You may have seen Heather Ann Stillufsen’s inspiring messages on your Facebook feed. The mother of two teen daughters from Westfield combines her love of fashion, florals, coffee and illustration to create prints, planners, journals and calendars with empowering words. We asked her how she turned her love of drawing into a successful business that inspires women to pursue what they love.
NJF: Your illustrations are so distinct and inspiring which makes them instantly recognizable. When did you start illustrating?
Heather Ann Stillufsen: I’ve been sketching and drawing my whole life. I started Rose Hill Design Studio after the birth of my first daughter Summer Rose. I began by doing water color invitations for friends and family. When my second daughter Saylor was born, it was a lot of work juggling a home, a marriage and two kids, so I decided to put my art on the back burner for a while. I always knew at some point I would start drawing again but I just wasn’t sure of how or when.
The when came in 2009, when I needed to go back to work full time. I was determined to make a career out of my art. I began posting my drawings and sayings on Facebook every day. I was going through some rough patches in life and needed to get the words out. Drawing and writing became my therapy. When I started sharing them on Facebook, people began to relate. I was blown away by the positive responses. Other women started sharing my work and asking for prints of the images. I re-opened my Etsy shop and got to work. Everyday I got up and wrote, drew and posted my art and words. Inspiring other people to live their passions and not give up became my daily routine. I love doing what I do.
NJF: With nearly 70,000 followers on Instagram and more than 22,000 sales through your Rose Hill Design Studio Etsy shop, your art clearly resonates with women all over the world. What have you learned from your followers?
HS: I have learned so much from them. They inspire me with their stories of hope and perseverance. I have fans all over the world including places as far away as India and the Philippines. One thing that resonates with me is that as women we are all connected. We are all going through this beautiful crazy journey of life together and we all go through the same things: love, loss, heartbreak, raising children, marriage, being daughters and being mothers.
NJF: How do you juggle your design work with raising your daughters? How have they influenced your work?
HS: My daughters influence my work greatly. Their stories, their journeys and their life experiences are all incorporated into my words and even the illustrations at times. As far as working goes, as they have gotten older it’s gotten easier. They even help me around the office. They are good with social media as well. I call them my tech department.
NJF: You’re are also an author. Tell us about your books.
HS: I love illustrating and writing my keepsake books. They are the perfect size to keep in your purse or on your desk when you need that little reminder or boost of inspiration in your life.
NJF: What advice do you have for women looking to start their own business?
HS: Don’t give up. Follow your passions. Know that you can do and or be anything you want but you must work hard and believe in yourself. There are going to be days when you feel like you may want to give up but you musn’t. Keep going always and have fun with it!
Follow us on Instagram @newjerseyfamily between June 3-5 for a chance to win Heather’s planner and calendar.