Meet Jen Shea: She’s Taking Back Her Life

I’d like you to meet Jen Shea, an amazing woman who is just about to launch her dream business — Bohemian Branding. Bohemian Branding helps entrepreneurs create an online presence and build a website that reflects their business brand. Jen plans to work, travel and meet amazing people – a dream that had long been deferred. She, like many women, put off her dream to travel in order to marry and raise a family, but with her daughter all grown up now she is ready to get back to it. Jen is an inspiration to me because she has put fear, obstacles and excuses aside and is nearly on her way.

I came home from the high school thatLet’s start with what you wanted to be when you grew up? What were your dreams as a kid?

I was really blessed with parents who loved to travel. We did a lot of road trips to places like Maine or Cape Cod. We took a train across Canada and a cruise to Alaska. By the time I got to high school, I knew I wanted to travel around the world and tell people what it was like to explore these places.  In my senior yearbook it said I was going to travel around the world and write for travel magazines. So it’s definitely been in my heart forever.

But then what happened?

I studied travel and tourism in college and eventually got a job working for a small commuter airline.Our base office was located in Toronto and we flew into places like Ottawa, Montreal and Kingston, as well as Newark and Boston. By the time I took the job, my future husband had moved back to New Jersey and so I ended up using all my free flights to visit him in Long Branch.

So life happened?

Yup. We got married and I moved to New Jersey. During this time I planned my first big overseas holiday (to Australia to visit cousins) but then we realized I was pregnant, and due to have the baby around the time I’d planned to be away.  Before I knew it, I was raising a baby and busy in my new life and then eventually left the airline in order to live closer to home and work on my marriage. Three years later, I moved back to Canada with Amber. She was little and I just sort of fell into administration jobs and that rut.

But now Amber is all grown up and you’ve started dreaming again? What are you currently pursuing?

I’m creating a business that will allow me to travel…  meet amazing people and live in different cities and countries around the world.  First stop, California! When I was considering my business name, it didn’t take long to come up with Bohemian Branding. It fit. It was perfect!

That’s so exciting! I love the unique twist you’re putting on it. But what’s the story between the “life just happens” rut and “I’m finally doing this?” Was there some “come alive” moment that snapped you out of it?

I can’t pin point one thing. I thought I was stuck in admin work. But then a friend introduced me to the idea of becoming a Virtual Assistant (known as a VA). It was around 2006. At that point, we couldn’t even get high speed internet to our home. We lived in a rural area. But about a year later, it finally made its way to us, and I thought it would be an awesome opportunity to travel with my second husband (who worked on cruise ships).

So I took a course on building a VA business. One of the first things they suggest is that you really need a WordPress Website.  The first step was building a website for myself. I didn’t know what I was doing. I had to teach myself. At the same time; I was going through the course, working full time and trying to start my own business. I realized this (building a website) was something I loved and a way to be creative again. So I became a VA specializing in web and graphic design.

Where do you find motivation and courage after all this time?

A lot has happened in my life over the last year, I have realized a few things.First, I do a lot more than just create websites for people. It’s a lot more than that. I help women achieve their business goals, and often personal goals.  And second, I’m starting to recognize my own mortality.  I most likely only have another thirty years (if I am truly blessed) to be active and travel. Life is short and time is fleeting!

I think that is so true, no matter what age you are!   

What is the best thing you have done for your dream?

I did a lot of reflecting. It’s about realizing that old ‘self talk’ was not serving me.  The first thing that comes to mind is “just going for it” and “taking action.”  In my case it’s finally pushing myself out of the comfort zone and realizing I do have something to offer. I can put myself out there and help people. For years it has always been fear but I don’t feel the fear anymore.

I love that. I really believe people can relate to that feeling of fear, and I am so glad you shared that. What about struggles and stumbling blocks? Just because you decide to leave your comfort zone doesn’t mean things get easier. In fact, they often get harder. What are some struggles and stumbling blocks you face now?

Oh my gosh! Do you want them in alphabetical or chronological?

There’s the normal things like expenses or fear of not having enough money. There’s the personal things like family and divorce. There’s the responsibility of looking after my mom, wanting to leave/travel when some of the most significant people in my life want me to be the responsible one and not go anywhere. That’s probably the biggest one.

But I have some silent cheerleaders who have been great and remind me I can’t sit around waiting for others to give me permission.

Thank God for good friends, right!?

When it comes to pursuing our dreams, we often believe lies that restrict us from reaching our full potential. Can you talk about a time that you believed a lie?

The biggest has been believing I cannot do the things I have always dreamed of. And I know where it comes from. It comes from being told I couldn’t do specific things because I was a girl. I don’t think my parents meant to (hinder me) but I heard “you can’t do that” all the time. They didn’t encourage me to go to university because I was a girl and in their minds “it wasn’t necessary.”

When I was preparing to start high school, I met with a guidance counselor who asked what I wanted to do when I grew up. Through our conversation I realized that wanted to be an architect. I’ve always loved drawing pictures of houses (inside and out). I came home from the high school that afternoon with so much enthusiasm and told my mom what I was going to do. The first thing she said was, “You can’t do that. You are a girl. Girls do not become architects. That’s a man’s job.”

That’s a great answer. A lot of people are going to relate with that. Even if no one is speaking it to us, I think we still feel it.    

Let’s move to some fun and silly questions. In honor of the year 2015, if you could take a trip in the Delorean, where and when would you go?

My first impulse is to go back and do things differently. It has nothing to do with any particular person or anything like that. I’d just like to go back and realize I could do anything. I might have become that photo-journalist/travel writer I thought I would become.   I’d like to look back and say I was not afraid to live my life. So that’s what I would do. Go back and tell myself not to be afraid.

I am an inspirational quote junkie. What is one of your favorite quotes?

“You only got one life. You can’t sit around waiting for your next life to begin.”

It is from a rather silly movie, Crazy In Alabama, with Melanie Griffith. She is talking to her nephew about all these wild adventures she keeps going on. It’s simple but I’ve always really loved it.


Here’s how to stay connected with Jen and Bohemian Branding on Facebook and Instagram.


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