As an entrepreneur and from meeting and working with hundreds of startups, entrepreneurs, and investors, I often find creativity is one of those important elements that gets lost in the mix of the 25 hats you have to wear on a day to day basis. Creativity is where our greatest ideas are born, and I believe is a skill that needs to be continuously exercised to ensure we keep our creative juices flowing. I was introduced to a remarkable young entrepreneur in downtown Las Vegas who reminded me of the importance of creativity.
Meet Brooke DaSilva, a 21-year-old fashion entrepreneur whose combined passion for business and fashion, and her fear of getting into a career that would diminish her creative nature, led her to starting a business around the idea of a shirt with 9 pockets. DaSilva conceived the 9 pocket shirt in 2013, created the initial product in a startup fashion incubator called Stitch Factory in 2014, and is now launching a Kickstarter campaign for her clothing brand "9 Pockets" this Spring of 2015.
9 Pockets is a clothing brand with a mission to help others socialize through wearable conversation starters. Whether you're a wallflower or the life of the party, you can strike up conversation in a unique and unconventional way when wearing a 9 pocket shirt.
"I get anxiety thinking about how there are so many missed connections in the world where great things could have came out of just simply striking up a conversation with someone. I'd like to bring people together in quirky ways," says DaSilva.
Inspired by her passion and creative nature, I asked DaSilva if she had any ideas or suggestions for entrepreneurs to reignite and enhance their creative process. Here are the 9 creative habits she lives and swears by, that every entrepreneur and their team can use to enhance their creativity, and ultimately their business.
1. Embrace Creative Catharsis
Creative catharsis, the act of unleashing your creative ideas from your brain into the real world, is a problem creatives struggle with often. Moving from the idea generation phase to the execution phase can be a difficult process. It's important to bridge the gap between the idea and existence of an idea, or else you will never know what will come out of it.
2. Create a "Purple Cow"
As Seth Godin explains in his book Purple Cow, a "purple cow" is a product that is remarkable and stands out from the noise. Imagine driving down the road with fields of cows on either side. At first, you think, "Wow look, cows!" Soon though, it's like having a 5-second YouTube video on repeat for 2 hours straight. Then out of nowhere, you spot a purple cow. The idea of uniqueness and the surprise of a purple cow is parallel to how products get noticed.
3. Develop a Creative Ritual
Sometimes it's difficult to get those creative juices flowing, and as counterintuitive as it sounds, a routine can help. Beethoven counted 60 beans for his morning cup of coffee. Benjamin Franklin enjoyed taking "air baths", in other words, sitting around naked. DaSilva's ritual includes slipping on a dress, putting her hair up as high as it'll go, and sipping on a fruity drink. Rituals equip us with confidence and inspiration.
"That is why you scratch for the little ideas. Without the little ideas, there are no big ideas. Scratching is what you do when you can't wait for the thunderbolt to hit you," says Twyla Tharp from the book The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It For Life. Scratching gets the creative ideas flowing. Reading, having conversations with people, exploring nature, visiting art museums, shopping at vintage stores are amongst some great scratching suggestions. Once you gain traction from scratching for ideas, your creativity becomes boundless.
The 9 pocket shirt was conceived by scratching. One day, DaSilva was staring at someone's shirt which sported only one pocket and thought, "That shirt would look so much better with 8 more pockets on it." And the idea was born just like that. Explore the world around you and the ideas will flow.
5. Creative Clutter
Your laundry is everywhere except your laundry basket, two stolen traffic cones sit in the corner of your room, and tiny dinosaur toys and taco wrappers are sprawled across your desk. And somehow you're feeling your most creative in this moment. Creatives are known for having way too many tabs open in their mind. As Albert Einstein once said, "If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, then what are we to think of an empty desk?" Creatives relish the sight of an organized mess. Oops, is that relish on my desk? Good luck trying to convince your parents, roommate, or significant other the reason why your room is messy is because you're trying to be creative.
6. Monitor Your Creative Bandwidth
Being creative takes up a lot of gasoline in an energy tank that constantly needs to be refilled. Distinguish between experiences or people that will be a constant uphill battle and drain your power source quickly. Prune them out of your life, and always remember, when you cut one branch, two grow in its place. It might be a difficult task to take on, but it will increase your chances of having creative breakthroughs. Also, focus on your more important projects when you're at your creative peak of the day (or night).
7. Find Other Creatives
Although spending time in your own brain folds is imperative, being around your fellow creative peers can provide a new outlook on things. For DaSilva, it was Downtown Project, located in the heart of downtown Las Vegas, where she was able to collaborate with people on ideas to join the never-ending chase of the possible.
8. Let Your Mind Wander
Daydreaming is a favorite pastime for creatives. Creatives have what's called cognitive disinhibition, which is basically a lack of being able to filter between irrelevant and relevant things. For example, people with cognitive disinhibition will see a potato and wonder if they could carve it into an elephant. Then, they imagine their whole life as a renowned potato peeler artist who travels the world carving various russet potatoes. Don't be afraid to let your mind hitchhike to unknown places.
9. Conversation Starters
Starting conversations can be a daunting task for most people. There are many missed connections that happen in the world that could have resulted in blossoming friendships or partnerships. Don't fret though! You are a creative person with conversation-starting superpowers. For example, you can wear a 9 pocket shirt and ask others what they would put in their 9 pockets. Or, come up with an eccentric ice breaker, like if they prefer their sandwich meat square or round. The possibilities are endless to create memorable experiences and to add value to those around you.
Go out there and start a conversation!