Hustle Chat with Honey & The Hive
LH: Hi Kelsey! Thanks so much for doing a Hustle Chat with us! Can you tell us a little about yourself ?
KD: Hi there! I'm Kelsey, the busy little bee behind Honey and the Hive. I live in Grand Rapids, Michigan with my tiny dude and our adorable puppy, Edie.
LH: When did you first discover you were interested in pursuing art?
KD: Art has always been an important part of my life. I remember spending hours as a child scribbling away in notebooks and decorating my bedroom with the drawings that I would make. It wasn't until I was in high school that I even imagined a career in art was possible, but even then I wasn't sure that it was "in the stars" for me. I spent several years flirting with the idea of a career as an artist, trying to consider design fields that would be more on the "safe side" of a creative career while in college, but I finally dove in head first and opened Honey and the Hive in 2012 when I was 20 years old.
LH: How did you decide to open Honey and the Hive, and where does the name come from?
KD: As crazy as this may sound, starting Honey and the Hive was almost unintentional. I had been starting to share my work online for the very first time, and upon doing so I was getting incredible numbers of emails daily, asking how, and where, to purchase my work. After a few weeks I started selling pieces and making prints, and around August of 2012 I launched my first online shop, Honey and the Hive. Back then I only offered small runs of a very limited number of prints, but since then it has grown to be so much more!
KD: When it came to naming my business, I wanted to come up with something that really encapsulated where I was at that point in my life. I was living in a crazy, busy, whirlwind of my early twenties. There was a sort of chaos that is so evident in that time of a person's life, but it was also wrapped up in all of these sweet and special experiences—things were falling into place, what seemed to be unorganized chaos was falling into order and finding purpose. So the "hive" represented the craziness of my early twenties and finding my calling, and the "honey" was the sweet, special parts holding it all together.
LH: Have you faced any challenges you weren't expecting in owning a small business?
KD: Oh goodness, yes, but I think that's the nature of business, isn't it? The biggest obstacle I have faced is preparing for the growth. When I started, I was painting at the kitchen table of my tiny apartment, packing and shipping orders from the living room. I had no idea where I would go from there, or how quickly it would happen. During my first Christmas season of Honey and the Hive, that tiny apartment filled so quickly with packing materials that I had to completely repurpose our bathroom closet to house it all. Supplies and orders filled the house, and when I started to make mugs they were taking over my bedroom. Quite quickly I knew that the space I had was just not enough! We moved, and while I still run Honey and the Hive out of my home, I have an entire studio space dedicated just to the business, which is amazing. I've also learned to hire help during busy seasons like Christmas and other major holidays to help with some of the overflow and packing which has been a huge step for me!
LH: Your work is so gorgeous! How long did it take you to really find your style?
KD: Thank you so much! It took a couple of years of experience to really fall into what would become my "style." The work I made in high school and college was very realistic, a lot of portraits, mostly in graphite. It wasn't until spending time in a lot of tattoo shops with friends that I really fell in love with tattoo imagery and the culture and began seeing those influences popping up in my work and pushing me into the direction that I've taken today. It's been so fun to explore my love of color through my work too!
LH: Are you more of an April Ludgate or a Leslie Knope?
KD: Oh man, this is a tough one! I'd say I'm a combination of both. I'm a go-getter like Leslie who is constantly striving to be the best, but I think in my personal life my friends would say I'm more of an April with a crazy sense of humor and a whole lot of sarcasm.
LH: What does being a Lady Hustler mean to you?
KD: To me, being a Lady Hustler means going after opportunities, paving a path that is completely your own, and striving to be the very best that you can be. It means never taking no for an answer, believing in yourself, and having the strength and determination to make your dreams a reality!
LH: Did/do you receive criticism for going off the beaten path in terms of a career?
KD: Absolutely. This has quite honestly been one of the hardest parts of becoming a business owner. I come from quite a traditional family who believes in working a very traditional nine-to-five job, so you can probably imagine the surprise that they felt when I began starting up my business, sometimes working until 3:00 am to make this all a reality. I've gotten a lot of criticism, I've been given many a talk about this being a senseless career path, and in the beginning no one really believed in me or understood what I was trying to do. Not having that support definitely made the start up hard, but I'm so grateful to have found this strength within myself to go against the naysayers and push through to make this dream of mine a reality.
LH: Owning your own business must be so rewarding - what's the best part?
KD: The best part is knowing that I've created this entirely on my own, with my own two hands. No matter how many days pass that are stressful and overwhelming, the joy of creating my dream job and getting to do this every day is something that I will never take for granted.
LH: Dog person or cat person?
KD: This is a tough one! I've always thought myself to be a cat person, but recently I adopted the cutest little dog and I absolutely adore her. Can I say both?
LH: Finally, what advice do you have for fellow Lady Hustlers?
KD: I have two very important bits of advice. First, if you want to pursue a path of creative entrepreneurship, do not be afraid to rock the boat a little bit. Not everyone is going to understand what you're doing, not everyone is going to agree with what you're doing, but if you believe in yourself and your idea, do not take no for an answer. Believe in yourself and push to make your dreams come true. Secondly, put in the work! I see so many creative people with amazing work and amazing ideas that just fall victim to laziness. I will tell you, this is not always an easy path to pursue, but it is the most rewarding in the world. I've pulled more overnight painting sessions than I can remember, I've stayed up until 4 or 5:00 am packing orders to get them out on time, then had to start right back up at 10:00 am and keep on going - it can be absolutely exhausting. But there is nothing else in the world that gives me more pride than seeing Honey and the Hive succeed.