Chelsea Hooper (left) and Faith Hooper. Photo by Monica Escamilla
When Chelsea Hooper, 22, decided to quit pursuing a nursing degree in order to free herself for her lifelong passion of art and design, she had reservations. So did her mother.
“At the time, I was selling little coaster sets out of our garage and [my mother] was like, ‘What in the world? You’re selling coasters?’ ” Hooper says.
She and her parents, Faith and Raymond Hooper, live in Mechanicsville. Starting an at-home business can be daunting, but she quickly gained a following as she expanded her Chelsea’s Creations business, making custom furniture while decorating, refinishing and painting clients’ homes.
Hooper quickly gained a following. “It got to the point where I had taken over the entire house,” she says. “I’m talking about dressers and stuff in the kitchen [that were] painted … I started getting backed up six months at a time with custom work at like 30 projects a week.”
She opened Red Poppy Pickin’ in Mechanicsville behind Cold Harbor Antiques in July 2015. She filled that 2,000-square-foot space with her work, but again found it difficult to keep up with the demand for her items.
In April, she moved the business to a larger locale, 8167-A Mechanicsville Turnpike. Just a few storefronts down from the former location, the new store has 7,000 square feet and she also offers items from more than 40 local vendors. In addition to Hooper’s painted furniture and home décor, there are also handmade wreaths from Charlotte’s Corner, woodwork from Rustic and Rare Creations, and jewelry, fashion and other items from The Vintage Bee.
Abbie Love, a painted-furniture and décor vendor, features work by 13-year-old Abbie Coleman. The former student of Hooper’s was injured in a car wreck in December and turned her painting hobby into a therapeutic outlet and business.
Hooper offers classes three days a week for $25 to $40 per class. Hooper and her shop vendors provide hands-on instruction in projects including painting and refinishing, wreath making and scrapbooking.
Hooper loves when customers come in with questions or ask for help with picking items for their rooms. “I love what I do. I don’t even feel like I have a job,” she says. And as for her parents, they couldn’t be prouder of what she has accomplished.