Kristen Rock Chouinard left a corporate career on the chance that she could turn her passion into a new business. Today, her love for painting has evolved from a therapeutic and creative outlet into an entrepreneurial quest with KRockArt.
“When I create, one of my many hopes is that the piece will speak to its new owner, that they find it interesting and intriguing, while comforting and motivating enough to have in their space every day,“ Chouinard said.
Chouinard got her first customers by tapping social media to introduce her art to a small group of followers. She quickly created interest, but realized she needed more help to turn it into a business. She reached out to the Small Business & Technology Development Center (SBTDC) and enrolled in the SBTDC ELEVATIONLAB New Venture course to learn the basics of turning an idea into a business. Chouinard continues to receive business coaching from Rebecca Gubbels, SBTDC business and program development consultant, and Joel Barrett, a contract business development consultant.
“The ELEVATIONLAB content was helpful in so many ways, but my biggest takeaway from my experience was the confidence, motivation and self-actualization I got from my time and conversations with Joel and Rebecca,” she said. “The road towards entrepreneurship, i.e., overhauling your life and career to chase something you believe to be feasible, is an intimidating one, for so many reasons. To have an outlet, with guidance and people who validate you, offer support and genuinely believe you can succeed kept me grounded and kept me believing in myself on the days I otherwise may not have.”
KRockArt has been featured by local news media and in First Friday art showings in the Crossroads. As with all new businesses, she has faced some challenges that became learning experiences. With 70 percent of her business coming from custom work, Chouinard knew she eventually would get a client who didn’t like the final commissioned work.
“There was a scenario where the end result wasn’t entirely what the client envisioned for her home,” she said. “That lesson, while I assumed it was eventually coming (although, shockingly, every client up until this point had been thrilled at first pass), was an excellent one about perseverance, as well as a reminder that the client is always right.,” she said. “Not only did we eventually reach a positive outcome, she has proved to be my favorite story client to date, and a recurring one, as well.”
Today, Chouinard has a full calendar of commissions, and showings at local Kansas City businesses.
“Something I realized fairly quickly is that, while the flexibility and autonomy of entrepreneurship is majorly attractive, it also means your progress, daily motivation and intentions rely solely on you, the entrepreneur.,” she said. “While that can be intimidating, it has been incredibly empowering to realize that every day, every move, every decision can be indicative of your success in your venture.”
Kristen Rock Chouinard