Today’s episode is an exciting one, as I’m speaking with one of my favorite people of all time, Alysha of Basil and Bark. We talk about how Alysha has built her business to revolve around her lifestyle, her mental health, her happiness, and all the things that she feels is enough as a person. This is one of the most powerful episodes that I’ve recorded for the podcast. It will change everything in business for you, as mental health is crucial to building a business that you love.


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Elley: I have the most incredible person with me today. I have Alysha here and we’ve got a lot to talk about. So, obviously, I’m very familiar with your business, how you got started and all of those things, but for the ladies listening, I’d love it if you could introduce yourself, what you do, and why you actually started your business in the first place.

Alysha: Yeah, so my name is Alysha. I run an online business called Basil and Bark where I sell customizable templates in Canva and Adobe format. My templates are mostly lead magnet templates, social media templates, basically, everything you need to run an online business.

I started my business about two and a half years ago. I’d already been following bloggers online. Melyssa Griffin is the first blogger that comes to mind. I actually attended a few webinars not even knowing what webinars even were or what she was selling me. I never bought anything, though. I was just like, this girl’s making money online and I’m very curious about it. I was very aware of what she was doing.

So, I had that in the back of my mind, but I was working as a designer at the time. I’d graduated from university a couple of years prior, and I was working at a startup. To make a long story short, I got laid off a week before my boyfriend and I had planned to move across the country. We’d literally just bought a house across the country and we were able to move because I had a remote job.

But then I got laid off from my remote job. So, I attended a couple of interviews for other jobs as a designer, and I just didn’t really like the way they were going. I felt like I was being tricked, or I had to answer certain questions right or wrong in order to win the job. I don’t know. I just felt I very uncomfortable about it.

I wanted to work from home and I wanted to try something new. So, I just decided I would run my own online business. I started freelancing and then templates came later.

Elley: Oh, wow. You moved across the country and just bought a freaking house and you’ve just been laid off from your job. What was that like?

Alysha: Thankfully, I had the support of my boyfriend. Otherwise, I mean, I really would not be here. I would be living in a box somewhere.

But the scariest part was when we moved here, my boyfriend had a job lined up. So that was great. We had that to fall back on. But then he actually got laid off with a job before he even started, something went wrong with the contracts that the studio he was supposed to work at had done or whatever. So, they laid him off before he even started.

So, we were both jobless that winter. It was kind of like the pressure was on and so it was scary. But also, if it hadn’t happened that way, I definitely don’t think that I would be here at all. I would be back in Toronto on the other side of the country and I’d be working in an agency job doing the exact same thing I was doing before.

Elley: There’s nothing like getting laid off from a job, buying a house, and then having your partner’s job gone, as well, to go “Holy shit, now’s the time I’m gonna start my own business. I better get a client. Gotta do something here.”

Did you have any prior business experience? Because obviously, as you said, you were a freelance designer. But what about the business side of it. Did you have any prior experience in business or anything like that?

Alysha: Not business, but marketing. So, thankfully, when I worked for the startup company, I gained some experience in marketing. Startups are very ambitious and optimistic and they like to invest in their people until they can’t afford to anymore. So, while I was at the startup, I milked the experience for all it was worth.

I was very agile in that if I was assigned social media graphics to work on, I would ask what are these for. Then I would get interested in the whole campaign and how everything went. And I would take initiative on those types of projects.

Then I also pitched to my boss, at the time, an inexpensive but very interesting certificate in digital marketing. That was downtown Toronto. He said yes, so he paid for that. So, I had a few classes under my belt. Just like some intro to SEO and analytics and stuff like that. So, I had a little bit of experience in marketing, definitely not anything compared to what I have now. But I had started to understand how content marketing and blogging and that sort of thing worked.

Elley: I love that you did that, by the way. That’s something really cool that you could pride yourself on, you know, actually taking the extra step and learning why do I actually have to create this? The day job that you had and then milking for all it was worth and get out of it all you could. Because that benefited you in your business in so many different ways.

Alysha: Yeah, for sure. And I think the economy that we have now in the creative industry, I think that’s what a lot of employers are looking for.

They’re looking for flexibility and diversity and they want to see that you have a lot of experience and initiative. So, I think that was the direction my mind was headed at the time, but I’m also just kind of naturally curious.

Elley: Yeah, that’s cool, which it pays off tenfold when you are naturally curious, especially as an entrepreneur. We are curious beings.

Okay, I have a question then. Obviously, you had a bit of experience from these courses you did from the remote job that you were doing. So, when you went full time in business, how did you build up your skillset? Was that experience? Did you enroll in courses? How did you do it? How did you get better?

Alysha: That’s a good question. So, I can tell you that I landed my first client in a really odd way. And I was very fortunate.

We were moving across the country, and we were selling all of our stuff. So, I was in a Facebook group where I was literally selling our IKEA furniture. And someone in the Facebook group needed a designer and I just literally responded.

This is like the most magical story ever, but I happen to meet this girl named Megan Williamson, she’s amazing. She’s a Pinterest consultant. And I was like, What the heck is a Pinterest consultant like, tell me everything. So I just so happened to meet this amazing client who wanted Pinterest templates. She was just like the perfect client for me.

She really encouraged me that there was an opportunity for me. So, it was really fun that she was sort of my first she was my first client, but also my first real, tangible experience with somebody else who was working in our little, you know, entrepreneurial bubble. And then from there, it just kind of snowballed. Like, you know, Megan gave me a little bit of experience and then I just started looking for more people like her and I kind of just figured it out. I just got on Instagram and I got involved and yeah, I just showed up and figured that out.


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Creating a Business Around Your Mental Health and Happiness with Alysha DeMarsh  Creating a Business Around Your Mental Health and Happiness with Alysha DeMarsh