Word Maven & Story Whisperer: Meet Alexandra Franzen

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 author, columnist and communication expert, Alexandra Franzen.
Photos of Alexandra Franzen by Danielle Cohen.

Photos of Alexandra Franzen by Danielle Cohen.

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

I’ve been a professional writer for about ten years. The "type" of writing that I do has shape-shifted many times through the years. I've done promotional writing for radio, copywriting for marketing agencies, ghostwriting, poetry, fiction, essays… you name it! My mom told me I was going to be a writer when I was about 11 years old, and I told her, “No way, I’m gonna be a shark scientist!” but as usual, she was right.

My work is important because____.

My work is important because... words are so powerful. With one heartfelt text, email, or blog post, you can significantly alter the course of someone's day—or maybe even change their whole life. Whether I am writing a personal story, or working with a client, I try to remind people, “Your words really do matter and by sharing your thoughts, or telling a story, even if 'only' one other person reads it, you can create a positive ripple in the world.”

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

I am very inspired by David Wagner, the hairstylist and entrepreneur who started the Daymaker Movement. David's philosophy is that… it doesn't matter if you are a janitor or a barista or a painter or a sales rep, you have the power to make someone else's day a little brighter through your words and actions. As David says, “It only takes a moment to make someone's day—to become a Daymaker.”

What is your biggest challenge as an entrepreneur? How do you work with or around it?

Too many ideas, never enough time! That is my persistent challenge. I try to remind myself, “It's OK to have lots of exciting ideas. That's a great thing. But it doesn't mean that they all have to 'happen' today, or even this month or this year.” I am still learning how to pace myself. It's a struggle but I feel like I am improving through the years!

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?

For me, getting inspired is all about... getting back to basics. A good workout. A bath. A nourishing meal. A fun date night with my sweetheart where we turn off our phones and other devices. Great music. Oh, and visiting the hair salon! Getting a shampoo and blowout never fails to turn my day around!

Alexandra Franzen

How do you start your work day?

Lately, my morning routine has been really lazy and gorgeous, in the best possible way! I wake up. I drink a big glass of water. Then my boyfriend makes me a caramel latte with cinnamon sprinkled on top. Then I usually make a list of 3 - 4 things that I really want to do that day. Then I check a few emails. Then... the workday begins! I love having a quiet, leisurely morning routine. It definitely sets me up for a happy, productive day.

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

As a kid, I wanted to be an opera singer (like my mom) or a shark scientist. I was really obsessed with sharks! As a teenager, I fantasized about becoming a chef. Later in life, I met and fell in love with a chef—my sweetheart, Brandon Weeks. Today, Brandon and I run a small brunch restaurant called HunnyMilk together on the weekends, so in a round-about way, my dream of doing chef-related work has come true! Writing will probably always be my main passion, livelihood, and focus, but it has been really fun to become a “part-time restauranteur” and play in the kitchen and dining room a few days a week. It feels like stretching my creative muscles in a new way!

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

In 3rd grade, I remember making a book about flying unicorns which I photocopied and sold to my classmates for a quarter a piece. I suppose that was my first foray into the “publishing industry.” Ha!

What is your business philosophy?

My business philosophy is, “Start with one room.” What that means is... start simple, start small, test things out, and don’t rush. For example, if your dream is to run a five-story boutique hotel, start by turning one room of your home into an AirBnB rental. Start with one room. See how it goes. Get a few guests in there. See if you actually enjoy being a “hotel manager” as much as you thought you would. If so, great! Grow from there at a pace that feels sane and humane for you. You don’t have to go from “zero” to “skyscraper” in one year. One room at a time.

Tell us a story or describe a time when something occurred in your business that made your heart leap and you KNEW you were doing the right thing.

I once received an email from the mother of a teenage girl. This girl was having trouble making friends at her new school, but apparently, one blog post that I had written gave her some encouragement and helped her to strike up some conversations at school. Her mom wrote to me to say, “thank you for writing that post” and also to ask if I would write to her daughter to encourage her to keep trying. In that moment, I felt overwhelmed with emotion. It was such a beautiful reminder that when you share your thoughts and ideas with others—online, onstage, on the radio, or around the dinner table—you never know whose life you are going to touch in a powerful way. I had no idea that my blog post would inspire a teenage girl who lived halfway across the globe. But it did. Amazing things can happen when you choose to share a piece of yourself with the world.

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

One heartfelt compliment!


Alexandra Franzen

About Alexandra

Alexandra Franzen is a writer based in Portland, Oregon. She is the author of three books and has been featured in six others, including a bestselling guide to launching a creative business.

Her writing has been featured on top websites like Time, Forbes, The Huffington Post, Newsweek and Lifehacker, as well as in song lyrics, on product packaging and stenciled onto fine art paintings.

Alexandra lives with her sexy chef-boyfriend and two pet snails. She aspires, one day, to meet RuPaul and also own a small dog. Learn more about Alexandra’s current projects at AlexandraFranzen.com.