We had the good fortune of connecting with Julia Kestner and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Julia, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
I wanted to start a purpose-driven business where I can create art and also help raise awareness on mental health. As someone who lives with mental illness, I know firsthand how difficult it can be. Hand lettering and illustration have been extremely therapeutic for me, and making art has brought me joy when joy seemed impossible. I wanted to to give back through my art, and that’s how my business came to be. All of my products have messages that spread mental health awareness, and I also give back a portion of my profits to mental health organizations. I believe that art has the power to heal, to educate, and to spread hope, and through my business I strive to help others realize that they are not alone. 

Please tell us more about your art. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
I believe that what sets me apart from others is my WHY. We all have our own unique purpose, our own story, our own gifts, and our own unique voice. I believe that when we’re able to tap into those deep parts of you that make you YOU, and we share those parts with the world, the world can become a more true and beautiful place.

Getting to where I am today has not been easy by any means – the biggest challenge I’ve had to overcome is my crippling self-doubt, which I think many artists struggle with. With the rise of social media, every day we are bombarded with other artists’ work and I think it is especially difficult in today’s world to not compare ourselves with others.

What’s helped me to overcome my self-doubt is focusing on my why and on the message that I want to share. We all have a platform, both on social media (whether you have 1 follower or 1 million) and in life in general – we all influence others just by the way we live our lives, how we treat others, how we communicate, where we invest our money/time/energy, and how we show up in the world. We all have the power to make a difference – it’s up to us whether we want to use that power for good or not. I may not have all the answers and I’m still figuring things out as I go, but every day I choose to ask, “how can I make things better?”

Another big lesson I’ve learned along the way is the importance of resting, slowing down, and being present. We live in a culture that glorifies busyness and productivity, and from a young age we’re programmed to live in a constant state of urgency – we live with an urgent need to be good enough, to be successful enough, to figure everything out, to produce, to prove ourselves and our worth. Busyness and productivity have turned into a cultural badge of honor.

But when we assume that being busy is brag-worthy or that it makes us more important, we miss out on what’s truly important – connections with loved ones, taking care of ourselves, being present in the moment, and our innate self-worth that has nothing to do with how productive we are. Slowing down allows us to cultivate joy, love, and connection. Living from a place of presence and spaciousness opens up room – room for healing, for possibility, and for our full humanity. It opens up room to fully live. That’s what I want for myself and for you.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
The first place I would take them would be the beach! San Diego has the most beautiful beaches. One of my favorite beaches is La Jolla Cove; the scenery is breathtaking, and there’s lots of wildlife including the famous seals and sea lions sun-bathing on the rocks. I would then take them to Balboa Park, a huge cultural park in SD with beautiful gardens, museums, and theaters. Torrey Pines is great for hiking and has an awesome view of the ocean, so I’d definitely take them there as well. And for a beautiful view of the sunset, I’d take them to Sunset Cliffs. In terms of food, there are so many good restaurants here that I wouldn’t even know where to start! Some of my favorites are Oscar’s Mexican Seafood (they have the best ceviche), Tacos El Gordo (hands down one of my favorite places to go for tacos), and anywhere in Convoy for some authentic Asian food (I especially love Raki Raki and Yokohama Yakitori Koubou). Din Tai Fung also has the most incredible Taiwainese food. Being an artist, I would of course have to take them to some of my favorite artsy neighborhoods. North Park has great coffee shops and art galleries, and Liberty Station also has some great boutiques, eateries, and cafes. There are also some amazing arts and crafts fairs and farmers markets here in SD – some of my favorites are North Park, La Jolla, and Carlsbad.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I want to dedicate my shoutout to my husband, who has never ceased to support me and encourage me to follow my dreams. He’s always believed in me, and he has also taught me the value of believing in myself.

Website: https://www.juliakestnerdesigns.com/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/juliakestnerdesigns/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JuliaKestnerDesigns/
Other: For custom design commissions, murals, and wholesale inquiries, please email me at hello@juliakestnerdesigns.com

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutSocal is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.