Waldorfish: Meet Robyn Wolfe

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 artist & co-founder of Waldorfish, Robyn Wolfe.

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

Hello! My name is Robyn. I’m an artist and educator…sometimes both at the same time! I am a co-founder of Waldorfish, the company I run in partnership with my husband, Brian Wolfe. We have a diverse list of offerings which are centered around our overall goal, which is to support homeschooling families and class teachers in implementing their curricula with joy & confidence! We offer video tutorials for chalk, charcoal, and block crayon drawing, storytelling, watercolor painting, clay modeling (and more!). We also lead live and on-line training workshops, offering mentoring (for students and adults), and create custom art. Historically, homeschooling families wishing to provide a Waldorf-inspired (or any other) education to their children had very limited options for receiving training in the visual arts portion of the curriculum. As a result, many families left this part out, not feeling confident enough to teach it on their own. We help to fill that gap! For 4 years now we have been working with teachers & families around the world, providing them with the resources that are allowing them to approach art with joy instead of fear.

What does soulful business mean to you? What motivates you?

I operate out of an understanding, on a very personal level, that life is short. Our time here is limited. If what I’m doing isn’t helping to improve other people’s experience, then it feels like wasted time. Soulful business for me means continually asking the question “will this (product, workshop, piece of art, etc) improve someone else’s experience?” Also, because I am acutely aware of the fact that our lives have an unknown expiration date, I’m really only interested in projects that allow me to spend as much quality time with my family as possible. Along with the question above, I also continually ask “is this (product, workshop, piece of art, etc) an efficient use of my time & skills?”.

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

In the words of Marie Forleo, “everything is figureoutable.” Every. Thing.

What is the best business advice you would give?

Our learning curve over the past 4 years has, at times, been daunting and steep. I have learned that there is almost always a solution to every problem, that there is always someone who has the answer, or a work-around for that pressing tech issue. More important than accepting this idea as a theory, though, is believing this idea to be a FACT, and MAKING ROOM in your thinking for the idea that the solution exists and WILL come to you. It can’t be true unless we believe it to be so. Our thinking is SO powerful!

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

My biggest challenge is a combination of my tendency to always be thinking about work and being an introvert. When you work for yourself, it’s all on you ... I have a hard time turning that part of my brain off. The challenge to relax is REAL. Interestingly though, I am happier as an entrepreneur than I ever was working as someone else’s employee. Knowing that our work is creating change and improving things for other people is exciting (!) and very motivating. Scheduling in time to get out and spend time with friends is a big piece of my solution to this challenge. Once I’m out, and surrounded by the beautiful souls who are my friends, I start to relax and stop working through the next project in my head. It sounds simple, right? But as an introvert, my tendency is NOT to do this. Herein lies my challenge ;)

How do you start your work day?

We have created our business around our lifestyle, which at the moment includes homeschooling one of our children. The first 2-ish hours of the morning are spent in jammies, with hot tea and school work. After this, my son is able to move into a few hours of independent work & exploration and I move into the studio to work through my business related tasks for the day. In the afternoon he has various lessons & classes outside of the house, and my daughter returns home from school. I often spend a few more hours in the evening working in the studio. We share joint custody of our children with their father…this means there are a couple of weekends per month that we are child-less. I tend to save projects that require a lot of uninterrupted time and thought for those weekends, preferring to be more available to my family when the kids are home with us.

Photo by Danielle Cohen

Photo by Danielle Cohen

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

I have always struggled a bit (internally) when working for other people. It wasn’t until 5 years ago that I felt the really compelling need to create a change, however. Brian and I were both teaching full time (so, basically 60+ hours per week). We were always busy, always stressed, and our kids were essentially being raised by their own class teachers. It was ridiculous. I started to have stress-related health problems mid-way through the year, and that’s when we decided we needed to create a different reality for ourselves. Of course, my doctors had all sorts of ideas about medicines I could take that would fix everything, but I really wasn’t interested in band-aids. I knew in my heart that creating a life where I had complete control over how I was spending my time was going to make all the difference. That spring we took the leap, and Waldorfish was born.

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

A professional ballet dancer, and an Olympic dressage rider. Oh, and at times, a professional musician! I danced and showed horses through high school, and still play viola. It's fascinating to watch my own children now moving through this process of discovering their passions. I can't wait to see what sticks!

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

Ooooo… I have a whole long list of people I love, each for different reasons. I highly recommend reading The War of Art and Turning Pro, both by Steven Pressfield. Also, The Creative Habit, by Twyla Tharp and The Law of Divine Compensation, by Marianne Williamson. The 4 Hour Work Week (Tim Ferriss) is also pretty inspiring! I just finished reading Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, by Greg McKeown.

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.

We frequently receive emails & other feedback from clients expressing their gratitude for what we provide. Hearing that we have helped move them through fear and into confidence inflates our hearts every time!

Photo by Maya Hackett

Photo by Maya Hackett

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

Art!! How great would it be if everyone, regardless of their ability to afford it, could be surrounded by beautiful art?! I’d deliver it anonymously too….art bombs left on people’s doorsteps…to feed the mischievous monkey part of my nature.

Please share any messages, wisdom, stories, or insights you have gathered through your entrepreneurial journey.

I think it’s really important for someone on the verge of entrepreneurship to know that they will likely never feel 100% ready to begin. My own journey, and that of so many other women I have talked to, began out of necessity…but I most definitely did not feel ready. That said, there are ways to stack the odds in your favor. Build up some savings before you leap. Build up a support group, mastermind group, etc. There will always be fears before beginning. These fears actually serve an important purpose, but they aren’t always a good reason NOT to start! Elizabeth Gilbert has a lot to say about this in her latest amazing book, Big Magic.

Photo of Robyn Wolfe by Danielle Cohen.

Photo of Robyn Wolfe by Danielle Cohen.

About Robyn

An early career as a park ranger led Waldorfish co-founder, Robyn Wolfe, to her love of illustrating and education. Trained initially as both a public school and Waldorf teacher, she has been involved in art + education for over 20 years, including homeschooling one of her two children. Robyn is currently working as an illustrator and as the manifestor of the creative vision held by the Waldorfish team. Working out of the premise that life is short (but sweet!), she empowers soul-filled teachers & families to (re)find their JOY in teaching and making art. Her work has been featured in Amulet magazine, The Mother magazine, the children's book The Journey of Analise, as well as Annapurna Living and the Pence Gallery. Her work is also scattered throughout the Waldorfish website.

To connect with Robyn, visit her website, Waldorfish, follow her on Facebook, or find her on Instagram @therobynwolfe