Clemson Entrepreneur of the Week
Lacey Hennessey

Parks, Recreation and Tourism Managment -2009

What role do you play in the entrepreneurial ecosystem?

I am a self-taught artist, muralist, and entrepreneur based out of Greenville, South Carolina. My business started as a hobby while attending Clemson, then turned into a side hustle by way of social media, quickly leading to a full-time career. Over the past few years, I’ve created 140 murals in 9 states, and have shipped over 1400 commissions to 40 US states and 10 countries (and counting). My body of work is often a reflection of my personality -- colorful and fun, bold, and all shared with purpose. My mediums range from digital applications to acrylic, watercolor, mixed-media collages, and textile design. My love for travel and the freedom to explore new opportunities was the catalyst for the pursuit of my art career and is what drives my creative spirit every day.

What are some of your best memories of your time at Clemson?

I came from Maryland to Clemson for the football, warm weather and education, and I stayed for the people. My favorite memories at Clemson always include groups of welcoming characters. Whether it was my favorite professors, a sunny drive around campus, sitting on the 5th floor of Cooper library, or at one of my Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority functions -- my favorite days always included happy people. Clemson is synonymous with family. It was true before I arrived. It was a fact while I was there. And it has been extremely evident since I’ve graduated. The bond is strong and whether I’m inside Death Valley, submitting a proposal to a new client, or traveling the world in an orange tiger paw t-shirt, my Clemson family is always a vibe. 

3. What were some key inflection points in your career after you left Clemson?
I started my professional career in radio after graduation in 2009. I sold it for six months before deciding I hated sales and grabbed an opening in the Promotions Department. There, I put together events for three major radio stations in the market and met A TON of celebrities through hosted “Meet and Greets.” This chapter taught me the importance of loving your job. Why? Because I barely made any money.
In 2013 I pivoted to a marketing agency where I was the sole event coordinator. Here is where I learned how to run a business. I spent a little over five years there and loved the people I worked with. I had an amazing mentor as a boss, who excelled at work, family, and in the community, and I quickly learned a standard of excellence. While there, the birth of Instagram also happened, which allowed me to reignite my passion for creating and gave me a place to showcase my personal artwork. And suddenly, by way of marketing my hobby, it became a side -hustle. I was working full-time at the agency, and then I’d come home and paint until midnight and take more orders through my DM’s. As my side-hustle grew, so did attention from the management at the agency and we discussed my exit strategy for a time that was quickly approaching. Within a few months, it was July 2018 and I was fully self-employed. Another lesson, BUILD STRONG RELATIONSHIPS WITH YOUR LEADERSHIP TEAM(S), AND LEARN TO HAVE TRANSPARENT CONVERSATIONS. My upper management leadership always knew where I stood. More times than not I was probably too outspoken for the norm, but it has helped get me where I am today.
At that job, I watched the accounting department and spent years doing admin from a desk. I worked with clients, I flexed my organizational skills, and through working two jobs, really at one time, I learned to multi-task. This means LONG hours, LATE nights, and LOTS of YouTube. If I didn’t know how to do something or needed to learn more, I googled it. Like “How to start an LLC?” and what to do next.
Fast forward to 2020. I scored my first mural. How? I posted on Instagram that I wanted to do one. And so, I did. It took a few months for a bite, but after one, came five more, and come spring of 2021 I had completed over 50 murals. Next big move – I joined TikTok and it has brought so many connections outside of my local regions. By the end of 2022 my count made it to 140, in 9 different states.
One of the BIG reasons I wanted to work for myself was extra “vacation days." The corporate 2-week policy was not cutting it for me. I wanted control over my own schedule. So in 2019, a year after going full-time entrepreneurship, I celebrated with a 50-day/7-week European vacation. I went solo, joining up with new friends (previously strangers I had met on other solo trips) along the way throughout a 10-country self-proclaimed “World Tour.” Traveling is “my why” and I am very proud that I have been able to combine my love for painting and travel together.

What are your personal and professional dreams?

Personally, I would like to have visited as many countries as years I am alive at any given moment and I am catching up! (ex. 36 years old = visit 36+ countries; 55 years old = 55+ countries). I have quite the bucket list that only continues to grow as a I check more items off the list, but overall I want to continue to live a life of freedom. Freedom to travel, make my own schedule, provide for myself and others, give back to communities in need and be known as valuable resource for others who want to learn, hustle and grow with their passions.
And one day I will be the winner of Survivor, Big Brother, and/or Amazing Race. So, stay tuned for that!

Professionally, I will be recognized as an international muralist and creative small business coach – helping thousands of others to leave the corporate world behind and forge their own path. I will be art licensing digital designs for national brands, including my own personal home goods line. 

What would you recommend students do to maximize their remaining time at Clemson?

Use the facilities. Clemson offers so many amazing buildings, landscapes, clubs and activities. Try something new! Go to a game, and not just football. Take a class that is not in your major. I took tennis and my assigned class partner is now my business insurance broker. Got to love the Clemson family. Talk to your professors and find one that you can really keep as a mentor. Talk to your classmates, even the ones that don’t sit next to you. Get on social media. If not for the social aspect, to create your own personal brand. Use LinkedIn to brag about yourself. Create a list of goals for your future. Write down what you love and hate about your classes and internships. Then write a list of your core values. Then create your life path based on those. Take the entrepreneur class, it will open your mind to options.

What else should we know about you?

I am a hustler. I never turn it off. I think all successful entrepreneurs tend to become obsessed with their craft and their field. I believe they also have balance. And I love to travel. I work really hard and then I take off for a bit to celebrate life’s beautiful opportunities. I also love social media. It’s the easiest, fastest and most economical (free!) way to market yourself and your business. I frequently listen to the GaryVee Audio Experience (podcast) and he once said “Sales is just bad marketing”, meaning if you market yourself well, you will never have to sell your product. This advice has helped mold my online presence and in reward led to great success.


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