A neighborhood stroll on a beautiful Denver afternoon led us to a quiet corner across from City Park where we discovered out latest creative transition. Draped by a gentle lace of light and shadow from the tree-lined sidewalk, an unremarkable but curious storefront piqued our curiosity. After a few moments of window gazing, we stepped into the whimsical space – and a chance encounter with Jennifer Mosquera, proprietor of Artistry Events & Design (AED).
From the stately 1920’s brick building they call home, AED provides a wide range of services to household names and locals alike, including full-service event production, custom design, décor, lighting, audio, and entertainment services.
Deliberate Creative Transition
Like most creative endeavors, AED did not just happen one day; it has come into being through will and determination, through the imperfect union of creativity and commerce, held together by the desire and dedication of a creative spirit finding her way out into the world.
This installation of our Midlife Transition series features an attorney-turned-creative and her ongoing journey of awakening her creative transition. After some lively conversations about life, creativity, and our meandering paths toward something better, Jennifer was kind enough to share her story so we can share it with you.
HH: Tell us a bit about your background and what led you to your initial path.
Jennifer: My story is like so many others… I was discouraged from following the creative path by concerned parents. Though I showed talent for the creative sphere from an early age, it was swept aside as a hobby – and they preferred and encouraged a more “professional” career. So being influenced by them- that is the path that I engaged upon. I started by pursuing a life as a lawyer, eventually working as a deputy district attorney (a rule enforcing DA turned artsy fartsy hippie dippy).
HH: What was it about the legal profession that did not fulfill you and/or led you to consider a different path?
Jennifer: Dealing with the ceaseless stream of people being at their worst started to change the way that I looked at people and the world in general. Working in a system that is slow to move, that often shirks creative solutions, became a burden for me on a daily basis.
HH: At what point did you finally realize that being an attorney was not right for you?
Jennifer: When I stopped painting – it felt as if my very soul was suffering and dying. Without the ability to create, my very favorite thing in this life, who was I? Was it worth it? The answer became a very clear: NO.
HH: What kinds of things did you do to explore what actually makes you happy?
Jennifer: I returned to the things that I knew made me happy and most complete, art. After re-engaging with the art, I found that it was exciting and still held the same energy for me as it did as a young person. It sparked me to go further.
HH: What was most instrumental in helping you deconstruct your old identity and lifestyle?
Jennifer: My inner voice was the most instrumental thing for me. I had not listened to it for a long time, yet it was still there speaking to me, beckoning me to come her way. So I decided to listen.
How did you move beyond this “box” defined by other people’s expectations?
Jennifer: I knew that that box did not fit me. By all accounts I had “made it” but it did not feel like me. It felt confining and wrong and draining. I knew that I was at a crossroads. I could do the safe thing and be unhappy forever, or I could trust my inner knowing and move toward what I needed and wanted. So I did.
HH: How did your family and friends react to your creative transition away from your legal profession?
Jennifer: They did not understand it, but at least for the most part held their tongue in front of me.
HH: What drew you to creative work?
Jennifer: I always had a creative side. It is where wonder grew in my life. It made me more interested in the world and more alive. Creativity had been my compass to finding my center- so it was time to trust in myself.
HH: What were some of the biggest challenges you faced in your transition into design work?
Jennifer: Believing in myself. Learning the design field, learning how to communicate to your clients so they understand things that have not been done. I found that people often say one thing and mean another. The greatest challenge is in understanding this and bridging that gap.
HH: Tell us about making this transition. How did your life change? What did you like and not like about this new path?
Jennifer: Life became about learning again. Learning how to deal with people. Learning how to show people new ideas. Learning that people are filled with fear and do not like to take chances. Learning that bringing something new into this world is an immense task, but one that is worthwhile for me.
HH: How did you manage the fear and doubt associated with re-inventing yourself?
I spent a lot of time looking at what I wanted to do and then went for it. I weighed the fear of staying in something that was wrong for me against the fear of that which was the unknown. The decision became clear that there was only one way to change things up, where I would move toward something that would fit me better. I do not believe that that ever changes and it is a lesson that we should keep with us at all times. Always be moving toward something that makes you alive. If you stop, part of you dies.
HH: How has reinventing yourself many times helped you to create success in your current endeavor?
Jennifer: I know that people are slow to understand things outside the box. I know that people are often dead themselves and would rather punch holes in something new than to take a chance. And I ultimately know that people will start to see the light if you show it to them.
HH: You talk about moving through fear, using fear to instruct and motivate. What kinds of things did you do move through your fear and build your confidence despite the unknowns of taking such a leap?
Jennifer: I have always had fear. All of us do. But what I know about fear is that it is only an emotion, albeit it a powerful one. I know that the only way to fly is to face it. Look it in the eye. Luckily the only thing that I fear more than fear, is knowing that I backed down from something that I really want to do. That keeps things clear for me. There are no excuses. You cannot lie to yourself. Somewhere in your heart you will know that you did not do what you needed to. It is a tough but real way to see yourself. It is a motivator. Not a lot of people can do this… and some days neither can I … but I get up the next day and try again. It is a process.
HH: Tell us about Artistry Events & Design. How did it come to be?
Jennifer: A friend that recognized my design sense was entering the business and wanted to bring design into what he was doing. I signed up. I clearly saw that there was a way to monetize creativity and that was something that had some legs to it.
HH: What do you find most challenging about integrating a sustainable economic business model with the creative one?
Jennifer: People nowadays think that everything is available at the tips of their fingers and have forgotten that people actually make things. So educating people is very important. Creating things take time, patience, and cost more than if it was made by a large factory overseas or by a machine. Getting people to understand vision and the custom aspect of things is difficult.
HH: What have been the most challenging trade-offs and compromises you have confronted as you continue to merge the creative and the economic?
Jennifer: Getting people to open up to the creative. Many people cannot bridge this gap. Oftentimes people end up backing down. Sometimes we have to create the mundane for people when they can have exceptional. That happens all of the time. But that inner voice always pushes me to offer the new in hopes that we will find someone that wants something new. When we get that someone, that’s when the magic happens.
HH: As an attorney you were successful, but unhappy and physically unwell. How has pursuing creativity and sharing your gift with the world changed you mentally, physically, and spiritually.
Jennifer: As a whole I believe that I am a more integrated person. I understand myself more than I would have had I stayed a lawyer. I am much more confident in myself because I have taken a chance on myself, and continue to do so. Sometimes I have failed, but more often I have succeeded. I have made money in both world’s (creative and legal). I have been disabling the starving artist notion one success at a time. Am I where I want to be?… to be honest – I am not sure that I will ever be, because the nature of what I want is always morphing and changing as I learn more. It is exciting and sometimes exhausting. But pushing further is what I want and what I am doing. I am not sure as a creative there is any other way.
HH: You have “re-started” three times in ten years. What are the most important lessons this decade of change has taught you about yourself?
Jennifer: I am still learning these things but I always need more lessons in: self love, patience, allowing others to help more and that though I am hard on myself, I should celebrate where I am on this crazy path that I am creating for myself.
HH: What was most instrumental in helping you internalize the perspective of creativity as a means of serving other people?
Jennifer: I know that people crave creativity. It lights them up. I see it every day. It does the same to me. Sharing that so that people can have a new experience that opens them up to something new, something unexpected seems an effort worth pursing.
Where do you see Artistry Events & Design going from here? Is this something you can see yourself doing forever?
Jennifer: I see AED morphing as I do. My hope today is that it morphs into something that effects people more. I hope that it will become more soulful, more beautiful and with the ability to touch people more deeply, not just with beauty but also with a message that stays with them. Sounds a little like art, right?
HH: Do you feel as challenged today as you did at the beginning?
Jennifer: Some days yes, some days no. As in all things it ebbs and flows. I get discouraged, then I try another way to go about getting around the obstacle. It is like all other things in life, though at times this job is more beautiful than what others ever get a peek of. On those days I make sure to immerse myself in the gratitude of that beauty because it can be so fleeting.
HH: How has your creative transition changed your perspective on fear, risk, and faith?
Jennifer: Here is the thing. Practicing taking chances does not necessarily make it easier. But what it has done for me is to see past the risk, and not let that be the obstacle. It has freed me from allowing fear to run me. I still hate speaking in public, yet I do it. I still am afraid when we install something new, but we still pitch those ideas and make them happen. Fear helps me grow, and become more.
HH: You business partner is your life partner. Tell us about how his role and your relationship have helped make AED what it is today.
Jennifer: What should I say about the most amazing support system that anyone could ever imagine having? That is a whole other article – though some mention needs to be made, as it is the major reason that I have been able to pursue this creative transition: his support and understanding is amazing.