Celebrating women of color in business and beyond is at the heart of Mocha Lifestyle and the ultimate goal for our community. Which is why I am so excited to virtually meet so many amazing entrepreneurs via our social channels and learn their stories. When I came across Stacy’s feed on Instagram, I was immediately captivated by her style. Her company, Letters and Feathers, showcases her artistic approach to modern calligraphy and the creative mediums she uses to interpret her hand-lettering skills and watercolor brush strokes.
I instantly wanted Stacy to create every greeting card and write all the letters that I ever need to send in my life. She’s that good (and on the flip side my handwriting skills can be described as modern chicken scratch, so there’s that). I was curious as to the journey of this talented self-taught artist and wanted to share snippets of Stacy’s story in her own words. May you be as inspired as I was after our interview.
How did you get started?
I have been making handmade cards since I was in high school. As a teenager, I didn’t have money to buy birthday cards for my friends, so I just started making them with supplies I had at home! I used to always write “handmade with love” on the back of my cards to show my friends that I put thought and love into creating them!
I started doing calligraphy back in 2015. I would see hand-lettering online and thought it was so beautiful. I would take my coworker’s brush pens and markers and practice doodling during my downtime at work. Then I started to do watercolor art. It was a fun weekend hobby and it became a creative outlet for me.
When I launched my business, I had old friends reach out to me and say they recalled the back of my cards having that handmade signature on the back. It really brings me joy that they remembered!
Fun fact: I’ve made every single birthday, Christmas, anniversary, and Valentine’s Day card for my husband the past 6 years we’ve been together.
When did it turn from hobby to business? What was the point where you said to yourself, “I can actually do this for a living”?
It’s something I dreamt about doing, but I didn’t really think it was possible. I was working a full-time job in commercial production and I didn’t think that I could quit my job, the security of that, and dive into full-time calligraphy. I was furloughed back in April 2020 and I thought this was the perfect time for me to do what I had always wanted to do.
When the opportunity presented itself, at first I felt totally inadequate because I didn’t know how to start a business and there were all of these thoughts in my mind. “I can’t do that.” “This person does it better.” “She’s already doing this.” But then I realized that I can’t compare someone else’s middle to my beginning because then I would never start.
I had to really change my mindset and position my thoughts in a way that was going to set myself up for success. And that’s what I did. I made the decision to get all my ducks in a row and then I started creating. All the pieces came together after that.
I believe when you’re passionate about something that’s when magic happens and I truly believe that your passion is deeply tied to your purpose. I really needed to activate that part of me that fully believed in myself in order to move forward with confidence. There was so much that I had to overcome in my mind to get to a place where I believed, “Yes, I can do this, I can succeed.”
I launched Letters and Feathers in December 2020. The name of my company is actually inspired by my favorite Scripture, Psalm 91:4 where it says, “He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.” The “feathers” part comes from that verse, and reminds me that God is with me on this creative journey of mine and covering me. And feathers are also on a quill which is what they used to write back in the day. I added “letters” because you know, I do hand lettering!
After launching my business, I sold 112 Christmas cards in the span of two weeks, which is insane because I didn’t think I was even capable of hand-painting that many cards in that timeframe. It was a lot of work, but it was so much fun, and I was having the time of my life.
What do you ultimately want to see happen with Letters and Feathers?
I want to build a brand that I can be proud of. I feel like now that I have activated that thing in my brain that says, “You can dream big!” I am dreaming REALLY big. I also think it’s really important to be true to who I am. I have a lot of people telling me, “Maybe you should do this or maybe you should put this in your shop.” I love hearing people’s ideas, but I would love for this to progress as an organic expression of who I am.
I want to create quality products that can uplift people and I want all of my products and handmade goods to reflect who I am and bring joy to other people’s lives. That is ultimately my vision and goal for Letters and Feathers and whatever that looks like, we’ll see what’s in store. I am also really excited because part of my mission is to empower other women, even though I know that sounds cliché given that we recently celebrated International Women’s Day.
I really believe that as women we need to realize the power that is within us. I’m realizing that in my own life and I would like to try to impart some of that into the lives of other women, including women of color. As a first-generation Chinese American raised by immigrant parents, there were a lot of expectations and not a lot of support in pursuing a career in the arts as it was not culturally accepted. All to say, it is up to us to push forward in our own calling and what we believe is our path.
Ultimately, I had a career in film production and filmmaking but truly, the power is within ourselves to step into our individual purpose — no matter what our upbringing or experience has been, what other people say or think and oftentimes even overcoming our own negative self-talk.