Printed Mint #Girlboss Interview Series
Tell us about yourself: an intro to you, your business, family, fur-family etc. Where do live? And what is your business name (IG handle), the products you sell & services you provide, + your target market?
Hi my name is Desiraé Ofori, a married mom of two living in Auburndale Florida, between the cities of Orlando and Tampa.
My business is DeKelis Art Studio where I create vibrant and fluid abstract artwork for your home, office space and lifestyle. I currently paint art on canvas, paper, note cards, and earrings.
I also enjoy creating art that can be digitized and used for printed products like stationery, mugs, tumblers, and coasters. I plan to continue branching out to more printed household and office decor items plus textiles.
My intent with my art is to give people a break from reality to enjoy an image that can be mood lifting, calming, and inspiring.
There's enough seriousness and negativity in the world to dull our physical and mental space - I want to brighten those areas with my artwork.
How long ago did you start your business? And what (or who) inspired you to become an entrepreneur? (ie. life changing event, mompreneur, the pandemic?)
I officially started DeKelis 3 years ago after an 8 year career as a Mental Health Counselor and Long Term Care Medical Case Manager. I was very overwhelmed and unhappy with work and struggling with my own mental health. I started to have more frequent panic attacks plus more intense depression and anxiety spells. It was getting so bad I was scared I would have a nervous breakdown and need to be admitted unexpectedly to a mental health hospital.
A friend of mine recommended that I try to pursue my hobby/side hustle of Art and Mom Lifestyle blogging full-time since those were things that brought me joy. After talking with my husband about it, we were both not only concerned about my well-being but also about how we would survive on one income with a mortgage and a child. Even though our original plan for me to become an entrepreneur wasn't for another year or two, we felt peace and decided to take a big step of faith and do it then.
So, I put in my 30 day notice and then the last day of my job I found out I was nearly 2 months pregnant with our 2nd child! However, we went along with our plans and I started full-time as an Entrepreneur January 1, 2018.
How did you come to learn what you do? (self-taught, education, classes, books, mentors etc.)
My original plan was to continue making custom painted wedding aisle runners, but about 2 months into it I discovered the Acrylic Pour method and became obsessed! I watched tons of videos, practiced on my own, and eventually discovered my own style. People gravitated to it the more I shared my art and my process videos on social media. Any mentors I've had were online just by watching and binging their videos.
What has been the most rewarding phase of your career / entrepreneurship? (ie. sold out stock, testimonials, IG following?)
The genuine joy my art brings to people's lives. It really shocks me everytime! Hearing how watching my videos makes them feel calm, or how the colors I use make them feel happy, and how my inspirational pieces remind them to think positive and tap into their faith more. I love using my art as a form of therapy for myself and seeing people receive it in a therapeutic way.
What is the most challenging part about being an entrepreneur? (ie. time management, asking for help, juggling life, paying the bills?)
One of the hardest is not down playing my gift or value when I don't see the numbers roll in as I expect. Self-doubt and overthinking can really get in the way. I'm focused this year on keeping things more simple and going with the natural flow of the seasons and my creativity.
What do you do for inspiration? Do you ever hit creative roadblocks and how do you overcome them?
I definitely hit creative roadblocks especially when I'm over thinking an idea. I love details and am obsessed with trying to create high quality products and experience for my collector's and clients. Sometimes that gets in the way because there are so many options and ways I could do one thing.
However when that happens I like to step away from the idea or project, get some quality rest, watch other videos or posts from other creatives. That gives me the boost to start again or even refresh an idea I had been stuck on.
I get a lot of inspiration from being in the stores looking at color schemes and palettes from products and textile items like bedding, clothes, and geometric objects or designs.
What’s the secret to your success (personally/professionally/spiritually)?
Well my first secret is my faith! I'm a Christian who focuses on my relationship with God through prayer, journaling, and reading the scriptures in the Bible. A lot of my ideas, strength and confidence comes through my quiet time doing those things. There are so many ways this journey as an Entrepreneur could've gone very wrong, but He's always helped us in ways that I knew - that was definitely a God thing.
My other secret is my support system. From my husband, our kids, my family, friends and even my followers online! I'm blessed to never have to look far for encouragement, even when I don't ask for it.
There's always someone to encourage me, give me ideas and just believe in how far my career as an Artist can go. They won't let me give up on myself or my dream. I'm so grateful for them.
What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs just starting out? Do you have any tips or tricks you learned along the way that you’d like to share?
First, start where you are and work with what you've got. Everything doesn't need to be perfect to get started. Waiting for the perfect time just delays the process. We all had to start somewhere and if you're stressing yourself over perfection right out the gate then there's limited to no room for growth and improvement.
Second, allow people to help you and take criticism with a grain of salt. See what truths there is in the criticism or negative feedback and work on improvement where necessary.
Third, don't be afraid to shift. If you have an idea or approach for your business that isn't quite working or it has become stale - pivot and shift! It doesn't have to be major, it could be something quite simple that changes the whole game for you.
And lastly my favorite phrase 'grace yourself' and trust the magic and gift within you.
Entrepreneurship is a marathon and can be challenging but take your time, focus, rest when you need to, and remember you have what it takes. What do you think the #girlboss / creative female community needs right now?
More encouragement and support to one another. We can do so much on our own, but imagine how much further we could go and grow together! Having a community to bounce ideas off of, share new things with and just give and receive shout-outs of "I see you girl, keep going, I'm proud of you", it makes a world of difference.
What are you working on now and what’s in store for your business this year?
I'm working on shifting and pivoting like I mentioned as an advice. I look forward to creating more stationery items and giftables plus printed home decor. With me you just never know, so follow along for the ride. Thanks Printed Mint for this opportunity!!