We had the good fortune of connecting with Chelsea Ward and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Chelsea, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
When I first started my Etsy shop back in 2011, I was 6 months out of college and living/working in Italy. The only listing I had available was a “Custom Children’s Book.” To my surprise, someone in Nova Scotia actually ordered one up. The whole process of sourcing supplies in Italy and shipping to another country was addicting, and solidified in my mind that I could MAKE a business from scratch and take it anywhere with me.
My business has since evolved to be more stationery and paper goods but I have such a soft spot for custom children’s books. And the absolute addiction to keeping my business somewhat portable to allow time for traveling. In addition to my stationery business, Sketchy Notions, I also host art retreats in Italy during the summer (in non-pandemic times) with my 2nd business Wanderful Retreats. These retreats give me a chance to share my love of Italy with people, get a fix of traveling, and come home fully recharged with a sketchbook full of new art to turn into prints to share.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I really love how analog my work is. In a world that’s very digital, I love that I make a very analog product that helps people stay connected through good ‘ol fashioned snail mail. All my art starts with paper, pencil and watercolors. All my lettering is done by hand. And in the end, I love that when people send one of my cards, they’re sending a little piece of art through the wonderful US Postal System.
When it comes to the retreats, I love that I get to bring people to tiny towns I fell in love with over a decade ago. It feels like I get to pay it forward, after my art history professor in college gifted me with a love for these towns and Italy in general.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
In a perfect (non pandemic, easy traffic) world on a Saturday… Breakfast – Sqirl, followed by a Farmer’s Market visit (I love the one in Pasadena)
Lunch – Kogi Taco Truck on a Saturday that coincides with Jackalope Market in Central Park in Pasadena
Afternoon hike above Griffith, with a celebratory treat from Donut Friend
Dinner – Sapp Coffee Shop for Thai
Dessert – Bulgarini Gelato
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My mom has always been my biggest support/sounding board/proof-reader/fan/everything.