TBS speaks to model and MissWhoo.com founder, Esther Houston, finding out how she balances her busy schedule and which Instagram pics she’d save if she could only keep three…
Getting to this point: Can you please tell The Big Smoke readers a little bit about your career up until this point and how MissWhoo.com came to be?
I’ve always loved business. Although I never completed my degree, I chose to take a double major in International Business and Communications in university. International relations, politics and business have always fascinated me. I am a thinker, so naturally my tendency is to explore the why behind the what and the how behind the who. Communications has always intrigued me as well because I was very aware that without the communication of ideas, we have nothing. The world mainly functions around the act of gaining and transferring knowledge. You can only be as effective in life as your communications skills. Needless to say, I also took an interest in the subject.
I’ve been blessed (or cursed?) to have grown up knowing many great thinkers, amazing minds and extremely successful men and women. They’ve always stimulated me and challenged me to learn more, do more and never settle. Blessing or curse, it opened up my eyes to many things. It taught me to question and consider, it showed me how to think outside the box, to always come up with a solution, an answer and an out. I also learned some business tricks such as never taking no for an answer, manipulating and using – not all principles I now choose to apply to my life, as I have finally (and thankfully) understood the difference between joy and success. Nonetheless, all these previously mentioned principles often cause the successful to become cold, ruthless, greedy and loveless people. This brought up a new passion: to seek to understand why someone becomes more lonely and emptier as they get further ahead. I guess what modern society doesn’t teach us is that selfishness is weakness, not strength.
While all these things helped shape my view of business application, they also somehow infiltrated into my personal life. My life has been such a journey; many ups and downs, a little all over the place. I feel like I’ve had my hands on everything and I enjoy a challenge. Of course, knowing what I now know, if I were to do it all over again, I would probably make some different decisions. However, when it comes to regrets, I have none. I understand the importance of my story in my own personal development – I even see its purpose and understand its application. I embrace my journey, the accomplishments and the mistakes, the difficulties and the pain. I think the whole point of a journey is that you understand that your past doesn’t have to define you. No matter what it looked like. You can be restored, you can overcome it, you can get through the damage and yet still come out unharmed long term.
As my life started to take a different direction, the transition to MissWhoo was seamless. Truthfully, I first started it because I was bored. I was a new mom and had travelled to Australia with my newborn for six weeks with not much to do. My husband was there with us but intensely focused on work and I was there doing what felt like just killing time between feeding and nap times. Then, I decided to give myself something new to do. I merged my passion and experience with fashion with my desire to speak to young women, and without much direction or a business plan, MissWhoo came about.
Career Moments: What has been your most exhilarating moment and juxtapose that with your most disappointing moment so far – how do you usually handle the highs and lows?
I don’t know if I want to get into my highs and lows in life, but pertaining to Misswhoo, my highs were – and still are – getting countless emails, messages and other positive responses to my written material. Yes, I enjoy the fashion and creative aspects very much. Being able to transform an idea into creative form is extremely enjoyable, but when you speak to people’s hearts, that is most gratifying. I would trade all the fashion in the world for one helped soul. As a matter of fact, besides knowing God’s peace, helping others is the very source of joy in my view.
When it comes to disappointing moments, we all have many. It’s tough because I am a perfectionist and, as some like to describe me, a bit of a control freak. Nonetheless, being blessed with quite an intense personality, I like to see the light at the end of the tunnel in order to enter the tunnel. Giving up that control and stepping into uncharted waters gives me a sense of anxiety, so I’ve definitely felt a bit of that. I think getting personal is always vulnerable as well, so that was also tricky as I am a rather private person.
A balanced life: When do you feel the most inspired and the most balanced?
I would actually love to figure that out. The truth is, I don’t really know. I feel like inspiration comes randomly; one day I’m inspired and the next I can’t see beyond just a white canvas. Balance is a little easier to control than inspiration. When it comes to balance, I believe you just have to set some time to both receive and to give, to work and to rest, to enjoy alone time and to spend time with those you love. You cannot give out of what you do not possess. I am a believer in allowing time to receive so that you can gladly give out of your overflow and not just give out a piece of you.
Misconceptions: What is the biggest misconception about juggling motherhood, creative pursuits, a social life and a career?
The first biggest misconception is that it can’t be done and the second is that it will be easy. Once you become a parent everything changes. Whatever you do for yourself will feel like it comes at the expense of what you do for your children. My biggest struggle as a mom has been to avoid feelings of guilt. The more you do for yourself, the less time you have for your kids. The more you do for your kids, the less you can do for yourself. There always seems to be that lingering feeling of guilt, because no matter what you do, it can feel like you’re failing. That is why it’s important to attach a sense of purpose to what you do and how you parent. When we have a clear mission statement for our lives, it’s easier to keep going. A cause places purpose in compromise and love places merit in sacrifice.
Brand discrepancies: As someone with a strong eye for design and communicating a message well, what do you wish brands would know about their own branding or messaging objectives?
Develop a strong personal style, define it, and stay true to it. Your style can evolve and change with time, but it needs to be defined; your brand depends on that. People need to be told what they like. We are all influenced and we all influence. To create a strong brand, you need to define a style so that you can use it to positively influence others. Know who you are and who you want to become. Be the same person in every area of your life – at home and at work, with loved ones and strangers. Don’t be motivated by the wrong reasons and don’t sell your soul for shortcuts. Do some serious soul searching.
Instagram realness: Your Instagram pics are fabulous – if you found out, though, that you could only save three, which three pics would you save?