Continuing our month of interviewing exceptional people, today we’re talking to the talented, the wonderful Debbie Casey who is a traveler extraordinaire, the business manager of Wall & Wall, a mural company, and a consultant for Arbonne. We’ll be talking a little bit about travel, pursuing art as a career, and what people should know about skin care so that their manticore scars don’t ruin their lives in the summer. So thank you, Debbie, for being with us today.
Thanks for having me!
You’ve been all over the place, where are you right now?
I live in the San Francisco Bay area, which is really a place that I’ve gotten to calling home in the last year.
And have you lived anywhere else?
I was in Asia. I lived and worked in Bangkok, Thailand. I was there for about two and a half years and it’s a great, great place in the world to go visit. I lived in New York City for ten years and I have also spent pretty extensive stints in London and then I also grew up in Northern England.
So which of all of these places do you feel like most connects with you?
I would have to say it depends on where I’m at spiritually in my life. I think that the choices that I made to be in the places that I did made sense at that time in my life. For example, I’ll be forty next year and I could not see myself moving back to a place like New York City, which was perfect for my twenties and early thirties.
[Laughs] So, you say you move around when it feels right. What is it about travel that is fulfilling really?
I think for me it is the sense of exploration and the sense of understanding other cultures–other ways of living outside of what we know to be the norm, what we grew up with. I love getting to know people from all over the world. I’ve been very lucky to have the opportunity to be somewhat of a veteran traveler from all the way back when I was a little girl and I sort of just never stopped.
Would you say that it is easy to travel to all these different places for you?
For me? Yeah. I mean there’s a sense of excitement and wonder when I book a ticket, thinking, what am I going to see? Or, who am I going to meet? I also feel that there’s a difference between traveling to a place and moving to a place.
The biggest difference for me is when you move some place, then your thoughts have to be different. You’re moving into a space where you have to figure out where you’re going to work and where you’re going to live and the crowd you’re going to hang out with…it brings a different sense of being.
Are there things that you’ve found make it easier for you to orient yourself in a new space? How do you make it feel like home when you’re exploring new things and new ideas?
Well I think that technology has bridged a lot of those gaps. I’m not really one to pick up a guide book and sift through it. I’ve traveled extensively by myself and with companions and I tend to be the one not to prepare so much. I think a little preparation works wonders but for my joy and surprise I actually like to show up to a place without having so much preparation. But, going back to your question I do use technology and I do use online resources to figure out where people are and where people go like meetup.org has always been sort of a big community to me to tap into.
It sounds like for you, home is where you can have an experience? So you feel like you have a connection to where you are and the rest you can figure out.
I mean I’m just a natural explorer and I get so excited being some place new, and just showing up, making that commitment to being open minded to whatever you come across and whatever you see, I think, really is key for any traveler.
So do you have any good war stories about traveling that you want to share?
I don’t know about war stories but I definitely have some fun stories that if you were in those situations might raise the hair on your neck. I remember when I was traveling through India, a while ago now. My travel friend and I spent a week traveling in the Delhi area before we went down to Kolkata and we hired a driver, went to see the Taj Mahal and all that. What you don’t realize is when you go to countries like this–especially in Asia–there is a certain type of organized chaos that happens on the streets of these parts of the world that as a westerner is very disconcerting and frightening. But it’s how they do things and it works. The streets are just bustling with cars and tuk tuks and motorcycles and animals and people…cars weave in and out and the animals for the most part just stand in the street. It works!
But this one story is when we were being driven to our next destination and we were going on a freeway against the traffic. And there were cows we nearly hit! I even said to the driver, “Are you okay?” He said, “Oh yes, fine, fine!” And at that point I just kind of went with it. I just trusted that if I was going to be okay then that was the way it was meant to be and if I wasn’t, that’s also the way it was going to be.
Oh, my gosh. Moving to something a little less life-threatening I hope, you are the business director for a company called Wall & Wall. Can you tell us a little bit about what Wall & Wall does?
Sure. We are a mural painting business, but it goes beyond that. We actually design and hand paint customized murals inside of commercial spaces and private homes, event spaces, restaurants, retail stores etc. There are a lot of spaces within San Francisco that are these cavernous floors that can seem very empty even with people in it. A lot of these companies are finding ways to provide inspiration, and also incentivize people to stay longer, to work longer hours in order for these companies to get up off the ground. What we bring to the table is this idea of bringing inspiration in that space, allowing people to connect more. So there’s an aspect of space design that we go into. We think about the psychology behind color and the positioning of it and the design. And we have fun doing it.
It sounds fun! So obviously you guys are doing pretty well, the fact that it’s not just a lone artist eking out and getting this done. You have murals in all sorts of high profile buildings. So you’re making art professionally. What is it that you think propelled this business?
I only come at this from experience now that I have done this–I can’t speak for anyone else–but I do believe that the success of a really great business is delegating the responsibilities of the business to people who are really good at what they do. At the end of the day what I really love to do is to network and assist in the growth in something I truly believe in. And the other side of it, my business partner has this incredible talent with design and art and it needs to be seen. I say that not in an egotistical way at all. It’s a very beneficial part of our society, art. It allows us to dream. It helps us to be inspired and transcend ourselves, even for a moment. The fact that we both get to do it professionally and put it out there for other people is really kind of special. But yeah, I would say, sort of what makes it successful is when you’ve got people who are very passionate about what they do.
What’s your favorite part of the process when you’re looking at a new job?
So I think my favorite part in the process is when the client gets to see their design on the wall. We had a big, high profile client recently that I did sign a nondisclosure agreement, so I can’t name them… We finished a project for them recently and they looked at it and they said, “ This is literally the coolest room on this floor.” I think when we get feedback like that we feel that we’re doing something really good here. We’re also very excited about working with nonprofits. We just finished a project an organization called the Peninsula Crisis Resolution Center and they have an after-school program called Youth for Change. The local kids for the high school in the area get together and talk about topics that are relevant in their community and amongst their peers. We just finished a project for them recently and they get to put it up around different municipal buildings around town. It’s wonderful to give back to the community.
Is there anything that you wish maybe that you had known before taking this position? Or advice you would like to give perhaps to someone else hoping to get their dream out there?
I think the biggest lesson that I’m taking from this experience is to never quit. You never know, something around the corner the next day will have been the thing that made it pop. Lessons that I wish I had known? As you muddle your way through new adventures, inevitably we do something for the first time, right? So I would say that the lessons that I have learned have come along through trial and error. We just try to do things differently or better the next time around. I would say that the biggest piece of advice would be don’t hold back on spending money to do things that will grow your business. You have to spend a little to get back a lot.
Right, you can’t get something from nothing. Whether that’s the materials for your mural painting or the wonderful new cover David Berg just made for me. So you have another sort of interest, too. You’re a consultant for Arbonne. Do you want to tell us a little bit about what makes Arbonne different from the other cosmetics companies out there?
Arbonne is a company I was introduced to about three years back. I saw the value of making money from an expense I was already making–washing my hair, brushing my teeth. I just saw the sense in making money from that and recommending things that I know work really well. It’s a company that has a lot of integrity. What I love about these products over countless number of products I’ve tried in the past is that everything is botanically based, enhanced by science. None of the chemical nasties that you would normally find in the Main Street/High Street stores and everything is 100% vegan. And everything is treatment based. So we have products that are great as a line for cancer patients and people who have gone through radiation. There’s a lot of thought that goes into the ingredients and the creation of the products. As a consultant I get to really understand how to help people. The other thing I love about it is the people that are involved. It’s a type of industry that attracts very positive and inspiring people.
So, as a consultant, what are the kinds of things you think people do that really damages their skin? What can they do to fix that without going to a spa every day?
So there’s really three things that you should be doing to maintain and to take care of your skin. Sunscreen. Sun is the biggest component for aging. Of course, what you put into your body is equally as important, but just talking skin, you wanna make sure you’re wearing sunscreen. Anything up to 30 spf is fine. A lot of people think that using 70 sunscreen is going to protect you more than the 30 but if you look at the ingredients you understand 70 is no better than a 30. In fact, the 70 is going to have manufactured chemicals that are building up toxins in your body that you don’t need.
Moisturizer. Moisturize, moisturize. That is so important and that’s another way to keep your skin supple and young. And then exfoliating is also very important. Your skin cells build up and die and slough off but you want to give it a little bit of help because you have that new beautiful skin underneath.
Say someone has skin damage already. Either from the sun or as some of us have done in the past you get a cut, you go out and now you have this lovely scar. Is there anything that people can do to counteract the damage they’ve done?
Yes and no. There are some scars and some things about the skin that will be with you for life. If I’m being quite frank some of these scars that you see are good storytelling tools, right? But on the flip side, with the idea that skin damage is a very real concern, obviously prevention is better than a cure. But if we’re talking about a cure for stuff like that there are ways that you can diminish and fade those blemishes on your skin. A lot of people do go to spas and get abrasion therapy done. I’m never going to say “don’t do that, it’s not good for you” because that’s people’s prerogatives. I just offer a healthier alternative and we do actually have a solution that helps to fade sun spots, age spots, and scarring if it’s within about one or two years of the scarring.
I’ll pass that along to people who are obviously more careless than me, for example. Well thank you so much. It was really nice talking to you again, and thank you so much for your great advice!
You too! I’m excited to read your book!
Thanks for reading along! Our final Person Of Interest is Eric Brown, aka The Fitman, with a great segment on staying in peak condition even when you don’t have access to a gym.