The Love List

est. 2006 // BY JESS GRAVES

2014 Takeaways from Creatives, Musicians, Designers, Chefs and Shopkeepers


Nothing invites reflection like the turn of a new year, and boy, has a lot of ink been spilled on the subject. So much can happen in 365 days. Taking a few beats to process it is a natural thing to do, and people generally want to talk that stuff out. I know I sure learned a hell of a lot in 2014. I do believe it'll go down as one of my toughest, meanest and most formative years to date. Thankfully, I got to end (and begin) it on the right foot with a great group at the beach over New Year's Eve. Nothing will scrub your heart like a long stretch of days with a pack of new and old friends all at the same corner of their lives. We got to be each other's shrinks, getting all that cathartic shit purged so by the time the clock struck midnight, we truly did feel shiny and new. 

Since our gang didn't really talk resolutions so much as lessons learned, it got me thinking about what I'm taking away from the year behind me. Better, what did my friends, some of who had really big 2014's, learn and resolve? I conducted a little informal poll via text message and email, here are some of my favorite responses. - JG

"When a friend sends you a text that says 'Call this girl, here’s her number. You’re an idiot if you don’t.' Make sure you give it try - she recently became my wife." 

- Kirk Stafford, Designer, Belfry Shoes

"We designed and helped open three restaurants this year—Bocado Burger and Ladybird in Atlanta, and AVA in Tampa. Learning and navigating the unique ins and outs of each project was a major accomplishment for us. It takes tremendous hard work and belief in yourself to start a design business in a world filled with Pinterest and Instagram! It’s amazing to see how extensive a network of craftsmen exists in this country and how social media has enabled us to connect in a big way. We’ve forged many new relationships this year that wouldn't have started without Instagram." 

- Josh Charles, Owner/Creative Director, Flags of Origin

"I learned to live in the present, dream in the present, and look forward to the future surprising you." 


Sally Benedict Read, painter

"The importance of collaboration. I collaborated with people to design and build the restaurant, and I collaborate every day with my kitchen team. From working with Sally on art for the space, pop up work, and other projects, when you allow yourself to have humility and let others contribute, it keeps you from being too internally focused, and gives you a more creative mindset." 

- Chef Eli Kirshtein, The Luminary

"I've learned to appreciate the sacrifices my family has made in order for me to pursue my dream over the last five years. I continue to cherish the friends I've made along the way, which have kept me motivated and constantly inspired. Finally, I'm looking forward to seeing my dream fully realized  in 2015 with the support of an incredible partner and an amazing new team." 

- John Rich, Oakleaf & Acorn

"Life wants to blow your freakin' mind - so let it. I learned this year that the heart can handle so much more goodness without exploding than I ever knew possible. Resolution for 2015? Continue to test its limits...and of course, lose myself to dance."

-Caroline Fontenot, photographer

"We spend so much time trying to chase the next best thing or our next goal, but it's important to also enjoy our successes. Just because you're not hustling or stressing doesn't mean you're not moving forward. In 2015, I will keep learning and jumping into new situations and opportunities, but I will also allow myself to be happy and grateful in every moment." 

- Stephanie Granada, Style Editor, Southern Living

"My takeaway from 2014 was to refine my life, space, and work by trimming away the excess. As creatives, it's easy to complicate and muddle up ideas with too many extras. Pare away what you don't need, and enjoy the heart of what you've made." 

- Chef Zach Meloy,, Better Half

"I really don't need to be so pessimistic so often; sometimes things don't just work, they soar." 

- Shawn Reed, Owner/Designer, form function form

"The biggest lesson I've learned this year is that just on the other side of resistance to change, there is the opportunity for amazing growth." 

- Stacy Smallwood, Owner/Buyer, Hampden Clothing

"Don't stress. Everything actually will be okay." 

- Anna Jones,, A.Barclay Designs

"2014 was a challenging year for me personally, I learned that it's okay to take it easy before feeling like yourself again. If you need a night, weekend, month off from your social life - then take it. I took time to get my mind and body where I needed it to be, got back on the saddle, and have never felt stronger. Oh, and reggae, it's hard to feel down when you listen to reggae." 

- Micaela English, Web Editor, Town & Country

"To transform myself from night owl to morning lark (and only eat ice cream once a week.)" 

- Mary Logan Bikoff, Lifestyle Editor, Atlanta Magazine

"I resolve to 1. Hire a bookkeeper/accountant 2. Learn how to french braid my own hair. 3. Make my house a home!" 

- Ginny Branch, Stylist

M: "2014 was a big year. The biggest things I learned: Keep my priorities in the right order. To be easier on myself. To love bigger than I ever fathomed possible. That we are all just people, looking to be understood, to be loved and to love others. And I learned that at the end of the day, to be grateful for exactly where I am." D: "Biggest lesson learned was to trust in my faith and my family, making those priority above all else. It keeps my attention and decisions very simplified. Follow that and be as creative as possible as often as possible and life is good, even in extremely tough times." 

-Duquette Johnston, Musician and wife Morgan,

"Takeaway #1: The meaningful personal growth happened when we allow ourselves to become uncomfortable. In other words, if you want a breakthrough, get comfortable being uncomfortable. When we evaluate our growth in 2014--personal, professional, fitness--it clear that your comfort zone is not where the magic happens.  Takeaway #2: We are all connected. While this is true on a macro, seat-of-the-soul level, it's also true on a micro, creative-community level. In our first year in business, we were constantly amazed how we continued to encounter the same people over and over. And there are a lot of really talented people in our community who inspire us. Takeaway #3: Check-in for international flights closes 60 minutes before takeoff, not 45 minutes." 

- Josh and Odini, Res Ipsa

"We have learned there is no dream too big!" 

- Elizabeth Stafford White and Jacquelyn Stafford Buckner, Twine and Twig