V.A: Tips + Inspiration for Busy-Brained, Overwhelmed Creative Business Owners

Being an artisitc business owner isn't for the weak. It's hard to monetize something as fickle and often ephemeral as creativity. It can be lonely and overwhelming, your creative coffers often emptying. I know because I'm right there with you.

Our local shop in Jacksonville, Florida where I spent a lot of the day making and selling healing products

Hello! I'm Vanessa Alvarado, I own the local and online shop Body&Soul where I make and design herbal and aromatherapeutic body care products and plant medicine. My biggest passion in life is helping others live their fullest, healthiest, most creative lives and I do that by sharing creative business tips and inspiration on this blog!

So why the hell am I qualified to give advice on creative business ownership? Let me tell you!


Creative entrepreneurship is in my blood, plain and simple. There was never a time I wasn't doing some time of creative work of one thing or another, my earliest memories are of helping my mom garden and crafting the details for my mom's pinata making and selling business!


 I've been doing my only little weird start-ups since the single digits and worked a lot of odd jobs to get to where I'm at with a shop, including night club rose seller! Weird details of that here!

One of the many offices I'd occupy, they moved us around a lot at the web start-up I worked at!

For three years I worked as a copywriter and web marketer, learning the tricks of the trade and putting those to work on the side to create my own vintage selling business.



Staging the photos was one of my favorite aspects of the job, but it was a LOT of work!

A few years into that and after moving hundreds of kitschy vintage goods I decided I didn't like the constant storage & acquisition portion of that job (thought I still ADORE & collect vintage!) and abruptly sold off the business without a back-up plan! I was broke, there were tears, but at the core of my soul I know I have to be 100% satisfied creatively with that I'm doing and I knew it was time to move on.


Fate and serendipity led me to my current path. Right after selling off my vintage business I had the chance to fulfill a lifelong dream of becoming a for real crafty plant-witch and spent two years on a work-trade scholarship becoming certified in clinical herbalism  (having learned indepth from working in a raw vegan kitchen while I sold vintage) and aromatherapy. I survived by teaching raw vegan food creation classes and herbal tea creation classes on a tiny salary from the school and by doing a little creative freelance work for business owners here and there. 


A year or so into focusing on our new business Body&Soul (sustaining ourselves with dozens of pop-ups shops and outdoor markets) we leapt on an opportunity to open our own little local shop and that's where I find myself now, trying to make this new brand and shop the best it can be. And I know our creative business journey is far from over. This type of work requires constant evolution to grow and I love having this blog to teach about it and share the journey. I know working in so many different fields and mediums gives me some unique insight on the topic. I study it all the time, I'm obsessed with creative business and love it! Also See: Why I'm so Passionate about Creativity, a Story of High School Craziness

- About Vanessa - 


I'm curious, eclectic, & put too much on my plate to ever be bored! (Scanner Personality Type + INFP ) I love vintage, kitsch, interior design, whole living, herbalism, studying how the creative brain works, comic books/anime, horror movies and too many incongruous nerdy things to list here

I occupy the spacious, sunny second floor of a historic brownstone on the outskirts of Jacksonville, Florida's downtown with my best friend (Marianne), boyfriend (AJ), and my cat, Yuko.

Yuko was my model when I sold vintage, she's great for demonstrating size!


I've redecorated so much it's practically a hobby. Though not lately. Too busy making plant meds!

I recently taught classes on whole living (herbal tea blending, making herbal pills, smoothie making, gourmet raw vegan cuisine, culinary cooking with herbs, etc.) at our brand new local store! (And soon for the Jacksonville Public Library's new Maker's Space) but now I'm focusing on making our herbal line of goods and this blog the best it can be!

I post every other weekday (Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays) -- Except when I don't, haha! Sometimes business ownership craziness gets in the way!

My love affair with the web started when the year the yearbook photo below was taken, 1997:

1997, Science Club. Soon after I'd start making ALL THE WEBSITES.

I was instantly hooked and I've made dozens of websites over the years! Later, when I started working as a copywriter and web marketer, I was ghost writing on business blogs and wanted a blog of my own where I could use my own voice. When I started this blog (As "Thrift Core") the Autumn of 2009, I didn't expect it to be much more than a creative outlet. Now VanessaAlvarado.com has thousands of followers around the world.


Eventually, running this blog and my indie business became my full-time job and I absolutely love it! I make my own schedule and spend my work days doing teaching people to be the best creatives they can be and making organic body care products to sell with my boyfriend and mom.


If I'm not doing any of the above, I'm exploring somewhere fun, camera-in-hand, reading comics, or watching horror/kitsch flicks! E-mail me if you have any questions or want to chat! You can also drop me a line on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.

Random Facts:


Left: My mom, brothers, and me  --- Right: My Dad, Brothers, and Me
  • I'm a Certified Aromatherapist, HerbalistNutritionist via Florida Holistic School of Health
  • I'm a Trained Gourmet Raw Vegan Chef via Shakti Life Kitchen
  • Currently vegan, but I once ate a hamburger a day- 30 lbs ago! Read my Health Journey Post
  • I've lived in Naples Italy, Charleston South Carolina, and Norfolk Virginia
  • I've lived the last twenty years in Jacksonville, North Florida.
  • I have two older brothers (twins) that are five years older than me and 6 nieces/nephews! 
  • My mom is Mexican and my dad is Puerto Rican.
My parents when they met in San Francisco, late 1970s. They were literally disco dancing local legends.

  • I'm a HUGE Michael Jackson and Prince fan. My MJ+Prince record collection is formidable. (God rest their souls, Prince Tribute here + recap of Prince tribute concerts
  • Basically all I listen to is video game soundtracks, the two legends above, Motown, classic R&B, funk and disco...
  • Anime fan and general Japanophile. Unabashed lover of all-things-kawaii.
  • Comic book  + horror video game fan. Favs: Batman, Resident Evil, Silent Hill, Parasite Eve
  • Robot + dinosaur toy and miniature object collector- I'm picky about the ones I induct!
  • My love of DINOSAURS, CEPHALOPODS and ROBOTS knows no bounds
  • Random, but it appears my most-viewed post on all time is a tour of my old office cubicle!
  • I once lived in a camper on a mini-farm with a boyfriend--- and no internet! Loved it. 
  • It's weird for a young tech-person who works on the web but ...I hate smart phones and struggle to use them.

Blog Must-Reads:

Home and Organization

- My KonMari Method Journey: How to Organize Your Home Once- And Never Again!
- 15 Feng-Shui Tips for Wealth and Productivity
- Guides for Organizing Your EVERYTHING: Home, Schedule, Money, Cleaning, Life!
- Short Cuts for Living a Healthy, Minimalist Life

Personal / Creative Inspiration

- My Favorite Posts from 2014
- Odd Jobs: My Journey to Self-Employment
- Philosophy Lesson: The Mexican Fisherman and the American Fisherman
- You're Exactly Where You Need to Be
Blogging From Inside the Confessional: 6 Reasons Why I'm Crazy Honest on My Blog
My Herbalism School Experience
Adventures in Soap Making: The Best Damn Dinosaur Fossil Soap You've Ever Seen
My Childhood Bedroom

Blog and Business Tips

- My Top 22 Digital Tools for Running An Online Business
Try This: An Exercise to Find Out Exactly What You Want to Do For a Living. For Really
How to Earn EXACTLY The Amount of Money You Want to Earn
- 6 Offbeat Tips on Full Time Blogging and Getting Advertisers You Haven't Read
- A Round-Up of My Blogging Tips Posts

Vintage Selling Success Stories

Kimberly, Published Writer, Mom, Turns eBay into a $3K/Month Gig
Scavenger Life Vintage Selling Chat: On Earning $13,000 Per Month and Living The Dream

Gorgeous House Tours

- Ranch Dressing with Eartha Kitsch's Perfect Mid Century Modern Ranch
- Becke's Expertly Staged Cozy and Industrial Vintage Home
- Sherry's Gorgeous Mid Century Modern Home + Her Epic X-mas Collection
- Bianca's Artsy Tasmanian Bungalow
- A Literal Secret Hippie Hideaway
- Bianca's Cozy California Casa
- My Fresh, New, Light-Filled Office

My Favorite Round-Ups

- A Round-Up of My Favorite DIY and Craft Posts
- A Round-up Of My Interviews with Thrifters Around the World
- A Round-Up of All of My Body Care DIY Posts (deodorant, toothpaste and more)
- A Round-Up of My Healthy Recipes / Weight Loss Posts + My Raw Vegan Series

Travel Favorites 

- My Grandparent's House in Puerto Rico
- Come One Come All to Groovy Land: Toast and Jam in a Colorful Folk Art Garden
- The Amazing- And Scary- Wolf's Museum
- A Tranquil Mid Century Modern Church
- My Favorite Place in the World. The Hostel in the Forrest Part 1 and Part 2
- Japan: History | Kawaii | Mountaintop Vintage Shop | Signs | Highlights | ALL The Food | Cats
- The Art of Sampuru: Contemplating Hyper-Realistic Fake Food in Japan

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Feel free to contact me if you have additional questions. You can chat with me on Twitter and Facebook. I also have an FAQ with information you may find useful.

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