Kelley Frisby is an artist and illustrator from Southern California. I’d describe her work as uniquely adorable. All of her illustrations, cake toppers, wine stoppers, jewelry, and everything in between has a touch of whimsy, a pinch of vintage, and a whole lot of style. Kellsworth Ink is her side business for now, but it won’t be long until she’ll be running it full-time.
Thank you, Kelley, for sharing your firsthand experiences and tips!
1) Describe what you do in 15 words or less.
I’m an illustrator who dabbles in everything from cards & prints to custom wine-stoppers and cake-toppers.
2) What was your biggest struggle starting your creative business?
I think for me, time management. I’m freelance, so this job is still a side job. Working full time and then coming home to the job I really want after a long day is tough. You get tired, you don’t have the same enthusiasm at the end of the day you started out with, I think that’s usually my biggest hurdle.
3) Is this something you still struggle with or do you think you’ve moved past it?
I think I still struggle with it from time to time. Some days the “other” job takes it out of you and you just have trouble feeding the creative beast. I always end up getting it past it, it’s just some days are tougher than others.
4) What are some ways you feed your “creative beast?”
My creative beast loves movies. During the holidays, while painting and prepping, prepping and painting, I must have made my way through two seasons of Supernatural, LOL! Normally I pick visual movies that inspire me like, Amelie or the Labyrinth. Other times, I just want something on in the background that I can pick my head up, laugh at what’s going on and then continue forward. You know, something I’ve seen eight million times, the Goonies or So I Married an Axe Murderer.
5) Handling a day job and your side job can be tough. Do you have any time management tips to share?
My time management tips are probably terrible. I tend to do a lot of sketching on my lunch break. Generally working only on things that I can easily transport. Carrying paint supplies back and forth just wouldn’t work. So sketches, brain storming, things of that nature are done during my breaks. When I get home and unwind a bit, then I try to work on messier projects. Pulling out paint supplies, varnishing finished pieces or cutting and scoring my cards. Plus, it helps that I can borrow the Boyfriend’s hands to help package cards and apply tags to things, hee hee.
6) Where does the majority of your revenue come from? Example: online sales, craft shows, consignment deals, special orders/commissions.
The majority of my sales right now are from craft shows and consignment. The mass of that being craft shows. My online sales are super minimal at the present time because I think I spend too much time making new things and not enough time listing them on my Etsy or website…again, my own fault and bad time management.
7) We’ve all had craft shows that stunk. When the sales aren’t pouring in like you want them to, how do you keep from diving into a pint of mint chocolate chip ice cream?
One of the things I do is look at what DID sell. Was it only my cheaper items? Was there a specific piece everyone stopped to look at but didn’t purchase? If so, then maybe my pricing was off or maybe I just didn’t “fit” with this crowd. If a show truly stinks, I try to look at those factors first before I give myself a belly ache with the ice cream.
8) How do you know when you need to take a break?
From drawing? Usually when my neck or back hurt from sitting so long, hee hee. I’ve never really been one of those people who is constantly sketching in their sketchbook or making things daily. I mean I have my spurts when that happens, but it’s not constant. I tend to get my creativity in waves. But when I’m really into working on something, it’s almost like you have to drag me away.
9) Any big goals for your business this year?
My biggest goal this year for my business is to get EVERY item up for sale online. I have so much stuff that I take with me to craft shows, but only a smidgeon of those are up on the website. For example I have literally 4 different types of birthday cards, a few thank you’s and get wells, and a huge assortment of every day blank cards but I have 4 things listed on Etsy and a handful on my personal site. My focus this is year is to get it ALL up online. My goal for myself personally is to make more art, try to exhibit more, go to shows and just get things FINISHED.
10) Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
In 5 years, I would hope that I am making art full time. That Kellsworth Ink makes enough to pay my bills and allow me to focus solely on creating new content and doing what I love.
11) If there was one thing you could tell yourself when you started working toward your dream, what would it be?
Honestly, I think I would have told myself to start sooner. I wish I’d started showing my stuff years ago instead of just last year. My focus previously was in polishing up my portfolio and trying to get my illustrations ready to sit down with a publisher or agent. While I still want that to happen, I’ve realized that this side business I love so much has potential as well. Granted I’m not able to quit my day job just yet…but hopefully, some day!
Thank you again, Kelley, for sharing your journey with Happy Little Business.