A palm branch is a symbol of victory and triumph. So, it’s not too surprising that palm trees ultimately led Chelsea Preston to create Jelly Press, her successful business featuring hand-illustrated stationery and watercolor prints.
Growing up, Chelsea Preston drew everything. Her mom was artistic and encouraged a creative environment at home. (Her CPA father would have preferred she focus on becoming a doctor or something more practical.)
Chelsea excelled in all of her art classes and art became her primary focus in high school. Specifically, she drew endless doodles of palm trees - probably because she grew up in Kentucky and loved vacationing in Florida. The word “endless” is not used lightly… she really drew a LOT of palm trees. This obsession actually resulted in Chelsea being banned from drawing palm trees in her high school art class. To this day, there is a “no palm trees allowed” sign on the door in her high school’s art room.
Forced to expand her drawing and doodling repertoire, Chelsea shifted her focus on painting women and especially loved the details of clothing. So, the natural path was for her to pursue further education studying fashion. However, after several twists of fate, an undergraduate degree in Fashion was not to be had. Instead, Chelsea earned a BA in Fine Art and a minor in Graphic Design from Flagler College. After graduating, however, Chelsea was able to follow her original intended path through grad school and an internship with Lucky, a fashion magazine in New York City.
After her tenure at the Conde Nast publication and living in the concrete jungle, Chelsea realized she longed to be back in the South with acres of green grass, porch swings and sweet tea. Through several more twists of events, Chelsea’s boyfriend from Flagler College came back into her life and a job with the International Academy Design and Technology practically fell into her lap. These forces worked to bring Chelsea back to Florida. Chelsea moved back to the sunshine state and served as Lead Faculty for the Fashion and Merchandising program. There she taught classes focusing on computer graphics for fashion, fashion sketching, illustration and portfolio.
Toward the end of her five years at the school is where the story of Jelly Press begins. Chelsea had been working on building freelance work around town including creating a print for a major national brand, Magnolia Market (a beloved brand/couple not to be missed on HGTV on Tuesday nights!). It was her project with Magnolia that really boosted her confidence and understanding of all she could achieve on her own.
When she first started thinking about starting her own business, Chelsea used her love of travel as a launching point. She had always collected local art prints wherever she went whether it was Scotland, Costa Rica or New Orleans. With the first series and products she created, she wanted to create something that was an affordable “take away” for locals and visitors that embodied the vibe of the nation’s oldest city and highlighted places that were special.
To Chelsea, everything in life should have a meaning or be symbolic of a moment in time. She tries to carry this philosophy through to the images that she creates. Be it a favorite childhood vacation spot, where your husband proposed or the memory of baking cookies with your mom, Chelsea wants the images she creates to connect with her clients.
After lots of brainstorming, she begins the product development process by taking pictures of iconic places or places that she feels represent the city. She takes those images to her “studio” (aka the dining room table) where she compiles the images in to the watercolor illustrations you see in her prints and products.
While the product ideas always came pretty naturally, the brand name didn’t follow suit. One day she was reading off the embarrassing names to her husband (yes, the Flagler College sweetheart). She knew the names were horrible and turned to her nonjudgmental dog, Luke, (who she refers to as Jelly Bean) and asked, “What do you think Jelly Bean?” And then it was one of those made-for-TV moments when she just knew she had nailed it. And Jelly Press was officially born.
Blessed and encouraged by positive feedback and support, Jelly Press plans to expand its offerings highlighting special destinations through paper goods.