Explore & Create Stories #1: Nicole Monteduro

I am so delighted to introduce an amazing woman for the launch of the first Explore & Create Co. Blog Interview Series called Explore & Create Stories.

This Explore & Create Stories series is all about celebrating creative and mindful peeps and how they find their flow. By sharing stories and insights we are helping others find their place and ah ha moments as creativity is explored from a variety of perspectives and backgrounds. 

Every time I spend time with Nicole Monteduro I am blown away by her energy, enthusiasm and genuine interest in connecting with others. She has a smile, mind and heart that are just inspirational.  You just want to spend time with her. She is infectious. I have so enjoyed talking to Nicole over many years about creative endeavors, finding our mojo, discovering mindfulness colouring-in, music, women and our personal growth, and creating possibilities to be true to our self.  Just recently we have been bonding over finding and reconnecting with our creative flow. Enjoy this insight into Nicole and her creative explorations. 

                                                                                                                 Picture credit @jephchen   

                                                                                                                 Picture credit @jephchen


Tell us about what you do.

All manner of creative things!! I've had a long and successful career in the Hairdressing Industry as both a hairstylist and colourist. Music is also a huge part of who I am, I've been a singer since I could speak and have been involved in many different arenas - performing and teaching voice in lots of exciting environments both here and overseas. I also love vintage shopping. Exploring markets and old antique shops for treasures that were once loved by someone else is a favourite past time.


What are you passionate about?

I'm passionate in finding beauty in every day - even in the small, mundane things. It's all around us and ready for the taking! And I love people. I find people's stories incredibly unique and valuable. And every single person has a story to be told and a voice to be heard. Nothing excites me more than being able to value someone, to see the 'gold' inside them and to see them flourishing in it - especially when its a creative expression.


What are you working on at the moment? 

Lately I've been on a journey of discovering beauty and what it means to me. As a result I was recently inspired to do a photo shoot as an expression of this journey. So I hired an old run down warehouse - beautiful in itself for it's imperfections, and gathered creatives from near and far to collaborate. We had models, photographers, a videographer, a stylist, a makeup artist and myself all doing our thing. Not only was it a super fun experience for everyone involved, the results are pretty magical. The contrast of beautifully styled models in a run down, imperfect back drop is stunning, and is exactly what I was after in creating a 'beauty in the imperfections' type feel.


What led you to your latest project?

I'd felt quite stunted and bored creatively of late and was craving something that excited me. I was tired of seeing other people doing all these amazing things, so I just decided - why not?! Also, it turns out I'm surrounded by insanely talented people who love to have an outlet, so we embarked on this little adventure together.  Also I'm a painful perfectionist (aren't we all though?!) and really wanted amazing pics for my portfolio.


How do you approach creativity in your life?

To me, creativity is all encompassing, like a wheel that just keeps turning in my life. I find that some turns of the wheel will mean my musical side will have a mega workout (like the past 10 years where I was super busy touring the world in an amazing gospel band...I know right?!) and then other turns will mean the hairdressing side of me is front and centre of my attention. There are ebs and flows between different creative expressions, sometimes for something different I'll crave writing as a creative outlet.


We talk a lot about "being in the moment" or "being" when creating. What does this mean for you?

Embracing the moment and rolling with it while I'm in the flow!  When you're 'in the moment' there's ease to what's being created. Not having to push it.


What defines you in terms of balancing creativity and mindfulness for flow? How do you do this?

Mindfulness is most often the open door to creativity for me- they are codependent.  When my mind is calm, the ideas flow. Getting my mind calm is often the hard part though!  Slowing down, being thankful for specific things, walking on the beach with the wind in my face, watching the waves until the calm comes. Sometimes it's quick, other times I literally have to make myself sit and focus until it comes. Then - pop! There's an idea or a concept.  Often creative ideas come when I'm driving in the country too...there's something about the Australian landscape for me.


What's the biggest challenge you find in approaching your creative endeavours?


Oh definitely real life distractions! Urgh! If I'm stressed or distracted emotionally or practically - new concepts just don't appear. As a hairstylist, I find time is my biggest challenge, as is that horrible niggling fear of my work being criticized. But the reality is, we are our own worst enemy when it comes to criticism.


How do you find your zen?

To me, Zen = EASE! But I'm inspired most by nature - the ocean, the bush, flowers, sunsets. The colours in sunsets get me every time! And travel always inspires me too. I love different cultures, and often draw inspiration from buildings and their colour schemes when I travel.  Prayer and thankfulness brings me calm and keeps me centred. And when I think about creating something I often start with a picture of something, but always execute it based on how I want the viewer or client to feel as a result!


When you experience flow, what is the impact on your productivity? Tell me about this.

When I'm in the flow, I find myself buzzing - living, breathing and sleeping a project. I've found it always results in maximum productivity.

Who have been the biggest 3 - 5 influences in your life, in terms of your career and doing creative/mindful work?

Crackers, it's so hard to pinpoint it down to 3-5!

Walt Disney - He created the soundtrack to my childhood, yet it's only been in the past 5-10 years that I've come to appreciate his ability to succeed despite so many set backs and his vision to create a place that brings so much happiness. I only just experienced Disneyland for the first time recently and as I spun around in a giant teacup wearing Mickey Mouse ears I could truly say it is the happiest place on earth!

Michael Jackson is a biggy! What a creative genius. His musicality was insane, the way he heard and created layers and layers of magic in his songs...and his vision and ability to create works of art in his video clips ...Wow.

Beyonce is a big influence, such a shame I don't know her personally (wink!) but her creativity, commitment and passion is inspiring.

My mentor - Over the past year or so some of the biggest voices in my life have included my Mentor, Noah Elias, he's an amazing Disney Artist who also has a mentoring course for creatives that literally busts ways of thinking out of the box, beginning with a lot of soul searching as to 'why' we do what we do.

Lisa Messenger - she is such an inspiring woman and a true culture mover and shaker!!


How would you rate your level of happiness about your creative endeavours at the moment?     

(1 being sad, 10 being love it/awesome/BEST EVER).

I'd going to say 7.5! Because I feel like after a really long dry season in my life I finally feel AWAKE TO POTENTIAL!

And that excites me. A lot.


Tell me, who are you clicking on at the moment?  Why? Insights?

Pintrest is helping me use up lots of screen time at the moment for anything and everything.

I also love watching a few of my closest friends launching their businesses and curating works of art on their social media.

So clever.

Just an extra bonus – I’m forever 'clicking on' endless clips of Jimmy Fallon or James Cordon because I love to laugh at ridiculous games!!!!! Ha!!

Tell us, who are you listening to at the moment?  Why? Insights?

I'm constantly listening to Amy Porterfield at the moment - I feel SO out of my depth when it comes to anything to do with online marketing, and her podcasts promise to make it easy!!! She 'decodes' it for my VERY non-technological brain.

Ransomed Heart Podcasts - this is a Christian podcast that never fails to help me in my mindfulness, it's full of gentle discussion that never fails to feed my soul.


Tell me, who are you talking to at the moment?  Why? Insights?

I'm excited about this answer - I feel like I'm constantly having the same conversation with women who are on a similar journey to me

at the moment. People who are challenging the status quo and determined to make big changes in their lives. I find it SO inspiring!


Tell me, who are you are reading at the moment? Why? Insights?

I'm currently reading Brene' Brown's 'Rising Strong'. It makes me uncomfortable and challenges me to no end on the vulnerability front. I'm such a perfectionist and so it's challenging to learn how to be vulnerable and expose weaknesses...it's something I think most creatives struggle with!

The most impacting book I've read in my mindfulness journey has been 'One Thousand Gifts' by Anne Voscamp. Her writing has a way of touching deep into the soul and this book literally taught me how to be thankful and find the beauty in everyday.


What’s some advice you would offer to someone who is struggling to find their creative spark? or What advice would you give to someone who thinks they aren’t creative? 

I think there's a massive myth surrounding creativity in that it's believed to be only for artists or musicians. Not true!! EVERYONE is creative; it just looks different in each situation. From the entrepreneur, to the engineer, the gardener or the town planner. We all have creative elements to us.

Stop comparing yourself and your skill/craft to others - there's only one you and the world needs the unique expression that only you can bring!

Be aware of the influences around you, especially the 'law of the lid' Our creativity can often be seen (whether consciously or Subconsciously) as a threat to those around us, so sometimes the 'lid' can be put on us without us even realising. Sometimes we have to remove ourselves from particular influences in order to really spread our wings and fly!


What’s the best ever quote you have seen in terms of creativity or mindfulness or flow?

"Don't ask what the world needs, ask what makes you come alive and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive"  - Howard Thurman


No matter how you approach creativity in your life, Nicole reminds us to approach it with an open heart. Take the opportunities that come your way and be open to what can happen...while having some fun along the way to allow you to feel the buzz of flow.

I hope you enjoyed this first interview in our new series.

You can follow Nicole on Instagram at @Hairbybarnettfair or you may also find her styling it up at Cocohoney Salon in Seddon.

Take care