point, I decided that I wanted to be on design teams. No idea why. However, my friend Ruby suggested that I apply for Butterfly Reflections Ink. So I did. I didn't make it that term which was totally fine! I was however, encouraged to try again the next term. So I did and that time, I made the team. This was at a time where I was still trying very hard to try all the things! Do all the techniques! Make all kinds of cards! It was great, but more often than not I would feel frustrated. I mean, at no time do I ever think that I need to hit it out of the park on every single card, but I wasn't satisfied with results quite often. I was starting to ask myself, do I just need to practice more? Maybe I'm not looking for the right inspiration? Maybe I'm trying to focus on too much. Maybe I'm not meant to be doing these things. That's about the point that I decided it was time to get rid of all the excess and focus on what I truly love. That was a huge relief for me (and my muse). 

Over the last couple of years, I've been on other teams. I've guest designed for some pretty big names. I've applied for other teams and been turned down. I've learned many valuable things about myself and the industry I work in. I wouldn't change it for the world.

I went to Creativation for the first time a couple of years ago and I was floored. What an amazing experience! A few of the girls from Butterfly Reflections Ink and I stayed in a one bedroom condo together and it was a total blast! One word: Uber. 

Anyway, if you've never been to Creativation, the simplified version is it's held in a massive convention center. As you walk in, it's laid out in what's the equivalent of streets and has the vibe of a mini town. You can walk down theses streets and there are vendors packed in next to each other. One right after another. This mini town is mostly segregated to certain areas of the creative industry, but you name it and it's probably there. There are professional artist vendors, cake decorating, paper crafting (of various types), organization products, bead work and jewelry making, home decor and the list could go on. The demo's! Oh man. It's so awesome to see the new and exciting products and play them!

Being the highly observant girl that I am, one thing stood out to me the most. Above the din of noise, the hordes of bodies and the glitter and shine (in some cases it really was glitter) of new products, I gleaned one pivotal piece of information. There wasn't a single person in the entire room that wasn't a student to their craft. Everyone had something to learn by being there. Whether it was new product, a new technique or a new way of doing business, everyone was learning! Not just learning, but admist the laughs and giggles and the excitement that IS Creativation, I heard things like "I'm not very good at that", "Oh this is fun, but I'll need to practice!" and my personal favorite, "Nancy! My canvas looks like a pig in a blanket, but neeeed this gel press! This is sooo much fun!" They were all, at the very least, trying!

Ah ha moment! Nancy and Canvas Lady (I'm sorry, I didn't catch her name) as it turned out are from different parts of the country and they're both shop owners. They met at a Creativation a long time ago, and they've been friends ever since. Every year, they meet there and while they're shopping for the latest and greatest to stock up their stores they immerse themselves in it. They want to learn what these things do, but moreover, they want to have fun. In order to have fun, they have to at least try. So what, they own craft stores? So what they're not good at everything? They point is, they give everything a shot and...they. have. fun.

So I came home with my head spinning at the excitement and the novelty of it all, but my head was also spinning with this notion that we are all in the same playing field. Professionals and hobbyists alike. Whether you're a seasoned pro working in a grand craft room, making a living or your sitting at you dining room table trying to soak up as much information as you can so you can be as good as so and so, one thing is for certain. We all have to learn! What's more, we all want to, but we have to at least try.

For some it comes easier than others, but at the end of the day we're all alike. So the $65 million dollar questions I had were, how do I get the folks on the receiving end of my blog to see this? How do I get folks to make the best dang stick figure they've ever made? How do I get folks to celebrate their pig in a blanket? How did I get folks to, at the very least, try and try again and put themselves out there? I don't mean that everyone needs to take to Facebook and wave their creations around like a banner, but put themselves out there at minimum for themselves to see.

Ironically, I went to Creativation that year for business reasons and left with nothing that even remotely pertained to the business I had in mind. Instead I made my first YouTube video five months later.

As a side note, my girls find my first series of videos wildly outrageous. They're used to having a mom that's cool, calm and collected even though I'm highly caffeinated at any given point of the day. They think it's fan-freakin-tastic that I sound nervous. I remembered a few things from college, but otherwise video making and the logistics of running a YouTube channel were completely foreign to me. It totally freaked my freak out, but this became another thing I would learn.
I saw the phenomena again this last year I went to Creativation. It turns out that Nancy and her friend were not the exception, they were the rule. This time I went for pleasure, but I had the good fortune to demo at the Catherine Pooler booth as I had the good fortune to be a part her crazy fabulous team. Time after time, I got to see faces come up to me and as I demonstrated these products and I could see the light bulbs of excitement come on. Here I am, going through one of the toughest moments in my family's lives at home and I'm at this convention seeing these beacons of light flash across these people's faces that are standing in front of me. Me. Cynde Whitlow. No better or worse than any of these human beings. For, I too, am human. 
Every year, they meet there and while they're shopping for the latest and greatest to stock up their stores they immerse themselves in it. They want to learn what these things do, but moreover, they want to have fun. In order to have fun, they have to at least try. So what, they own craft stores? So what they're not good at everything? They point is, they give everything a shot and...they. have. fun.
So I came home with my head spinning at the excitement and the novelty of it all, but my head was also spinning with this notion that we are all in the same playing field. Professionals and hobbyists alike. Whether you're a seasoned pro working in a grand craft room, making a living or your sitting at you dining room table trying to soak up as much information as you can so you can be as good as so and so, one thing is for certain. We all have to learn! What's more, we all want to, but we have to at least try.

The best part was, it wasn't on their radar whether or not they would be good at using any of it. They were standing in front of me to learn and they wanted to try it for themselves. Even better, nobody cared what others thought of them.

So I had this idea that I could maybe (???) reach another level of people and inspire, motivate and celebrate, but it didn't take long after I started making videos to know that simply making them and putting them out there wasn't going to do the trick. I knew from pretty much the beginning that I had work to do and in some cases I needed to learn how to do it. I wanted to start with my brand. I'll be honest, there is a hole in the if you can build it, make it theory. I did everything on my own. My logo, my intro, everything. Do I love it? I don't know...do I love that I did it on my own? Yes.

I worked my tail off and within the first year of MY CHANNEL I had over 4,000 subscribers. It was clear that folks could see my talent and I was super proud, but I wasn't seeing engagement. That was was my goal! I don't just want to BE engaging, I want TO engage. I want to see engagement in return. I still see too much of the same. "I can't do that". Yes. Yes you can. "I could never be as good as you." Maybe you could be better? "I don't know what I'm doing." Here. Let me show you or let me find someone for you that can. "You're so talented." Thank you, but so are you. You just may not know it yet. "You're amazing!" Again, thank you, but so are you. This isn't engagement folks. These are reasons not to try. The bottom line is, if I can do it, anyone can. I may or may not have been born with gifts, but I have certainly developed talent. Gifts are given. Talent is earned. You just have to stop giving yourself a reasons not to try, but instead keep trying.

I had one little problem. I was bored. Me. Personally. In my heart of hearts, I was bored. By this point, I knew my true love was coloring. Not just because of I've seen success as a Colorist, but it's that feeling I get when I color. I haven't tried to analyze that too much. I accept it for what it is, but I know at very least why I was so frustrated in the beginning. My home is in coloring. Everything else doesn't matter.

I'm bored and I have this channel and blog that I've worked sooo hard on building. What am I going to do? I started looking around my crafty environment and taking stock. I had come to terms with the fact, that I am a Colorist and that's where it should stay so what to do? My Copic's of course, but what about adding colored pencils? How about both of them together? I started combining the two. I was hooked almost immediately and wanted to know more. I wanted to know more and I needed to find a teacher. We're all students of our craft right? So I started looking and ended up on Pinterest. Again. This time was different because there had been this pin that would come up in my feed all of the time. It was a pair of red boots with a bow on it. I always admired it (it's a pretty fab boot folks), but I never clicked on it. 

This time, I had searched for Copic's and Colored Pencils and the first pin to come up were these boots! So I clicked on it and I discovered the talent of AMY SHULKE. From here I started going down the Vanilla Arts Rabbit Hole. I was all over the place.
I read her blog, I looked at her classes and then I took the leap and actually took a class. It was a total game changer for me. This was different than anything I had done before. It wasn't a hey watch me, then you do you boo kind of class. Her explanations and her reasonings were clear. Her break down of the course work was perfect. She was funny, but she also and most importantly made me THINK! I wasn't just relying on her to teach me, I was being made to use my own smarticles. It took me four full attempts to complete that course. I'm used to the whole one and done approach. Stamp an image, color it in, make a card and move on. Nope.

To say that I was no longer bored was an understatement. I was learning and learning in such a way that I wanted to keep trying. I wasn't just engaged in Amy's class, I had engaged with myself. I wanted to know more and I wanted to take that knowledge with me and apply it to my own cards. So I did. Then I made a video about classes. 

I want you to understand that you can learn just as I have and continue to learn. I want you to know that it is possible to build your talent and take your craft (even if it's just a hobby) further. I want you to understand that it doesn't matter what others think for nobody should invest or try to engage with others until they can do so for themselves. All you need to do is keep trying.

Until next time.


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