Living Beauty & Lush Folk: Meet Hillary Rain

Once or twice a month on Annapurna Living, we spotlight a creative entrepreneur who chooses to do business with integrity and soul. Today, please enjoy our conversation with writer & soul doula, Hillary Rain.
Photo of Hillary Rain by Katelyn Demidow.

Photo of Hillary Rain by Katelyn Demidow.

Hello! Please introduce yourself. Who are you? What do you do? How does your heart manifest in the world?

Hello! My name is Hillary Rain and I am a creative renaissance woman—a writer, a mystic, a photographer, a curvy boho babe, a designer, a holistic & spiritual mentor, a wife, lover & a keeper of sacred. My virtual dwelling is Lush Folk. It is my online sacred space where I share vignettes of deeply personal stories and do my heart's work. I like to think of it as a beauty altar, an apothecary for the soul. I offer online courses, guided journeys & holistic experiences designed to nurture women into a loving, compassionate relationship with their bodies and their lives. I wholeheartedly believe in making our lives a luscious work of art, and I believe we can do this NOW—we don't have to wait until we have the dream house, or a gorgeously-sculpted body, or our finances all in order, or perfect relationships. We can love our lives as-is. We can love our bodies as-is, as I share in my online course Inkstains & Alchemy. We can embody a kind of living beauty that is holistic and holy.

My work is important because____.

Because it does not require you to abandon, postpone or “fix” your life. Whether my work is one-on-one with women or through my writing, I will meet you at the secret portal of your soul holding a mirror & the holistic talismans of creativity and spirituality. I don’t promise glamorous living, but I can help you find your way home. I don’t take away your pain, but offer powerful ways to help you transcend it. I don’t offer five simple steps to wealth, but I can hold up a light and show you the way to wholeness. I am convinced that your stories, your wounds, and the desires of your tender heart all matter. Deeply. The work is not easy. It isn’t for everyone. But for the willing, the disillusioned, the hungry, the haunted, and the longing-for-more, I offer something real to sink into. I believe in unconventional things: gifts from life we might resist at first but which hold such treasure—unanswered questions, the hard transitions, the broken heart, our perceived limitations, the unknown, mystery, the dark night of the soul. In my work I approach these gifts as a kind of dark grace, as guides sent to awaken us to a meaningful life—the deeper life of the soul.

Hillary Rain Lush Folk

As an entrepreneur, who in business do you admire, and why?

I deeply admire the heart-soaked work of Anna Lovind, a writer & creative mentor who created an incredible course called The Creative Doer. Anna's wisdom glistens through every word of her class and she is so beautifully present and attentive as she guides one from dreaming to doing. I love Kim Wildthorne, who makes beautiful adornments from elements of earth & light. The life she has created with her family by the sea, and her thoughtful ways of doing gentle business, deeply inspire me. The love she pours into her creations is so evident. My friend Mandy Steward creates alchemy through her Secret Message Society 'Zine, her Magic School, and more within the fullness of her life as an art teacher, wife, mother and friend. Her work flows so organically within & through her living, and it’s comforting to be reminded that no matter what is being asked of me and my energy, there is a way to gracefully include it all. I have learned so much about business from Mariah Coz, founder of Femtrepreneur, which is a dynamic resource for those who are creatively self-employed. I admire my mystical friend Lakin Easterling who holds space for creatives & offers wisdom for living in her beautifully unique way of coaching & guiding which is purely her own. She doesn't follow the “rules” of life-coaching but makes her own way and it works. Powerfully. My friend Laura Mazurek, founder of the Bohemian Collective & Roots and Feathers, is a creative goddess who has created a free-spirited lifestyle brand by following her heart. Honestly, I'm inspired by anyone who lives, works, and creates from their heart and who makes their own way.

What does soulful business mean to you?

Frederick Buechner wrote, “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” To me, this is soulful business—when the work that brings me joy, sustains me financially & energetically, and nourishes my heart & spirit ALSO deeply connects with others and heals a deep hunger ... whether it is a hunger for food, or creative expression, or beauty. Whether it is a need for healing, transportation, clean water, adornment, tenderness, or an infinite possibility of things. To do business aligned with my soul creates sustainable living, which I believe is possible simply by following the desires of my heart & learning all I can along the way. And to be honest, the “money” part of business is just one part of sustainable living. There are so many other gifts that a sustainable life offers—connection with truly exquisite human beings. Real-time education in what matters to you. Rich experiences and conversations you might not otherwise have. Opportunities to look the ones you serve in the eyes and wrap them in an embrace. It's sacred and beautiful.

Lush Folk Incense.JPG

What is the best piece of business advice you have received?

From multiple sources: do work that inspires you just as much as it inspires others. Find your natural rhythm. If you are an introvert, for example (hand raised), seek ways to bring your work in alignment with your resources and who you are. Otherwise you will spend so much energy working against yourself that you will burn out.

What is the best business advice you would give?

NOURISH YOURSELF. Make self-care a priority because it's easy to grow so depleted. Don't wait until you're shaky and starved to eat—while it's so wonderful to do what you love, it's also easy to lose track of time and become so absorbed in your work that healing, nourishing practices fall away. Create loving boundaries around your sleep, your mealtimes, your relationships. Your business and your body will thank you. What is good for YOU is good for your business. Forget the “shoulds” and any rules that are not aligned with your soul. Do what lights you up. Follow joy. Stay inspired, and when your inspiration wavers, rest. Rest often. Play. Pray. Consider your energy to be as valuable a resource as money and time, if not more so. Create a business that aligns with your energy. If you feel stuck in your work, stop trying to force it. Instead, move—literally get up and dance, go for a run, do yoga, go for a walk, or clean your house. Shifting the energy in one area will help it flow in other areas. Also, find that sweet intersection of humility and an unwavering belief in who you are and what you are meant to do.

How do you stay connected to loved ones when deeply entrenched in work?

Through the magic of voice memos! I'm thankful that my dearest sacred circle is so understanding of my rhythms.

When you feel burned out or uninspired, what lights your fire again? Please share a personal mantra, motto, or ritual for when you feel drained. How do you stay nourished and inspired as a soulful creative?

I am so nurtured through quiet. If I'm lacking inspiration or my spirit feels droopy, I love taking a “free” day to wander a used bookstore or go to a coffeehouse, order a pot of French Press and write. Nature heals me, but it's rare for me to find pure nature here in the city. Listening to Tibetan singing bowls are very healing to me. Sometimes I'll watch a movie or read a soulful book. I will burn incense. Explore Pinterest. Spend time with my essential oils. If I'm feeling conversational I'll call a friend. Or I'll work on a completely unrelated project. Sometimes accomplishing something on my get-to-do list relights my fire.

How do you start your work day?

With coffee and a pause towards the light—I love the way morning spills through my windows. Often, I will light incense or a candle as a call to prayer. This helps me feel centered & to approach my work with presence.

If you could do something else as a vocation, what would it be?

As a writer I'm fascinated by so many things, but for some reason I've not rooted into fiction. I would be a fiction author, because I could explore everything I am curious about through story. And in my books I would be: a tattoo artist; a mortician who creates a conscious, holistic approach to preparing the body for earth; a cello player; the person who names streets, pretty eye shadows, lipsticks, and babies; a mother.

When did you first realize you wanted to be an entrepreneur?

From a very young age I've been making things—potpourri, sewing, body care—and finding ways to earn some money along the way. I didn't know the term entrepreneur, but I knew that I loved the independence and creativity of working with my hands. My father was an artist and used his hands to create beauty. I don't think I appreciated all the aspects of it when I was growing up but I deeply cherish it now. From the time I was six years old, sewing my first wee doll and coloring in her face with a crayon, I knew I was a maker. I have always wanted to make beauty with my life and I rarely find the freedom I need to do so when I am conventionally employed.

Do you have a first memory from childhood that connects you to what you have created today?

When I was very young I would sit on the front porch of the farmhouse I grew up in and write poems. My mother wrote key words on the blackboard in our dining room and I would find creative ways to use each word in a poem or story. I learned to read at three years old and have been reading and writing for as long as I can remember, and to this day I am most at home surrounded by good books, smooth paper and an inky pen. Also, I was never far from a sewing needle! I made my first handmade doll when I was six, and then by 8 or 9 had graduated to drawing around my sister's body on a big sheet of paper and then making a shirt and skirt from the pattern of her shape. I have dreamy plans for a few originals to appear someday on Lush Folk. 

What did you want to be when you were a little girl?

A ballerina and a Marine. :) And a writer. And a mama. And a fashion designer.

What did you know you did NOT want to be?

A veterinarian, a public speaker, or anything involving math!

Who supports you?

My husband is my rock—he has been with me through all the incarnations of my entrepreneurial journey. I know it's not an easy or simple life, being married to such a free spirit, but his patience and support mean the world to me. And I have a gathering of souls who are the stars in my cosmos ... stunning women who love and support me in ways that constantly bring me to tears. I couldn't do what I do without my loves.

What is your business philosophy?

It must have meaning beyond going-through-motions-in-order-to-pay-my-bills. Deep purpose is essential. And it's all a beautiful experiment, part of the ever-unfolding story of my life. My soul is a luminous, undulant presence wearing a curvy body and a heart that loves creative expression, tenderness, and mattering—fleshing out her living and making a difference in the world. It is a gorgeous blessing that I get to be a #girlboss ... I don't take it for granted. Two of my business mantras are: “Let it be easeful,” and “Let it be imperfect,” (gleaned from Carrie-Anne).

Lush Folk incense

What are your favorite entrepreneurial resources? Business mentors? Please share books, websites, and more.

Loved the Fire Starter Sessions by Danielle LaPorte. Also, everything Mariah Coz offers is trustworthy gold. Erika Madden is a beautiful soul whose business model is kindness—I love that and drink in her wisdom. I'm inspired by the unconventional insights of James Altucher. And I loved the “portable mentor” by Gail McMeekin titled, “The 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women.” I inhaled the book #Girlboss by Sofia Amoruso. 

What was the biggest “lesson” you've learned through your experience in business?

The lessons are endless. I am continually learning that you can't please everyone. You can't help everyone, and it's actually okay. (Know that it is not always about you.) But I think the most important lessons I've learned are tied between two things: 1) it's never too late to shift gears. Even if my shelves are stocked with inventory & I'm tripping over packing supplies, even if I've announced a launch plan and created an entire brand ... it's okay to leave it at the altar. It doesn't mean I've failed or that my business has failed. I've enjoyed the wild blessing of creating just about everything I've ever wanted, and my life has been a rich experience I do not regret—even when I've changed my mind at the midnight hour. And the next important thing, 2) work in alignment with your energy. Energy is a resource just like time & money, and should be carefully considered when looking at what you can give to your business. I have run dry so many times and the older I get, the harder it is to heal.

If you could do or make something every day that you give away, what would it be?

Poems. Incense. Tenderness. Enchantress Pie. Comfort. A soft space to curl up into. Beauty.


Hillary Rain

About Hillary—

Hillary Rain believes that the deepest hungers of humanity are among the desires to express the self & the soul, and to live rooted, full-bodied, and meaningful lives. She believes you don't have to wait until you lose that twenty pounds—or fifty—or one hundred—before you embrace yourself with tenderness. You don't have to wait until you're out of debt, or in a better house, or finished with school before you allow yourself to look up, look around, and revel in your life. Her next offering, Inkstains & Alchemy, begins March 20, 2016.

Hillary is passionate about making her life (and yours) a luscious work of art. To learn more, visit her at LushFolk.com and sign up to receive her FREE New Moon Letters along with other lush love notes sent twice a month. Connect on Instagram, Pinterest & Twitter.