The Question of Why

Over the past year, I’ve spent a great deal of time asking big questions regarding the future of my business. Who do I want to work with? What do I want to keep offering and what services do I wish to discard? How do I want to shape my business? How do I want to define success? The list goes on. Though some questions were easier to answer than others, it has taken me all year to get the clarity I was after (and the answers are still forming). But there is one foundational question that I kept going back to: Why am I doing this work in the first place?

Being someone who generally places a lot of pressure on herself and setting very high standards (too high, I am willing to admit), I kept disregarding my answers to that question as “not good enough”. Not good enough compared to what exactly, I can’t say. I thought my answer had to be some grand ambitious reason and I kept getting stuck because I don’t have any grand ambitious reason. All I have is a memory reel running through my head showing me a specific narrative.

I kept seeing a girl around five or six years old. She was playful, loving, observant, adventurous, quiet, and caring. As children, we have no sense of judgment or shame around how we express our thoughts and interests, there’s no second guessing ourselves. It’s pure innocence and self-expression leading the way, and this girl had a way of expressing herself through her unique fashion sense.

She had a suit that she loved to wear and it made her feel amazing. She would outfit herself in her black suit coupled with a plaid Santa Claus patterned shirt and a striped red and black tie. It didn’t matter to her whether or not things matched, she knew she had style.

How we remember, what we remember, and why we remember form the most personal map of our individuality.

christina baldwin

In 1990 when Dick Tracy came out, this six-year-old girl was awestruck by the colourful suits, ties, vests, hats, and strange characters. She was too young to understand anything going on in the film but she rewatched it countless times. She was utterly in love with everything about the aesthetic of the era portrayed.

It didn’t matter whether it was just another day at home or a special occasion for which she had to dress up, she would wear her suit, and in her suspenders and ties she could do and be anything. She was unstoppable, sure of herself…put simply, a badass (as evidenced in the photos below).

Stack of Polaroid photos.
Suits, suspenders, and glitter ties…

But then things changed. The little girl started to hide when she began to notice that the people around her didn’t really care about her because she was too different. They cared about people who looked and thought like them. Her inquisitive and thoughtful nature wasn’t welcomed. It wasn’t safe to voice opinions or behave in ways contrary to the status quo. She started to learn that if she wanted to be accepted and seen, and above all, remain safe, she had to get with the program and join in following and mimicking what everyone else was doing.

So she did. She blended in.

The sad thing is that it didn’t lead to being accepted. All it did was ensure that she wasn’t seen at all. This went on for many years, further cementing her fears, the risk of visibility becoming too great. It was safest to keep her observations and questions to herself.

So, why do I do what I do? Because who we are in the world matters. Because our experiences matter. Because our unique points of view matter. Because to me, branding is about belonging and connection, and the path to connecting with others starts with connecting with our own stories and values. At the heart of it, brand strategy is deeply observant, reflective, and introspective. That’s what my work is about. It involves my clients and me collaboratively asking big questions and jointly embarking on the journey to finding the answers within and without. It’s about helping them discover and craft their own story that they perhaps didn’t even know they had in them, so they may, in turn, inspire and connect with others. And of course, having some fun along the way!

It’s time to step out with courage and share your individual voice. The world could surely use it.

That girl, as I’m sure you’ve already guessed, is me. Little Fin. I see her clearly now and I miss her spirit and special confidence. She used to be mine and I want her back. She’s at the heart of my story and my ‘why’.

Digital collage featuring Fin as a child.

I'm an identity explorer and personal brand consultant supporting those determined to energize their unique voice while navigating complex challenges and systemic pressures along the way. I believe that branding is a spiritual practice, that stories are at the heart of every brand, and that no story is more powerful than your own.

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