Kelsy Hua, a passionate artist and business enthusiast, is set to graduate in December 2023 from Chapman University with a major in Business Administration and a minor in Graphic Design. During her time at Chapman, Kelsy has carved her entrepreneurial path, owning and designing for her art and design business.
The Genesis of an Entrepreneur
For Kelsy, the spark of entrepreneurship ignited in the aisles of her family’s local video rental store, Video Galaxy. The idea of selling her own products took root, nurtured by a childhood filled with movies and a desire to create. In 2022, she took the plunge, launching Kelestial Art Store with a single sticker design and acrylic keychain. Today, her business boasts twenty sticker designs and fourteen acrylic keychains, with plans to expand into prints and enamel pins. “With all of these items, I became fascinated by the idea of owning a bunch of inventories to sell and thought ‘Wouldn’t it be cool to sell my own products?’ And as an artist, I follow a lot of other artists that sell physical products of their work and got inspired to do the same” says Kelsy.
Every entrepreneur faces challenges, and for Kelsy, identifying her art’s audience proved to be the initial hurdle. Her niche art style raised questions about market appeal. The solution? Strategic marketing, including fanart merch of popular franchises to gain traction. The pivotal moment came when she posted her boba sticker collection on a Facebook group, targeting the Asian millennial and Gen Z demographic. The response was overwhelming, validating the existence of a market for her unique style.
Kelsy’s Entrepreneurial Evolution
Kelsy’s journey evolved from a single design to a diverse product line. Lessons learned include embracing failure as a stepping stone to improvement and trusting the entrepreneurial process. Believing in oneself is key, and Kelsy emphasizes that mistakes today shape better products tomorrow.
Additionally, Kelsy leaned into insights gathered from Etsy to differentiate herself, her products, and her business. She says, “I went on Etsy and at in-person marketplaces to study what other artists were selling. I noticed some common trends, such as zodiac products and boba themed products, that have helped other businesses become successful. However, because trends are popular, I needed to find a way to make my art distinct enough amongst this market.”
The Argyros Impact
Kelsy credits Chapman University’s Argyros College for imparting crucial skills. Marketing classes introduced technical aspects, accounting provided organizational insights, and entrepreneurship classes presented practical applications, including crowdfunding strategies. Kelsy extends gratitude to Cynthia West, Ph.D., the Career Center, and graphic design professors Claudine Janeichen and Adriana Falcon. Her favorite classes, Motion Graphics and Branding and Advertising, played a pivotal role in shaping her skills.
While not heavily involved on campus, Kelsy’s self-taught artistry, graphic design classes, and sales experience at Nordstrom significantly contributed to her entrepreneurial journey. She also says that she “found some friends that I enjoy hanging out and see them regularly. When classes get tough, at least I have people who are also in the same boat. And I found that interacting with professors often and scheduling office hours with them has really helped me. I not only gain a deeper understanding of the class content, but I receive valuable career advice and mentorship.”
Advice for Aspiring Entrepreneurs
Kelsy’s advice echoes the importance of networking. Even for solo ventures, connections with mentors, supporters, and troubleshooters are invaluable. She highlights the Leatherby Center for Entrepreneurship and Business Ethics as a resource for free advice and mentorship.
“Network…” says Kelsy. “…While you may have a business you can manage on your own, it is still very important to connect with people. These people could be your mentors, supporters, and assist you in troubleshooting issues. I would not have been able to launch my business without the assistance of many people from online forums, my friends, and family. And now I can use my connections to obtain monetary support, feedback on my work, and assistance with organizing my finances and other business operations.”
You can check out Kelsy’s store on Etsy @Kelestiel and be on the lookout for when she vendors in the Piazza for various events, such as APSA’s Fair and APIDA celebrations!