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Conversations with the Inspiring Mallory Brooks

Today we’d like to introduce you to Mallory Brooks.

Mallory, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I moved to Atlanta in September of 2016 from Tallahassee, Florida, where I grew up. When I was younger, I had my heart set on becoming an orthopedic surgeon, but once I got to college, I realized that medicine wasn’t the field for me. I graduated in 2006 from Florida State University with a degree in political science, but ended up in marketing and advertising for the majority of my career, working at both ad agencies and on client-side marketing.

Outside of that, I’ve always been a creative person, dabbling in various forms of art. What’s stuck with me is painting and photography–but it’s street photography in particular where I found love. I discovered an enthusiasm for street photography when I started traveling and would document the people and places who lived in the cities I visited. It sparked a fire in me, and one of the things I enjoy most in my life is to spend an afternoon or day or week wandering around a city with my camera in hand and no particular plan in mind.

I now find myself at a crossroads in terms of where I want to go with my career–do I continue advancing in a traditional job or do I pursue my real passion? My heart is pulling me towards the latter.

And that’s where Abe comes in. Abe Home Goods (abehomegoods.com) is an online (and sometimes pop up) shop of my original art and photography and a curation of vintage and pre-loved housewares and clothing. Abe was born out of my eye for finding things – whether that’s a penny on the ground, a candid moment in my street photography or a thrifted object with personality for my home. It’s a place that combines the things that I love in a way that I can share with the world. It’s still in its infancy, but I’ve been pouring my time and energy into Abe and learning all that I can about running a business.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
My path hasn’t been linear and I’ve had setbacks (being underemployed for a few years during the Great Recession was one of them). Ever since I decided medicine wasn’t the career for me, I never really knew what I wanted to do career-wise. I just happened to fall into advertising by way of the opportunities that presented themselves to me. Over the last year, though, I’ve realized that I’d rather be spending my time doing the things that bring me the most joy and really using my talents. I’ve lived the majority of my life by taking the safe road, doing what I thought was expected of me by our society and culture. I had an awakening over the summer – I was burned out and found myself hungry for something more meaningful.

Abe is a step towards doing what I’m passionate about, but I’ve never built a business from the ground up. There’s a big learning curve and I feel like I have so far to go–overcoming the fears and doubts that come with building a business is one of the biggest challenges I’m currently facing. Couple that with being an artist and the vulnerability of putting not just your work but yourself out there is terrifying. But I’m trying to stay present and instead of comparing myself to others and getting down on myself and where I am in my journey, I’m trying to learn from what they’ve done.

In terms of advice, one of the things that has shaped me most as an adult is travel. Deciding to take my first solo trip five years ago literally opened up the world to me. Don’t wait for someone to go with you, go see the world on your own (and the sooner, the better)! I also encourage women of any age to save, save, save. It’s never too late to build your own safety net. It’s part of what’s currently allowing me to take the chance to figure out how I can pursue a different path for my life.

What should we know about Abe Home Goods? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
I am an artist – a photographer, a painter, a designer, a stylist. It’s the core of who I am. My photographic work centers around my fascination with cities. The urban landscape is my muse, and cataloging the everyday moments of its inhabitants–the people, structures and objects–is what moves me as a photographer. I seek to portray the beauty in the ordinary, in the forgotten, and in the overlooked, the scenes of daily life. I document the place I live and the places I travel, wandering the streets for inspiration and getting lost amongst the visual feast the city provides my eyes. I strive to capture the city in a way that even the most unappreciated detail or mundane activity can shine.

Abe is currently the place where my artistic talents come together. The shop’s an expression of myself as an artist, filled with paintings, photos, wares and clothing that I’ve created, collected and curated. Whether it’s a vintage planter, abstract painting or a photo that tells a familiar story, you’ll find my love of color, textiles, travel and plants converge. It’s my mission to inspire others through my art and fun finds to craft a space and closet that they can uniquely call their own.

Do you have a lesson or advice you’d like to share with young women just starting out?
The most important piece of advice I’d give a young woman just starting out is to find a like-minded group of women who can be a network of support. As an introvert, networking in large groups is exhausting, but it’s so much easier to connect in small groups or one-on-one. What’s worked really well for me since I’ve been here in Atlanta is to have joined a women’s therapy group. This group has provided a space to open up and connect with different perspectives and experiences. I wouldn’t have gotten to the place I am today without the ladies I’ve grown to know in that group and the encouragement they’ve given me.

Also, I think it’s important for young women to realize they don’t have to settle – for a job, for a relationship, for what others think they should be doing with their lives. Use the time to explore and gain experience, you don’t have to have it all figured out in your early 20s and it’s ok to grow and change your mind!

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Image Credit:
Mallory Brooks, Mike Schatz

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