This guest post is by Lisa Haggis
This month, we feature feng shui expert Dana Claudat: creator, curator, and blogger at The Tao of Dana. In case you’re unfamiliar with feng shui, it’s the ancient Chinese practice of optimizing your home environment for a richer, more balanced life. Dana approaches the art with her own modern twist.
While exploring her online presence for the purpose of writing this post, I kept finding myself drawn into the colorful corners of her world. At each turn there was another great story or too-simple-to-ignore tip in which I had to indulge. Peppered with anecdotes from Dana herself, here is my guided tour through the pieces of this brand and what makes it so special.
BUILT ON PURPOSE
As a feng shui expert, you might rightly predict that Dana is all about lifestyle, but her approach to beauty and design is anything but superficial.
“I once heard someone say that they were a human dream catcher, and I think I am, too,” Dana shares. “My mission is to help people bring their creative potential to life. It manifests in helping people to change their environment. When you change your space, you change your life.”
MAKING IT A LIVING
Anyone in the business of selling lifestyle wisdom knows the challenge of packaging it up into a clear and concrete promise of value. On her consultation page, Dana brings the grand idea of living a creative life down to earth with real benefits that speak to her clientele.
“If you crave greater creativity, less stress, more flow, an expanded social life, more abundance, greater focus, balance, empowerment, openness, risk-taking and adventure… this is your ideal space & life makeover.” All the while, she’s capturing our eyes and hearts with imagery that mirrors our ultimate desires: a gorgeous lifestyle, a healthy glow, and a beautiful home.
But what does she sell? Dana is a prime example of how a personal brand can expand beyond the boundaries of a single business in the service of fulfilling their purpose. Along with the one-on-one consultations and e-book available on her own site, she offers Your Guide to DIY Feng Shui -- a video course in collaboration with Mind Body Green.
POINTS OF DISTINCTION
1) Feng Shui, Her Way
“It works like magic, but it’s not magic,” Dana promises on her e-book sales page. She makes it very clear that her style of feng shui is not the “fear-based superstitious stuff” you’ll sometimes find in association with her field.
She communicates this aspect of her work consistently – from sales pages to her about page, where she shares how her approach has evolved since her initial training under the Pyramid School of Feng Shui. “I have integrated everything from: quantum physics, holistic healing, management theory, art history, philosophy, mythology, sociology, aromatherapy, art therapy… and much, much more.”
The result is a very personalized, practical style of feng shui that is approachable and all about making it your own.
“I am not a fan of having anyone believe anything that they don’t intrinsically understand,” she states. So she helps her readers and clients do just that through posts and products that give you the science and truth behind what she does.
How many feng shui experts also studied art history (at Stanford, no less)? Dana’s love of art, style, and creativity permeates her entire brand experience – from a dedicated “Life with Art” blog category to fun and impromptu audience challenges like this one, where she encourages her community to learn to draw together.
“Everything I do is based in art in some -- usually major – way,” she muses. “Historically, art has aimed to save the world from its suffering, elevating the broken-hearted and bringing solace to those who need hope. If I can capture just a piece of that lofty ambition, I have a chance to bring my message to a wider audience.”
3) She’s All In
Dana doesn’t hold back. She is an information-sharing machine; I often see her warm and info-rich newsletters pop into my inbox more than once a week. She packs them to the brim with honest stories, practical tips, beautiful photos, and video notes. She blogs multiple times daily, and she’s a contributor on a number of sites where she shares even more wisdom and information.
Beyond that, Dana writes with an open heart -- letting you in on her life experiences and wishes for the world. She has a way of converting fans into super-fans by being undeniably and endearingly human.
“You are all my teachers and my inspiration!” She declares on her About page. There is no hint of a polished pedestal or carefully placed filters in sight.
When asked to point out her favorite written piece, she doesn’t hesitate. “This is the only post anyone would need to read to understand who I am, why I do what I do, and the commitment I have to making connections with humanity.”
The key: it’s all genuine. It’s from the heart. It’s Dana.
“It was when I owned my time-tested ideas and life stories and started to publish them that things changed. I became re-connected with my work in a way that is inimitably me.” She reflects on this as a key turning point in her business. “I pour my heart into my work, it isn't a ‘marketing strategy’ that can be copied. It's my life.”
It doesn’t take long to realize that “expansive” is an important word to Dana and how she shows up in the world -- a message that I find consistently conveyed through her design choices. A vision of color and light, her style also evokes feelings of positivity, creativity, femininity, and movement.
To Dana, the design inspiration was a nostalgic one: “The whole blog was inspired by an Ellsworth Kelley painting of a spectrum that reminds me of my grandma's old TV when channels would end playing for the night.”
Everywhere you look and read, Dana is sending a beautiful blend of messages about who she is. A self-declared “stealth hippie,” her photographs simultaneously convey the promise of a beautiful lifestyle with the comfort of working with a down-to-earth close friend. While her accent font conveys a modern eye, her logo nudges things into a feminine and cheerful space (especially with the fuchsia accent color).
Through brand vocabulary – spanning from the Chinese “Tao” to the playful “Pet-Shui” – Dana sets the stage for a brand experience that promises contemplation and philosophy paired with light-hearted and practical details. This is definitely not a one-dimensional brand.
Aside from the overwhelming urge to start immediately rearranging my furniture, it’s how Dana gives -- generously and openly -- of her vast knowledge and of herself that leaves me deeply inspired. She gets her stuff out there where it can actually change lives. And everything she does feels like an enthusiastic labor of love.
Food for thought: Are there ways you’re holding back when you could be giving freely of yourself, just as you are? Does your work feel like a labor of love or like a scripted set of rules that you feel you should follow?