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Empowering Women: Chelsey Cordero

Once upon a time, in a place called the Pink Palace, I met the talented and awesome Chelsey Cordero! We were both summer interns for Lilly Pulitzer (where Chelsey still works as a tech designer), both getting our feet wet in the industry for the first time. Now, Chelsey also has her own print business on the side, Cricket Lane Studio, creating beautiful prints that will make you smile, laugh, and say, “YES – that is my life mantra!” I’m so impressed by Chelsey’s ability to do it all and do it all exceptionally well! I know that you’ll be inspired by her story and words of wisdom. Oh, and I also know for sure that you’ll want to run over to her site and grab one of her happy prints to hang on your wall ASAP 🙂

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This is the “work-in-progress” of the print that Chelsey made me! Head over to my instagram (@wearbowsandsmile) to see the beautiful finished product! (It’s amazing!) 

When did you first become interested in hand-lettering and print creation?

I think that I really started in August of last year after I had kind of gone through a few different things on Etsy trying to figure out what I wanted to do as a hobby to make some extra money. I was just doodling and did some hand-lettering and posted it online and got a really positive response to it, so it just became something that I really loved to do.

Why did you decide to launch Cricket Lane Studio

I actually started to sell table runners that I had made for my wedding! I only had 20 or so, so once I sold them I just had an empty shop sitting online. I just figured there had to be something else I could do to make some extra money and as a creative outlet… and this worked perfectly.

How do you choose the quotes and phrases for your prints? (There are so many different wonderful quotes!) 

If I hear a saying somewhere, or if it’s already a saying that I say a lot in my day-to-day life, or a saying that just makes me so happy, I think “this should be in writing! I wanna have it on my walls. I wanna look at it every day. I wanna be reminded of this phrase that makes me feel so happy or so motivated”.  I try to think, “What would a customer want?” or “What would a girl like me want to hang on her wall? What would she want to read every morning to be her life motto, you know, to get ready for the day?” So, really I just try to pick any quote that I think is happy, or funny, or motivational or that I think people would want to look at every day.

Do you have a favorite print that you’ve created?

I think that my favorite print is my “What would Mindy do?” print about Mindy Kaling. I did that print last year and I posted it on instagram and tweeted it and tagged her in it and she favorited it! I thought it was the coolest thing that has ever happened in the world! So, now it’s my favorite, of course.

What has been your biggest challenge since starting Cricket Lane Studio

 I think that a big challenge that I faced at the beginning was just actually learning how to use Etsy the right way and learning how I can market myself on instagram or facebook. I think a lot of it has really just been growing pains…becoming a legitimate business, filing legal paperwork and figuring out taxes (okay, my husband figured that part out for me). But, at the same time, I think I can look back on that and say, “I only started this 15 months ago,” and I have certain prints that I have already updated 4 times because I’ll look at it and say, “that looks so different from what I’m doing now – because I’ve improved, I want this print to improve.” It’s been really challenging to figure all that out, but it’s been rewarding because I think I’m finally getting to a place where it’s working.

What has been the biggest thing you’ve learned since starting Cricket Lane Studio?

Aside from learning the ins and outs of running a small business (after the hours I spend working my full-time job), I think I’ve learned to just go for it and just put yourself out there!  Sometimes I make a print that I think is the funniest thing in the world and then … CRICKETS! No one wants it!  Or sometimes I make a print that I think is just okay and it becomes a best seller.  It’s a great reminder that everyone is unique and I can’t cater to JUST women who are exactly like me.. but, that’s what makes it FUN!  I can literally make something for ANYONE and there’s no harm in just putting something out there and seeing how it goes!

 Favorite Cricket Lane Studio moment? 

 I think that my favorite moment so far just happened in November. Philadelphia Independents in Old City is carrying some of my prints and they have a gallery in the front of their store.  They rotate artists every 2 months and I’m their gallery artist right now. So they had an opening on the first Friday in November and my dad, my mom, my stepdad, my grandma, and my godmother came from Pittsburgh for the weekend and we all went down to the city on Friday. The best part of it was seeing my parents there. With them not living here, I don’t think that they really understand how much I put into this. They don’t see the work I do everyday for it. For them to walk into a real life store and see things that I made on the wall was really cool, they didn’t know what to do with it!

 So tell me a little bit about what you are wearing today: 

 Today I’m wearing a knit dress from forever 21 that cost $17! I am very into this wine color lately, which never had any of at all in my wardrobe before, so I’ve been buying a lot in that color. I think that my personal style has been changing in the past year or two. In the beginning of the fall, I felt like I didn’t have any fall clothes that I wanted to be wearing, so this is what I felt like I wanted to be wearing! {Haha} Also, my necklace is the number “5” because my mom’s maiden name is Nickel. My gold ring that I wear is my other grandmother’s wedding ring.

 If you could only wear one outfit for the rest of your life, what would it be? 

Pretty much any dress that you would picture when someone says “1950’s Housewife”! {Haha} Like a cotton dress with a fitted top, fitted waist, and a huge skirt and little heels! Probably with little pearl earrings and maybe a pearl necklace. Ah, I love it!

What women have inspired you?

I think that my biggest inspiration is my Grandma. I call her “GMa,” and she just turned 75 in September. She had 4 kids, my mom’s the oldest, and she didn’t work when my mom was little, but when my youngest aunt was born she went to work. That was in the 70’s and not a lot of moms were really starting to work yet. She has 10 grand children and I’m the oldest and I don’t think she’s ever missed a single event for any grandkid. She had a hip replacement and a knee replacement and is still walking 3 miles a day and still goes to every single sports game that my cousins have. No matter what’s ever happening, she’s going to get done anything that she wants to get done, so I think that that’s very inspiring! She is definitely not an artist, so when I was little she would always watch me draw and was so encouraging to me, so I think that I was really inspired by her telling me “you can do whatever you want to do.” Both she and my dad everyday (or every time I talk to them) always make a point to tell me that they’re proud of me, which is just a really nice encouragement to have and I don’t think they know how much I really do appreciate that!

What’s one thing that most people don’t know about you?

I think a lot of people don’t know that I have Type 1 Diabetes. There are a lot of really cool things that are happening right now, like Miss Idaho last year with her insulin pump, I think that’s so inspiring! My dad’s also a diabetic and he was diagnosed almost 40 years ago and things were so different then. Things have come a long way since then and I can live a normal life as long as I pay attention to what’s happening. I always sort of think that if I have to have a disease, I’m lucky it’s such a it’s a manageable disease. So many people are so uneducated about it and think that you get Type 1 Diabetes from what you eat, etc (You don’t. It’s 100% genetic and no one with Type 1 Diabetes could have EVER done ANYTHING to prevent it!), so I think I’m just always trying to bring awareness to it and drop some knowledge bombs! {haha}

What are the 3 things that you absolutely, positively, cannot live without?

My Dog, of course (He’s going to be instagram famous… #PreciousLittleAngelBaby).   Then probably coffee would have to be second. I’m definitely a caffeine addict! Homegoods might be my third!

Favorite indulgence?

Netflix! I love to binge on old favorites (Parks and Rec, The Mindy Project, etc)

What makes you smile the most?

Seeing / hearing people loving the product I’m putting out there!  Sometimes I think “oh I’m just doodling, whatever” but then when I realize that people like these things enough to want them, buy them, display them in their home… That’s the coolest feeling ever!

If you could go back, what’s one piece of advice that you wish you had heard 5 years ago? 

Just go for it and everything will work out!  I used to be so stressed about EVERYTHING.. But I’m trying not to stress so much now and to just remind myself that everything will work out.  I wish I’d started telling myself that more 5 years ago! {haha}

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