Written by Corinne Garcia Thursday, February 17 2011
Snapshot: Heather Hildebrant
When Heather Hildebrant stumbled upon a new artistic hobby, she instantly knew she had a knack for it, but she didn’t realize that it was going to unfold a new future for her. Not long after mastering paper crafting and developing her own style, she left a job where she had been for 10 years to start Chic Ink in the Seattle area. In her studio, Hildebrant designs custom, handmade, couture invitations for brides or event hostesses looking for something 100-percent original. Here she talks about going out on her own and how she blends her art with her business.
Womenetics: How did your passion for paper art develop?
Heather Hildebrant: I was introduced to paper crafting several years ago by a neighbor. I had such a great time, and as a person who is totally math and science oriented, I was thrilled to find that I had a little artsy-creative person inside me.
Womenetics: From there, what motivated you to start Chic Ink as a business venture?
Hildebrant: I began my paper art career as a teacher. I taught classes and even appeared on Seattle’s King 5 Morning News demonstrating Halloween and Valentine’s Day projects. After I realized that I was spending a lot of time away from my family, I knew that I wanted to do something in my home studio. After being asked on multiple occasions to create special event invitations and favors for others, I started Chic Ink.
|Womenetics: Was it scary to go out on your own?
Hildebrant: Absolutely. I left my 10-year career as a project manager for a local cancer research center in June of 2010. I am very thankful that I have the support of family – especially my husband who has helped me with my business plan and acts as a great sounding board for all my ideas.
Womenetics: How did Chic Ink do initially as a business?
Hildebrant: My first year was great. I got my feet wet, helped a lot of busy brides, and made fabulous connections with the greatest vendors in the bridal business.
Womenetics: How is the business doing now?
Hildebrant: I am keeping busy and spending more of my time with the brides who will benefit the most from my services. I’ve learned to turn down clients who are not a great fit for me – something that I didn’t do in my first year of business.
Womenetics: How would you describe your clientele – the ones that are the best fit
Hildebrant: The clients that benefit the most from working with me are those who want something unique and special. They are brides and hostesses who don’t have time to craft the perfect invitation or party favor, but love to wow their guests.
Womenetics: What’s it like to blend art with entrepreneurship?
Hildebrant: It’s a great balancing act. There are days when my creativity is through the roof, and there are days when I know I should focus on working on my spreadsheets.
Womenetics: How would you describe your style?
Hildebrant: I have to say I’m a bit traditional with some added flair. I like to use unique color combinations and add something unexpected to the typical paper products.
Womenetics: What are your favorite kinds of projects, the ones you’re excited to see come across your desk?
Hildebrant: I love it when I have someone come in and say, “I want something different, but I don’t know what that is.” It’s the perfect opportunity for me to stretch my imagination and create something totally unique for them. Whether they want tropical, Western, or luxurious, I love them all.
Womenetics: What kind of artwork do you do purely for fun?
Hildebrant: I like to make all kinds of framed paper projects I have rotating scrapbook pages in our kitchen. I also like to make holiday paper projects like banners and cards.
Womenetics: What do you do outside of work to blow off steam?
Hildebrant: There’s nothing like having a nice date night with my husband at our local wine bar. But if I can’t get out of the house, you’ll find me reading a book on my new hot pink Kindle.
Corinne Garcia is a freelance writer and editor living with her husband and two young boys in Bozeman, Mont. She has also written for Women’s Adventure, Christian Science Monitor, Northwest Travel, Pregnancy, Fit Pregnancy, and Fit Parent.