An in depth interview with Kelsey Lemons

We all know that really good looking person that everyone knows is cute, except for them (and the fact that they don't know how cute they are makes them that much cuter). They are the one person we all wish we could all be with, yet they don't even realize what a catch they are. Kelsey is like that to us. She is a total girl boss, amazing at everything she does, and she genuinely doesn't even know it. Kelsey, otherwise, affectionately known as “Sey Sey” is a freelance artist specializing in photography, hand & brush lettering, and micro-blogging. She has so much knowledge and insight that we HAD to tap into it Interviewing her this week was so much fun (mostly because we tricked her into it), but also because she is so genuine in everything she does. We hope you guys enjoy this interview as much as we did!

WAU: What made you decide to leave your job and pursue freelance work full time?

Well when I got my job, I knew it wasn't something I wanted to do forever, but it was comfortable and I had great co-workers. Toward the end of my time there I became irritated. I felt like God had already given me permission to leave, but then my parents weren't super supportive initially about me quitting my job to pursue full time freelance work. I began to realize that so much of the reason why I hadn't taken the jump had to do with what people thought.

You know how people say that you need to be at a job for at least two years? I had only been there a year and a half. I realized I was starting to live my life based on what “someone” (this mystical “someone”) might one day think about my resume and I was like, “this isn't even an identifiable person! Why would I be living my life based off of what someone may or may not think in the future about me?”

So, I decided to just do it. I wrote my parents a letter and told them my credentials. I complimented them on raising me, reminding them that I could do this because they instilled the skill within me. They realized in that letter that I could do it and since then have supported me. Interestingly enough since then, their reaction is completely different. Now they are super supportive of me being freelance. And that's essentially how it happened.

 WAU: How did you identify with what you wanted to do?

I’ve always known that I wanted to encourage people and I realized there are a lot of ways to do that. Some people are able to do that through their full time job, but for me it just wasn't that way. I found I could encourage people through photography, micro- blogging, or instagram. I felt like I was able to do what I’m called to do (encouraging people) while doing things that interest me. So that's kind of how I determined it. I feel like in everything I do, I need to find my purpose in it. I don't do things idle mindedly. Sometimes I’m like, “Wow this will be fun!” but then I have to stop and ask myself the why behind it. I try not to do things too hastily, or jump into things. Instead, I try to have a plan behind it. Usually if I do something, God will take it to be something much more. 

WAU: What things will you never compromise even when finances are tight and the struggle is real, when it comes to your brand and who you are?

Definitely my integrity. I would say that's top. I would also say my creativity. I want to make sure it's growing and not stifled. I want to always have the opportunity to try new things. Even now, I feel like there are times between projects that I have to try something just for me and I always feel better when I have that freedom. My faith is also something I would never compromise. It’s not necessarily the same as integrity and it's my goal to keep this at the center of everything I do. 


WAU: Being a creative, it's so hard to focus. Do you have any tips or tricks to help you hammer down and get things done? 

I know a lot of the right answers to this question, but they don't make sense to me and I’m still learning what works for me. What has worked for me in the past (and what still works for me now), aren't necessarily different. Sometimes I forget to do what has worked in the past (which is stupid) but I just do. It's weird, I have this one song by One Republic (they are my favorite band) called Goodbye Apathy. If I’m in one of those moments where I have to get something done, but I literally cannot (like I cannot, I am not in the mood, I don't feel like it) I put on Goodbye Apathy and I tell myself you don't have a choice. That song is a contract with me to get it done and I use it in desperate moments. I've also noticed recently that keeping a cleaner space helps me because I am the messiest person on the planet. My place is always a mess, but I’ve noticed that I’m more inclined to be productive if my office is clean. When I wake up, I’m like “oh let me go to my nice clean office to work!” It's more inviting.

Last week in my leadership group we were talking about being good stewards of what we have and the guest speaker was talking on the topic of being faithful in little before getting much. She said it's not necessarily just finances. It can be your house and your car. If all you have is a car, be a good steward of your car and give people a ride. I realized I’m not always being a good steward of my house, but I am working on being a good steward of the space I have.

I also read a lot of things that inspire me. That’s why I always have so many tabs open. To remember to look at this or watch that or go back and read this. However, reading and learning from those things doesn’t make things happen for you. You make things happen from that information.

Then my last thing is a playlist. Whenever I hear a song that is catchy and inspiring to me, I add it to my create playlist. Whenever I feel really creative and just want to try something different and new or when I’m editing and in a funk, I will put on my create playlist which helps me get things done.

WAU: How do you measure success?

It’s for sure not financially. I’ve never been super concerned by money or driven by that. Honestly, I measure my success by obedience. Being obedient to God and also just doing the things I want to do; the things I care about and make my heart beat. That is success, because starting out I wasn't making as much money as I was before, but I always made more than enough money to do everything that I wanted to do, you know? I think a lot of people worry about money. I do think that if you are successful that you should be profitable, and praise God, this month I finally made more money freelance than I used to in my full time job. But it's also important to understand that some things take time and your success isn't solely based on your coins. It has a lot to do with being happy and trying new things, having new experiences to learn from and using those experiences to continue to create.

WAU: If you could go back, what advice would you give yourself?

Fear can be crippling. I wasn’t aware of this before I quit my job and it sounds so weird, but it's actually crippling. I could not move. I was like “why am I so afraid?” That feeling just means that you need to do it. If you're that afraid of something that you should be doing, then I think that's a really clear indicator that you should be doing it. That's the devil saying, “no you don't have this," and that is a hint that there is something really awesome on the other side for you. I am so blessed by a community of creatives who support and encourage me, but I know not everyone has that. Find a community of people that will encourage you and push you along the way. Keep trying new things. Don’t be afraid to reach out to people and experiment. Be true to you. I can't stress this enough. If someone wants you to help with a photoshoot that you really want to be a part of, but can't pay you, do it. If someone asks you to be a part of something and you really need to make your coins this month, then say maybe I can do it in a couple of months, but I can't do it right now.

Don’t be afraid. Find your community. Try new things. Be true to you.

lovely photography courtesy of Tiana Lewis and Victoria Tran