In this episode of Money Memories, we had the pleasure of chatting with Chase, a creative entrepreneur who turned his passion into a successful career with his studio Iron Fish Gallery. Chase’s journey from a conventional job to a thriving art business on Daufuskie Island is both inspiring and instructive. His financial wisdom, rooted in his experiences and lessons learned, serves as a beacon for anyone looking to pursue their creative dreams while staying financially responsible.
Growing Up with Financial Challenges
Chase grew up in Charlotte, North Carolina, in a single-parent household, his parents having separated when he was just five years old. This early experience of financial struggle left an indelible mark on him. Chase’s first significant money memory occurred during his kindergarten or first-grade years when he realized his family qualified for a discounted school lunch. This moment of standing in a separate line from other kids with more privileged lunches made him keenly aware of economic disparities.
Early Entrepreneurship Adventures
From a young age, Chase displayed entrepreneurial tendencies. He delivered newspapers, mowed lawns, ran concession stands, and babysat to earn money. His mother’s background in odd jobs like house painting and window cleaning influenced him to understand the value of hard work. Although his mother didn’t provide explicit financial guidance, her frugal lifestyle and practical approach to money management made a lasting impression on Chase. She taught him to make do with what they had, a lesson in resourcefulness.
Diving into Creativity
Chase’s journey into the world of creativity began in an unexpected way during his college years. In his last semester, he enrolled in a pottery class on a whim. To his surprise, he found a deep passion for creating with his hands, setting the stage for his future endeavors. However, it took a few years for him to fully embrace his creative calling.
Taking the Leap into a Career in Art
Chase’s transition from a marketing job to a full-time artist was a pivotal moment. After witnessing a tragic set of events, including 9/11, a close friend’s death, and his mother’s severe illness, he realized life was too short to pursue anything other than his true passion. Inspired by artisans he met during his travels, Chase decided to become a metal artist, specifically working with sheet metal and turning it into coastal decor pieces.
Financial Challenges and Managing Debt
Starting his art business wasn’t without financial challenges. Chase had to navigate the initial stages using credit cards. He applied the advice of using credit cards only for purchases he could immediately pay off. This strategy allowed him to acquire the tools and equipment he needed to establish his business. Remarkably, he managed to pay off an $8,000 credit card debt within a year, demonstrating disciplined financial management.
Keeping Overhead Low
Chase’s business journey highlights the importance of keeping overhead costs low, especially during the initial phases. He operated his gallery from his front porch for 12 years, eliminating the need for expensive rental space. This approach allowed him to maintain a lean business structure while focusing on his craft and serving customers.
The Surprising Aspect of Creativity
As Chase embraced his creative path, he discovered an unexpected benefit – the ability to connect with people on a deeper level. He found that pursuing one’s passion inspires others to open up and share their dreams and fears. This connection and openness have become a significant part of his journey.
Financial Wellness: Avoid Debt and Manage Assets
Chase’s perspective on financial wellness centers around avoiding unnecessary debt and understanding the difference between appreciating and depreciating assets. He advises against investing in items that lose value over time, such as luxury cars. Instead, he recommends using debt for appreciating assets, like real estate. Additionally, he emphasizes keeping overhead costs low, allowing for greater financial flexibility and stability.