In Her Own Words: Cheyenne Sookoo on Being an Entrepreneur and an Artist

My name is Cheyenne Sookoo and I am the Founder and Creative Director of two businesses: Paints by Chey and Events on Canvas. I am a Brooklyn-based artist and entrepreneur. I’m a self-taught painter, and my skillset blends graphic design, logo creation, live event painting, hosting paint & sip events, and conducting private painting sessions at my clients’ homes or in my studio. My entrepreneurial mindset has helped me to grow my business globally and has extended to helping others to grow their startups as a creative director able to leverage social media and content creation.

People don’t normally equate entrepreneurs with artists, but I think being an entrepreneur is an essential part of being a successful artist.

NFTE helped me grow the entrepreneurial mindset that I’ve had since a very young age. It helped me to develop the tenacity and comfort with risk needed to overcome the closed doors, the doubters, and the people who thought I would be a starving artist. I am grateful NFTE was a resource available to me in high school and beyond. It’s helped me find my niche and grow my businesses.

I had several mentors on my NFTE journey. Thanks to their guidance, I was able to identify a business opportunity – for live painting entertainment at social functions and corporate events -then I developed and pitched my original business plan for Events on Canvas to a panel of judges, winning first place in the NFTE New York Metro Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge in 2017. Later that same year I would go on to be one of the top 12 semifinalists in NFTE’s National Youth Entrepreneurship Competition.

The early success of Events on Canvas earned me recognition as NFTE New York Metro’s Global Young Entrepreneur in 2018. I was also honored as a Youth Scholar at the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Gala that spring, then later received a Power Girl Award for my entrepreneurial achievements from the Power of You Teens Foundation, inspiring young girls to go after their dreams in the arts fields. Starting off this year with a bang, I was named the Global Tassels Artist of the Year for 2019 and will be honored at their annual Founders Gala this June.

I am still successfully running my two businesses – two years after being directly involved with NFTE. I am beyond happy that I have made my passion my paycheck, and I don’t view my job, as a job. I am blessed to not have to work a 9 to 5. I enjoy traveling for my businesses, making hundreds and soon thousands of my paintings, bringing smiles to people’s faces, and being happy doing what I love the most.

To hire me for any of your art needs: paint & sips, private lessons, live painting, or custom paintings, check out my website at cheyennesookooart.com.

— Chey