Bel sent us a very heartfelt message on Facebook saying that she's attended one of our events and loved all the stories and vibes! Did it make me tear up? Maybe. Did I share it with our team so they can tear up too? Definitely. In her message Bel said that maybe one day she'd be cool enough to share her story. At Storyo, our core belief is that everyone is cool enough and that everyone's story is worth sharing! So here we are...
Bel Butler is a creative genius who delves into the amazing worlds of design, film, photography and social media management. Her story includes her physical journeys coupled closely with her emotional and inner journeys. She recently started her very own business, Miss B Creates, in the midst of a pandemic. Filled with inspiration and reflections, here is a little bit of Bel's world.
Growing up in South Africa, we weren’t well off at all. But my parents did the best they could to provide for my sister and I. We were pretty sheltered from all the political on-goings. I was fortunate to have a loving family that supported my art and creativity. I was told that from a young age, I was goal-driven and determined which is a pretty inspiring thing to hear about oneself! The particular culture that shaped me was braai culture! Welcoming friends and family to join us around the fire, eating snacks (I love my snacks haha), listening to music, and being sociable all around. I definitely attribute this to building my foundation of making connections.
When I was 10 years old I dreamt of being three things: A psychologist, a wildlife ranger, an artist. I’m currently living the dream of being an artist and it's pretty great.
I am still looking at the other two and have plans to connect to those dreams somehow as I move through life. I’ve researched ways to donate my time helping Rangers back home in South Africa. That fits in with my plans to reconnect with the land and its people. I have a lot to learn about my home country. In terms of the psychology path, I am currently researching different paths to touch on that. All going well, I would love to get involved in the LGBT+ support networks and apply those skills there. You may be able to tell I don’t sit still for long haha not when there are so many things to create, learn about and share!
When I first arrived in NZ, I was quite sheltered. I had low self esteem which equalled low self confidence. After a few years I broke out of my shell, pursued a Bachelors in Art and Design and focused more on surrounding myself with people who were driven to move forward. This was sparked by a series of critical moments when I realised I was in or surrounded by some toxic relationships, this influenced me to seek out healthier relationships and thus helped me build a network of love, growth and support.
Connecting with a wider variety of humans, from all kinds of backgrounds, opened my mind and helped me grow and improve on my art and skills. I got to experience the joy of learning about different cultures and being exposed to new experiences within each city. I learnt that kindness and genuine interest seemed to draw in all of these amazing humans that were so eager to share their knowledge, receive what I had to offer and we got to grow together. I just can’t explain how amazing this felt. A lot of why I am where I am today because of the amazing human beings I’ve met along the way.
For years I had been longing to find something that would allow me to be my full self, no hidden parts. A place where I could create beautiful things, make an impact and share my art with anyone who cared for it. A negative work experience lit that fire under me and I thought “now is the time Bel! You’ve got the skills, the ones you don’t have... You’ll learn.” So off I went.
I have built a fantastic support network here in Aotearoa, so when I mentioned it to them, there was a unanimous agreement that this was the right step to take. My partner helped to push me past the difficult times along with my goals/inspiration board that my business mentor encouraged me to create. On there I have: Health, kick ass at derby, more tattoos and another motorbike to name a few! A healthy mix of material and non material things. Having this as my computer wallpaper is helpful in having it visible, as it reminds me to keep pushing forward, to keep working towards my goals.
The business has developed from merely an idea to create logos, random thoughts around how to do a variety of creative things. To a point, now, where I focus on my WHY.
I am a storyteller, I bring visions to life, I guide my clients to a place where they can tell their story, whether it's through an illustration or a video series. This drives my WHAT and HOW.
This question is a little bit sensitive for me as I have had a great deal of struggles/negative inner and outer dialogues. My imposter syndrome/inner voice is so mean, like, its unnecessary haha. I deal with this a lot in therapy. I’ve learnt that this voice comes from years of trauma and trauma responses.
I allowed a lot of negative external factors to build a home in my mind. Thus creating this wall I hit each time I go to move forward. I see myself standing in front of this wall of “nah, you can’t do it” while a large black wolf lurks in the shadows in case I try to scale the wall.
A bit dark I suppose haha. But hello trauma, hello imposter syndrome. In therapy I’ve learnt to work with these barriers, to understand that they are there because they’re scared that I’m finally standing up for myself. They’re pissed off that I’m doing these things. That I’m pursuing things that genuinely make me happy. So, unbeknownst to my support network... I’m using their ropes (encouragement), their ladders (support), their climbing gear (respect) to help me scale that wall while I figure out how to break it down into a manageable little wall. To create a beautiful place where struggles can be handled with relative ease while I get to enjoy the views. Simply put, it can be tough but I am working through it and succeeding with each day! Having a wonderful support network and having access to organisations like yours help to keep me moving forward and to continue succeeding.
Seeing humans happy with what I’ve done for them makes me feel like a bad-ass. Not in a validation kind of way, but a genuine light of joy that sparks in their eyes. Maybe I’m lovingly dramatic haha but seeing people wholeheartedly happy, with something I’ve done for them. Basically… Validating myself, living my dream of creating art and helping people. That makes me feel like a bad-ass!
What keeps me passionate about my craft is the personal development opportunities, the exploring, taking risks, experimenting and seeing something awesome or beautiful come out at the end of it. I absolutely lose the passion or drive to create, quite often actually. But I find it happens less now that I’ve started my own business. Being a total creative outlet of various mediums opens my artist soul into a playland of joy and variation! Thus feeding the creative beast.
My creations do span across many different platforms haha I love to experiment! I don’t think I’ve ever had just one favourite, but currently my favourite mediums are filming/editing and sketching with charcoal! These are my favourite creations at this point as well as the Out in Aotearoa video series!
Josh and I have been friends for about 12 years, we’ve both been through alot and have always been there for each other. So, when he approached me a few months back to help realise his vision, I knew this was my opportunity to help, not only him but so many others that may need this information.
Helping to create a safe and inclusive space is something I’ve been striving for for years and working with Josh was my opportunity to take a giant step in that direction. And the ability to flex my filming skills has been fantastic.
I relate heavily with the experiences of identity, I felt like my authentic self was hidden, almost locked away, for so many years. With the support of Josh and my partner, I began therapy over a year ago. Its been a pretty rough journey to say the least, coming to terms with a great deal of trauma has helped me understand why I’ve hidden myself for so long. But I’ve finally been able to accept myself and live to my true authentic identity.
That looks like working towards my goals, being unapologetic about how I live my life and putting myself first so that the overflow from my cup can fill that of others. This is me filming episode 3 of Out In Aotearoa, that's my dear friend and star of OIA, Josh.
Oh that's easy, The Addams family! Creepy kooky, altogether spooky with a load of unquestionable acceptance of anyone and everyone regardless of who they are or what they look like. And the all black theme is my absolute jam haha.
I like to think that the alternate universe Bel, a successful artist/gallery owner with a counselling side hustle, is riding a motorcycle along a smooth highway towards her next adventure. (Sounds a little Oceans 8, but who doesn’t love Cate Blanchett, ammiright?)
Easy, Pink - I am here. Hits hard for me! A reminder that I am allowed to take up space and be who I am no matter what others think.
I ponder about a great deal of things, my mind is always going at 100kms an hour. So any given day it ranges from, should I start sculpting again? What is my next tattoo? Am I going to have a full sleeve? What will my next motorbike be? Do all other creatives know deep down that they are awesome and inspiring? Do they actually believe it when told? Just to spitball a few haha.
My friend, Tenisha! Ah! I hold such high admiration for her. She is a counselor, therapist. And in her spare time she's been working on building Kai 4 Communities, an organisation that rescues food from going to landfill, repurposing it into delicious meals for local communities. She's hardworking, passionate and oh so caring. She immerses herself into the community and is so inspiring and supportive.
Here is Tenisha in the new food trailer! I donated my time to grab some photos of their celebration evening for the new trailer :)