We had the good fortune of connecting with Courtney (Courtsie) Elliott and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Courtney (Courtsie), we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
Risk is the thing that can consume your mind if you let it. It could take the joy out of entering fully into an experience; I know this firsthand. Entering adulthood and being active on social media tended to increase my anxiety. When I thought about stepping outside of my comfort zone, I began thinking about the negative possibilities. Will my decisions backfire on me? Is this creative idea worth pursuing and investing in? Should I have uploaded the second photo, first in my Instagram carousel? This thought still weighs on me heavily at night. It was up until this summer when I realized that not taking risks is an insult to the gift of my creativity, to the knowledge I’ve gained over the years, and to my intuition.
What risk might have looked like to others felt like a thrill to me. Since I was a kid, I’ve always been adventurous. Beauty and fashion were a way for me to express myself. I would color and shave my hair and wear unconventional clothing without perspective other people’s thoughts and opinions. I also attended an experiential education middle school where we explored the world through literature and arts and traveled throughout the US to engage with nature and self-reflect. The trait of being adventurous kept following me into college. Three years ago, I launched my brand, It Girl. I was a sophomore going into my junior year when I decided to build this brand centered around young women who share the same interest in fashion, music, and community-building. I had an idea of what it would be like to run a business since I come from a household of entrepreneurs. Then I bridged my creativity to invest in quality projects like It Girl: The Girl Group. A Y2 K-inspired fictional girl band that embraces fashion independence and identity while enforcing the sisterhood movement. This concept took over a year to develop and what no one told me was the number of risks I would take. From finances to sales and competition risks, I’ve faced it all, but I was committed. I couldn’t let my anxious feelings have me second-guess everything I was pouring into the brand. It Girl would not be what it is today, and I would not be preparing for a restock on a limited collection if it weren’t for those leaps and the phenomenal womxn who support me.
Now that I’ve graduated and spent the entire summer thinking about my career and personal life, I’ve decided to embrace this new chapter. I’ve decided to suspend operations at It Girl after our upcoming restock. I went back and forth about this decision, but my intuition led me to trust that I am meant to lead in a different direction right now. I am excited that I’ll be working more on personal projects to expand my brand and further my career in creative direction. Risk is so important regardless of the connotation the word refers to. I think of it as a portal to assess those life-changing decisions, to float through them with confidence, and to be greeted with life’s greatest lessons.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I am a visual artist that is constantly researching, imagining, and referencing. I see life as one big concept that can be broken down and decoded into contexts that are connection-oriented. I’m always searching for the “why” in things, but I believe that’s what makes my work intentional. My creative process has grown so much, and my attention to every phase has grown as well. At one point, I was coming up with ideas and rushing to put them out because I love seeing the results of my creativity. I would be disappointed in the outcome of those projects because it looked rushed, or it wasn’t how I pictured it in my head (my Virgo Rising is also to blame). My senior year of college taught me the importance of thorough research. The fall semester consisted of forming an analysis for our capstone projects. I decided to use this opportunity to rebrand It Girl and develop the girl group concept I had stashed away for a long time. I purchased Ms.Tina Lawson, Beyonce’s mom’s book Destiny’s Style: Bootylicious Fashion, Beauty, and Lifestyle Secrets From Destiny’s Child. I watched almost every girl group movie and series and discovered girl groups of all genres. The research phase required us to develop a well-written thesis and present our findings and proposal. While at the same time, I was picking up on knowledge and gaining tools as an artist while interning with Famous Footwear. I had another class in my spring semester that asked for us to create an Instagram journal of research of our favorite trends. Instead of focusing on one, I decided to study recurring trends and messages I would save on my account. I looked forward to posting every week, and I found myself analyzing themes and concepts in my favorite shows and movies like Gossip Girl and Legally Blonde! Check out the page if you have the chance @decodedbycourtsie. The research part of the creative process helped me discover who I am as an artist.
I’m excited to share that I’m in my new era, haha! I have been researching myself as a micro-influencer and finding ways to brand myself as a Content Strategist and Art Director. I’ve become my muse, and I’ve found that concepts that I come up with help express my creativity and gain interest in small brands and talent that want to work with me. I’m so present in what I’m doing now, and I’m excited to share!
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Soon as you touchdown, we’re stopping at Imos on Hampton and getting my best friend pizza and wings and coming back to the crib and taking shots, of course! On Monday, we could chill and go to Forest Park and visit our free zoo! Tuesday; I’ll take you on a grand tour around the city and end at El Burro for Taco Tuesday and margs! Wednesday, we’re having an adventure day. We’re going to the Arch, visiting Union Station to ride the wheel, play games, visit the aquarium and get shakes from the Soda Fountain. Thursday seems like a chill day to go to the Delmar Loop for drinks, hookah, and vibes! We’re linking up with the fam at Lou Eats on The Landing for bar food and karaoke on Friday. Saturday morning we are going to Soulard, our farmers market. Later in the day, we’re stopping by Lisa’s Chop Suey and getting enough for Sunday because everyone in STL knows takeout is closed on Sunday (we have the best Chinese btw!) Nightlife is constantly popping, so we could go to The Grove, Washington Ave, Wheelhouse; the party is wherever, whenever. After a wild night, we bounce back up on Sunday morning for brunch at The Marquee! Then I will send you on your way back home with more Chinese food, Imos, and a Vess soda! See you soon, Bestie!
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?
I want to give God and my Ancestors all the praise because without them I wouldn’t be where I am today. By calling out their name when I need help and expressing my love, my life has been purposeful because of it. Of course, my family and friends who root for me,invest in my dreams, and love me wholeheartedly I send all my love to them!
I recently lost a friend of mine and to know him was to know love. Jaylyne was charming, well mannered, funny, supportive, but most importantly he was my friend. He had a way of bringing things out of people. He used his words to ignite the confidence within someone so that they believed in their inner bad bitch and expressed it to the fullest. He did that for me, he knew my potential and I took off because of it. Every fashion show I walked in, parties we snuck to, and every battle I fought I knew I wouldn’t have to go through it alone because he was there. Though time and distance separated us we always showed each other and we understood the friendship we had. Many people like myself had the privilege of experiencing Jaylyne. Reflecting on his soul and life feels like I was close to God. He showed me how capable I am of doing anything because he truly lived for 22 years. He showed me how to love people and how to receive it too.
It Girl photos: Styled x Colby Elliott Photography x John Scott Creative Direction x Courtney Elliott