Lettering Works

Let's Talk About Letters

By Ruth Bertram, Journalism Intern, Turner Center for Entrepreneurship, Bradley University

With a soft smile and a humble heart, young small business owner Chelsie Tamms, is transforming Peoria, IL with her company, Lettering Works, one design piece at a time.

Lettering Works is a lettering and design company that focuses on creating artistic design pieces for organizations such as businesses, communities, and specific causes.

As a 2016 Bradley University graduate, Tamms discovered her passion to run a small business during her senior year, after she entered the Turner Center for Entrepreneurship startup competition Project Springboard. At the event, she presented her unique idea of creating artistic greeting cards and won $10,000 in startup funds. As a result of her winnings, she decided to stay in Peoria after graduation and use her prize money to start her own business.

“I kind of just jumped into it,” said Tamms.

In fall 2016, she began a six-month studio residency with the Prairie Center of the Arts where she had full access to a studio to create her pieces.

After her residency, Tamms was able to expand her company and began creating design pieces for local businesses such as her Shop Local campaign, artwork featured at Peoria’s First Friday events, and her book, 100 Days of Peoria, which contains 130 hand-lettered designs of businesses throughout the Peoria area.
at studio drawing Web

Tamms began working with the Illinois Small Business Development Center [SBDC] during her senior year at Bradley right before graduation. She explains that she would talk to the SBDC advisors at local startup events where they would encourage her to stay in Peoria once she graduated.

When looking back on her time spent with the SBDC advisors and local small business owners, she claims that they all wanted to see her succeed and follow her artistic dream.

“People just want to help you, especially in the artistic community,” said Tamms.

Today, through Lettering Works, she focuses on three major things - client-based work, selling design merchandise such as t-shirts, magnets, buttons, and books, and offering educational lettering classes to the community.

“Increasing people's understanding is always a lot of fun for me,” said Tamms when reflecting on her design classes.

Tamms explains that some of her biggest challenges are explaining to people the importance design and how hiring professional designers, instead of doing it themselves, can help make a business more appealing.

For aspiring entrepreneurs, Tamms encourages them to create their dream projects and ask many questions along the way.

picking up peoria image WebIf you ask people questions they will help get you answers and the resources needed to get you over your next hurdle,” said Tamms.

For the future, she hopes to continue working alongside the SBDC by using their resources for her own business and providing branding assistance to their future clients. In addition to the SBDC, Tamms recently started a new line of work, Lettering Works for a Cause, which is a pro-bono or reduced-rate service for businesses who do not have the funds or resources for design.

To find out more information, or to contact Lettering Works, you can visit their website at https://www.letteringworks.com or find them on Facebook and Instagram @letteringworks.