Resiliency of ALX: Kellie Sansone Creates

Resiliency of ALX: Kellie Sansone Creates

By Kellie Sansone, Artist

Kellie Sansone, Artist
'To me, art is more than just a profession; it is something that saved me.'

After leaving my job as an event planner to care for my oldest child and my grandmother, I became lost. I no longer knew who I was as a person, and was sucked into a world where I only felt like a caretaker. I became depressed. I realized that I spent my entire life being a people-pleaser. I gave up my dreams of pursuing art because other people wanted me to be something else.

Once I had my second child, and the depression took a greater hold, my husband suggested I do something with art again. I started doing some things here and there just for fun, and in late 2016, I started thinking about making it a business.

My business is called Kellie Sansone Creates. When it started, I sold paintings and taught classes. Today I offer commissioned artwork, private paint parties for children and adults, and both virtual and in-person paint and sips. I also offer a membership that includes weekly video tutorials, access to my public classes, and more.

The decision to start Kellie Sansone Creates turned out to be for the best! In starting this business, I realized that what made my business unique is me. Finally, I felt like myself again!

In 2019, I started building momentum. I began teaching classes once a month at Woodlawn Press Winery, built a following there and started to sell more paintings. I was preparing for an art show in March 2020. Things were looking up.

The week before my art show, cases started building. RSVPs started dropping left and right, but I put so much money into the show, we decided to continue with it. Only a handful of people came, understandably. Two days later, everything shut down. My paintings were hung with no one to see them. Classes came to a screeching halt.

I was terrified. The classes and the paintings were my only source of income. I had no idea what to do.

My kids started virtual learning, which gave me an idea: I could offer my classes virtually!

Prior to the shutdown, my only classes were in person at the winery. My website was meager. I only had a landing page back then. But I overhauled everything! I turned the website into a full store and a place to register for my classes. In January, I added the membership option to really give in-depth instruction.

I honestly didn't have time to stress. My virtual class idea was unexpectedly popular. I was thrust into an all of a sudden full-time business of packing kits for my classes and teaching sometimes multiple classes per week.

It wasn’t until May that I realized my business would survive. Each month is getting busier! I love it! I had my busiest, and most profitable month in March of 2021.

Here’s my advice: Don't give up! Keep pushing, and don't hesitate to ask for help if you need it, even if it is just to hear some encouraging words from a friend. Asking for help is not shameful. Everyone needs help. We are all better together, in more ways than one.

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VIP Alexandria Magazine is proud to present The Resiliency Issue. Featuring small business COVID-19 success stories, as told by the owners who lived in it, learned to pivot + survived.

You can read all of our Resiliency Stories in our digital issue HERE.

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