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How to Find Your Passion (As Told By People Who Have Found Theirs)

How to Find Your Passion (As Told By People Who Have Found Theirs)

Editor’s Note:

This is the kick-off article in a series I will be regularly posting to 2nd to None, called “How to Find Your Passion (As Told By People Who Have Found Theirs).”  In the middle of our crazy, hectic lives I believe every human is just really searching for their purpose, or their passion in life.  We’re so often told to “follow our passions” – but what does that really mean?  How do you find out what your passion really is?  Are happy accidents along the way meant to bring us closer to that passion, or are we supposed to find our passion in spite of all of the bumps in the road?  Does finding your passion bring you closer to discovering, or tapping into your purpose?  And can your passions change?  I want to explore these questions and more.

Alicia Barnett at Urban Farmhouse

Alicia Barnett at Urban Farmhouse

In our very first edition of our Passion series, I chose to interview a close friend of mine, whom I’ve known since the seventh grade.  When I first started considering women to interview, she was one of the first people who popped into my mind because of her somewhat recent departure from her career path of veterinary work -- something that had always been her passion.  She has since stumbled upon a new-found joy and passion through a business venture in retail as partial owner of boutiques, Urban Farmhouse and Ugly Duckling in Geneseo, IL.  Not to mention, she’s a badass mom.  Truly #MomGoals in my mind.  I’ve known her a long time, and I feel like every time I’ve seen her recently she is so infectiously happy that I knew she must being doing something right. (You know that kind of happy that just seems to radiate from the inside?) She must have something about life and passion figured out! And as expected, she didn’t disappoint. 

So, here we go!  Here’s my interview with one of the baddest babes I know, Alicia Barnett, 30, of Illinois. 

SR: What is your biggest source of inspiration?

AB:  I know she wouldn't want any of the credit, because that is how she is, but my business partner is a never-ending fountain of ideas and motivation. Not only does Missy have an eye for unique products, and a drive for always succeeding, she is incredibly giving.  She made me a partner because she knew I loved Urban Farmhouse as much as she did.

Urban Farmhouse

Urban Farmhouse

Missy has taught me that giving back is a necessity, that donating is good for the soul. She also helped show me that finding products that we love, and love to talk about, is the easiest way to kick ass- I prefer to call myself a shares-person then a sales person. Honestly, I am just sharing my thoughts on things I enjoy in our stores.  We want shopping here to feel more like being out with friends, and less of a high pressured sale situation.

My children are also constant inspiration. You can’t look into those beautiful faces and not want to give them the world. Or find cool things that they need...a.k.a. everything that is in The Ugly Duckling ;)

My husband Michael makes the list too, without him constantly cheering me on, and being such an awesome dad, I would be lost. He inspires me to work harder in all aspects of life.


SR: Are you living your “passion” right now? If so, how?

AB: Yes! Retail never even crossed my mind as something I wanted to do when I grew up...but somehow the hunt for finding those products that people want, and I can be proud of, has become a constant drive. I would also consider providing for my family my passion. I want to be able to load up on fresh fruits, vegetables, and meat at the grocery store, I want to be able to enroll my children in any sports or activities they are want to try, I want to provide them with all that they need (not everything they want- there is a difference).  And these stores, they are helping me provide for them better than I ever have before.


SR: What motivated you to start your work with Urban Farmhouse/Ugly Duckling?

AB: My original job at Urban was almost an accident, pure luck really...I was joking with Missy (the owner) about needing a new job, something we had had a few conversations about but that time when she asked me if I would come work for her, I just said yes! I had always loved Urban Farmhouse, how the store smelled, how you felt when you were there, and how Missy always helped you find the perfect gift. Finally deciding to move on from my job at the time, and to UF, was one of the best decisions I have ever made.


Once I started working there full time, started really helping people, and was helping the store succeed, I couldn’t get enough of it. It was my goal to make every person that walked into UF as happy and as at home as I felt when I was there. That same purpose helped fuel the idea of Ugly Duckling. Once we started adding more kids products into Urban, and realized how many more (happy) customers that brought, we decided a kids store was next. While people are sometimes the most trying part of my day (because honestly, we know it isn't possible to keep every customer happy), people are also pure motivation.  We want to bring them into the store to make them happy, and to share awesome products with them. 


SR: What would you recommend to others (entrepreneurs, students, moms going back to work, etc.) who wanted to find their passion?

AB: Work hard. And when you think you are working as hard as you can, work harder. Passion is about loving something, and when you love something, it will be worth all the sweat, tears, and exhaustion it takes to find it.


SR: What makes you happy?

AB: My family. My family and spending time with them makes me so happy... I would be a terrible stay-at-home mom.  I know that, and am comfortable with that, so I go to work. (I am lucky that the job I have is one that I love so much!) But being gone makes me appreciate every moment I have with them that much more.  Some days I come home and just want to hold them all on my lap in a chair, that is how happy they make me.

I find lots of happiness at the stores too -- sometimes one sale can keep my smile huge the whole day. Whether it's helping someone re-decorate their entire house, or helping a Grandma find the perfect gift for her 5-year old granddaughter, a good sale, with satisfied customers, makes me happy!


SR: Have there been any obstacles you have encountered either with Urban Farmhousebeing a mom, or just life in general, that have taught you more about finding your passion?


AB: So many obstacles. Life is so incredibly busy. Being busy was an obstacle for me, mentally almost more than physically. I can not actually explain in words the millions of things I do, and think about every day. The three boys alone are a full time job. I went through a period of hating how busy we were all the time- things changed a lot when the boys got older, school and sports reign supreme. And demand a lot. To finally realizing the only way to make it through the tornado that is having kids is to enjoy the chaos. And while the stores are a huge part of why my life is so hectic (40+ hours in the store working and selling, nights at home ordering, working weekends, traveling to markets and vendor shows...) they also bring me a sense of calmness when I walk through their doors every day. I get that this is where I am supposed to be feeling as I wake each store up for the day. Finding that peace, and enjoying the chaos has cleared the path for achieving my goals and pursuing all of my passions.

Urban Farmhouse &nbsp;

Urban Farmhouse 

SR: How do you find joy in your day?

AB: By enjoying the little things -- really, really, taking the little great moments and making sure they count. There is so many times as a mother and as a business owner, that things can get overwhelming. Focusing on the small moments of joy, helps make a big difference!


SR: Life isn’t always easy – what keeps you going when things get tough?

AB: Auto-pilot? Ha! I don’t actually know how to stop . There is always too much to do to quit. The best way to handle things getting tough in my life is to step it up a notch, falling behind is not really an option. My family, friends and happy customers make a big difference too, they will always be there to help if I need a hand.

Shop Urban Farmhouse:



Foster Hope Bracelets, Chavez for Charity, $11.99.

One thing that I love about Urban Farmhouse is their continued dedication to charitable causes.  Many of the products in their stores benefit philanthropies of various kinds.  These Chavez for Charity bracelets, for example, benefit Foster Hope.   25% of each bracelet sale is donated to the Foster Hope, a foundation that collects supplies for foster homes in the surrounding Henry County area.  So you can feel good about your bracelet purchase in more ways than one.   



Bridgewater Candle Company: Sweet Grace candles, $23.99; Sweet Grace bar soap, $11.99; Sweet Grace body lotion, $11.99

According to Barnett, the Sweet Grace line from Bridgewater Candle Company is one of UF's best sellers.  The scent is great, and a portion of sales for these candles also go to a charitable endeavor.  Each Sweet Grace candle sold feeds a child for a day, by benefitting Rice Bowls.  



Meri Meri Tote with red cherries, $49.99; Smarty Pants Tote by Santa Barbara, $9.99; Chicago Tote by Seltzer, $19.99 


(Pictured from left to right.)


Sherpa Throw, $32.99

$10 per blanket sale goes to the Backpack Blessings Program in Geneseo, Illinois.  

Many children who receive free lunch while at school go hungry over the weekend.  Backpack Blessings gives backpacks of food to these children who need food over those days when they don't have access to school lunch. 


To purchase anything you see in the pictures  featured in this article, or any of the products featured below, please call 309-714-5301. Urban Farmhouse can process orders and ship over the phone.  Or, send a DM via their Facebook page, or Instagram.

For more information on Urban Farmhouse, visit their Facebook page, or follow @urbanfarmhousegeneseo

And for more information on The Ugly Duckling, visit their Facebook page here,  or follow @uglyducklinggeneseo 

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