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Life & Work with Chelsie Symone

Today we’d like to introduce you to Chelsie Symone.

Hi Chelsie, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
Hi! Thank you so much for having me. Honestly, for the longest I thoughtI was a late bloomer, but it turns out God was aligning and preparing my very interesting and unique path since I was young.

I was always pretty shy and more on the quiet side, but felt most loud and expressive when writing a poem or putting an outfit together. I went to LaVilla and Douglas Anderson for creative writing, where I found my utmost love for poetry, particularly the spoken word. When leaving college, I practiced spoken wordless and freestyle poetry more.

Fashion, however, wasn’t the exact path I saw myself pursuing, but more of a creative outlet for myself and my friends. I remembered always being the friend to give fashion advice, or my closet being the store for last-minute fashion finds. Fashion had always been there, but it wasn’t until I started working at Nordstrom in 2020 that I saw it being a career path.

The pandemic and working from home had taken a toll on my mental health, so much so that I got let go from my call center job. My friend, Luna suggested I apply at Nordstrom as a seasonal sales associate just to cover the bills until I find something else more permanent. But what was supposed to be a seasonal position, turned into a full-time personal stylist and now, a visual merchandiser, all in one year (yes, it’s true what they say).

I look back and laugh at God, as He has a crazy sense of humor, cause our timing means nothing in comparison to His. At 27, my career journey is just beginning, but boy, the prologue just to get here, is a testimony.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
Of course not! Is it truly a journey without valleys to match the hills?

The biggest challenge I think I had was my own self-identity and fear. I was very sheltered growing up and grew up with the mindset that as long as I achieved, I would be loved. I often followed what people thought I should do with my life, and how they saw it, which often would leave me having a spiritual, internal battle with what I truly wanted in life.

When my dad passed, my mother instilled the importance of being able to manage life alone should life present that to you without choice. Looking up to her instilled this idea I had about success and independence and having a strong career to fall back on, no matter the joy or lack thereof that came with it.

Dropping out of college was one of my biggest challenges, as that was the life that was sought out for me. Here I was, a golden Christian child, who flunked out of school and had to work jobs she had no joy in doing. I lost my way and my world was completely black for what felt like forever.

Though fashion and poetry were my skilled possessions, I was scared to pursue them. But denying myself of my own talents and following what others saw me as only delayed my growth and alignment to the blessings God ultimately had for me from the beginning.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I am a freelance poet and work as a Visual Merchandiser for Nordstrom. Working in both the literary and fashion industry has been one of the biggest joys in my life.

At first, I thought fashion and poetry were two separate entities that could never cross, so I always felt I needed to choose. When in truth, my poetry inspires a lot of my fashion and in reverse. Both give me the chance to tell stories and connect with others.

The best compliment I’m given in both my words and fashion is when someone is challenged to write something or wear something they couldn’t first imagine. I think that is my uniqueness in both fields and ultimately my God-like gift to give while I’m here.

What would you say has been one of the most important lessons you’ve learned?
Be patient! With your creative process, with life, and where she’ll take you. The most beautiful things take time. My forever inspiration will be nature. Even the most powerful, most natural things we need take time to grow. It’s a part of a life cycle: the pressure of the rain is needed as much as the sun that pulls us out.

I used to try to rush my art and every time, it was proven to me that my message gets lost when doing so. In this era, we will be persuaded by this instant gratification way of producing our creations. But this art life isn’t a race when you’re being authentic to your calling. Remove that pressure off yourself with patience. Surrender to God instead of man-made time and free-fall into your calling.

You’ll get your best ideas that way. They’ll flow out of you like water currents.

Be open to finding inspiration ANYWHERE. Take your eyes off social media often. Actively listen to conversations, read more books, talk to the older generations in your life, talk to your God or what you believe in, and be as present as possible. Just because it isn’t art-related doesn’t mean you can’t take inspiration from it.

Be honest with your journey and even use your journey as your own inspiration. We are our biggest stories.

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Image Credits
Aaron Rodriguez

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