Beyond the #Girlbossmoment: How Kerry Stokes Revives Her Creative Side


“When you work in a creative field, it can be hard to find time outside of work to be creative just for fun. I’ve always worked in design jobs and at one point established a small side business, which has mostly been an inspiring and creative outlet. But I was starting to feel a little too constrained and a little less like me. In the beginning of 2016, I decided that I needed to figure out a new path for my career so that I could fit in more time to be creative, always be myself, and somehow grow a business out of it.

I started chatting with my oldest friend (literally, a grew-up-in-diapers-as-next-door-neighbors kind of friend) and we started spitballing some business ideas. The thing that just made sense to us was to work on a line of home accessories. We grew up spending more time in each other’s homes (building pillow forts, having tea parties, playing dress-up, plus that one time when we cut each other’s hair) than anywhere else.

We launched Calhoun & Co. in September, and it’s been such an unbelievable whirlwind. We thought we’d start small and slow by just launching a couple of products. My partner, Abby, still has her full-time job, and I still have a freelance thing on the side to, y’know, pay the rent. Not only have we sold through our products much faster than anticipated, started building a brand that feels like us, and been featured on blogs known worldwide, but it’s also been fun and exciting and creative. It’s incredible to have a partner to bounce ideas off of, experiment with products, and let ourselves just do and be.

After our first (very hectic) holiday season as Calhoun & Co., I spent the first week of the new year reflecting and goal setting. While we are working on some new designs, I was having a hard time jumping back into it after a little time off. I felt like it was important to set some specific time for myself to create, so that’s what I did. In my planner, I blocked off the entire afternoon of Thursday, January 5, and then I painted some bananas. Simple as it sounds, I’ve worked hard to be able to set aside time to be creative and I’m proud of myself for making my creative self a priority.”

 Three pieces of advice for aspiring small-business owners:

1.) Just go for it. You can plan and plan away, but no matter how much you try to figure out the path you're about to go on, it's going to change along the way. Not only is it OK to make mistakes, but if you’re making mistakes, it means you’re trying new things and expanding your experiences.

2.) Don’t force it & go with the flow. There’s no point in trying to fit yourself into a certain kind of person, category or role. Be flexible about how you reach your goals, and be willing to change what your goals are, but always stay true to what feels right.

3.) Set aside time to explore, play and search for inspiration. This is something I’m still working on. For a long time, I glued my butt to my studio desk and would work on what I had already developed, and just play with materials I already was working with. While I enjoyed that time and felt like I was being productive, it’s so important to just get out, go on an adventure, and let your brain take in something new.


@kerry_ann_stokes // @calhounandco //

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