Small Business No. 24: Chelsey Ann Artistry

I'm really excited for you guys. Because you are getting to hear from one of my favorite ladies in my industry. The lovely Chelsey Cobbs of Chelsey Ann Artistry.

As a photographer, I feel like often I get credit for all of the wonderful artists that work so hard behind the scenes. Everyone ooo's and aaaah's over our pictures, but there is so much more that goes into that image than me choosing an aperture and shutter speed. One of those vendors that a photographer can't thank enough is their make-up artists. And if you ask anyone in the OKC wedding/art scene, Chelsey is the bees knees. An infectious personality, immense talent, and all around fantastic person. Take a minute to fall in love with her like the rest of us.

Names: Chelsey, Chels, or Chel. And according to my best friend and business partner Ali Earnhart - "Hey Blondie!" Basically I respond to them all. But the most prized of them all is reserved for a four year old little man in my life named London: he calls me Mommy of course.

Business Name: Chelsey Ann Artistry

Favorite Dessert: Hands down and without question my Papa's (he happens to smell like peppermint and pipe tobacco which is pretty dreamy if I might say so myself) Chocolate Pie. Absolutely no, and I mean no, meringue. Now I love my chocolate; so don't go ruining it with meringue. Just this past week when I walked into his home late afternoon on thanksgiving day, there stood said chocolate pie awaiting my arrival. It took quite a bit of generosity on my part (I'm only slightly kidding) to muster up enough holiday cheer to share a sliver or two with my family and friends. Rumor has it that in the past there might have been two pies made: one to be shared and the other specifically intended to go home with me fully intact and completely untouched. It might be safe to say that my Papa has a soft spot on his heart for his one and only baby girl.

Favorite Artist/Album:
I can't ever seem to answer that question outright. It's always a case by case, moment by moment sort of thing. I suppose every season of life has its own soundtrack of sorts. Among the many Spotify playlists I'm finely curating and artists I'm regularly listening to the one that stands out and comes to mind now is Jake Bugg's (twenty-one year old kid from Nottingham, England) track Two Fingers. Listen to it for yourself and tell me what you think. 

Tell us a little about your business:
First and foremost, I am an artist and makeup happens to be my primary medium of choice. A quick side note for your consideration: Perhaps we are all artists in search of a medium. Thoughts? Maybe we can hash that one out over a cup of coffee at Elemental or a Fall cocktail from Ludivine sometime. I digress for now; let's move on.

Being and referring to myself as an artist isn't something I shy away from, but rather a lifestyle I boldly claim as my own and livelihood that I pursue with humility, gratitude, and a splash of reckless abandon. To put it most simply: we create art and make beauty. Art is all about love: love that creates new worlds and love that rolls up its sleeves to heal the old world too.

When did you start your business?
A couple of years ago. If you had to circle a month on the calendar it would be February 2014. But at the risk of sounding a little nostalgic and dragging you down memory lane: This dream of mine took root and began to really expand and grow in my heart long before it became a reality in the form of a newly launched business endeavor.

What inspired you to start it?
The impetus for launching Chelsey Ann Artistry is deeply and fundamentally personal in nature. My friend and colleague Anthony Stravlo introduced me to myself in a manner of speaking. He inspired me to see what I had not yet seen. The means was makeup. The end was a new and increased measure of confidence, security, and contentment. He tutored me as I learned skills and took hold of new capabilities that allowed me to enhance and express who I truly was at that time and who I am today. I felt beautiful. Not because Anthony made me feel beautiful for a fleeting second through makeup. I felt beautiful because I finally believed and experienced firsthand that I was in fact beautiful. And the only natural response was do to the same for others which I've been doing ever since. You see, beauty begets beauty.

Why did you choose Oklahoma City to start your business?
It's home, but not by circumstance. It's home by choice. I love this place. It's really that simple. I hold it to an unbelievably high standard. And you should too. What do you say we make this place all it could ever be and so very much more.

What would you say was your biggest challenge to overcome?
Living in a market that is young and relatively underdeveloped. One in which the creative class is still being shaped in real time. A place where we are still learning to value the arts in a way that far surpasses mere lip service. For example: we can talk about supporting local art all day long. And by all means go to the shows, the museums, the exhibits. But the best way to support local art is to buy something, pay someone. Fund the arts like the good ole days. Commission others to create. What I do is an art form. And unfortunately there have been times in which the arts haven't been praised or supported in the way in which they so rightly deserve. Art is more than what can be seen on a canvas, watched on a stage, or viewed on a screen. There is no art apart from the artist. And to create art is a costly endeavor. So let's not be cheap. Let's be lavish.

Who/what was your biggest encouragement and why?
I mentioned my best friend earlier, you know the one who calls me blondie? Yeah, her. She's the one. The one who has been able to navigate business and friendship without treading lightly or holding anything back. We've all heard it said don't go into business with friends. I say, to hell with that. What a bunch of garbage. Who else would you want to pour out your heart and spend your life alongside of than a true confidant and comrade in arms. She has and will always be family. Now I didn't say "like family", I said family. Family transcends bloodlines. It's someone or an entire community of someone's who have been given to us and us to them. An irrevocable condition if you will, a place of belonging. That's Ali Earnhart. Or as we like to call her: Ali Bear. She managed to pair encouragement and challenge together in such a way as to truly inspire, motivate, and call me to action. She didn't just say: you can do this if you really want. But rather: you must do this because it's in you to do and there isn't any chance I'm gonna let you walk away from your dream. In fact, we are going to do this together. So, Ali, just in case you haven't heard me say this in a while: Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! colleague was certainly

What is your favorite part of your business?
It's that moment when someone steps outside of their comfort zone just long enough to confront their self-imposed status quo (or mainstream fads and accepted trends) and shed that all too heavy layer of insecurity that forces them to play it safe in terms of their confidence and sense of expression. When they simultaneously risk just enough to rise above themselves, get out of their own damn way, so they can finally get comfortable in their own skin. And when they do, they see beauty in and through and all around them.

My job as a makeup artist isn't necessarily to make someone look pretty for a night or day, photoshoot or fashion show; my job is to serve as a guide on the journey that leads them to see and believe the beauty that exists in them long before they sit down in the chair and I apply a single stroke of makeup. Beauty isn't something that I possess and dispense to another. Beauty was already and will always be theirs. That's it. Period. End of sentence. Now ladies. Own it. Become it. Live it.

If you had advice to anyone who might be starting a business like yours?
Paint as many faces as you can (or whatever version of "painting faces" is most applicable to your business endeavor). Every tone. Every age. Over and over and over again. Don't stop. Keep doing it. Practice your craft. It's the only way. Persevere. Do it because you love it. Keep your day job if you must. Quit your regular gig to pursue it full time if your fortunate enough. Either way. Do it. Do it. Do it. And then do it some more.

That's the good stuff. That's right where the joy is found.

Anything else about your small business that you’re passionate about?
Nope that's it. Oh wait, moisturize your face. You can thank me later.


Thanks so much Chelsey for being part of the series, and being an A+ person. xoxoely