Square Visits Forbes 30U30 Entrepreneur Kelsey Davis to Learn How She Bet on Herself and Founded CLLCTVE

Kaila Mathis

Square, the integrated ecosystem of commerce solutions, business software, and banking services, featured Kelsey Davis, CEO/Founder of CLLCTVE, on Career Day, a video series hosted by YouTubers Elle Mills and Charlie Chang. Square’s three-part series explores how three founders achieved success taking the career path less traveled.

Lessons Learned As a Freelance Creator

A Syracuse Grad with a Masters from the Whitman School of Management and Forbes 30U30 Honoree, Davis began her career as a Videographer and Director, working with brands like Coca Cola, Puma and Conde Nast — all while balancing a rigorous, full-time class schedule. She quickly realized a few things:

  1. Succeeding as a freelance creator requires far too much time, resources, support and industry connections to possibly be equitable for all creators across the nation.
  2. It's nearly impossible to pursue an education or career while balancing creative projects — that is, without help from a network of creators and collaborators.
  3. Brands need young creators, but they don't understand how to access them outside of their own networks, leading to a biased system that favors privileged creators in major cities. 

“I knew a tech solution was needed to connect brands to talented creators across the country, placing skills and experience over education and connections,” said Davis.

Building a Bridge Through CLLCTVE

Davis founded CLLCTVE to act as the bridge for creators, enabling them to showcase who they are and what they do, connect and collaborate with like-minded individuals nationwide and access paid opportunities with brands, all within one environment.

"We see ourselves as the Home for Creators to build their world, and then ultimately use that information to connect to their next opportunity," Davis told Mills and Chang.

CLLCTVE and Square share a goal to provide creators the tools, resources, and network they need to create the life they want. Square’s YouTube channel is a destination for business owners looking for guidance and inspiration from a community of like-minded people, providing viewers with useful tools on financial literacy and entrepreneurial resilience. For this series, Davis offers up detailed tips for up-and-coming freelancers to navigate their creative career growth, including how to monetize your creativity, how to set up an LLC, and how to hustle and make connections.

As she sends watching creators, entrepreneurs, movers and doers off to begin their careers, Davis leaves them with one piece advice to her younger self: "Don't allow fear to disable you from creating the life you want."

3 Tips to Starting Your Own Company

How to Monetize Your Creativity

Davis starts off by stressing the importance of knowing your "why". It's not enough to know what you do or what your skills are.

She suggests three key starting points:

  1. Be able to succinctly articulate who you are, what you do and why.
  2. Create a portfolio that allows people to interact with you, connect with you and engage with you.
  3. Understand how to use that portfolio, and your why, to connect with brands and get paid.

How to Set Up an LLC

A key step to connecting with brands and getting paid is setting up an LLC. Davis outlined the following steps to getting that done:

  1. Choose a Name: Aim for one that does not already exist within your industry, and therefore will likely be verified by your state.
  2. File Articles of Organization: Get documentation from the state that recognizes you as a legitimate legal entity.
  3. Create an Operating Agreement: This is a legal agreement between yourself and the company. If anything were to happen to the company, you'd have a legal, predicated agreement protecting you.

How to Hustle and Make Connections

It's not groundbreaking that networking is crucial to growing a successful creator and entrepreneur. However, Davis emphasized that it's deeper than just connecting for individual gigs or deals.

"You want to network not only to find opportunities to get paid, but also network to support yourself, whether that has to do with potential investors, brands, customers, mentors, advisors," said Davis. "Networking is a key part to making sure you have the community and resources you need to succeed as a freelancer or entrepreneur."

Of course, not everyone feels confident or bold enough to reach out to people they've never spoken with before. Understanding how common this issue is for budding freelancers and founders, Davis spoke of some hacks for stepping outside your comfort zone.

"As an entrepreneur, you're really selling your product. So often times, your product can really be what's selling you, rather than the words coming out of your mouth," said Davis. “It's important to have a product that can speak for you, so you can focus your efforts on what will really be scalable in the long run."

The Big Picture

As she sends listening creators, entrepreneurs, movers and doers off to begin their careers, Davis leaves them with one piece advice to her younger self: "Don't allow fear to disable you from creating the life you want."

Kaila Mathis
Kaila graduated from Villanova University in 2021 with a B.A. in PR & Advertising and Journalism, with a minor in Spanish. She is now the Growth Manager at CLLCTVE and a Freelance Writer for Adweek.
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