Have you heard of Create & Cultivate? It’s a creative women’s conference and online community that I attended last September in Seattle, where I met so many unbelievably lovely women. One of those lovely women—who I actually just saw from afar and then followed on social media, like so many great friendships of the 21st century—was Chloe. She was working for Create & Cultivate at the time, photographing a breakout session and wearing the coolest track pants. Her wavy chestnut-colored hair was making me rethink my consistent quest to stay blonde. She seemed like someone I would want to be friends with; and of course, I was right.
Chloe is a graphic designer, artist, and photographer, with her business Chloe White Art + Design. Her amazing hand-lettering, photographs, and straightforward and insightful blog posts have been such a joy to follow. I was so glad to chat with her IRL (or over a video call, anyway) and get to know more about what led her to Los Angeles, how her mornings fuel her creative endeavors, and how she got that adorable coffee tattoo.
“I don’t know if I’d consider myself an entrepreneur,” Chloe laughs, “but I left Create & Cultivate in May to pursue my freelance projects full-time; I was doing both for a while, and I thought, while I’m young, why not? What’s the worst that could happen?”
Chloe isn’t one to let opportunity pass her by. She grew up in New England, mostly in Vermont (“So I get the cows and wide open spaces!” she says of my life in central Illinois) and after taking a year off of school and then a year of classes at Maine College of Arts, she felt like doing something “crazy.” “I was doing art my whole life, and I always knew I wanted to pursue it as a career… I was going to do fine art, and won some art competitions in high school for photorealistic portraiture, but then I started doing graphic design and thought this is sick!! I can do fine art but then manipulate it on the computer.” It wasn’t just the graphic design major that was a big move; she’d never been to Los Angeles, but looked up programs at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM) and after a visit, she thought, let’s do it! “I even took a friend with me!” Chloe says, of her friend who attended FIDM and lives next door to her even now, four years later.
“Coming here, I was able to find myself outside the life I’d always lived,” Chloe says. “I was able to start new. Yes, I had the one friend who came with me, but, I was able to develop myself as an adult away from people who’d known me my whole life.” She took on every job available to her at school and tried as many new experiences as she could. “I was always passionate, but never a ‘go-getter’… never thinking ‘I’m going to start my own business for sure!’ It was a great experience being in LA as a young person, in college, there are no dorms at FIDM, so it throws you into the real world quickly.”
While in college, Chloe didn’t have much ample time to take things slowly. “They work on a quarter system, so everything is done within 10 weeks, have to stay super focused. In college, I was all over the place, I felt like I never slept… but mornings have always been an important part of my day.”
Chloe says she was never the kind of person to sleep until late afternoon on a weekend. “Growing up, my family always woke up early—Sundays would be our day to sit together, drink coffee around the table, no electronics, and just have family time.”
With a newfound sense of self and trying new things, it’s no wonder Chloe has had an amazing array of internships. “First, I did an internship at Darling Magazine… I told my career advisor, please! This mag is dope!,” Chloe says, “She said ok, even though I wasn’t technically supposed to be doing internships at that stage. I’d toured the Darling office as part of a club I was in at FIDM, and then just kept emailing until they invited me,” she laughs. “I met so many lovely people!”
She then landed an internship at Create & Cultivate while still attending school before it turned into a full-time job. “It’s a circle—L.A. is a lot smaller than you’d think!” She’d attended a Create & Cultivate Conference in L.A. in 2016 and ran into someone she knew, got emails for people within Create & Cultivate, and after some emailing, they brought her in for an interview. “I started before finishing school and was hired freelance before I started working for them full-time. It grew so fast… I could just FEEL it, I knew it [Create & Cultivate] was going to be a big thing.” Chloe grew into her role as graphic designer, working closely with the founder on brand identity and making graphics for conference sets, social media, the website, and more.
“I was driving to my full-time job, driving an hour and a half mostly stuck in traffic from Pasadena to the west side of L.A. Then, I’d try to take the time and wake up and have coffee and listen to podcasts where I’d be calm—no road rage!” she laughs. “Now mornings are the best part of my day because I get to decide how my day goes… and I’m not judging myself if my body needs more sleep. I really try and take my time in the morning, not worrying I have to be somewhere, most of the time.”
Now that Chloe is freelancing full-time, she’s also been working on her blog more. “While I’d been blogging off and on since 2013, I started up Chloe by Storm up last fall. I’d wanted to do it forever, but felt like I couldn’t keep up… half the weekends, I was gone, I had to do laundry, then I got in this ‘Will people think this is stupid if I try to keep doing this? Is there value here?’ second guessing, but that’s dumb; I enjoy it, I enjoy these things, and if I enjoy them, chances are there are other people who will enjoy it too. I like the ‘start by starting mentality’… as long as you’ve started, your project is going, it doesn’t have to move fast. Do things you like! People say ‘Life is short!’, but hopefully it’s not that short! Really, you have a long time to do the things you want to do, and you have plenty of time to do them.”
“We set so many timelines for ourselves… things we have to get done by a certain age. That’s not the case. If you watched a video of yourself a year ago, you would be floored at the growth and where you are. Even if it’s not where you ‘ultimately’ want to be, look how far you’ve come. So I’m scheduling out content, but not stressing about it—it’s a go with the flow type thing.”
Chloe wakes up around 8:30 or 9 most days and spends 30 minutes to an hour chatting with her boyfriend, Daniel, and making coffee. “I’ll be a miserable grump if I don’t have coffee!” Chloe says, not so jokingly. “Even if I don’t have time to make it and enjoy the routine at home, I’ll grab it out if I’m on my way to a client meeting… yes, it’s an addiction to caffeine, but it really is more than that. Coffee brings people together. If I’m having coffee, I’ll make the time to really sit down and drink it and have a conversation or be with my own thoughts for a minute… I enjoy that time to sit and relax before I run into my day… running into the day is just not how humans were made to live.” (She even has a little coffee tattoo!)
“I’ve been intrigued by starting to do The Morning Pages,” Chloe says. She read about the practice, created by Julia Cameron, on the Skinny Confidential blog. “Basically, you just do three pages of a brain dump… no judgment, just anything you want. It’s not a list necessarily, just whatever is on your mind. I keep thinking I should start doing that!”
As far as books and podcasts Chloe’s loving right now? She’s been listening to the Ensemble, recommended on Girls Night In newsletter. “I downloaded it to listen to; if I have a client meeting, I’ll take the train and love listening to this book right now. When I had a commute to work, I was obsessed with Jenna Kutcher’s podcast. Anything female business development, teaching you how to do things. Also a guilty pleasure (but I don’t feel guilty about it!) are the Bachelor podcasts.”
“Even when it comes to work—I’ll try and creatively look for inspiration before starting… on Pinterest, just getting creative juices flowing… as a creative, it’s hard to pump out good work all day without that space. Now I have the time to focus on the projects I’m doing, to get inspired and get ideas for the day, it’s really nice. I’m a quick worker, and focus on one project at a time, but this also means I can make my own schedule… by time-blocking, I’ve learned to take control of my time so I have those blocks for focused work and those blocks to take a lunch break, to take a walk to clear my head, to focus on self-care… You have to make time for things you love.”
All images provided by Chloe White.