Courtney Shelton: Founder + Designer, HIBRID

One of our favorite questions to ask Leading Ladies is: “Where do you find inspiration?” Enter Courtney Shelton, founder and designer at HIBRID, our go-to source for a creativity jolt.

HIBRID, which serves as a design space with a passion for a variety of the field’s forms, features fashion, interior design, illustration, DIY projects – and our favorite – handlettering. Her projects include the Gold Collection, 2015 Holiday Collection and most recently the National Handwriting Day Collection for another IWHJ favorite, May Designs; and her work has been featured in Better Homes and Gardens and on Good Morning America.

How does a chief inspirer find inspiration herself? Read on for her advice for budding entrepreneurs who work day jobs, find out who she credits for helping her achieve her dreams and that one thing she just can’t live without.

Did you always know you wanted to work in design?

Yes! I’ve felt this way as long as I can remember! I’ve always been doing creative things. As I became older and my interests grew, there really wasn’t any other field I could see myself working in.

What inspired the launch of HIBRID?

After I graduated college and got my first job, I realized the work wasn’t satisfying my creative needs. I craved a place to interact with creatives, inspire others, and share my work and inspirations in whatever form that could be.

Once you said, ‘Okay, it’s time to launch this guy,’ how long did it take to get HIBRID off the ground?

I launched HIBRID in February 2014, and within 6 months, things started happening for me. Projects began, relationships formed, and work has continued pretty steadily for me since then!

What was the hardest part of launching your own business? The easiest?

I think the hardest part is that sometimes you don’t really know where to start or what to do. So, you really have to be comfortable with trusting yourself, and being patient knowing that things will work. But, that’s also the scariest part. If you’re patient and determined, those things you wished would work out, certainly will end up working out. In my type of job, you really have to be a ‘jack of all trades’ – as both a designer and in your personality. I would say that definitely describes me. Actually, it was one thing that made the process a little easier for me in the beginning.

handlettering supplies

How do you organize your day? What does a ‘day in your life’ look like?

I actually have a regular, full-time job with daytime hours that I have to be at every day. Everything HIBRID-related has to be done and taken care of in my off/free time. So, I try to plan as much as possible.

Most weekdays I go to work in the office at my day job all day, and then I get home around 5-ish. I try to then fit in a workout once I get home, shower, make dinner and then either start my side-work with HIBRID or relax. My weekdays are usually more rushed – obviously – so the weekend is when I have the most time for unstressed, creative thinking. I also use them to fit in time with my friends and family.

Where do you go, what do you read, and what do you listen to in order to find inspiration?

I try to subject myself to as many things as possible that my brain can successfully absorb. I follow a lot of other blogs, designers, social media, books, news articles, etc., to stay fresh, to continue learning and to inspire the design of new content. Nature and workouts are great releases for me that help disconnect my creative thinking – but in a good way. It makes my mind relax and helps me to see my projects and ideas in a new form, which usually guides me through the rest of my processes and thinking in a successful manner.

Do you feel you have a good work/life balance, or do you have more of a work/life integration? Why?

There are definitely times when I get overloaded and work demands all of my time, but I really try to keep a healthy balance with both so that I stay mentally/physically healthy, energized and remain passionate about what I do.

What is an accomplishment on your resume that you’re most proud of?

It’s actually something that just happened this week – and I’m not allowed to share it yet! But when I am, you will know!

What is one thing our readers should know about starting your own business?

If you have passion and determination, literally nothing can stop you. You will have to be prepared for failures and setbacks, but if you’re determined to work through them, you will most definitely succeed.

handlettering ink

What are three pieces of career advice you’d love to share with our readers?

1. The first thing I would say is: If you want it, then do it. I had no idea all these things were capable of happening to me, but if you don’t at first try, you’ll never know!

2. Don’t limit yourself. I think sometimes people try to put themselves into boxes and categories of design, and when you do that, it puts restrictions on your creativity. Have trust in yourself that you can make any project a success!

3. Be Patient. Sometimes this is something that I’m not so good at, but a brand is something that takes TLC and lots of time. So do it right, and don’t rush it. You’ll stay sane that way and be much happier in the end!

How did your collaboration for National Handwriting Day with May Designs come about? Out of your four designs with the site, which one is your favorite?

May Designs and I have worked together previously on the 2015 Gold Foil Lettering Collection, 2015 Holiday Cards and Gift Tags, and we’ve just continued our partnership with the new National Handwriting Day Collection. We just love working together! It’s hard for me to pick a favorite design because I relate to each of them so well, and each in a different way. I like one for how it looks visually, and another for its meaning if that makes sense?!

Where do you hope to see yourself five years from now?

I hope to see that my client base has expanded and grown, and that I have gotten to work with some of my dream clients as well! I also hope to see that my portfolio has a nice spread of diverse work. From prints, to notebooks, mugs, signage, logos, home décor, you name it. There really aren’t any restrictions in my mind!

What’s one of the biggest things that you think has helped you get to where you are now?

Achieving your goals obviously has to come from within you personally, but my parents are a huge reason behind where I am today. Since I was young, they’ve preached that I could be anything I wanted to be, do anything I could dream up doing, and they would always be there to support me 100%. What I was pursuing only needed to make me happy. I don’t know where I’d be today if it wasn’t for them. They are truly amazing people!

After Hours graphic

I’d Love to Grab Coffee With:

Jen Gotch. I feel like it would change my life and would probably be the most fun and hilarious coffee date I’ve ever had!

You’ll Find These 3 Things On My Desk:

Ink, paintbrushes, cacti

My Go-To Work Outfit Is:

Cotton dress or tunic, leggings, booties

You Can Find Me Lunching At:


I Can’t Live Without:


My Favorite Way To Unwind Is:

Taking a nap, running outside, enjoying friends and family time

I Feel Best When:

I’m lettering