Happy New Year: Cayenne’s Friends Share Lessons From 2020 + Advice for 2021

by Cayenne

Happy New Year! As we enter a new year, I can’t help but reflect on everything the previous brought us. New connections, new projects, new experiences… the year was filled with endless ups and downs, twists and turns. Through it, I felt a stronger sense of community than I ever had before. My actual neighborhood came together and supported one another in ways I had never experienced. We were all going through it and we were all in it together. We got creative. We created regardless. As Victoria McGrath said, “We created out of love, not for likes.” In the spirit of keeping this inspiration growing and our team strong, we asked our community to share with us what lessons they learned in 2020. In the midst of all the chaos going on in our world, what did we learn from it? And more importantly, what can we bring into this new year?

[ Lyke Minded ] 
[ culinary + product curator / prop stylist + graphic artist ]

What lessons did you learn in 2020? 
I learned that love is patient. I learned that change is unstoppable. I learned I have a fear for the unknown. I learned I love being at home and cooking for my husband. I learned buying a house is hard. I learned how much I miss traveling. I learned there are many issues in the world I didn’t know about. I learned about BLM and lives lost. I learned about my privilege. I learned to be more sensitive. I learned how to be better. I learned how to embrace the little things. I learned how to trust God’s grace and in the thick of it all, be grateful & kind to others.

Do you have any advice for 2021?
Always have hope. 

“For every hope you have held onto that has yet to come to life, may you know that it is alright to wonder what the future will look like, while still learning to be okay with where you are right now, long before the seeds you have sown have yet to break the ground.”  

Morgan Harper Nichols

“Living simply makes loving simple.” 

Bell Hooks

[ photographer ]

What lessons did you learn in 2020? 
A strange year to say the least. Many ups and downs for everyone. Personally, I had a year of acknowledgement and growth, and I know many others did too. 2020 brought me back to the core of who I really am. One thing is for sure, family is everything. They will be the ones there for you no matter what. Check in on your loved ones, you never know what they are hiding or going through mentally. Remember your morals and ethics. I got wrapped up in a whirlwind of some unethical situations for a bit and finally said it was enough and had to move on. Mentally and physically, my body and mind are healthier and happier. Remember, social media can be an unhealthy addiction. Don’t compare your work to the amounts of likes you get, be proud of what you create. It is extremely important to collaborate with other like minded creatives; it is a great outlet for getting new ideas and being able to execute your ideas to the maximum capacity. It is refreshing being able to share creative ideas with others that appreciate it and want to help you execute them. Lastly, music continues to be a great source of inspiration for me in more ways than one. 

Do you have any advice for 2021?
As for 2021, I know that it is still going to be a strange year, but with what we have all learned in 2020 we can take those lessons and experiences and use them for more growth. Never give up on your dreams! This year I want to execute more creative story-telling shoots. I realized those are the ones that I enjoy the most. I’ve had an idea in my head for years of a project that I have been wanting to produce and this year my goal is to do it. My last bit of advice for this new year is keep your heads up, some days are going to be better than others, surround yourself with people that motivate and inspire you, and know your worth- don’t let anyone use or walk all over you. 

[ global makeup / hair / grooming artist ]

What lessons did you learn in 2020? 
First off, it feels damn good that 2020 has come to a wrap even though we’re still in the midst of a pandemic.  But, all we can do is look up from here.  I think?  
As a makeup artist, I’ve always identified myself through my work.  My days consisted of being on set, traveling from client to client through the city, grabbing drinks with friends I’ve met through work-so we could talk more work. My creative time was building hair & makeup looks for my clients, or updating my website.  Take all that away, and I’m left struggling to find my way.  
Man, I started out last year so strong.  By the end of February I had already crossed off half the new year’s goals on my list – work at Sundance, Award season w/ the Parasite cast, press makeup on Hilary Clinton, a yoga retreat in Cuba, meet a man and fall in love, etc.  My first two months were nonstop, and the day I landed from Cuba my life came to a complete halt.  At first it was pretty hard for me to understand the situation.  I was so used to waking up most days for 5am call times, living my life on a hamster wheel.  I’ll admit, becoming accustomed to staying home was a major challenge for me (not that I am complaining for the extra hours of sleep), until it became the new norm.  I was forced to slow down; A concept I couldn’t remember how to do.  
2020 had taught me so many things, and I know we can all say we are still learning, and unlearning new habits.  I’ve learned to connect with my body, mind, and spirit, again.  I stayed with my mom through quarantine, and we grew a stronger bond.  I fell in love with an architect I had met a week prior to lockdown and we built our relationship through a year like 2020!  I was able to practice my Spanish, become an Herbalist, and of course, master baking sourdough bread.  Because traveling was restricted, I was able to seek adventure in nature.  Went camping and hiking in Alaska, Acadia National Park, upstate NY, and so on.   All in all, it was a very unexpected, but a necessary growth year.  
And somehow through all of this, I’ve grown as an artist.  Creating an identity for myself outside of work has pushed me to have a better understanding of a direction I want to take in the following years.  My makeup agent booked me on an 8-page Balenciaga spread for Marie Claire Arabia as the model, which helped me to understand that ANYTHING is possible.  I’m creating art for myself, and not with the expectation of making money, or other’s viewpoint.  I am in the process of developing a full-bodied skincare line, writing a book, and continuing my education in herbalism.  Of course when the world opens up again, I will balance all that with makeup work.  And though it seems like I’ll be jumping back on the hamster wheel in 2021, I am going at it all with patience and alleviating all pressure on myself, knowing that all good things take time.  
Even though our world is in some turmoil right now, I personally feel the best version of myself, ready to take on whatever 2021 has coming for me.

“Do more squats.”

Victoria McGrath

[ WillBO ]

What lessons did you learn in 2020? Do you have any advice for 2021?

In March of 2020, I launched a business that I’d spent the better half of two years working on. “JOURNEUX” was a private social network for artists and creatives. Our platform re-imagined the social network by creating a trusted gathering place for our community of “luminaries.” Through shared stories, thoughtful product offerings and unique experiences, we developed meaningful connection to each other and our cultural surroundings while giving back to the people, places and communities who fostered our imagination.

We believed that the invasive and artificial nature of the digital age had challenged our traditional norms of strong communities, meaningful relationships, fulfillment, and the pursuit of happiness. “JOURNEUX” was a bold response to protect what makes us human.

As you may have noticed, “JOURNEUX” has been used in past tense. Along with many of you, 2020 revealed a road full of speed bumps on what was thought to be an otherwise smooth journey.

It was mid-March, merely a week after launching the business, when the pandemic forced us into official lockdown. JOURNEUX’s strategy in year one placed an emphasis on events and experiences in an effort to gather our community, developing real connections and trust amongst our group. I was forced to adjust, cancelling all physical events for the year and replacing them with a series of digital gatherings.

Come mid-April, however, we hit a roadblock that was unsurpassable.

It was an eerie Spring morning as the perils of the virus began to seep in. I was driving to our office to pick up a few more supplies that would allow me to officially work from home, when I received a call. Our attorney phoned me to let me know that we had just received a letter from the offices of a large corporate company (to go unnamed) stating that they would be challenging the use of our trademarks (Company name and its associated marks, taglines, branding, etc.) We had spent our startup years formally registering our marks through the USPTO with our attorney, so I was quite confused. Their battle was on the basis that our brand / position “…would potentially be confusing to (this company’s) consumers.” Laughing in disbelief, I asked my attorney what our options were. He laid out the following: #1. Fight; Estimated Cost: ~50k (on the low end.) #2. Negotiate; Request a meeting with the opposing party’s principles and work out a deal. #3. Comply; Wait for the opposing party to present us with their formal terms and decide our action from there. I decided on option #2. They declined my request. “Work with our lawyers in Atlanta…” In other words, they were preparing to bully and squeeze us out. So, as a self-funded entrepreneur, I’m forced into option #3. Option #3, however, called for a temporary pause on all JOURNEUX business, leaving me waiting and hand cuffed.

With the onset of summer, I took on a crippling amount of stress and anxiety and was left feeling hopeless, unmotivated, uninspired, and confused. The days got longer and my hope grew smaller. My angst grew stronger and happiness dwindled. My spirit was a fraction of what it had once been and I struggled deeper with my self-worth. I was angry with the world and everything happening in it. I questioned life and my purpose. I didn’t know who I was or what I would do if someone took my “baby,” forcing me to start over entirely.

On September 1st, after over four months of waiting, the formal cease and desist papers came through. They outlined an immediate abandonment of our registered trademarks or we would be forced to take on the opposing party in court. *Reference option 1 above. $$

So, there I was, sitting at the lowest point in my adult life as the year was coming to an end. I was a 26-year-old kid who had spent the last 3 years living with his parents to save money. I had sacrificed a social life, my personal health and more in pursuit of the JOURNEUX vision. Most of all however, I was playing the victim. With no choice but to pick myself up off the floor and begin devising a strategy for 2.0 (WillBỌ), I got to work. Beforehand, however, I felt the need to reflect on the world around me in an effort to better understand my place in it. Additionally, I was able to compose a short list of reminders that would positively propel me into the year ahead. The following is an excerpt from my journal, written just before the year’s end.

In reflection (lessons from 2020),


2020 challenged us all, individually and collectively, in ways we could have never imagined. It flew by. It also couldn’t have gone by slower. It forced us to look within. It forced us to show out. We felt sadness and heartbreak as loved ones lost their battle to the virus. We listened and acted in the fight for social justice and equality. We experienced confusion and frustration as hate grew deeper and division grew stronger. We had difficult conversations, made space and cleared some air. We experienced loneliness in our isolation. We felt defeat as businesses fell apart and lights flickered off for good. We felt the urgency of our mothers plea to help in the fight against climate change. We felt emptiness as we battled mental health and fought to protect our happiness, purpose and self-worth. We were forced to simplify; Slow our pace; Focus our efforts; Allocate our resources; Practice gratitude; Reflect, journal and practice self-love; Reflect, practice, and demonstrate love for the other. Every last emotion was felt this year and we were stripped bare. We lost ourselves and have been challenged with finding ourselves once again, individually and collectively, in order to survive as one people on our common earth.

2020 reminded us that the new year is only brighter when we leave what is no longer serving us behind. When we bring what is missing and needed along. When we harness our spirit in all of its beauty and celebrate it. When we stand alongside those we believe in and stand for something worth fighting for.


In preparation (advice for 2021 – as it pertains to business)

Keep it simple;

Simplify and deliver a message that others understand, can take ownership in, celebrate and proselytize. Roll out your vision in stages, with each element serving as a steppingstone that puts you further along your journey. You don’t get to lay another stone until your consumers / audience hand you one. Together, you will reach the promised land.

Keep your faith:

Life will challenge you, your dreams and your spirit. Stay true to yourself, listen to your gut and follow your intuition. It’s right. Keep going.

Keep your cool:

The world is small. The industry you’re in is even smaller. There are going to be bad guys that are there to knock you off your course. How you handle these interactions is everything. Pick your circle wisely – if you’re in the wrong one, a bad connection only leads to worse connections and experiences and eats at your progress. Conversely, the right circle leads to positive connections, opportunities, experiences and success. You’re only as good as your reputation and the people you surround yourself with.

Keep an eye out;

As artists, creatives and entrepreneurs, we’re on the road less travelled. It gets lonely out here. Wherever we can, lend a helping hand. When someone is in need of advice or a connection, give and give without expectation. Good faith leads to good luck when you least expect it.

Keep living:

Life gets fast if you let it. Slow down and remember to smell the roses along the way. Are you working to live? Or living to work? Are you running your business? Or is your business running you? In order to live a balanced life, we must map it out. Identify your needs and priorities. What fulfils you and what gives you life? 


Kaelin Davis

Happy New Year xx

© 2022 Cayenne Agency • Founded by Ashley Wilhardt