We had the good fortune of connecting with Stephanie Larsen and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Stephanie, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
I kind of fell into self employment life in 2018. I was actually a hairdresser and tired of having salon after salon that I worked at close, and constantly having to pack up and find a new place to work. The salon world has always been a bit chaotic, salons tend to be independently owned and subject to the same high failure rate as any other small business.
My mindset was “I’ll never close the doors on myself”, so I hired myself and still continue to employ myself! I had years of experience doing all the things I knew I’d need to do to build and stay in business already. I had been doing my own relationship building, marketing, and website creation, amongst all the other behind the scenes work people don’t see, for over a decade. I’ve used all of that experience, and the network I’ve spent over a decade building, to create and build my art business starting in 2019.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
People ask kids what they want to be when they grow up and my answer as a child was that I wanted to own a business, and later in high school my dream was to be an artist. Life happens and parents want their kids to have a secure future, so art school was not allowed and I ended up with a college degree that didn’t actually produce any employment path, so I went to hair school and was a hairdresser for over a decade before becoming a professional artist. And that actually happened by accident. I was inspired after Anthony Bourdain passed to paint a portrait of him and posted it to Facebook just to share what I was up to, and within a few hours a friend messaged me to buy it. It’s the first painting I have ever sold and I was so thrilled I decided to paint Kurt Cobain and Chris Cornell. With all the encouragement I was getting from friends I ended up with a whole series and a local bar owner offered me my first group show.
All of these things over the last few years have been such a gift, I am so grateful to be able to pursue these long forgotten dreams, that I feel that I really have to share. So every show I dedicate a portion of my sales to non-profits that fit with the theme of the series. My latest series for instance, called Sacred Places, I have dedicated part of each sale to go to UNICEF.
This is my second career, after I had long given up on the possibility. I am now a professional artist and small business owner. It goes to show that it really is never too late, I like to call what’s happening “the healthiest midlife crisis ever”!
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I’d start with MFAH, it is by far my favorite place in Houston. I’ve even taken a few classes at Glassell, which is the art school that is part of the museum, over the last few years. Other favorite places for art include The Menil and Hardy & Nance Studios. For the nightlife I’d also be sure to take visitors to Rudyard’s, Poison Girl, and Numbers Nightclub. If the weather permits then my outdoors go-tos are Discovery Green and Eastern Glades at Memorial Park.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
In addition to my family, friends, collectors, and instructors, I’d say my greatest and most consistent source of encouragement and support has been the community I have found in Ecclesia. I have had two solo shows there and have grown in countless ways that have encouraged a ton of personal growth. It’s where I first found the courage to call myself an Artist, after one of the community pastors introduced me to a group as an Artist.