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I was asked in an interview recently what inspires me. I thought back on how many times I have asked that same question to artists or industry leaders for interviews in this very magazine. On the surface, the question is one that is pretty straightforward. But when you dig a little deeper it has so many angles and so many layers.

I answered the question in what I considered to be a profound, honest and meaningful way, saying that seeing the effect that my business has on artists and brands who look to us for their own inspiration, community and education was what inspires me. This answer was both truthful and what I feel in my deepest core. Yet, somehow it fell flat for the interviewer.

“No. What inspires you?” she asked again. I stopped and thought about the deeper intent of this question. What gets me up every day? What makes me feel the happiest? What gives me the best new ideas? I realized, that with my initial answer, I may have been thinking more about people’s response to my reply more than my reply itself.

I gave her a better answer — one that seemed to satisfy her — and went on with my day. But the question still haunted me. What inspires me? Am I even making time to find inspiration in my hustle-filled life? So I stopped and made a list of who and what, on various levels, actually inspires me in hopes that I could regroup on seeking out some personal inspiration on a more regular basis.

This list included many names of colleagues and friends who I look to as mentors and who I know have the same integrity and drive that I try to have in my life. It included my husband Brad for so many reasons, and it included my parents whose relationship and commitment to family inspires me everyday. It included James Vincent, my partner in so much of my business, my entire The Powder Group team, and our TPG Pro community of artists. It included dozens of names — and that in itself inspired me.

The list also included places where I find inspiration, like Provincetown, the back deck of my parent’s home and Oquaga Lake. It included graffiti in Berlin, architecture in Vienna and everything about the desert in the Southwest. It also included design, architecture, fashion, food, music and art along with places that house these things like M50 in Shanghai, Bergamot Station in Santa Monica, Grand Palais in Paris, West Chelsea in New York and PMQ in Hong Kong.

Then the list went on to include the sea and the sun and the snow and the quiet that I don’t have enough of in my life. It is one thing to be inspired by so much stimuli around you everyday — but it’s another thing entirely to be able to sit quietly and look inside yourself to find your deepest inspiration and focus. Focus that comes from the calm of sitting alone looking at a sunset or lying in the grass staring at a cloud speckled blue sky.

But when it really came down to it — though it hadn’t been the answer my interviewer had been looking for — I had to go back to my first response from earlier that day to truly sum up what inspires me most. It is each of the artists that look to The Powder Group to help them find their way in our amazing, crazy industry. It is each of the companies who reach out through TPG to support and connect with our pros. It is the commitment, successes and relationships that I see develop around me. These are what give me such great pride and inspire me to do what I do everyday.

I think the thing I learned most during this process was that finding our inspiration really can be as being honest with ourselves about what truly inspires us. Then seeking out all of the different people, places and things that make us feel inspired, and surrounding ourselves with them as often as possible. And only then – when we include and give importance to the many complex layers of influences in our lives — do I think we can truly, at our highest level, be inspired.

Michael DeVellis
Editor, On Makeup Magazine

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