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

Hi Rylee, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
Both of my parents are very creative & resourceful so I’ve always had the passion for design. My dad’s craftsmanship and my mom’s imagination were the building blocks for my admiration of giving new life to unwanted things. The combination of their skills has been rooted in my artistry. I am someone who struggles with anxiety and depression. So creating, painting, drawing and/or building has always been my outlet. When I’m feeling low, my artistry becomes very therapeutic for me. I strive to find the beauty in everything. So I decided I wanted to create a business to do just that. I am thankful to be blessed with a creative side which has led me into a world of opportunities.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
What sets me apart from others is the variety of items I make and the recycled materials used. I spend a lot of time at thrift stores sifting through items that are gently used but are in good condition. I am doing my best to prolong the lifestyle of materials all while reducing the amount of waste and harm to the environment. My hair scrunchies, yoga bags and pet bandanas are some of the things you can find on my online store and they are all made from gently used t-shirts or skirts. If you are trying to avoid the fast fashion industry, my sports tees, flannels and denim jackets are all upcycled from secondhand items. My products are truly one-of-a-kind! It definitely has not been easy as a small business owner, especially during a pandemic. Every year, I spend a lot of weekends doing craft markets but with Covid that did not happen. During this difficult time I decided to invest into other skills to expand my artistry. I took that time to teach myself how to hand embroider, weave and macrame. Entrepreneurship is an emotional roller-coaster with many challenges along the way. I’ve learned to keep an open mind, not to compare myself to others and stay true to myself. Also surround yourself with people who love and support you!

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I love to be outdoors so we would definitely spend a lot of time outside. There are a lot of great trails in Northern Colorado. We could explore Horsetooth, Lory State Park or even Rocky National Park in Estes Park. If my friends are up for the challenge, I’d love to take them on a Colorado 14er. There’s always the option to relax and paddle board at Horsetooth Reservoir. We would grab a drink (or two) and unwind patio side at a local brewery/pub. New Belgium, Maxline, Backyard Tap and Pour Bros are a few of my favorites. Catching a concert at Redrocks or Mishawaka Amphitheatre is always on the to-do list! We would head to Old Town in Fort Collins for some shopping at Topo Designs and treat ourselves at Foco Doco for the best donuts. And brunch at Snooze is mandatory. Other great restaurants to enjoy are 415, The Colorado Room, Buena Vida and DC Oaks. Northern Colorado has so much to offer and that’s why I love this area.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
There are quite a few people in my life I could contribute my success to. First of all, my boyfriend, Joel. He has been by my side since day one. He has given me endless advice, critiques, love and support along the way. Joel has spent so much of his time accompanying me to craft fairs over the years. He has spent hours upon hours loading/unloading and setting up/tearing down my displays. We actually have it down to a fine art! Secondly, my family and friends have provided me with so much love and support throughout this journey of mine. I would not be where I am today without their unwavering encouragement. You can catch them on the side lines hootin’ and hollering all along my journey. Lastly, the book, ‘Untamed’ by Glennon Doyle needs a shoutout. It got me through 2020. We live in a society where we are constantly having to reinvent ourselves or pressured to please others. The biggest takeaway I learned was staying true to myself by becoming untamed. I feel more ready to look within rather than listening to the world’s expectations. One (of many) powerful quotes in Glennon’s book was, “Good art originates not from the desire to show off but from the desire to show yourself. Good art always comes from our desperate desire to breathe, to be seen, to be loved”.

Website: Desertwillowstore.com

Instagram: Instagram.com/desert.willow

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