It’s been a while since I’ve written a blogpost about the story of how Chloe Creative came to be established. While I am more than a small business owner, Chloe Creative is such an integral part of who I am! I know many of you have already heard of this through our Instagram stories, posts or even a blogpost. But, here’s the latest – buckle up, it’s long!
Before I Became a Small Business Owner
Yes, we’re starting all the way before I was a small business owner. Chloe Creative was established in 2018 in college, but let’s go way back to as a senior in high school.
Senior Year of High School:
If I could go back to my high-school self and say one thing, it would be to not stress as much 🤪. During my senior year of high school, I had to take all the major exams to start applying to college… that I was notably horrible at. #testanxiety
When it came time to apply to colleges, I already knew where I wanted to go. One of my older sisters attended and graduated from NC State University as a first-generation college graduate in our family. Through watching her college career, I definitely also wanted to attend. It also helped a ton that my husband (whom I was also dating at the time) had a die-hard NC State family.
After anxiously applying, I got in! And that’s where my entrepreneurial journey begins…
Becoming a Small Business Owner in College
I was like [almost] every other college student who went into college knowing exactly what you wanted to major in. However, what I thought I wanted to major in actually wasn’t what it was cut out to be!
Freshman – Junior Year (graduated a year early):
In high school, I loved accounting. I ended up taking it as a high school class to get extra credits before entering conventional college. Anyway, this is what I went into college thinking I wanted to major in!
As a freshman, you normally take a lot of introductory classes to begin your coursework but I had taken most of those at a local college during highschool for extra credit. So, I had the opportunity to get ahead start on my major within the business school and start taking business classes. One of those was Information Systems Management. This was THE class that was pivotal to my career.
Before I bore you with details, this class essentially was for all the “tech nerds” out there – it taught you how to take apart a computer and put it back together, how to hack into anyones wifi and how to create systems for any sort of process you create. Anyway, I loved this class and really resonated with the professor and ended up going to his office hours. There, he mentioned an internship he thought I would be a really great fit for. I applied, and got accepted!
Declaring my major:
That internship is what led me to choose my major: Information Technology. After finishing that class, I knew right away that this “information technology” was up my area of expertise. So, as a freshman, I declared my major and began to take classes within this area. This is where I learned:
- Database administration
- Project management
- Systems & process building
- Website development
- Desktop development
- Application development
It was during a second & third internship that I started to mesh creativity with my technicality.
Something super surprising about myself: I actually don’t think I’m that creative.. This is why I ultimately designed to hire permanently for the branding design in Chloe Creative – I get inspiration from the technical side of work and THEN creativity follows. This is why I nerd out with development 🤠
I get a lot of questions pertaining to what internships and/or jobs I had that led me to this career. Well, I had a lot of internships, but there were two that were pivotal in becoming an entrepreneur:
- Creative Design Intern
- This internship is where I interned under the lead graphic designer for NC State University Athletics. Talk about SO FUN! This was actually where I first learned to dabble in Adobe Creative Suite and expand my experience in branding and graphic building. I LOVED this internship because of how fun it was – but I missed websites. 😟
- Website Production Intern
- This internship was at a local digital marketing agency and I really saw myself starting and keeping a career at this agency. That’s how much I loved it! Here, I was able to learn more about WordPress, graphic design AND technical SEO. It meshed all my favorite things into one. However, God had a different plan and there wasn’t a full-time job lined up for me at the end of my time there.
Both of these internships were pivotal in becoming an entrepreneur because they really gave me concrete insight into what I wanted to do post-college. So, I decided to venture out [creatively] for my last year of college and take on “work” outside of my internships and coursework to continue to expand on my skills.
The first business as a small business owner:
Being scared to do this on my own (and because I had a really close college friend who shared love of graphic design), we created a business together called The Seeking Collective. This business was an online Christian company where my friend and I designed products and sold online– she did the graphic design and I did the website design & management of the business.
This was in existence for a few months (we even had a brand photoshoot!) but ultimately we decided to close because it became a lot of work to manage alongside our internships and coursework. So, we parted ways (but still love my sweet friend, Brooke!)
The second business as a small business owner:
Once we parted ways, I still wanted to continue nurturing my skillset in website design. Thus, alongside my website design class, I created an Instagram “cwbrandingstudio” (now @chloecreativestudio) and began posting lots of random things…
Soon enough, I got my own website live and landed a local branding client and a dietitian out in Colorado for a website. I was so excited! My very first post was December 2018 🙂
Fast-forward to my Junior Year (which was also my senior year because I graduated a year early), I started feeling the pressures of finding a job. I continued taking my own clientele but wanted something more “solid”. So, I accepted my first job and started during COVID-19.
Post-College – Before Full Time Small Business Owner
Many individuals who also are starting their businesses reach out to me to ask what type of experience I have to have started my own design agency. My initial answer, is that you don’t necessarily have to have a business degree or a certain “skillset” to start your own business. My piece of advice is just continuity!
Anyway, I accepted my first corporate job as a developer at a leading tech company. As mentioned above, my ideal job would have been at the digital marketing agency I previously interned with – however, in college they really push you to get plugged into a big corporate company, and I did that.
Part of my duties at my job was to take operational data and create visual graphics and dashboards to showcase that data– it was interesting, but definitely not as “creative” as I had hoped it would be. I ended up giving my two weeks notice after one year of work and haven’t looked back since.
Early Stages of A Small Business Owner
The early stages of being a full-time small business owner was very scary and weird – scary because I was taking a leap into something that wasn’t guaranteed and weird because I had no schedule to work by.
However, because I had built my business alongside my corporate job, I was able to “pre-build” clientele lined up so I had immediate work and income to begin with – this is something I’d recommend doing if possible. Very quickly, I wanted to outsource the branding piece of my offerings and so in August of 2021, I made my first “official” hire: AK!
Here’s a timeline that’ll better outline my hires from establishment to small business owner:
- April 2021: Full-time entreprenurship
- August 2021: Hired AK
- August 2022: Hired Madison
- July 2023: Hired Kate
As you can tell, I tend to make a new hire each year. And of course, in between these hires have been other hires that have came and went – but just keeping it simple for those who are currently with Chloe Creative!
How did you get to hire so quickly?
I was very fortunate to have replaced my corporate income with business by the time I took it full-time. However, I always knew website design was where my heart was – not in brand design. That said, I knew I wasn’t “the best” at branding and even if it took some of my income away, I wanted to hire this out to really craft amazing brands for our client and continue building our client base.
Thus, I hired AK as a project-based contractor and we’ve extended her role since! By hiring AK, I was able to focus on the things I am good at while she hones in on all creative direction here at Chloe Creative. We truthfully all work in our “zone of genius” which I believe is why we mesh so well as a team. It takes a lot of trust!
What was the hardest thing about being new in business?
The consistency. Having a reason to continue marketing yourself even if business is slow is super difficult. It’s very easy to get bogged down in negative thought when you are new in business because you can easily see others’ successes and begin comparison.
Another piece of advice: never stop. Even when things get slow or feel like they are falling apart, that’s just the cycle of business. I guarantee you the operations of Apple aren’t smooth sailing even when they are a multi-billion dollar company. There’s always going to be hiccups 🙂
Current Chloe Creative Standings
I want to close out this post with where Chloe Creative is at currently. Growth looks different for everyone, and I can confidently say that I am really happy with where we are at. Something that I never want to compromise is my value system – that said, I never want to be an individual who is constantly searching for more.
So, I continually pray over my business so that the Lord’s hand is over it – if He says grow, I’ll grow. If not, I’ll stay and be a servant where I am. This is very important to me!
Where we’re at:
- Team of 4
- Currently serving 8+ clients per month and will continue this amount in 2024
- Welcoming our first Mastermind in January 2024
- Solid process that’s fast and efficient
- 3rd team brand shoot coming in Q1 2024