Rebuilding your creative community after a move / by Taylor Bryant

We could not wait to share these words from our gal pal, Vana Chupp. Vana is the owner and creative director of Le Papier Studio, which sells an array of the cutest custom silhouette art gifts you've ever seen. She's also a wife and a mother of two.

This month marks my “work” anniversary for two events: starting my business 8 years ago and moving from Chicago to Richmond 8 months ago!

Handing a big move can be daunting, let’s face it! Whether it is for personal reasons or to chase down a job opportunity, you have no idea how much the move will impact your relationships (well, at first!) Our move was well thought out and planned but still, no one prepared us (ahem, me!) for the new reality here in Virginia. I say me, because I knew I would be main person building new relationships for our family while keeping the existing ones strong. Therefore as you can imagine, I was the one person who felt the move the most. You see, Chicago was the one place we had lived the longest together as a couple (before and after kids) and all our friends, the home away from home were there. Besides Aaron’s job, and the fact that we would be closer to my in-laws, there was no ties in Virginia.

Even though the mental picture and the thought of uprooting our family was tough, the excitement of starting fresh somewhere new outweighed any fears and doubts I had at the time. Plus I was super pumped for this new opportunity for Aaron!

How did I pull it off?

My biggest struggle was convincing myself that the relationships with my closest friends weren’t going to fade away. I felt I needed them more now that they would need me. I wanted to make sure I was going to be there for them and them for me. So to start with, we asked them to assist us with the move. Our closest friends took turn in helping us pack, get ready for the move. We had many talks, dinners, play dates, get togethers (probably even more than we ever had before) packed in those last 2 weeks! We even started making plans about getting together soon. This allowed for valuable time for me and my closest friends to be together. It helped transform what could have been a sad experience into a fun, cherished adventure. During our first weeks in Richmond, I would reach out unapologetically to my Chicago friends to reach back to them. This proved to be super calming during those initial stressful days:)It took a few months to get acclimated to the new surroundings, make a few new connections and settle mentally and physically.

The beauty of owning an online business is that I have friends over the country. Those relationships didn’t change at all. Upon our arrival here, my husband put me in touch with a group of women (Richmond Women in Design) who meet monthly to network and discuss different topics. I attended their next meeting (which was during our first month in Richmond). I have attended ever since. I also started reaching out to a few creatives whose work I had been admiring from afar. I have had numerous creative talks and coffee dates with a handful of them and I am glad to say they are part of my new group of friends in Richmond.

I travel back to Chicago (both as a family and for business) a few times a year. I am so glad to see those relationships have gotten stronger over the last 8 months just as new ones are beginning to build here in Virginia.
How has the move effected my business?
2015 was the best year in business I have ever had which reassured me that the move wouldn’t mess up anything . The only headache has been dealing with business paperwork, registering the business in VA, and switching everything over. Other than that, I am happy to say our move has proved to be just as good as we thought it would.

My tips for rebuilding your creative community:

Before the move

  1. Research the heck out of the area you are thinking of moving in to
  2. Reach out to friends and friends of friends who live in the area you're moving in to and ask them questions. In my case I reached out to a few bloggers/biz owners who I had been following online for a while. They were supper helpful. before I even moved in Richmond, I had insights on what areas we should live in and what schools our kids would attend.
  3. Visit the new city/neighborhood before you decide to move in there. No matter how much research you do online, checking the area out for yourself is the best thing you can do.
  4. Find a place to live. We ended up renting (which I highly recommend) - we didn’t want to stress out about setting in buying a house right away. Once we have lived here a year or so, we will have a pretty good idea on where to buy.
  5. Ask for help and accept help! All our friends wanted to see us before we moved and spend time together. We reached out to them with things we needed help with.

After the move

  1. Settle in! In our case, I took some time to make our place a home. I knew that once I had done that, I would feel more at easy in this new place.
  2. Start networking - whether it is via social media or in person get togethers, get out there and meet new people. Force yourself if you have to:)
  3. Get involved! We enrolled our kids in a few local clubs/activities as well as Sunday school at the new church. It helped us meet some new families we now call friends.
  4. Take it easy and give yourself a break! My friends would tell me that it would take 1-2 years to really settle and feel at home in Virginia. It turns out it’s true! You can’t rush things. Go with the flow and be open to new things and new relationships.