The first step toward doing what you really love can sometimes be a giant leap of faith. After 6 years working in fashion design in New York City, Chelsea Van Voorhis took that leap of faith and came to Maine to study at the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship.

Upon completing her twelve week course of study, Chelsea worked for a Portland-based cabinet maker; and in her spare time, created pieces from a small woodshop in the second bedroom of her residence. When a part time position opened up at the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship, Chelsea returned, and has access to their wood shop where she creates incredible, one of a kind pieces of functional, fine art craft and furniture, often with small, discarded pieces of both local and exotic woods.

Who would you consider to be your greatest mentors?

Being a woman in a woodshop can be very difficult, this environment is not always easy. There have been so many woman that came before me that paved the road for females that I look up to. Not just in the woodworking industry but most male dominated fields, the previous generation of fierce women that fought so I could have the opportunities that they did not are my greatest mentors and inspiration.

Where do you look for inspiration?

As much as I’d like to say I left the fashion industry, I am always looking at current and vintage fashion. Sometimes I don’t even realize how much a dress or picture influenced a pattern until it’s done and I take a step back.

Do you have any current business growth goals?

Sell more things. My current mantra is to “embrace failure”. Every ten ‘no’s’ will eventually lead to one ‘yes’ so I am trying everything and anything.

See Chelsea’s work in person at the Center for Maine Craft and Maine Craft Portland. Learn more about Chelsea’s background, experience, and beautiful handcrafted wooden pieces on her website.