Featured #bloomgirl: Kelsey Machado; Interior Designer, Product Creator, Spoonie, and Chronic Illness Warrior!

This month’s featured #bloomgirl is Kelsey Machado! Kelsey won a free private coaching call with bloom co-founders, Kaylyn and Michelle, back in April. In our coaching call, we absolutely fell in love with Kelsey's sweet nature, drive, passion, and determination. We are so inspired by Kelsey's story and we know you will be too. Read more about her below!
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Hi! I’m Kelsey Machado -- a 36 year-old, interior designer, product creator, passionate cat lady, food lover, and full-blown empath. I consider myself a “Spoonie” - someone who lives with a hidden, chronic illness that oftentimes means they are disabled. I have a lot of hard days, but I always stay focused on my big goals, whether it was getting my interior design degree, starting my own design studio, or becoming a freelance architecture writer. 
Now I’m launching Machado Made -- a line of unique cork products that will bring together my Portuguese heritage and love for eco-friendly living. The brand will not only feature products made from cork, but will also support other disabled women through awareness, activism, and fundraisers.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced, personally or professionally? How have you overcome it?
Without a doubt, the constant health struggles that I’ve faced since I was 19 have been my biggest challenge. Chronic illness is a never-ending battle. My health has gotten worse over the years, I’ve had some scary moments, and I’ve struggled to live a “normal” life. Still, I’m grateful for what I’ve been through. It’s taught me so much about myself, how to face adversity head-on, and shown me just how strong I really am!
What is your "WHY"?
I was born to be a “helper” -- if there’s any way I can be helping others, I want to do it. I’ve always had a passion for the environment, animal conservation, and helping the underprivileged. This helping nature comes through in everything I do, from being a shoulder for my friends in hard times, to raising awareness about endangered animals, to making a commitment to ensure Machado Made products are eco-friendly. As a disabled woman, I want to empower other disabled women to achieve their dreams, and hopefully, Machado Made will give me that chance.
Who or what is your biggest inspiration/passion?
I can’t talk about all of my successes without talking about my incredible boyfriend Mike, and my mom (who I lovingly call “Lady”). They are the reason I’m even alive -- my mom obviously for giving birth to me, and Mike for rushing me to the hospital when I experienced a life-threatening intestinal rupture. 
Both of them have been my caregivers, supported me in my lowest moments, and most importantly, they’ve both always believed in me. Believed I could thrive even with multiple chronic illnesses. Believed I could leave the 9-5 grind and start my own business. Believed I could achieve my dreams. Without their endless love, I have no idea where I would be. I’m forever thankful for both of them.
If you could talk to yourself 5 years ago, what advice would you give yourself?
Oof… this is very emotional for me. Five years ago was when I experienced the intestinal rupture (a complication from having my large intestine removed). Not only was I dealing with the physical and emotional trauma from that event, but I had “friends” who dumped me and accused me of lying about my illness. I had to temporarily close my interior design business because I was unable to work for six months, and I was in constant agonizing pain. 
So, I wish I could tell 31-year-old me to just “hang in there girl”. Cry it out. It sucks right now, but this is the point where you turn everything around. You're going to learn the power of positivity. You’re going to learn to value yourself and start putting her first. You’re going to figure out who you truly want to be, embrace that person, and be proud of her. You’re going to dump the toxic people in your life and discover an amazing circle that loves and supports you as much as you love and support them. It gets better -- so much better. I promise.
What do you want to offer our bloom community and how can they in return help you?
I would love to be a source of support for other bloom girls who may be struggling with health issues. It can be a lonely battle and knowing there is someone out there who empathizes because they’ve been there too can be life-changing.
The community can help me by getting educated! Disabled doesn’t always mean physical limitations you can see. Some days I do use a cane, but most days you’d never know I’m disabled simply by looking at me. Join the #Spoonie community on Instagram and learn about ableism, how to combat it, and how to be an ally to the disabled community. 
What are your favorite bloom products, and why?
I still don’t know how I ever survived without my bloom Vision Planner. Ever since I discovered it three years ago, it’s been by my side. Each section is so valuable to me. From the inspirational quotes to the breakdown of goals each month, the Vision Planner keeps me focused not just on my daily to-do’s, but my life goals. Plus, the cute sticker packs are a fun extra that I love to splurge on to make my spreads much more colorful!
Do you know someone doing something amazing in your community? Nominate them to be a featured #bloomgirl by filling out this form:  https://bloomplanners.com/pages/bloomgirls
the bloom team

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