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Isabella Strambio

Published:

I have always been a daydreamer. 

 

My father is Italian, my mom Japanese, a multicultural background back then different from the norm. They travelled and experienced the world; they were my role models, encouraging me to question everything which was the foundation of how I viewed opportunities in life.

They met in London and married before settling in Italy. Looking at their old photos, typical ’70s styles, I was fascinated by their smiles filled with love, fun, and freedom. I promised myself to experience that too!

My A-levels school days were drama-free till the result of the final exam. Mine was below what I deserved. I confronted one of the teachers that knew I needed to get a degree in architecture before studying interior design—which was what I wanted—but he said: “Have you ever seen a female architect?”

I was disappointed; at 18, school is everything, it felt like a big failure. I planned to take a year break, leave Italy and its close-minded patriarchal system for London, and get my freedom. That comment stayed with me for years! I can see the silver lining now, how I was able to turn those judgmental words into fuel.

It was hard to follow my dreams; everyone discouraged me or thought I was crazy. Before my departure, I spoke to my dad and burst into tears, feeling scared, confused, and full of what-ifs. My dad said, “if you don’t like it, you can come back home at any time, but if you don’t try, you will never know.” With my parents’ blessing, I left my childhood home…

My dad’s words are always with me, whenever I am scared of taking the leap into a new venture. 

I loved London and its multicultural melting pot. My au pair family was fantastic, and I went to an English school during my breaks. No going back, my journey into a degree in interior design in the UK started. After 9 months, I knew I did not want to go back to Italy, so I applied for university in the UK. As my dad said, if you don’t try, you will never know. I got a few offers from different universities to start a degree in interior design.

The uni I picked was in Kent, about 45 minutes from London by train. I moved there into a student accommodation, and it turned out to be another incredible experience. I loved the degree, and I met some incredible people who are still dear friends of mine. For my final dissertation, I wrote about “The role of women in Architecture,” my little revenge towards my teacher but also a testimony that women have been influencing architecture for centuries, and, in fact, more and more female architects were making the headlines with outstanding designs, like Zaha Hadid.

Life, business, creativity is not a straight line that goes from A to Z. It’s a complex and intricate line that reveals a beautiful drawing of who you are.

I moved back to London, met Martin, my now-husband, and together we travelled the world for 10 years working as designers (Melbourne, Dubai, Milan, London).

We loved Australia, but we felt so far away from family. We moved to Dubai, where I started questioning my why, my purpose, and my future. I studied life coaching while working. Seeing other people achieve their goals and break through negative patterns brought a new purpose into my life.

2010: Martin got a job in Italy, I got pregnant, and Siena was born. Exhausted from lack of sleep being a new mum, I could barely manage my emotions. Constantly in survival mode, all my energy was for the baby and my family. I stopped coaching.

2013: We moved back to London. After years of being nomads, we could finally settle. We bought a house, and Siena was in childcare. I would commute 3 hours every day to my interior designer job until I was 8 months pregnant with Mei. We were constantly tired; Siena still woke up every night. 

Life was so hectic, neither sustainable nor healthy. Our dream was to move to the countryside. My husband travelled a lot, and I was alone many times with the girls for a week. It was hard. I was so tired that I didn’t even have time to think about how we could break the cycle.

2016: A breakthrough! Martin got a job in Hampshire. For almost two years, he lived near the office during the week, which for me was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to have so much me-time. My blog TwoMe was born, a personal challenge to learn 12 crafts in 12 months. A creative outlet outside my day job, which I was finding soul-destroying. Making and letting my mind drift in the silence of the house in the evenings meant I could find mindfulness reconnecting to my inner self. I would record the learning process and results on my blog and a new IG account. TwoMe equaled two hours for me! 

A neighbour taught me macrame, my first craft, as a birthday present. I felt connected straight away. It was followed by natural dyeing, weaving, basketry, wreath making, paper cutting, lino cutting, slow stitching, temari ball, crochet, candle making, and polymer clay. Throughout the journey, macrame and natural dyeing stuck with me, for their versatility and the magical process.

Within six months, I began to teach workshops in London. Sharing my knowledge, inspiring others to find their own creativity became my mission. The workshops become popular; I could see a niche to turn my hobby into a side hustle. A way to finance my passion.

Commission pieces and some selling in local shops followed, but I had no idea how to build a business. I kept the flow and my eyes open to new opportunities.

Instagram was the social media that made a difference. I invested in a course and then joined a US-based creative collective. Both helped me grow my business and build a solid foundation. I feel very proud for taking this challenge very seriously early on.

The Sunday Telegraph featured my work, a turning point for my business! Part of my business strategy now is to consistently invest in my business and personal growth to learn, improve, and expand my horizons. This’s what will help you stand out and grow.

We moved to the countryside, and I quit my interior design job. I would grow my side business and spend more time with the kids. Finally, we could have a more balanced lifestyle. 

It wasn’t as easy as living for years in big cities; you rely on having everything at your fingertips surrounded by a multicultural community and becoming part of this fast-paced vibe. It meant waiting for 10 minutes for my takeaway coffee, buying wellie boots to go on muddy walks, learning about dog breeds because everyone has one, and generally slowing down. 

I promised myself never to go back to 9-5. I burned that boat, and succeeding in my business was the only way forward. Since then, I have been on national TV, I run workshops for corporate teams like Facebook while still experiencing the feast and famine cycle many businesses go through, sometimes making no profit. 

I needed role models that had already achieved business success from an idea. I joined different collectives of businesswomen, but none of these women were artists, makers, or creatives!

But I learned my workshops had to be online, so I launched my first macrame online course, a membership, and more courses after that. 

By 2019, my business started to accelerate. I knew what I was doing and was asked to write a book about macrame by Search Press publishing! Such a far-fetched dream it was for me that I didn’t even dare dream it. But I smiled for weeks after signing the contract.

Reading “macrame book proposal” in the e-mail was the reward from years of seeding the ground, hard work, and tears during many moments of doubt where I nearly threw in the towel. I even considered working part-time at the local florist to pay the bills with less stress and save for a family holiday. Signing the book contract gave me reassurance, authority, and confidence and helped me leap even further during the pandemic!

My presence online and reputation were well established when the pandemic hit in 2020. My book sold out in a few months, and I was running my online courses back-to-back for 9 months. I felt so grateful for helping so many women around the world, but my cup was empty. I had to rest. We flew to Dubai for Christmas just before a new lockdown was announced in the UK. I was burned out. Spending quality time with my sister and family allowed me to recharge, and, while there, we even sold the house!

Till then, our 2-bedroom terraced house was perfect with two small children. I had a rail against one of the walls in the kitchen where all my magic happened. The rail or the table. But suddenly, we found ourselves all cramped in the kitchen; the house felt small. With Martin working in the bedroom, we ended up envying our cat, free to wander without pandemic restrictions!

My dream was to have a garden studio big enough to run a workshop, but I would have been happy with an extra room just for macrame, which now was messy, bigger, and taking over the house.

“When you learn, teach. When you get, give.” — Maya Angelou

We moved in the first house we viewed exactly one year after the release of my first book! It was meant for us! At the back of the garden, my dream studio! The tangible proof to trust the universe. Visualize, manifest & work on your dreams, and then let the universe deliver it to you. Don’t worry about how and when things will happen. I have been working on trusting the universe and my intuition for nearly 2 years, and it’s part of a self-discovery path which impacted also my business. As I am connecting more with my inner self, the decisions I make are intuition-led and deeply aligned to my purpose. 

Working in the studio gave me the physical and mental space to be more creative and widen the range of products I offer. I meditate, journal, and heal there, so I can grow and evolve. I wouldn’t have reconnected to my spirituality so quickly if I didn’t have the space to shut away the world, cancel the noise, and carve time to listen to my inner voice.

I love the freedom it gives me to leave messes, half-done projects, string, and sketches all over the floor, waiting for me the next day. I listen to podcasts and audiobooks in the background as I knot away, the sun coming through in the afternoon, the bird singing, and Tofu the cat sleeping on the vintage picnic basket. The girls coming in, finding a corner, and being creative together, in silence or chatting about their day at school. I can look up, and see my husband in his office, and we smile at each other. This studio is so special because it is an expansion of me, my business, my art, and us as a family. My husband comes in to get creative vibes, to read my affirmations on the wall, to have a cup of tea and chat while I create. I even held small curated workshops and filmed my online courses.

The past 2 years, I have grown as a person, and my business has evolved with me. I now have a team of people freelancing for me while I can concentrate on creative things. I am good at getting help where I need it. It has also freed my time to explore different ideas and avenues.

The more I spend time learning about myself, reconnecting with my intuition, the more ideas align with my true self, and the work I offer feels more fulfilling with purpose.

Myself, my art, studio, and business are always evolving, and I love the fluidity of this creative journey.

I have always been a daydreamer. 

 

My father is Italian, my mom Japanese, a multicultural background back then different from the norm. They travelled and experienced the world; they were my role models, encouraging me to question everything which was the foundation of how I viewed opportunities in life.

They met in London and married before settling in Italy. Looking at their old photos, typical ’70s styles, I was fascinated by their smiles filled with love, fun, and freedom. I promised myself to experience that too!

My A-levels school days were drama-free till the result of the final exam. Mine was below what I deserved. I confronted one of the teachers that knew I needed to get a degree in architecture before studying interior design—which was what I wanted—but he said: “Have you ever seen a female architect?”

I was disappointed; at 18, school is everything, it felt like a big failure. I planned to take a year break, leave Italy and its close-minded patriarchal system for London, and get my freedom. That comment stayed with me for years! I can see the silver lining now, how I was able to turn those judgmental words into fuel.

It was hard to follow my dreams; everyone discouraged me or thought I was crazy. Before my departure, I spoke to my dad and burst into tears, feeling scared, confused, and full of what-ifs. My dad said, “if you don’t like it, you can come back home at any time, but if you don’t try, you will never know.” With my parents’ blessing, I left my childhood home…

My dad’s words are always with me, whenever I am scared of taking the leap into a new venture. 

I loved London and its multicultural melting pot. My au pair family was fantastic, and I went to an English school during my breaks. No going back, my journey into a degree in interior design in the UK started. After 9 months, I knew I did not want to go back to Italy, so I applied for university in the UK. As my dad said, if you don’t try, you will never know. I got a few offers from different universities to start a degree in interior design.

The uni I picked was in Kent, about 45 minutes from London by train. I moved there into a student accommodation, and it turned out to be another incredible experience. I loved the degree, and I met some incredible people who are still dear friends of mine. For my final dissertation, I wrote about “The role of women in Architecture,” my little revenge towards my teacher but also a testimony that women have been influencing architecture for centuries, and, in fact, more and more female architects were making the headlines with outstanding designs, like Zaha Hadid.

Life, business, creativity is not a straight line that goes from A to Z. It’s a complex and intricate line that reveals a beautiful drawing of who you are.

I moved back to London, met Martin, my now-husband, and together we travelled the world for 10 years working as designers (Melbourne, Dubai, Milan, London).

We loved Australia, but we felt so far away from family. We moved to Dubai, where I started questioning my why, my purpose, and my future. I studied life coaching while working. Seeing other people achieve their goals and break through negative patterns brought a new purpose into my life.

2010: Martin got a job in Italy, I got pregnant, and Siena was born. Exhausted from lack of sleep being a new mum, I could barely manage my emotions. Constantly in survival mode, all my energy was for the baby and my family. I stopped coaching.

2013: We moved back to London. After years of being nomads, we could finally settle. We bought a house, and Siena was in childcare. I would commute 3 hours every day to my interior designer job until I was 8 months pregnant with Mei. We were constantly tired; Siena still woke up every night. 

Life was so hectic, neither sustainable nor healthy. Our dream was to move to the countryside. My husband travelled a lot, and I was alone many times with the girls for a week. It was hard. I was so tired that I didn’t even have time to think about how we could break the cycle.

2016: A breakthrough! Martin got a job in Hampshire. For almost two years, he lived near the office during the week, which for me was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to have so much me-time. My blog TwoMe was born, a personal challenge to learn 12 crafts in 12 months. A creative outlet outside my day job, which I was finding soul-destroying. Making and letting my mind drift in the silence of the house in the evenings meant I could find mindfulness reconnecting to my inner self. I would record the learning process and results on my blog and a new IG account. TwoMe equaled two hours for me! 

A neighbour taught me macrame, my first craft, as a birthday present. I felt connected straight away. It was followed by natural dyeing, weaving, basketry, wreath making, paper cutting, lino cutting, slow stitching, temari ball, crochet, candle making, and polymer clay. Throughout the journey, macrame and natural dyeing stuck with me, for their versatility and the magical process.

Within six months, I began to teach workshops in London. Sharing my knowledge, inspiring others to find their own creativity became my mission. The workshops become popular; I could see a niche to turn my hobby into a side hustle. A way to finance my passion.

Commission pieces and some selling in local shops followed, but I had no idea how to build a business. I kept the flow and my eyes open to new opportunities.

Instagram was the social media that made a difference. I invested in a course and then joined a US-based creative collective. Both helped me grow my business and build a solid foundation. I feel very proud for taking this challenge very seriously early on.

The Sunday Telegraph featured my work, a turning point for my business! Part of my business strategy now is to consistently invest in my business and personal growth to learn, improve, and expand my horizons. This’s what will help you stand out and grow.

We moved to the countryside, and I quit my interior design job. I would grow my side business and spend more time with the kids. Finally, we could have a more balanced lifestyle. 

It wasn’t as easy as living for years in big cities; you rely on having everything at your fingertips surrounded by a multicultural community and becoming part of this fast-paced vibe. It meant waiting for 10 minutes for my takeaway coffee, buying wellie boots to go on muddy walks, learning about dog breeds because everyone has one, and generally slowing down. 

I promised myself never to go back to 9-5. I burned that boat, and succeeding in my business was the only way forward. Since then, I have been on national TV, I run workshops for corporate teams like Facebook while still experiencing the feast and famine cycle many businesses go through, sometimes making no profit. 

I needed role models that had already achieved business success from an idea. I joined different collectives of businesswomen, but none of these women were artists, makers, or creatives!

But I learned my workshops had to be online, so I launched my first macrame online course, a membership, and more courses after that. 

By 2019, my business started to accelerate. I knew what I was doing and was asked to write a book about macrame by Search Press publishing! Such a far-fetched dream it was for me that I didn’t even dare dream it. But I smiled for weeks after signing the contract.

Reading “macrame book proposal” in the e-mail was the reward from years of seeding the ground, hard work, and tears during many moments of doubt where I nearly threw in the towel. I even considered working part-time at the local florist to pay the bills with less stress and save for a family holiday. Signing the book contract gave me reassurance, authority, and confidence and helped me leap even further during the pandemic!

My presence online and reputation were well established when the pandemic hit in 2020. My book sold out in a few months, and I was running my online courses back-to-back for 9 months. I felt so grateful for helping so many women around the world, but my cup was empty. I had to rest. We flew to Dubai for Christmas just before a new lockdown was announced in the UK. I was burned out. Spending quality time with my sister and family allowed me to recharge, and, while there, we even sold the house!

Till then, our 2-bedroom terraced house was perfect with two small children. I had a rail against one of the walls in the kitchen where all my magic happened. The rail or the table. But suddenly, we found ourselves all cramped in the kitchen; the house felt small. With Martin working in the bedroom, we ended up envying our cat, free to wander without pandemic restrictions!

My dream was to have a garden studio big enough to run a workshop, but I would have been happy with an extra room just for macrame, which now was messy, bigger, and taking over the house.

“When you learn, teach. When you get, give.” — Maya Angelou

We moved in the first house we viewed exactly one year after the release of my first book! It was meant for us! At the back of the garden, my dream studio! The tangible proof to trust the universe. Visualize, manifest & work on your dreams, and then let the universe deliver it to you. Don’t worry about how and when things will happen. I have been working on trusting the universe and my intuition for nearly 2 years, and it’s part of a self-discovery path which impacted also my business. As I am connecting more with my inner self, the decisions I make are intuition-led and deeply aligned to my purpose. 

Working in the studio gave me the physical and mental space to be more creative and widen the range of products I offer. I meditate, journal, and heal there, so I can grow and evolve. I wouldn’t have reconnected to my spirituality so quickly if I didn’t have the space to shut away the world, cancel the noise, and carve time to listen to my inner voice.

I love the freedom it gives me to leave messes, half-done projects, string, and sketches all over the floor, waiting for me the next day. I listen to podcasts and audiobooks in the background as I knot away, the sun coming through in the afternoon, the bird singing, and Tofu the cat sleeping on the vintage picnic basket. The girls coming in, finding a corner, and being creative together, in silence or chatting about their day at school. I can look up, and see my husband in his office, and we smile at each other. This studio is so special because it is an expansion of me, my business, my art, and us as a family. My husband comes in to get creative vibes, to read my affirmations on the wall, to have a cup of tea and chat while I create. I even held small curated workshops and filmed my online courses.

The past 2 years, I have grown as a person, and my business has evolved with me. I now have a team of people freelancing for me while I can concentrate on creative things. I am good at getting help where I need it. It has also freed my time to explore different ideas and avenues.

The more I spend time learning about myself, reconnecting with my intuition, the more ideas align with my true self, and the work I offer feels more fulfilling with purpose.

Myself, my art, studio, and business are always evolving, and I love the fluidity of this creative journey.