Unveiling Artistic Resilience: A Journey with Holly Moeller

Meet Holly Moeller, a passionate artist and entrepreneur whose journey is a testament to the transformative power of art in healing and self-discovery. From navigating mental health challenges to carving her own path in the world of creativity and business, Holly’s story is one of resilience, determination, and finding joy in the process. Join us as she shares insights into her personal journey, the challenges she faced while starting her business, the rewards of pursuing her passion for art, and invaluable lessons learned along the way.

Can you share more about your personal journey with mental health and how it led you back to art?

I grew up believing that I needed to get good grades in ‘proper’ subjects. I was a bright child who naturally did well in an academic environment. I loved snatching moments for my art, as well as spending hours in the dance studio after school, but I always understood that my creativity was a hobby and not something I could take seriously.  I allowed myself one ‘fun’ GCSE – art – and when I could, I would free up a whole Saturday or Sunday afternoon just to devote to my art homework because I loved painting so much. 

As I entered higher education, my art fell by the wayside. I studied History at the University of Cambridge, and then went on to study theology at theological college. It was during these years that my mental health took a nosedive and I feel deep into a severe depression. At the time I had no better coping mechanism than to simply study even harder to avoid my feelings – leaving yet less time for the art that had brought me so much joy when I was younger. 

In December 2021, I suffered a severe mental and physical breakdown. This was my body telling me that I needed to stop and listen to what it had been trying to tell me for years. It was very scary finally allowing myself to confront the chasm of pain, fear, and anger inside. For several months, I was dangerously suicidal. I simply wanted the pain to go away, and this seemed like the only way to achieve that. 

It was while I was in that extremely dark place that I picked up my paintbrushes again. When I was making art, I could forget myself and the world and emotions for a while. The bright colours made me momentarily happy, and while I was painting my body felt soothed. My art time gave me glimmers of hope for a future that might be hopeful and beautiful. 

As part of my healing journey, I decided to carve out an hour or two for creativity every day. (I had, of course, quit my theological studies to focus on getting better.) Funnily enough, as soon as I was well enough to start writing again, I switched to creative writing since this felt more ‘serious’ and ‘academic’ than painting! But over time, I recognised that creative writing drained me, whereas I would wake up super excited about the coming day if I had set aside a couple of hours to paint! It took me another year of resistance to finally recognise that I was a painter and artist first and foremost. Accepting that visual art was my identity felt like finally stepping into my own body and inhabiting it fully for the first time. 


What specific challenges did you face while starting Kettle & Quill, and how did you overcome them? 

My biggest challenge while starting Kettle & Quill was a deep and persistent fear that I was doing something stupid. Part of me thought it would be better for my family to go and get a “normal” job with a regular pay packet. I worried that niching down into giftware might limit my creative options. And perhaps there was a small part of me that didn’t want to risk failure in the first place. Better never to know what might have been than confirm my fears that I couldn’t run a successful creative business. 

How did I overcome these fears? Honestly, I’m not sure I ever “overcame” them. I went ahead and just did the stuff anyway! It helped having artist friends to support me, and lovely family and friends to encourage my dreams. I started Kettle & Quill despite my fears.  

What has been the most rewarding aspect of running your own business and pursuing your passion for art? 

The short answer: I get to make cool shit! 

The slightly longer answer: I love the feeling of bringing something into being. I get to make something that didn’t exist in the world before. Not only that, but the things I make give other people joy and help them show their love for others. I get to translate the beauty and freshness and joyousness of the natural world into art that brightens your day. I still can’t quite believe it! 

Could you describe a moment or experience that solidified your identity as both an entrepreneur and an artist? 

I vividly remember the first time I saw my first art prints hung up on the wall. I’d been working on my very first collection for several months, and then there was just this moment when I stepped back and saw them hanging, framed, on the wall, looking utterly beautiful and professional. I started to tear up as I realised “I really am an artist, and my art actually looks good!”. It was such a pivotal moment for me. It was the first time I felt inner peace and confidence that I was on the right path. 

What lessons have you learned from your entrepreneurial journey that you wish you knew when you first started? 

I wish I’d known about the power of branding and marketing earlier. When I first started my entrepreneurial journey, I felt “sleazy” trying to sell my products, let alone sending emails or asking for money for commissions. I worried that I was annoying people by sharing my art on social media. I didn’t invest time into setting up a fantastic website that would convert traffic into sales. I wanted to apologise to my subscribers for sending them emails – despite knowing that they’d signed up to receive emails from me! 

Now, I recognise that marketing is a normal and natural part of business. I want to put Kettle & Quill out there so that I can help people find gifts for their loved ones when they need my art. I’m serving my customers and helping them choose really beautiful, thoughtful, unique presents, which is a lovely service to offer. It’s okay to tell people about that and make some noise! 

How do you balance the creative aspects of your work with the demands of running a business? 

I trust in the ebbs and flows of the creative process. It helps that I create my artwork in collections. While I am working on a collection, I paint every morning, leaving the afternoons to business work. Once a collection is complete, I allow myself to take a break from producing artwork and instead catch up on the business side of things. Juggling these two sides of the business can be difficult, but it helps to remember that a) my art is a vital part of the business and without it the business simply would not exist and b) running a business is a creative practice and I can have fun with my business tasks. 

Have you faced any setbacks or failures along the way, and how have they shaped your approach to your work? 

I had one launch where I didn’t sell a single thing. I invested in a new set of art prints, and they just didn’t sell. I’m aware that this may have partially been because I didn’t market them very well – I didn’t do a big run up to launch week, unlike with my first art collection or giftware launch. This experience taught me to plan and schedule my launches further in advance so that I can give my products plenty of airtime before the big ‘go’ moment. 

What advice would you give to someone who is struggling to find their passion or overcome challenges in their own creative journey? 

Follow the ease. Follow the flow. Trust your intuition. Trust your body to tell you what it needs. Be gentle with yourself and try not to demand too much of yourself too quickly. Find what gives you joy and maximise it. Don’t waste energy comparing your race to someone else’s. You are on your own path. Do the thing before you feel ready to do the thing, you may just surprise yourself. Consume art – watch brilliant films that make you smile, read fun books, go to galleries, surround yourself with nature, listen to music. Lean into who you are at your deepest core and watch the magic unfold. 

How do you stay inspired and motivated, especially during difficult times or periods of self-doubt? 

For me, it’s about surrounding myself with encouraging voices who can lift me up during difficult times. I have three main support systems as a creative entrepreneur, each of which help me in a different way: 

  1. I share my times of doubt and low confidence with close family and friends. I remember one time I was so close to giving up – it all felt too much. One conversation with my mother-in-law was so helpful. She said she believed I could do it, and that my work would bear fruit in time. That gentle encouragement was just what I needed to hear to boost myself and keep going. 
  2. I have a weekly catch-up with four other artist friends over zoom every Tuesday. This support group is such a valuable place to share each other’s wins and offer one another encouragement and tips when we are struggling. It means so much to have a place to share where they just “get it”.  
  3. I listen to creative podcasts such as The Unpublished Podcast, The Tillage Podcast and Fail Like an Artist. This surrounds me with supportive voices that nourish my creative soul and help me feel less alone on my journey. 

Website: www.kettleandquill.co.uk

Instagram: @hollymoellercreative –

Threads: @hollymoellercreative – 

TikTok: @holly.moeller – www.tiktok.com/@holly.moeller

Facebook: Holly Möller 

by Harness Editor

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