My Motivation

Dear Dreamers,

I’m writing you today because something told me to get this out. Partially to express my gratitude and partially to give you some insight into the motivation behind what we do and how much time and love goes into every little project.

Firstly, the motivation. In 2009 when I helped start SVGCuts.com, some of the motivation was financial survival with a heaping spoonful of helping a pretty and talented girl realize her dream of “having a shop where she sells cute things”. That’s not to say that if I failed, I’d end up on the streets, no-no. I have family to fall back on, but the motivation was to work and make my parents proud, especially my dad. I’ll tell you why…..

When I was younger, I didn’t really realize how significant my Dad’s decision was to leave Poland (during the Cold War / when Poland declared martial law). Today, I do. I could not imagine leaving my wife and child back home, to start a brand new life in a foreign land. With almost no money and no comprehension of the language, he did just that. Everyday I wake up and if I feel tired or overwhelmed or frustrated, I channel the vision of my Dad landing in the US for the first time. Scared, uncertain, nervous, but most importantly, determined. Selflessly determined to get us out of what was a very oppressed country full of political and economic hardship. He wanted so much more for us. Well Dad, you did it. I love you so much for that and it’s my goal to keep the torch of hard work and persistence burning for the next generation.

Being on the front lines of SVGCuts for almost 7 years, and Dreaming Tree for almost a year now, I’ve had the opportunity to interact with people from all walks of life. I’m not exactly sure why so many people opened up to me the way they did, but it really shed light on the fact that everyone is always going through some sort of struggle in life. Doesn’t matter how big or small, it seems we’re all facing something and doing our best to get through it.

One day, I got a phone call from a nice lady who was moved by one of the trailers for an autumn-themed SVG kit we just released. She had recently lost her sister and was doing her best to cope, so she took to paper crafts, her little escape, a way to keep her mind off things and in this case it doubled as a way to grieve. The music in the trailer was very moving and as soon as she saw the logo intro where the autumn leaves blew across the screen to reveal the SVGCuts logo, she became very emotional because her sister’s last days were during the peak fall season and she vividly remembered watching her sister observe the falling leaves, it was one of her last beautiful memories of her. She called to thank us for the wonderful projects and to share her story.

It was at that moment that I realized that I’m really doing something significant. Am I changing the world? That’s debatable, but I’m surely doing something that is helping people. Finally, a “job” where I get to do all of the things that I always wanted to do growing up (photography, video, and building something great) and having some sort of positive impact on the world.

Once I had the realization that what I was doing was helping people cope with hardship, it gave me more of a purpose. I’ve “been there” for people that have been hospitalized, sick, depressed, anxious, going through divorce and even people who have lost their children or have had their homes burn down. It’s quite remarkable to have the opportunity to make some sort of positive impact in these people’s lives. THIS is one of my main motivating factors. Just thought you all should know.

The motivation…it’s what gets me up in the morning, it’s what helped me decide to stay in the electronic cutting machine world despite my personal hardships. This motivation is what keeps my mind thinking and dreaming up the next project. It’s what pushes me to bring together the most brilliant and capable minds to help realize this “dream”.  (Thanks Ron, and Diana).

Currently, we’re only capable of bringing you a handful of amazing 3D items every month, but believe me, it’s not from a lack of effort. I really wish I could give you a glimpse into the processes involved in bringing these ideas to life. The amount of time spent sketching, brainstorming, engineering, prototyping, assembling, photographing, filming, editing, etc. Depending on the complexity, we could potentially spend a week or so fine tuning a project so that you, the crafter, have an amazing experience to help you “get away” by doing what you love. The last thing I want is for you to be frustrated when you retreat to your craft room to let go of everything else going on in life.

(Side Note: Oh! And I realize that crafting is also part of the good things in life! Weddings, new babies, birthdays etc! It’s amazing how this craft fits in with every single emotion and experience in life.)

With each project, I put myself in the shoes of the crafter and ask myself….”is this product not only beautiful and desirable, but intuitive and easy to assemble”?. If the answer is no, we fix it until I can whole-heartedly say yes.

In conclusion, I want to thank all of you for supporting the site since our launch on September 23rd, 2015. I also want to thank everyone for understanding and appreciating the amount of time and love that goes into each individual 3D paper project. Trust me, if I could wave a magic want to bring these projects to life, I would! LOL. Life would be so much easier!

I just wanted to let you all know that there is a “bigger” story behind each project. I wanted you to understand the motivation that drives Dreaming Tree.

I’ve experienced the joy of bringing smiles and happiness to people through paper and wake up everyday with a “love” mentality. Of course this is a business and it needs to be profitable to work and endure the test of time, but in the last few years, I’ve realized that when the efforts come from a place of love, they’re more likely to succeed.

If you have any questions or concern, please call me. I’m here to listen. 630.509.1002

With Gratitude,

Dreaming Tree Founder and Photographer

Leo Kowal

40 thoughts on “My Motivation

  1. Jearise Havenga says:

    Thank you so much for taking paper crafting to the next level. I love making 3D projects more than scrapbooking and card making so your files are perfect for me. I’ve always loved your files and have a very wide selection of them from your new store, Dreaming Tree and from SVG Cuts. Both web stores are my favorites for getting the prettiest 3D SVG files out there.

  2. rosella says:

    I have and do love everything you do first learned about you thru SVGCuts and have enjoyed the dreaming tree site as well thank you for all you do

  3. Rita says:

    LEO. From when we first met, I always knew you were an amazing young man. You certainly have shown me kindness and support through my trials and tribulations. I feel we have formed a good solid bond. Most of all I trust you and listen when I ask for advice because you have never steered me wrong.
    YOU have given me the desire to keep papercrafting. Your designs have brought back the desire to create. After being in a deep depression which lasted a few years, you and Dreaming Tree brought me back to life, for this I admire, respect and love you.
    You definitely make all your files user friendly, while challenging me and bringing me a little farther in my level of crafting.
    I have learned so much from you, and continue to learn and share.
    I wish you all the best the universe has to offer and I trust all that you give will be returned to you, in more ways than you can imagine.
    Thank you Leo, I appreciate all your efforts and I look forward to many years of crafting with you and learning all I can.
    Bless your heart.Raising a glass and toasting you with cent anni. (100 years of good fortune)
    reets

  4. Rose says:

    Wow Leo! Thanks for sharing this story! I don’t think any of “us” have doubted your passion and hopefully all are being patient as Dreaming Tree grows. I think most of your customers would admit the files we’ve bought from SVGcuts and Dreaming Tree are the finest we’ve seen. The assembly instructions are incredibly fine tuned and are responsible for us being able to turn your designs into our creations! Thank you and your team for all of your hard work – it really is appreciated. Dreaming Tree no doubt will grow with such an incredible energy force behind it!

  5. regina says:

    You and your talents do touch lives!! More than obvious! One of the last things my father was able to see before completely losing his sight was the Poker Box Card I’d made up for his Birthday. The awe and glee on his face when he saw the card will stay with me for a long time to come! The card sits still on on his desk – and I’m told he makes a point to tell new visitors to look at it when they come into his room. And they too are awed. My Mother has given her Nativity PaperScape Card honor of placement in her room – and I’ve had to replace the batteries twice in the candle she uses to light it up when showing it off. They’ve got nearly the entire retirement community they live in waiting for “what’s next” to show up!!
    And then there’s my Co-Worker who STILL has his Believe Bendi Christmas Card pinned to the wall above his desk…
    And my mother-In-Law has hauled her Birthday Paperscape Card all over town showing it off!

    Sometimes when you touch one heart, you’ve touched the whole world – and you just don’t see it right away!

  6. Jaline says:

    Hello Leo, we have communicate a couple of time in email but I have not share my story. Now I know why it is so easy to talk with you and I understand your kindness. I have done all kinds of crafts all my life, but when I turned 65 years old and moved to a seniors building nobody was interested in crafts. For 6 years I did nothing. Then last June I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I had a single breast mastectomy and had to move a month after, having no family to help. At Christmas and 71 years old I was quite depressed. When I was 16 my mother died in a car accident on Christmas day, I was in the car. Then, 3 years ago my sister died on Christmas day, so it is not a happy time for me. I was looking at making cards again with die cuts and stamps, but it was so costly. Then I saw the Silhouette and I bought it. It save my life. Then I found SVGCUTS and then you, you do make a good team. I have been wanting for a very long time to make cards for children in hospital. The other day I did the Hot Air Balloon and I love it, that would be a good one. I’m on a fix income and I had to order a lot of AC cardstocks. Living in Canada I can only order from Amazon for free shipping. So, if you ever have an idea for cards for children in hospital, that is the way that I could put a smile on a child’s face with your help. Thank you Leo, Mary, Kyle and all involved. People are amaze when they look at your cards, and I am amaze also. Thank you for sharing and your kindness.

  7. Jaline says:

    Leo, I forgot to tell you that I did all of your Bendi Cards and Paperscapes and they are beautiful. They are ready for next Christmas. I have never been ahead, LOL. Thank you.

  8. Julie says:

    AHHH, now I know the true energy in all those wonderful creations you have done for us Leo 🙂
    LOVE is a strong emotion and feeling, and when it is shared and felt by one, it spreads into their
    work…..
    🙂
    reading some of this brought a little heaviness to my heart, but knowing the reality behind your creations
    puts a smile in my heart as well, congratulations to you for carrying on your Father’s love and determination
    to succeed and share….
    What goes around, comes around, you will be blessed.

  9. txgrandma says:

    I love your story. Thanks for sharing it! My grandparents did pretty much the same thing around the time when they immigrated from Russia in the early 1900s. The courage that it took for them to all leave their native countries is hard for me to imagine. I have always felt so blessed that I could grow up in this country where the opportunities are endless. I look forward to each new release. You are all a very talented and hardworking group and I am so glad to be able to share it with you!

  10. Dawn Lee says:

    What a sweet and sincere story about your motivation Leo. I always find it fascinating how what a family member did decades ago, still has such profound impact on us today. Always remember that your dedication and love for your work will someday inspire your offspring! Thank you for providing us the best SVG’s out there! The good things are always worth waiting for. Happy Easter!

  11. Donna says:

    What an amazing family story. You indeed have much to be thankful for.

    Such touching stories some of these ladies tell. I can see how they can inspire you. I love what Regina wrote that sometimes when you touch one heart, you touch many.

    Thanks to you and your team for such wonderful designs. The video tutorials are super helpful too. Each project I’ve made came together perfectly, and they have the WOW factor as well.

    I wish you continued success with Dreaming Tree.

  12. Gabi says:

    Hello Leo,

    Thank you so much for your story and for everything you do. Crafting with your files and of course Mary’s is the most fun and it also helps me to take my mind of the things me and my family are facing right now. I don’t want to go into details but we will have to leave our home here in the US and go back to Germany. We moved here 10 years ago and love it but can not figure out a way to renew our visa, so we will have to leave. We love it here and all four of us are heartbroken to leave. But every time I have some time to spare and work with your ideas/files I stop crying for a little while and enjoy the moment.

    Thank you for that.

  13. Linda says:

    Oh Leo,
    What a man you are! You are such an inspirational designer, and photographer..I so look forward to all your creations, and have wondered, just where your inspiration came from… Now I know..I am a senior citizen, disabled, and have had my own share of problems, but from the moment I first saw yours and Mary’s designs, I felt a warmth, and the urge to create again. Even though I am still the silly old satellite lady, who still has problems getting my download files, without them being corrupted by some glitch somewhere in the sky.. and how you helped me to get the files.. I looked forward to your designs all month long.. just waiting to see.. what was coming, and to add to my collection of paper files.. lol..
    I am so glad your father was such an inspiration to you! Congratulations for all your accomplishments, you should be proud… It is a joy to see and it gives so many joy including me.. Best Wishes always you are making such an impact on Crafters… Keep up the good job, and keeping growing and Dreaming..

  14. Kristi says:

    Leo,
    You have inspired me in 3D and given joy and confidence to many who love to work with paper and who know when your motivation comes from the heart. When I talk to others about the SVG experience, one of the first comments I make is that Leo and Mary, despite your personal challenges, are the nicest folks. They are always available and make the process of creating a joy. Thank you for sharing your story and keep creating…..we look forward to all that you do.

  15. Marty says:

    Leo : Thank you for the beautiful story of your life and family. I have been a great admirer of yours as well s Mary’s. Your two sites are really the only ones I buy from. Why you say ?? Well because you both have the most beautiful 3d kits available to us craters. Your knowledge of explaining things to us and your creativity is the BEST both you and Mary. I know that your business and Mary’s will continue to grow in leaps and bounds. Thanks for sharing a little insight into your life. A grateful patron Marty

  16. Brenda Cleeve says:

    Hi Leo, I live in England, I am the main carer for my brother of 82, who was diagnosed with prostate cancer, 5 years ago, at the time they did not they did not think he would last more than 6 months, so he did brilliantly. Sadly he has been in hospital for the last 6 weeks, and I have just been told he only has a matter of weeks left. Although right I am unable to do much crafting, I love seeing what is available to me, when I can get back to it. I find it so relaxing and therapeutic. Th cascade cards are beautiful, I am itching to do one, if they get my brother home for what time he has left, I will take my cameo up to his house and do some, as he enjoys putting the things together, how much he will be able to do, I don’t know but him being able to see me putting things together will be good to. Also can I ask have you used the silhouette curio? Thank you for everything.Brenda x

  17. Elizabeth says:

    Leo,
    I loved SVG’s beautiful things from the beginning, and now with Dreaming, I get to love more.
    I may not be able to buy as many of them as I want since I’m on a budget, but I certainly can appreciate all the time and work that goes into your beautiful designs. I can appreciate your talent and love for what you do, because I appreciate your talent and love for what you bring us!
    As someone who lives and struggles with ADD, it’s a challenge for me to complete a project, and usually it takes 3 times longer than most. My sense of “time” and focus is the hardest for me.
    I decided to go back to college and it takes me what feels like forever to do homework and study for exams than the other students. They don’t understand why my planner doesn’t keep me organized and on time…or why I don’t even use it most times. They think I’m lazy because I can’t stay on task.
    But the good part of this is that most people who have ADD are meticulous when it comes to minor details. They are some of the most creative people in the world. They love making things and finding what makes things work. That’s why I love crafting so much.
    Even if it takes a while to finish everything I do, you motivate me to want to. Your love for what you do, brings out my desire and need to finish your designs. Starting a project is fun. Finishing one is an accomplishment for me! Your designs help push me to finish because the end results are always so beautiful.
    So yes, there are many of us who use your talents to get us through our own struggles. You are an unspoken gift to us. Keep motivating us Leo. 🙂

  18. Jean says:

    Leo, I can’t begin to tell you how much I love all your work you and your team do. Every time I make one everyone wants one. I have talked to you on the phone when I first started many times and you helped me so much.
    There is nothing like making a card and to be able to see the look on someone face and the big smile.
    Your new one the Wedding is one I am looking forward to start on as soon as I finished what I am working on.
    If you ever want to look at my work you can find me on Warmhearted cards by Jeannie on Facebook.
    I tell everyone the only place I like to buy from is where ever you are selling I trust you so much and your direction are the best.
    Thank for sharing more of a insight into your life. I have had my share of a hard life and this helps me so much.
    After losing my Son at the age of 29 I needed things to give me more of reason to keep going on and my crafts help me so much. I also have been able to help other friends to get started on to new hobbies as well.
    I thank you from the bottom of my Heart.
    Jeannie

  19. Ruth Rowe says:

    I must have stumbled across Dreaming Tree soon after you went live. When I found it I wondered how I cold have missed this treasure. I fell in love with some of the projects and I knew that many of my Christmas gifts were going to start here. They loved them and I loved making them. These were my first SVG creations EVER. Paper creations that defied being made by paper and created their own wonderland. Now, knowing your story, they are even more special. Art takes time to create and considering how you want us to be able to recreate that art with ease and little frustration it will take more time. Thank you so much. The box cards I made for Christmas touched several people that were having very hard times and the others I gave them to were just bubbling over with joy to have them. You made a comment in your blog that you may not change the world, last night I was looking for a Mother Teresa quote for a project for a friend. Not something I do normally but one popped into my head when I read your comments, “In this life we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love.” You definitely have great love for this and it shows and is passed on by what is created from it.

  20. Julie says:

    Leo, you are truly amazingly! I enjoy all your projects and look forward to many more. And appreciate the time and effort you all put into this “business”. Lots of hard work, frustrating days, dead lines, decisions, etc. That is the business part, but the joy part makes it all worth while and we are all grateful that you hang in there.

  21. Maureen Sparrow says:

    I wonder if you could design cards for little boys that are 3D – diggers, cranes, various cars, ambulances backhoes, forklifts – maybe with brads so that the buckets or other things are manoeverable – perhaps even a fire engine .
    Fold up things that pop out when you take them out of the envelope. I have two great grandchildren that would love them, and for the girls, how about fairy gardens or ocean scenes and mermaids

  22. Darlene says:

    I started paper crafting after going through cancer and no longer teaching. I needed something to keep me going. I found it a release for me. I love SVG cuts and love dreaming tree, the projects are just awesome! Thank you for continually putting out all projects out for us.

  23. Van says:

    Hey Leo,
    Thank’s for sharing. I read this when you first posted it, and didn’t even realize I could comment! After reading the responses, I don’t think I could add anything that hasn’t been said. I reached out to you, during the very difficult time I’m going through, a few weeks ago and you took time to talk to me. It made a world of difference in my life, so you really have touched many lives… way more than you’ll ever know, I’m sure.

    People reach out to you, because you are open, honest, caring and a truly wonderful person. I, like so many others, really appreciate you.

    What you’re doing with Dreaming Tree and it’s websites are simply top notch. What you do is unmatched in concept, design and presentation. We appreciate all that you’ve put into the company and your commitment to excellence. As amazing as I think what you do is, I think Leo as a person is even better. To quote a line from an old book, “… stay golden”.

  24. barbara anderson says:

    Wow! Dear Leo, what can I say that others haven’t so eloquently said. Your story is one of inspiration and kindness. Please know that you give to us as much, perhaps more, than you realize, both in your most generous free designs and in the time you take responding to each of us as though we were the only ones who mattered. I can’t imagine the work that goes into the designs that you and your staff create, all I know is you make me look good when I cut them out! You’ve done your dad proud. God bless you, Leo.

  25. Liz says:

    Leo, what you’ve said is true. You offered condolences and comfort when I needed it and advice as well. That was an unexpected thing and it made a difference. That said, you’re an inspiration to a lot of people and who aren’t going anywhere. 🙂

  26. Angel says:

    You make my heart smile, Leo. I can’t even imagine how much work goes into your designs! I do know that just the video editing portion can take several hours just for the trailer not to mention the tutorials. You are such a generous and kind person as well. Thanks for sharing your touching story. I wish you the best of success in business, life, and love.

    BTW, I just wanted to mention I love the fact that one can purchase just one item vs the whole kit from your shop. This can come in handy for those on a strict budget or those who just need one element to add to a project. I also love that you add the time above the video tutorials in which each product is featured. This is such a time saver when working on projects!

  27. Sheri says:

    Thank you for sharing your beautifully written letter to us. I’m going through struggles right now that would boggle everyone’s mind, health – leukemia, financial – husband gambled debts over $250,000 and so much more. I’m about to be homeless. I have bought some designs and wish I could buy the rest in your shop, but right now I can’t and I feel bad taking the freebie, but know I will recover hopefully someday soon and I’ll get all those on my wish list. Your kits are so beautiful and I look forward to seeing each new one come out. I appreciate you take the time to make sure they work well so when I can get back to creating, it will be stress free. Don’t ever doubt what you do doesn’t make people happy and excited. Many people say it’s just paper, but no it’s so much more. It’s memories, it’s giving me a sense I’m not useless as I can’t work anymore, or do much of anything. On my bad days I look over the items people have created from your designs and it makes my mind forget for a little all that’s going on. You are an inspiration and to be able to say you followed your dreams – well that’s what it’s all about. So glad you created Dreaming Tree and look forward to another year. Thank you Leo!

  28. Jennifer R Hovermale says:

    I want to thank you all so VERY much for all the hard work and effort that goes into putting together these files!! They are all so beautiful and easy to put together. I wish that I had more time to create!! Thank you for sharing your own life story and your Dad’s dedication to make sure that his family had a good life!! Your Dad is a true hero, in my book!!

  29. Sharon Gable says:

    Thank you so much for trusting us with your personal story. You have shown us why your work is so special. See, we KNEW there was something very special about you. I knew you were a “keeper” when I was having so much trouble with the bases of the pop up Christmas tree cards and you actually spoke to me on the phone to talk me through it. Never outgrow this beautiful personalization that you have. We love you and your company! God bless you.

  30. Carmen says:

    Just read the story of your dad and it reminded me of my dad. He was also an immigrant, but he didn’t leave his family behind. We all moved at the same time. We were so happy we were in the US! The most important thing my dad wanted us to do is have a good work ethic and get an education. And that we did. In addition to making 3D projects, I also like to draw and paint now that I’m retired. I’m also taking art lessons on line. As a matter of fact, this week’s lesson in Life Book 2016 is all about “The Ripple Effect.” When I read your post, it reminded me of what that is. Some time we do things for others not knowing how it will affect others and in turn, how they will affect others, and so on. Hopefully for the good; and that is just what you are doing, Leo. The quote I picked for that lesson was: “When you truly love life and people, you start a ripple effect that changes the life of another, who in turn changes the life of another….” Sending hugs,

    Carmen L

  31. Margie says:

    Hi Leo what a beautiful tribute to your Dad and Fam.remember dreams is what keeps us alive.your dreams is what keeps us going,your passion is what drives me to make cards to touch others.thank you for all the hard work Margie

  32. mrsdider622 says:

    It appears to me, upon reading previous comments, that all the good, flattering and appreciative words have been sent to you in gratitude for your efforts, your inspiration and your guidance. I will add my own personal THANK YOU and may God bless you and yours always.
    Sincerely,
    Mary D

  33. Crissy says:

    Awesome motivations to keep you going. My grandfather also came from Poland. He only had the shoes on his feet, the clothes on his back, a few dollars his pocket and never ending thoughts of uncertainty on his mind. Nothing else. I can only imagine the amount of strength, determination and sheer courage that it must have taken for men and women to immigrate to an unknown foreign land seeking a better life. So, my compliments on your new venture and site. I am really loving these svg files and just purchased my first. Can’t wait to see what the future brings for Dreaming Tree!!!

  34. Jennifer says:

    Thank you so much for what you do!! I love making cards and 3D projects and would never be able to do them on my own. My favorite things about Dreaming Tree are: you add a supply lists to the printable instructions!!! So helpful! And I really like the fact that I can buy a bundle or just one item. Thanks again for all the hard work you and your team put into this. It’s my escape after a long week at work and what I make, with your help, brings a big smile to my family and friends faces when they receive it. Keep doing what you’re doing!!

  35. normajeanr50 says:

    I bought projects from you and Mary in the very early days and admire your talent. I got out of paper crafting for a long time when my only computer crashed and was unable then to purchase another. I recently have been able to get back into what I love and when I heard May May mention Leo I was so excited because I said I KNOW HIM. I love your videos, your projects, and I am sad for the tribulations in your life. My daughter has gone through the same last year with two little ones. But Leo always know you DO touch lives in many many ways and I pray your company, companies grow and prosper…………..I know how hard you work at it. IT shows in the excellence……….Go Bears. 🙂

  36. Linda Jackson says:

    I love what you do. Working on your projects is giving me an escape from reality. My son (40) has just been diagnosed with a recurrence of a rare cancer. I can escape with my cricut a d your projects. So thank you for giving me time to put my worries for him and his family aside if only for a moment.

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