Learn more about Paola, The Cottage Fairy!
At almost 1.5 million subscribers on YouTube, The Cottage Fairy has enchanted audiences with her content about art, books, rural living, and more! Learn more about the woman within the little country cottage!
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We hope you enjoy this interview and let us know what you think!
What did you learn, and how did hearing from Paola inspire you?
Read the full interview transcript below:
Leah: "Paola, what's the proper way to pronounce your name? It's Paola?"
Paola: "I kind of answer to all of it. I've gotten used to hearing so many creative interpretations of my name throughout the years, but one way I explain it rhymes with hola like, hello in Spanish. So it's hola, Paola.
Leah: "Beautiful. I love it. So what got you interested in sharing your life with the world and what led you to starting your YouTube channel and doing this?
Paola: "Oh my gosh. Yeah. Well, initially, I was working with children and childcare and during the pandemic kind of things really shifted for me, and I had a lot more time at home than I expected. And so, I've always been quite creative and I was going to farmer's markets a lot to sell my art, and I just thought I was like, I have my... I was really late on the bandwagon with phones. I had a flip phone for the longest time. Just didn't have any interest in getting an iPhone. And I finally got an iPhone, and I was like, "I should make some videos of me creating art or somehow doing that." And I just felt like so much of my art, I took inspiration from the kind of area I lived. So I just tried to put together a little fairytale story that using the fairy art and kind of all these things that I found interesting, and it just went from there.
Then I noticed people were interested in being like, "What is it actually like? You have a little house there. What is a daily experience like?" And so, I just thought that... It just kind of grew from there of just starting with something small with just trying to share art and realizing I think people, especially when they were so constrained during those couple years, they found just so much healing and peace in nature scenes. So I was really happy I could provide that during that time and still can to people because always been the feedback that it's really relaxing and I was like, that's why I want to do it now."
Leah: "It's wonderful. And one thing that I noticed right away is the actual experience of the, if you want to call it cinematography or whatever, is really well done and it's really beautiful to look at. It's not just the scenery, but also the way you edit it and all of that. Where did those skills come from? Did you develop it as you went?"
Paola: "I kind of did. I had to. I mean, I started with this really cheap video editing app on my iPhone, and I made... I'm sure anyone that knows video editing could tell from the early videos that it was definitely kind of rough cut. I don't think it was even very high definition starting out, but I was very lucky that my younger brother works in film, and he was visiting from Australia, because he had been over there, he'd been hired to work over there. And he was like, "Oh my gosh, you started a YouTube channel. That's great. How are you making your videos?" And I showed him the phone and he just gasped just because, he's like, "No lighting, no microphone? What?"
Yeah. So he got me all set up and he taught me, and it was really kind of him, just kind of out of the patience, a lot of patience on his end because I'm not a very tech-minded person despite what the videos may seem. I am not very good with computers and stuff, so I have notebooks full of instructions that he's given me and I just follow those. So yeah, he's taught me most everything and then he left after a year, left to my own devices. So I've just been learning a little more ever since."
Leah: "Well, that's the thing though, if you give a skill or something to master to an artist, I think that's the key there is - even somebody who's not techie. If you're an artist, you get good at things pretty quickly if you're focused on them and you have to learn it quickly. So I think that's what it is, right?"
Paola: "Yeah, the motivation. I've always loved folklore and fairytales as well as just slow living. And I was like, I want to make these stories and short films come to life. And that motivated me for sure. And I think it helps when you have already that kind of eye for putting together a visually appealing shot as well."
Leah: "That's it, right? Then that's the artist behind the project is you have the eye for it. So even with our product photography, I'm not a photographer at all, but I've had to just do it because nobody else was there to do it. And if you have any kind of art background or inclinations, you can manage, right? And then you get a little bit better over time. But yeah, it's amazing what you do. I just absolutely love it. It is beautiful to look at. And so of course it evokes the feelings that, as an artist, you're trying to give people, and I think you do such a good job at it."
Paola: "Thank you so much. I appreciate that."
Leah: "Yeah. Is there anybody that, as you were learning all this, that you looked up to in the vlogging community that you're like, "Oh, that really inspires me"?"
Paola: "I can't think of anyone in particular. I wasn't really a heavy user of YouTube before I started. I think I did. I'd come across videos now and then of just documentaries about people living in more rural places, and I always found it quite interesting. And yeah, I think it was mostly just coming over here and actually being inspired by a lot of local photographers and artists that were taking advantage of so much beauty and using it to help preserve and conserve land and all that. And that was really inspiring to me of being like, "Wow, you can also use your art using nature to help preserve nature as well." And so, it was a lot of those individuals, but I can't think of any channels in particular, but there are so many. I think there's so many in the simple living community as well that just makes such beautiful content."
Leah: "Absolutely. Yeah. It'd be hard to choose even because it's kind of exploded. I think maybe people have been living this way, but they're now starting to document more of it, share more of it with the world, and people are just so inspired. I think we all want - a lot of us anyway - maybe some people don't want, but a lot of us do who have been in that hustle culture and have experienced just the chaos that can easily just creep in if you're not really conscious about it."
Paola: "Yeah, absolutely. I've experienced that as well. Yeah, even over here, I mean, starting my own art business, it got very overwhelming at a certain point. I just wasn't ready for all the technical side of... I mean, you would know this, you have the idea and the inspiration, such a cool concept with candles and things like that and applying it in a practical way so much to learn. And so yeah, it was good for me though. I ended up dialing things back and realizing that I don't want to have that stress that I used to know as a former workaholic."
Leah: "Right. Yeah. What was that transformation like going from workaholic to what would you consider yourself now?"
Paola: "Gosh, I feel like I would love to say I just realized that working too much wasn't working for me and just made the transition, but I think it was more out of necessity. I've always been someone quite anxious that is quite sensitive and is affected by their environment quite deeply, and I've grown to appreciate the positives of that and not just focus on the negatives and just realizing after working some really intense jobs like seven days a week all day for years, really focused on trying to fulfill this image in my head of what success was and then deciding I was too stressed, and it was just getting to be kind of living to work, not working to live, which is incredible blessing to be able to even think about other ways of living.
And I just ended up finding a job over here in childcare, which I knew. I had an experience in teaching and childcare before, and I knew what an intense job it was, but I was like, well, I had family in the kind of general area and all that, and I knew that I would have that support. And so, I decided to do that and just see what it was like in this little tiny town in the middle of nowhere. And so, kind of went from there.
But yeah, now I think I would just to hopefully consider myself someone learning to live more balanced, not applying it always at all, but I'm trying to learn a little more every day and making videos has really helped me, just trying to help understand my own philosophy and what I want to do. So yeah, still working very hard, but trying to balance it as well with mindfulness."
Leah: "Yeah, I think that's the key. I love the... It's the mindfulness of it because there's may be seasons where something requires a little more or we want to put more effort and time into something, but as long as it's not carrying us away or getting away from... It's so easy to do to just fall into it and not be aware of, "Okay, I need to dial it back now. I need a little break." That mindfulness I think is really key. I love that."
Paola: "For sure. Yeah. Yeah, because I've been also in long times where I just haven't been able to dial back the work, but finding ways to bring a little balance in the midst of the chaos is quite helpful."
Leah: "Exactly. For me, I have to get into the forest. That's me personally. I did it twice yesterday, two times."
Paola: "Oh, wonderful."
Leah: "Sometimes the more angst I feel, the more it's like, "Get outside, get in the forest and you will feel better." I have never gone for a walk and come back and said, "I wish I didn't do that." It's never happened."
Paola: "I love that. That's so true. Yeah, I feel the same way. It's so healing."
Leah: "So what's the number one question that you get all the time?"
Paola: "One I get often is, is this real? Which is funny. I love it because it actually opens up a conversation of living as an artist and putting up really creative kind of more short film style work on a platform that is known for being really casual and really open and then putting effort into how you film nature and choosing music that makes me feel certain ways that I want to share with other people and really letting that creativity shine. And so, I've always tried to share. It's a lot of things. It's my creative outlet. It is encompassing so much beautiful nature in this wild area, hopefully to inspire everyone who watches it to help preserve it.
It is bringing in a little bit of my own personal desire to find magic in everyday life, to daily life. It's not always easy. It's not always perfect and put together, but it helps me in my own journey with dealing with stress and anxiety and things like that to see the positive and see the beauty even on hard days, and looking for that through my camera is so healing for me. And I like to think it helps other people heal as well. You make your coffee every morning, but what about doing it mindfully and looking at it from unusual perspectives and really thinking about that process and romanticizing it and that there is value in that, even though there is a lot of private parts of my day, I probably don't share very much."
Leah: "Awesome. Yeah, I love that so much. What are you most proud of?"
Paola: "Oh my goodness."
Leah: "I know I've got hard questions for you."
Paola: "I know, right? It's good. It's good. Yeah. I would say I really love to... I've received letters and comments from people saying that they have found my video's very relaxing during a panic attack or just a stressful day at work, or when they're trying to think about doing a big life change and they're not sure where to begin. It's just given them a little bit of that nostalgic feeling for these other possibilities with the rhythm of your life. And I'm very proud and very happy that a lot of people have been able to take that from the videos because it all depends on their own perspective, what they get out of it.
And then also, I've really been happy to share a lot of my fairy art. I think that I'm a very niche artist. A lot of people, I'm sure, would find the art very unusual, especially for me. But yeah, sharing art like that, that is so different and such a less mainstream subject matter means a lot to me as well. And then throughout all of this, I have raised quite a bit of money for my local conservancy to help conserve wild lands in this area, which is great. This is an area that is growing, and so being able to preserve wild places is just, yeah, I would say, that would probably be one of the number one things besides people's reception of the videos."
Leah: "Yeah. To me, I'm hearing that you love making an impact on people's lives."
Paola: "I like to hope I do. Yes. So yeah, that is for sure the goal. If you're not feeling fulfilled by it, why do it?"
Leah: "Yeah. That's amazing. So another one. What are you currently excited about?"
Paola: "Oh, actually, that's a great question because this - about a couple months ago, I finished the rough draft of my children's book. I've always wanted to write a book for children. I've always been working with children and childcare and always hoping to be a mom in the next few years. And it's been really exciting to finally start working on a children's book project, which has been always my dream, and to illustrate it too. So that's what I'm working on. Hopefully, it becomes something. I feel like in the early stages, it's hard to imagine it'll ever become real, but I'm very excited about that."
Leah: "That's incredible. I'm so excited for you, and I'm excited to read and consume whatever it is that you create with that. That's amazing. What about - is there anything that keeps you awake at night or anything that worries you currently?"
Paola: "Oh my gosh. Yeah. As someone who used to embrace stress quite a bit and still does sometimes, I can come up with so many things to worry me at any point, but it's a little less every day. So the good thing is baby steps forward. Yeah, I'm not sure. I would say sometimes I think about the future. I feel like YouTube is definitely... Tends to be a shorter career, and I'm not sure what the future holds, but I definitely am excited to look back on all my years and things that I have gone through and appreciate my resilience and keep believing that I will find what to do in the future and find new ways to connect with people and to share with people no matter how things externally change."
Leah: "Yeah, I hear that. I really do. That's cool. Well, if you could snap your fingers and everything was exactly the way you could wish for it to be, what would you be doing?"
Paola: "Oh my gosh. Right now, I have to admit, I love how my days are looking right now. I don't know if I would change much of anything. Definitely there's day-to-day worries about the future and things like that, but I think that's pretty relatable to most people. I think for me, I have learned to embrace the unknown, continuing to learn how to be comfortable with uncomfortable moments, and feelings, and situations, and embracing those challenging times are what make the good times more meaningful and help me grow and motivate me to grow. So I don't know if I would take those things away as hard as certain challenges are in my life at any given point because it definitely helps me be a better person.
But yeah, I think right now, I'm building a rabbit sanctuary in my backyard that's made with these huge pieces of wood and a fencing. I'd love for that to be done. So there you go. I would be great to have that done because we've been working on it forever, and it's this big enclosure, and it's dug into the ground so that they can't dig too deep without digging their way out of it and all that. It's been my dream to have a little rabbit sanctuary where I can have rescue rabbits and things like that in the future. So yeah, it would be great to have that done. So there you go. Something just very practical."
Leah: "Yeah, very practical. And what about your art? If you could, would you be doing art full time? I mean, does the YouTube channel feel like that's part of your art?"
Paola: "I love the dynamic element of doing a lot of things at the same time. I found doing any one thing too focused. Sometimes it's nice to just add different elements of things, like work a little bit on videos and a bit on art. Definitely in the future, I would love to be writing more and having a little more time for illustrating filming and editing a video takes up the vast majority of the week apart from art and all that. So someday to have a little more time for that. But yeah, we'll probably be hopefully starting a family in the next few years. So that's going to be a whole new chapter as well. So a lot of change."
Leah: "That will be so amazing and so exciting. I can't wait for what the future brings for you. What would you say, this is just kind of a general thing, what is missing, if anything, for people to experience a more present immersive life experience that you come across?"
Paola: "Yeah. I think for me, I mean, it's a challenge for all of us, but it's definitely been a huge motivator through my own videos and my art has been... We so easily see the negative and we see things that are worrying us or challenging us in a way that we don't want. And even the news, there's so much negative news that will so much more easily come into our conversation instead of more positive things. And that is not at all to say that we should be ignoring all the negativity. Those things are really important and they're important emotions to process and to recognize.
But I do think slowing down and really seeing and noticing what we do have and what we are grateful for, even if it's just our own personal safety at one given time, or the fact that we have our bodies, our breath are just everything that we have, and there's just so much. And gosh, I think it's like I read, but the chances that we'd be even alive at any given time are so small that it's just such a gift. And that is not to diminish challenging times or dark times, but I think taking a moment when we're able to really appreciate that can make such a big difference.
So I think a great example is, gosh, I remember once years ago, I read several news articles that were just getting me so down, and I was just seeing my whole worldview was being shifted in the moment through these articles. And then this just little tiny ad popped up for this article that I then read that the panda bear was no longer endangered. It was threatened, but it had been moved out of the endangered category, and it was just about the most exciting thing. I loved panda bears when I was a kid. And I remember when it was said, oh, they're really endangered, and that their population, even though it still needs a lot of work, had recovered a little bit. And it was such a positive just moment of news. And I was like, "I didn't read about that anywhere." I had to look... Just by chance I saw this. But it just shifted something in me. I was like, "Wow, I need to see... There is so many challenging things, but it is not the full story." There's so much going on than that."
Leah: "Yeah, it's just those small things, those little glimpses of hope and seeing the positive. It's kind of just reframing that moment, reframing the day, reframing the attitude, and it's important to do. And I love that you said we can't ignore some of the negative things. Some of them need to be addressed."
Paola: "For sure."
Leah: "And that's part of life. But I think it's not letting that pull us down where that's just living 24/7 and gaining the perspective of the positive as well. Making sure we remember to seek those things out and include them."
Paola: "Yeah. You're allowed to cultivate joy as well as recognize the challenges. For sure."
Leah: "Yeah. I experienced that very thing even just this past year with my dad passed away suddenly last fall. And through that process, working through the grieving process, it's a really weird thing, and I allowed myself to just experience the whole range of emotions, and it was really weird to experience sometimes glimpses of joy and humor and these positive emotions in the midst of shock and heartache and heartbreak. It was like, wow, this is a whole spectrum of emotions. I was not expecting."
Paola: "That love and grief doing this thing. Yeah. Oh. Yeah. Well, I'm glad you were able to find that as well. That's a gift."
Leah: "Thank you. Yeah. It has been quite a process, and even to this day, it's just such a roller coaster, but I just really resonated with what you said there, so I love that. What's a piece of advice you would give to people who are new to trying to embrace slower living? People who are just kind of coming into that world and they're like, "Okay, I want to live a little slower." What's that piece of advice you would give?"
Paola: "Yeah, I would think one of the main ones, I mean, I've made a couple videos about this, but it really doesn't matter about location. I think we get so fixated on so easily on like, "Oh, just the perfect little spot to live. If everything was just lined up just right, things would be just great. And then I could slow down, and then if I just have things lined up in a certain way, then I can start appreciating daily life at another rhythm." And just kind of that, start where you are, wherever you are. Even as challenging as it is, there may be opportunities to find beauty and mindfulness and apply a little bit of that slowing down."
Leah: "Yeah, I think people, we can become a little bit idealistic in like, "Oh, we have to live somewhere out in the country or in the forest or in here and there." And it's very easy to then kind of contrast and compare where we're not, and then become a little dissatisfied with where we currently are. And I think that's really important point that you mentioned there."
Paola: "Letting go of that comparison, I think, is so crucial. Because even out here, I mean, me moving to a place that I never thought I could, and even moving here and still having these challenges and problems and this financial stress and things like that, and just still comparing my life with someone who maybe didn't have that financial stress or was in an easier situation. Once you have the habit of that mentality of comparing your life to another constantly, it really diminishes your own. And I feel like it makes it so much easier to close up your vision and not see the beauty and your own potential."
Leah: "Yes. The words of wisdom, for sure. I love that so much. You're just an old soul, I feel like filled with lots of wisdom. Have you been told that before?"
Paola: "I have. I have. Yeah. I think I always try to remember it. It's applying it, that's the hard part for me."
Leah: "True. Well, for all of us. For all of us."
Paola: "Yes, for sure."
Leah: "Yeah. Last question. If there was a project or a thing, if you could collaborate with anyone on something, what would that be? Who would it be with? What would you be up for?"
Paola: "Oh my gosh. I don't know. That's kind of... I haven't done that too much. It's mostly been... I don't think I've only done a few collaborations with candles, with a couple other things, but it's always been just very casually done, so I'm not sure. I'd have to think about that one. All sorts of possibilities, for sure."
Leah: "There are, especially with what you do. You have your own skillset, but you have an art, you have art side, you have writing. You have so many possibilities. So yeah, it's always a fun question I like to ask people. Just some people are like, "I want to collaborate with Disney or something." I don't know but... You know?"
Leah: "Yeah, you never know. But that's been so fun. I think that people are going to enjoy this interview so much. You just had so many wonderful, inspiring things to say. Thank you so much for talking with me."
Paola: "Well, I hope with the light chaos in the background doesn't take away from it too much. I'm like, at least I don't have a two-year-old right here, so I know what that can be."
Leah: "Yeah, it's part of the ambience, right? It's real life."