Entrepreneur Spotlight: Chelsea Olson
If you had told a 16 year-old me that one day I would quit my stable, full-time marketing position to pursue my own hand lettering business, I probably would have been in awe and
responded with “dang, that’s awesome!” Pursuing my own business endeavors has always been my dream. I don’t think I truly realized the challenges that would come with that dream
but I would rather be in pursuit of what I love than living in mediocracy wondering “what if?”
A few years ago, I was at my best friend’s house when we decided to break out some canvases to paint. I couldn’t figure out what to paint on mine so I turned to Pinterest for some inspiration. I found a hand lettered bible verse that I decided to copy for my canvas and I was immediately hooked. I had no intentions of sharing my hand-lettering with anyone, let alone pursuing it as a business opportunity. My family & friends encouraged me to share my work, but I just kept making excuses because I was so scared. At that point, I was still working at my full-time job and they sent me to a creative conference in Dallas, TX called the Circles Conference. While I was there, one of the speakers said something that changed everything for me: “People will only value your work as much as you do.” That was my turning point. I wasn’t placing value on my work or myself. So I hand lettered that speaker’s quote, posted it on myInstagram and made the decision to pursue this.
Even though I had made the decision to pursue lettering, I was still dealing with insecurities. I didn’t study art in college or take any art classes ever. I just decided to try something one day and roll with it. There was a fear of being known as a fraud for trying to pursue something that I didn’t have a background in, whatsoever. There was a fear that people wouldn’t respond well to what I had created. There was an even bigger fear that no one would even care.
When I posted my work, I received amazing feedback. Before I knew it, people were requesting hand lettered signs from me. There were brides needing wedding signs, moms needing nursery signs and photographers wanting to use my work for styled shoots. I was taken aback! The response that I received was mind blowing. The fears that I had wrestled with started to dissipate as I realized that this had the possibility of becoming something bigger than I could have ever imagined. Had I allowed my fears to take control & cripple my pursuit, I would have lived with a lot of “what if’s.”
My relationship with the Lord is the most important component of my life. Easy? Not so much. Necessary? Without a doubt. So when I was seriously considering pursuing my lettering as a business, the first thing I did was pray about it. I remember talking to God and saying if this isn’t going to honor you, I don’t want anything to do with it. I needed God to be at the center of my business or I wasn’t going to take it any further. There is something so refreshing about knowing that God is in control over my life and knowing that He was in control over this gave me such a sense of peace.
After a while, I got burnt out. I was balancing a full-time job with my side hustle of hand-lettering and it was exhausting. I was constantly on the go but wasn’t taking care of myself. So I had to make the extremely difficult decision of putting my hand-lettering business on hold. It hurt to let go of the passion that I had waited so long to find, but there really wasn’t much of an option. I stopped lettering for about a year and it was one of the most difficult years that I have faced. I didn’t have the same passion at my full-time job that I did when I was creating. I was more discouraged in my abilities than I had ever been. It wasn’t a healthy situation for me. The opportunity to quit my full-time job became an option at the end of that year. Quitting was a huge risk but I ultimately decided to leave. When the day came for me to put in my two week notice, the fear began to creep again. I would ask myself “What if I just need to stick it out a little longer? What if things change? What if I’m making a horrible decision?” I recalled another quote that I had heard, “you’re only one risk away from a totally different reality.” What if this decision opened up the door to new possibilities? What if this decision was the best thing that I could do for myself? So I mustered up the confidence to go into my boss’s office and I quit.
Here I am, 3 months later after making that decision and I’m not going to lie, things aren’t going completely as I expected. It’s been a slower start than I had anticipated and doubt is becoming an all too familiar a battle for me. But I am finding that this time has been a growing season for me. Even having the opportunity to sit here and write out this blog post is reminding my heart of how this all came to be and why I started. I believe that God gave me my passion for creating and I believe that He works through that to speak, teach and guide me. He’s constantly reminding me to keep Him at the center of all that I do.
It’s amazing to have a passion for something. It took me a little while to find mine, but it was well worth the wait. God has gifted each of us with our own creative abilities and He can use
that in the most unexpected of ways. For me, it started out with an arts & crafts day with my best friend but God totally shook my world with that because that’s what He’s capable of doing.