For our gift guide this year, we rounded up a list of some of our favorite female-founded small businesses. As a fully women-owned and operated small businesses ourselves, we know the unique challenges women face in entrepreneurship. For this series, we will be highlighting some of the amazing women makers, artists, and business owners behind these shops and help inspire you to go after your dreams! Today we're introducing you to Chelsea Francom, owner and artist behind Bright Eyes Art & Design, which is sure to become your new go-to for the cutest prints celebrating all our favorite stories, characters, quotes, and more! Enjoy!
Tell us about you and your business!
Hi! I'm Chelsea, the creator behind Bright Eyes Art & Design. I'm a watercolor artist/stay at home mom who feels passionately about story-telling, nostalgia, and paying respect to the things that inspire us big or small. Whether that's your first home, the lyrics to your favorite song, family, faith, literature, or the stupid little fandoms that make us who we are, I'm here to tell you that the thing that makes you happy is valid and deserves to be celebrated through art!
What inspired you to start Bright Eyes?
Pretty quickly after I gave birth to my first daughter I knew I needed some sort of creative outlet. I knew my life would change with motherhood but I was really surprised by how much I still felt like myself, with my same passions and need to grow and develop as an individual. I just felt like it was important to honor those needs, so, with like zero expectations I started practicing watercolor again for the first time since high school. I produced some of the cringiest artwork you've ever seen, practiced, failed, practiced some more, and eventually, feeling like a complete imposter/fraud opened my etsy shop! I love it so much and it's such a huge part of who I am now, I can't imagine life without it.
What advice would you give to other female entrepreneurs just getting started?
Oh gosh. Truly, imposter syndrome is reeeeal. No one starts out as an expert, very few of us feel qualified to pursue the thing that excites us. It's scary! I would say I used to get really bogged down in the comparison game and it did zero favors for anyone. Waiting for someone to give me permission or tell me there was room for my art in what felt like a saturated field where literally everyone was killing it wasn't getting me anywhere. I think if we can lean into the vulnerability, the fear, the fact that pursuing THIS thing makes us feel like an open nerve, then we can just allow the confidence to grow naturally and be patient. Intimidation is such a useless human emotion, it's important to not let it dictate our decisions.
What has been your biggest challenge since starting your business?
TBH pricing is sooooo tricky. I think most of us are willing to put in the work if we care about something...our generation especially is THE generation of self-taught, internet sleuths. Doing the work is not our issue, feeling like we deserve a seat at the table is. Unapologetically charging based off of the value you bring...that is such a struggle in the beginning! But it is so worth figuring out. Undercharging is one of the quickest ways to de-motivate yourself I think.
Who inspires you and why?
I get really inspired by all the different ways people create now. Following accounts like @ibuildsmall things where it's literally him building these detail-perfect miniatures, or @rommydebommy who constructs the most mouth-watering food inspired purses...I'm just kind of obsessed with all these different creative outlets people have found and I love thinking the bold/scary choices they must have made to get there! Everyone who knew they sounded crazy describing what they wanted to do for a living...and then just did it anyway, UGH they are my goals.
What have you learned about yourself since becoming a business owner?
I think I've learned that I actually kind of like doing uncomfortable things? If that makes sense? Like, the feelings of fear and dread are real. The fear of failure is real. But I truly love pushing myself outside of my comfort zone, leaping off the cliff, trying the new thing I know I'm going to suck at but doing it anyways...it makes me feel present and alive and human and I have felt so empowered embracing that.