Brace yourself: if you have even a modest creative streak, you may experience a flash of envy when you learn about Linda Larsen and the Mount Vernon company she started: A Dash of Adorable. When Linda’s at work you may find her making tumbleweeds out of raffia for Angel of the Wings Casino Resort’s monthly jackpot theme. Or, she might be creating a campy photo booth for the Nature Nuts program for kids. Then again, she could be leading Amazon employees in a windchime building session while discussing the concept of positivity.
How did a kid who grew up in Hawaii just scraping by establish a crafty company with event-related services in high demand by Microsoft, Google, Seattle Chocolates and other corporations?
The middle child of five siblings raised by a single mom on Oahu, Linda’s creative nature grew out of necessity. She had wealthy friends, as she recalls, but her mom could not give her fancy birthday parties or the latest toys and games. Linda made her own. And to help the family, she started selling things at age 14.
As a pre-med student in college, Linda discovered that becoming a doctor was “Mom’s dream, not mine.” After graduating, she was hired by a physician recruiting company. Later she went to work as a sales executive for a technology firm in the education space. Linda’s team, a start-up group inside the company focused on K-12 clients, generated $32 million in revenue in four years.
That level of success was rewarding but the routine was incredibly demanding. Linda traveled the country every week to work with her salespeople and her two young sons at home missed her. One day, on a plane to Colorado Springs, she saw a movie about a successful entrepreneur. There, seated in first class, surrounded by businessmen, she found herself sobbing. “I’ve been idling,” she realized. “I want to pursue a job using my creative talents.”
With the support of her husband, Linda flew to corporate headquarters and resigned the next day. She founded A Dash of Adorable in 2016, “transforming live event spaces with custom built décor.”
Starting mainly with private events such as weddings and parties, the business ended that first year in the red. “I’ve always had big ideas,” Linda says. “I learned my clients ran out of money before I ran out of ideas.” She wanted to give brides and birthday kids the day of their dreams, and going all out often didn’t pencil out. Linda shifted to working with companies with bigger budgets.
When the pandemic brought in-person gatherings to a halt, Linda weathered the period by creating A Dash of Adorable “crafternoon” virtual events for corporate employees. She found that as people did their jobs remotely, businesses needed to work a little harder to connect with their teams. She recognized that executives were looking for ways to make people feel part of a caring community while motivating them too.
One of Linda’s clients and business partners is Kayla Cook, founder of Kayla Cook Events. Kayla feels Linda is the perfect choice to lead sessions that yield results well beyond a handmade windchime or small art work. “Employees would get together to do a project, and Linda would be live on Instagram, talking, painting and sharing ideas,” Kayla describes. The sessions are soothing and inspiring. “Linda is so genuine! She’s one of the people you just want to be around.”
Linda wants to make a difference everywhere she goes, including in her own industry. When COVID-19 hit and events were cancelled across the country, she says her event coordinator contacts were all depressed. She felt everyone just needed to hang together to get through the tough time, so she created a COVID Courage craft kit for 140 Washington colleagues. She drove them around the state and delivered them all personally wearing a tutu. Fitting for an entrepreneur whose self-bestowed title is Chief Glitter Officer.
But don’t let the shimmer and sparkle fool you into thinking Linda’s business is frivolous. She has been wildly successful. Her client list is impressive and her partnerships with event companies like Kayla Cook Events are solid. Amazon has booked her for an employee craft session every other month for the foreseeable future.
True to her dedication to empowering people, Linda is working on building a course to teach others how to sell their own creative business. Instead of worrying about generating competition for A Dash of Adorable, she believes she will be serving her existing clients by giving them more options. And, “there’s so much space in this world for creative people,” she asserts.
So, if you did feel a small jolt of jealousy finding out about A Dash of Adorable, perhaps you’ll be one of those who can learn from Linda and establish your own successful business based on your creative passion. If you want to give it a try, you can start by downloading Linda’s free guide to selling your wares and ideas. And follow her on her Instagram sites for inspiration and images of her work, and on Facebook.