This week, I had the pleasure of collaborating with the talented Kasey Blaustein of Kasey Jones Ink. Kasey is an LA-based entrepreneur who owns a one stop shop for branded experiences, custom art and influencer gifting. Her company provides a variety of unique interactive and one-of-a-kind services for events, companies and individuals throughout the country using multiple art mediums (all of which I’m kind of obsessed with!).
Everything is handmade and designed specifically for the client, which I love. I’m especially a big fan of Kasey’s hand-painted chalkboard photobooth backdrops because they’re so unique and creative. These amazing pieces of art have graced movie and television premieres, wrap parties, weddings and everything in between. Kasey has already teamed up with major brands like Target and Gap and her business is only continuing to grow. I’m so excited to share Kasey’s story today (in her own words), along with some tips and tricks she provided to fellow entrepreneurs and dreamers below. Later this week, we’ll be teaming up to collaborate on a Valentine’s Day illustration. Stay tuned!
Where are you originally from and where are you currently based?
I’m born and raised in Los Angeles, specifically Toluca Lake. My studio is about a ten minute walk from the house I grew up in.
What was your inspiration behind Kasey Jones, Ink.?
Happiness and self-fulfillment, as humdrum as it sounds. Prior to opening Kasey Jones, Ink. in 2013, I worked 8-plus years in events and marketing. I really enjoyed that part of my career, but I wasn’t fulfilled. I decided to send myself “back to school” in a sense, signing up for different art classes I’d always wanted to take. I found I was the happiest and most at peace when I was being creative, and having strangers seek out my work via word of mouth was the most rewarding feeling. When I had gained enough interest from brands, event planners, and other contacts, I decided to turn my little side venture into a full-time company. I’ve never been happier.
How did age 30 change your view on what you wanted to do with your life? What steps did you take to start finding your new happiness and to working on your craft full-time?
Funny enough, my 30th birthday was where our custom-designed photo experience CHALK SHOT was born. I was already in the process of exploring creative outlets, so for my party I made a branded chalkboard backdrop and asked my photographer friend to take photos in front of it, a la photo booth style. The response was terrific and the pictures went viral, just two months later landing us a gig with EXTRA at the Golden Globes.
CHALK SHOT’s organic success, and the rush I had every time a booking request came in, was one of the determining factors of me building my own business at 30. When did you first notice your passion for design and being creative? I’ve been creating, branding, drawing, gifting and chalking for my friends, my family and myself for the last twenty-plus years. I always knew it was my passion. I just never knew it would eventually be the way I’d make a living!
What were you doing as a full-time job before you started this company? How did you know it was time to switch over full-time?
I was the Brand Manager at a spirits company and had been in marketing and events for about 8 years after college. I just got to a point where I took inventory of what makes me happy and my art and creative life was where my happiness lived, so I took the chance to take my career in that direction.
What do you wear on a normal day at Kasey Jones, Ink. and why? How would you describe your style?
Will you judge me if I tell you sweats? Honestly, when I’m in the middle of a project comfort is key while sketching, drawing, and coloring. And if I can escape the studio at some point to workout, even better. For events I definitely clean up and get it together. My style is a bit bohemian and a bit tailored, so that is my out of office and event look.
You began Kasey Jones as a hobby. How has it changed over the years and where is your company at today in terms of its team?
There is definitely more structure than there was in the beginning, especially with CHALK SHOT. We have a larger event execution team in place, additional photographers, and art assistants on staff for when I have multiple events to prep for. That being said, some things have stayed the same. My mom still hand-sews our decorative garland, my friend I started CHALK SHOT with is still the head photographer, and one of my besties and my boyfriend are very much involved in the day-to-day happenings of the business.
What were the stakes for you in starting Kasey Jones?
Everything! In quitting my job, I put all my eggs in my own basket. It was sink or swim and I was determined to make it work. At the same time, my happiness was at stake if I didn’t take a chance on myself. All of the long nights have definitely been worth it.
What types of events have you worked on through your company? How did you start?
You name it, we do it. Our projects vary from giant Live Art Activation murals for clients like Kettle Brand at international trade shows, to personalized bag plaques for Lacoste at intimate press events, to event signage for a toddler’s birthday party. Our focus is mostly brand-related, however we do commissioned work for weddings and individuals as well. Our first big gig, when CHALK SHOTwas hired for EXTRA’s One On One Room at the Golden Globes, will forever have a special place in my heart and on my DVR. To see Golden Globe winners take photos in front of my art on TV was surreal.
Who are your favorite creative inspirations?
I don’t really I have a favorite. I grab inspiration from so many places, especially from the clients I work for. I love the challenge of intermixing what’s at the heart of a product with some KJI flair to create a super-custom and elevated brand experience. My personal style is very playful and colorful, so working with clients or companies that have specific artistic guidelines that differ from mine is always inspiring to me, as bizarre as that may sound. Day to day I also draw inspiration from other artists and fashion bloggers I follow on Instagram.
Where do you see Kasey Jones Ink. at the end of 2016? How about 5 years out? What are your goals?
Right now KJI offers a ton of custom services, but a focus for 2016 is providing predesigned consumer goods. Right now I’m working on a stationary and print line, and we’re also launching new CHALK SHOT packages that include themed printed backdrops (like the “LOVE in Bloom” one we used in our photo shoot). By the end of the year, I’d love to see these consumer facing items available to purchase on a KJI online shop. In the next 5 years I’d love to expand our reach and launch KJI in several major markets. Immediate goals include developing on-going collaborations with national brands and other entrepreneurs who inspire me.
What advice would you give to other women in terms of starting their own businesses and becoming entrepreneurs? What are some secrets to success that you have learned along the way?
Do what makes you happy, and don’t expect to know it all at first, or ever. Being an entrepreneur is a 24/7 job. I live KJI every day and night. A lot of stress and responsibility comes with being your own boss, but nothing is more rewarding than doing what you love. Also make sure you surround yourself with honest and supportive friends and family. They’re who get you through the bumps in the road and cheer you on when you need it most. I can’t count the number of times my girlfriends and mom have stay up with me till the sun comes up helping me color a last minute CHALK SHOT board or complete a gifting project. They’re priceless!