So How Did I Get Here?
I grew up on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. I was one of four, outgoing kids, whose mom always took pictures of them documenting their every move. One day someone recommended that she take me to NYC for some modeling. We drove four hours up to Manhattan, I had a few auditions, and before we knew it, I was signed with the kid's division of Wilhelmina models and their sister company for TV and movies.
My life as a HUSTLER began.
From ages 6-10 we drove back and forth to the city a few times a month and landed some pretty fun gigs like an MTV spot with Cindy Crawford, a national American Plastics campaign that ran for several years, and I was a JELL-O kid with (wait for it) Bill Cosby. Other highlights included being a guest on a morning show with Tom Bergeron, a gig with Danny DeVito, and finally a fashion show on “The Montel Williams Show” (hellllloooo 90s throwback!).
All that to say, I’ve been working since 1992 and I’ve always enjoyed it.
Looking back, with each experience, each audition I was in a room with strangers, traveling in a big city, and really putting myself out there never knowing what the outcome was going to be. Thirty years later and I don’t live much differently. But, let’s talk about what happened next.
Middle school was awkward. But in high school I found art. I took as many classes as I could, which led to independent studies in ceramics. Now, high school was the last time I’ve ever touched wet clay, but I took the fundamentals from each class onto college, where my budding BUSINESS began. I just didn’t know it yet.
In 2004, I ‘flew south’ to Clemson University in South Carolina. Facebook had just hit the internet and I was asked out by a guy to go to his fraternity mountain weekend. I quickly learned that as a date, you were ‘required’ to paint a plastic cooler (the top and each side) with all your date’s favorite hobbies and fill it with his favorite ‘drinks’ for the weekend. Luckily, I had artistic ability and enjoyed it. Other girls noticed and started paying me to do theirs, as well. They would leave a list of what they wanted and a check inside. I now had extra beer money 😊 Win-Win.
I was sitting in accounting class one day (a class I wish I had paid more attention to now) and a kid next to me said, “You should put all your pictures of the coolers you have done on Facebook. They have business pages” – “what should I call it” – “Hennessey In The Home,” he said, and so I did. And a business was born. Though I still wouldn’t call it one for 12 more years.
I graduated from Clemson University in 2009 and started my professional career in radio. 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 didn’t make any money. I look back now and wonder how I did it. My mom used to joke that I was being paid for free concert tickets. And, honestly, I kind of was. I was there for three years before moving on to a marketing agency.
At the agency, I was the main (only) 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 Hennessey In The Home.
After college, I created artwork mainly as gifts. Think weddings, baby showers-you know-new life moments that weren’t college coolers or beer pong tables. Well, maybe still beer pong tables.
I started putting the photos on Instagram and hashtagging the sh*t out of them for growth. I’d tag friends, I’d share posts via email, I’d talk about my page as if it were my baby. And suddenly, it was 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. Then, I realized I was in sales again. Eww, remember -- I hate sales.
I built a website so I didn’t have to ask people for money anymore. My website would do it for me. 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, only this one’s for you: 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 also 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.
Which led to the rebrand. Hennessey In The Home has been amazing to me, but the word HOME is rooted. And I am not. With a growing business and new reach via my social media accounts like TikTok, I have started to travel beyond the Southeast for projects and have shipped custom artwork to over 30+ states in the US, as well as internationally.
I’m a YES person. Always up for travel and new challenges. My business has grown from people like you telling others “see if Lacey does it”. Because I probably do, or will, or can point you in the right direction. This mentality led me to my new brand mark – the paper airplane.
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”.
Before I left, I wasn’t hit with all “have fun” or “good for you” comments, but rather lots of “How are YOU affording this?” A little annoyed, I’d say “OMG I forgot about money, thank goodness I ran into you.” Joking, of course. But being the entrepreneur and hustler that I was built to be, I started a GoFundMe page and said, “Here, if you don’t think I have enough money, you can give me some?” 😊 I set a goal to make $200 of “FUN MONEY”. And then I made a promo video filled with costume changes and wigs (I love wigs, and it kept your attention) and said donate $1, $5, $20, whatever you want and in exchange, I will do whatever you tell me to while I’m abroad. It can be funny, sentimental, embarrassing, you name it. I will record it, I will post it, and then tag you or your business. I was like a mini-influencer marketing my own vacation, and guess what ---- I made over $1,500 ---- all to have fun! It was amazing.
One of the “challenges” I was given was to get a tattoo that encompassed my trip, and of course, was something I wanted. My last stop on the “World Tour” was Amsterdam. So I went down to the red light district, popped into a tattoo parlor, and got a little paper airplane on my left wrist. It symbolized my love for travel, being a creative maker, and the ability to always pick up and go wherever the wind blows, never knowing how the landing might be.
If you made it this far, THANK YOU! I hope you are now obsessed with me 😉, want to buy artwork, or maybe just want to get in touch to learn more about the WORLD TOUR. Or, maybe you are thinking, gosh, I didn’t need the LIFE story, just wanted to know more about your work.
So for you, here you go:
Lacey Hennessey is a self-taught artist, muralist, and entrepreneur based out of Greenville, South Carolina. Her body of work is often a reflection of her personality -- colorful and fun, displaying bold lines and patterns, all with purpose. Lacey’s mediums range from digital applications to acrylic, watercolor, mixed-media collages, and textile design. Her love for travel and the freedom to explore new opportunities was the catalyst for the pursuit of her art career and is what drives her creative spirit every day.
At the very least, I hope my story, in some way, inspires you or will inspire you to go out and live the life of your dreams. It’s out there and it’s attainable. Life is short, so make it YOURS!
Want to work with me – firstname.lastname@example.org