Jelena Aleksich of The Confetti Project
Meet Jelena Aleksich, Founder of The Confetti Project.
Tell us your story, in a timeline!
10 YEARS AGO
10 years ago I was 17 finishing my last year of high school before I left for school in Vermont - the first time I'd truly been away from home. Wow. I was such a compliant bookworm that grew up in a strict immigrant household so I was just beginning my rebellious stage - all throughout college where I choose Biology/pre-med as a major right away, where I was unhappy for two years before I switched to Psychology. It was from that experience that I vowed to myself to never invest my time in doing something I don't really love because during that time I compartmentalized parts of my life and used partying as a way to avoid my academic identity - something that I had loved and excelled at for my life up until that point. It felt like an existential crisis leading two lives that never intersected.
5 YEARS AGO
So, 5 years ago I was living back home after college, finishing a graphic design program at Parson's The New School and loving it. Still now I look back at that time fondly as I was able to get back to my core with the many memories I have with my intellectual, loving parents. I was freelancing and I use that term really loosely because I was really just saying yes to any opportunity that came my way in design and taking a stab at. Then, through a magical series of events I got my first job as the graphic designer, project manager, PA for a trailblazing company called THINX with the most fierce, ambitious female founder that made my life really intense but taught me to stop being a pushover.
1 YEAR AGO
Last year, I was just coming back from an epic cross-country road trip. My dad had died in May and I went on a 50-day road trip from NY to LA, spontaneously going to Burning Man at the end. It was literally this week that I came back home, feeling full but so empty at the same time amidst my grief, realizing: okay, now I have to go full gear with this thing I've been creating. Between quitting my job and my dad passing away, I created The Confetti Project: a photography series that profiles amazing humans doused in confetti, exploring what they celebrate in their lives. It began as a three-month photography challenge which was the first thing I ever finished in my life and, two years later, it's taken a life of its own.
Give us a play-by-play of a (work) day in your life.
It's hard to pinpoint what a typical work day in my life is like since I go back and forth between NJ (where I live) and NY (where I work) so it's either going to be a NJ day or a NY day.
When I need to be in the city, I'm in commuter mode catching the bus and being on public transportation for a large chunk of time listening to my hard trance music and feeling like a character amidst the hustle. I'll mostly be in my photo studio in Brooklyn doing confetti shoots or in meetings or activities with friends. I typically make it jam-packed when I'm in the city because I'm there a few days a week. Then, when I'm home in NJ, it's in more of an isolated, creative chill mode where I play catchup. I live in a 3-bedroom by myself on the water overlooking the city where I am able to really curate everything I want to do in a day: editing, e-mailing, finishing tasks, walking outside, reading in the morning - it's a secluded life as I'm not only far away from the city but I'm also living in my head a lot as a freelancer.
Tell us the real sh*t that goes on behind the scenes.
It's only really dawning on me now how the nature of my work allows me to overthink everything. It's great because it allows me to multi-task, overproduce and excel in a lot of creative/entrepreneurial things but, it can be very detrimental on a personal level. Yes, I meditate, read and break a sweat daily but escapism has always allowed me to get out of my head. Just the other week I remember feeling down about a guy not texting me back the day after we hung out and it got to this point where I had to realize that he lives in New York, is really busy and probably isn't really reflecting on it the way I am play-by-play.
Sometimes a day can feel like an eternity because I'm always in go-mode so I've slowly learned to have more patience as an entrepreneur. It's a learned practice because there is so much out of your control. I like anyone doing something out of the box can attest to the fact that it's filled with a series of big and small decisions that are stringed together on a daily basis. There's no blueprint or right path - you welcome the day, go after what intuitively feels right and then react to the spontaneity of all of those actions.
Right now, I'm taking on The Confetti Project full time and it happens to coincide with the first year I'm making my own money after being financially dependent on my parents until my Dad died. So, yes I'm living on $150 a week but it's been character building and a fun challenge to see what happens when you go after something you believe in. When I am full of self-doubt and fear, which is more often than you would think, I remind myself that it will pass and that any circumstance you're in at this moment can be radically different in the next.
How many bevvys do you drink in a day?
Bonus Points: What are theY
I'm really simple when it comes to what beverages I put in my body. I haven't drank alcohol in years. And don't consume soda or any flavored drinks. Water and coffee have been my elixir's of choice where I begin the day with water, lemon and The Beauty Chef's Glow all mixed together. This hydrates me after a night of sleep and it also gives me a small window to read and slowly transition into the morning. Twenty minutes later after my morning practice, I will have half a cup of coffee with breakfast. Then, I will fix myself a shot of coffee around 4pm that day (the most hazy time for my brain where I can't focus on anything). During the day, I'm drinking many glasses of water, half of which are mixed with Apple Cider Vinegar.
What systems do you use in your business that keep you sane?
Gmail is king and Google Calendar is queen. Then, Instagram and Facebook for social media content. Photoshop and Lightroom for curating and editing photos. Squarespace for uploading photos. Dropbox for essentially my entire creative life where I house everything I create, which becomes a bridge for posting social media content on my phone. Illustrator for creating business cards or any other print deliverable. InDesign for creating zines or presentation. Adobe Creative Suite is the umbrella term for most of the systems I use. Keynote for quick one-off's. iTunes and Spotify to immerse myself in a world while I do everything else. I'm probably forgetting a few others but that's essentially the gist.
Any words of wisdom for other bosses?
Being passionate about something will guarantee it's success more. I think there's something to be said for be really excited about something as you birth it. That energy is contagious and I've witnessed firsthand how my fiery rants about The Confetti Project impact others when they hear it. Sometimes that passion reminds me of why I'm doing what I'm doing. There's just no substitute for it because the more you care about something, the more time you donate to it which allows it to evolve. I really like the metaphor of your brainchild being a baby - it's all-consuming, intense, exciting, volatile and requiring of sacrifice, attention and kindness.
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