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Conversations with Courtney Chase

Today we’d like to introduce you to Courtney Chase.

Courtney, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
Odd Charm began as a curious, creative venture while I was a student in grad school. My studies were very intensive at the time, all the work I was producing was computer-based and lived on the screen. While I enjoyed graphic design, I was itching for another outlet that would allow me to use my creative skill sets offline and in real life.

Growing up as a teen and young adult, my interest in fashion design and styling also grew. I was told frequently by teachers and mentors that I had “a great eye.” At the time, I couldn’t really understand what that meant exactly. Personally, I just knew that I loved self-expression through fashion, designing and styling. I remember becoming obsessed with thrifting and discovering unique, vintage pieces. It was a great way for me to uncover my own personal style and become more knowledgeable about the things I’m most drawn to. Curating a staple wardrobe and outfits for various occasions has become a skill I’ve honed for the majority of my adult years.

My interests in fashion began to spill into interior decorating, as well as interior and furniture design. This started with rearranging or redesigning the layout of my bedroom every time I felt compelled to do so. The way I was subconsciously teaching myself about space, functionality, decor, etc. truly expedited my passions for art and design as a whole. Exploring such different facets of design only made me more curious to create things on my own. School is where I was really able to learn the most and experiment with art making. My primary focus was graphic design and visual communication, however, along the way I picked up a variety of other supplemental design skills by simply taking any art class that interested me. This included drawing, painting, mixed media, sculpture, art history, creative writing, photography and others.

Working with my hands is my favorite way to work. I need to physically be intertwined and engaged with the materials I’m working with. Through my creative business venture with Odd Charm, I started out by selling handmade earrings. The earrings I designed and made by hand were created with polymer clay. Most of my designs were unique and intended to be statement pieces for those who also enjoy being expressive with their fashion choices. Odd Charm’s overarching concept is about creating a community for eccentric folks who set out to be daring with how they present and exist in the world. Two years later, I’ve started to slowly expand Odd Charm’s offering by also selling vintage and second-hand fashion. It’s an outlet that’s allowing me to exercise my creativity and learn about entrepreneurship. I plan to keep working on the businesses evolution by expanding its products and services which will align with lovers of design, fashion, furniture and home decor.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
My dad always reminded me as a child, “anything worth having is not easy to come by.” He was my first example of what an entrepreneur is and I always admired his work ethic and overall hustle with his business endeavors.

Odd Charm is my first experience with running a business, while it is exciting, it is also hard work to stay motivated and manage upward mobility. Learning things like sales, marketing + promotion and audience demand has been a challenge because of the constant flux which you can’t always pinpoint or determine. Trends and demand frequently ebb and flow within the market, therefore staying ahead of the curve and anticipating the fluctuation requires extra effort and strategy.

Despite the challenges, I have had a lot of reassuring success as well. Starting out, I thought my business idea was too niche and wouldn’t appeal to any particular audience, but to my surprise the demand for eccentric pieces in fashion, furniture and decor is very prominent. The engagement I’ve experienced with customers thus far has kept me motivated and looking for new ways to amplify Odd Charm.

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
These days, I consider myself a Designer, Educator and Creative. I divide my talents and interests between a few different outlets. Working as a freelance graphic designer with CC Creative, an adjunct design professor at MICA (Maryland Institute College of Art) and a creative entrepreneur with a boutique retail business, Odd Charm.

Design is my speciality, it is the thing I set out to learn the most about. It’s an extremely large and abstract field of study, which is why it appeals to me. There’s no limitations when it comes to design, it can transcend, fashion, interiors, buildings, environments, lifestyles, almost anything really. Most people know me as a graphic designer, I’ve worked on many ad campaigns, brand identities and publication design projects for many clients. I’ve sharpened my skills in graphic design because of my proximity to it for the past almost 10 years, however as I continue to evolve as a person I also want my art to evolve as well. Lately, I’ve been wanting to leap into another field of design, specifically interiors, working with custom furniture and decor. I still have so much to learn and explore, my journey in many ways is just starting to unfold.

The thing that sets me apart from others is also what I’m most proud of as well, my comfort with individualism. For as long as I could remember, I’ve always presented myself as an individual – at times it looked like being the oddball or not fitting in with the crowd. It’s not something I was always comfortable with but I’ve learned through the years that it’s what makes me special.

Before we let you go, we’ve got to ask if you have any advice for those who are just starting out?
My best piece of advice is to remain true to yourself. I’m sure many of you have heard that more times than you can count, but it’s really the only thing that truly matters.

If you commit to doing only what serves you and brings you joy, you’ll be just fine.

Have fun, work hard, connect with like-minded people and protect your energy!

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