Tell us a little about yourself and the road that led you to starting your business. Where does your creative fire come from and how do you feed it?
I am an artist—who has created a line of leather accessories as a vehicle to further spread my message of love to the masses. I graduated with a Bachelors Degree in Business from FIDM LA (Fashion Institute of Design + Merchandising), and was left highly educated and well-connected, but struggling to find myself—my style, my interests, my own path, my purpose, my voice.
Like every inspirational quote on Pinterest urges you to do, I quit my 9-5 e-commerce job (the kind girls dream of getting after college), moved back in with my mom, got a barista job and rented an art studio to make just enough cash to cover my bills. This allowed me enough time to cry and paint and express my feelings. A breakdown, break through, and haircut later, I had arrived and a business was born.
Creative fire? I started to find my purpose in helping girls whose lives reflected some part of mine. I wanted to help girls find, love, and celebrate themselves—the way I had during that timeout I took after college. I strive to inspire, empower, and educate girls with my message of “you are enough.” While working in the community, I kept feeling inspired to spread the message of “treat everybody like they are somebody.” Being such an empathy, nothing hurt my heart more than when people were treated unfairly, unjustly or differently than others. I decided to merge my minimalist aesthetic and unique writing style, and utilize my art to offer not just products and services, but an inspiring message.
I am constantly feeding my creative fire by staying active in the community. It’s a reminder of why I started it all. I live for inspiring others and making a difference.
What was the biggest obstacle to starting your business? What challenges have you faced and how did you conquer them?
Hm—one of the many obstacles in starting my business was staying focused when I wasn’t seeing the rewards yet. It’s exhausting when you work and work and work on something and nothing comes of it. When I started my business, I had all the side hustles. I was a nanny for years while I worked on getting my brand off the ground. I was changing diapers during the day and coding my website at night.
That is why I really preach having a supportive tribe around you. A group of friends and/or family that support you in being the best version of yourself and will always have your back emotionally. I would NOT be where I am without my family and close friends. The days I didn’t believe in myself—they were there to believe for me.
What have you loved most about this adventure in being a girlboss? You have such a lovely, sunshine attitude, and it’s infectious—how do you cultivate such a positive vibe?
I love that I am the one that calls the shots. I love that I have the control over who I chose to work with. I love that I was able to create a team and pick and chose who I get to create with on a daily basis. From manufacturers to vendors to clients. I am in contact with beautiful people everyday and that’s purely because I set a standard for myself and my brand. Total girlboss feels. [hairflip]
What do you see in the future for your business, and how will you get there?
I see a lot traveling—a lot of collaborations with like minds—a lot of volunteer work within my community to continue spreading compassion, kindness and love. The more I do, the more opportunities arise, so it’s just a matter of continuing to network and meet the right people. Everything comes into alignment when you are coming from a place of love. I can’t wait to see how things unfold.
What the best piece of advice for women who are interested in starting a business? What do you wish you had know when you started?
One thing I share with women who are starting their own business is just focus on being you. Stop looking at what everyone else is doing and how they are doing it. Log off the internet, turn off your phone. Continue to be YOURSELF. Showcase your voice. From brand to website to social media—I tried my best to be my authentic self and people SEE that.
I wish someone told me that nobody else really knows what they are doing either. For some reason I thought I’d reach this point of “I know exactly what I am doing,” —and I haven’t. Life gets a lot easier when you realize that no one knows what they are doing and everyone is just trying their best. I compared myself to other people thinking they had all the answers. No one has all the answers. Life got a lot easier when I realized and accepted that.
Chelsea Leifken Vitals