“I spent a lot of my life feeling insecure, my hope is that I can encourage others to let go of their insecurities and do what they love. I’m pretty transparent. I’m honest when it comes to my emotions and I think it is important to show people that there is beauty in your chaos.”Selena Bender
When I first met Selena Bender, I had no idea how much we would end up having in common. I had only recently come across her work in September 2018 via Instagram, thanks to Mary Soler, owner of Space Midland. Mary featured a beautiful mural wall in her newly opened studio and creative space, completely designed and hand painted by Selena. I loved it and followed along from that day forward, often seeing her gorgeous hand lettering and creative designs around Midland and shared on social media.
At the very first gathering for Fill Up Your Cup, Selena came to join us and I was thrilled to meet her. She is the kindest soul and most genuine heart! I didn’t get to spend as much time connecting with her one-on-one as I would have liked that day, but we were able to stay in touch and recently connected again. That is where I found out just how much we had in common, despite our very different careers and talents. This girl truly is my spirit animal. Selena is a fellow “old soul,” who is also an empath, loves her childhood memories of copying the written words of her grandmother’s notes, enjoys eating butter pecan ice cream, and has an appreciation for teacups and all things Normal Rockwell! I haven’t met many people who share those same traits, so I was floored and completely excited to connect with someone so much like me.
Selena shared more with me during our recent conversation about how the desire to hand letter her own wedding materials led to a love-affair with the artform. She later discovered that she wanted to let go of insecurities around sharing her creativity. This led her to a 365-day challenge to intentionally create and grow her confidence in her artwork and in herself, ultimately leading her to form her business, Selena Ashley Designs. Below, she shares more of her heart and soul regarding her business, her love for her customers and how she works to find balance between her passion and her day job.
What products and services do you provide?
“Graphic design services and custom hand lettering. I hand paint wall murals, t-shirts, world globes, hand lettered prints, pretty much anything you dream up on most materials. I also teach classes and wholesale.”
Briefly share with us a little about what motivated you to start Selena Ashley Designs.
“I was getting married and wanted to hand letter all my wedding materials. But, then in 2015, I decided to start a hand lettering challenge for myself on Instagram. As an artist, you can feel insecure and I wanted to let go on that insecurity and just create. For 365, I created and posted a quote everyday, my account just continued to grow and people would request that days art. It just grew from there.”
Did you have a mentor or someone who encouraged you to start your own business?
“I can honestly say I’ve been blessed by my family and friends always encouraging me to create. It was just natural to start a business.”
How have you positively impacted your community as a result of your art?
“I spent a lot of my life feeling insecure, my hope is that I can encourage others to let go of their insecurities and do what they love. I’m pretty transparent. I’m honest when it comes to my emotions and I think it is important to show people that there is beauty in your chaos. I teach hand lettering classes and I love to send out happy mail or do giveaways on my social media to inspire others. I’ve hand lettered motivational quotes on school and business walls.”
What is your favorite part about owning a creative business?
“I love what my customers dream up. I love knowing what quotes inspire them and I love creating art that will hang in their home or that they’ve gifted to someone else. I’ve even hand lettered for tattoos. It is amazing to me that someone loved my lettering enough to keep it forever.”
What is a challenge that you’ve encountered with your business?
“I work a corporate job, so finding work life balance can be very difficult. When I get home I generally have logos to design, or wedding calligraphy just a lot of custom art. I get requests via text, email, Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook. It can get overwhelming but so rewarding at the same time. Some weeks I may work 80 hours. When I know I have a big to-do list, it is really difficult to take time for myself, there is guilt in pausing and relaxing. I always feel like I have to multi-task.”
What is the best piece of advice you have been given?
“Don’t overwork yourself because you are afraid of saying no and don’t take less than you desire if people don’t see the value in your work. When I’m feeling really stressed I like to journal. I learned it from the Artist’s Way. Mind dumping can be so helpful to let go of frustrations. Just learn to pause, even when you think you don’t have time, make time for it.”
What encouragement would you offer to a woman who is pursuing a dream of hers?
“Never stop learning. Continue to grow and challenge yourself, however, you don’t always have to say yes. The quote, just say yes and you’ll figure it out anyways, this can be true, but make sure by saying yes to one thing, you aren’t saying no to something you would have loved to do.”
Do you have a favorite inspirational or motivational quote?
My business is built on motivational quotes. I honestly can’t just pick one. “Rest time is not wasted time;” “Learn to embrace the mess, perfection is overrated.”
If you are ever looking for inspirational quotes to share, I have them available on all my social media channels – Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and my website www.selenaashley.com
Thank you Selena for sharing your heart, your talent, and for being an amazing example of chasing passion, despite the challenges. We are so blessed to have you in our community!
You can follow Selena on Instagram @selenaashley_designs and on Facebook @selenaashleydesigns .