Paonia entrepreneur awarded CCI grant

Photo by Tamie Meck Paonia graphic design artist Teresa Shishim was among 12 artist-entrepreneurs across the state to receive a grant from Colorado Creative Industries.

There was a time when an entrepreneur wanting to start a cottage industry business sought a small business loan, set up shop in their home or garage, and advertised their business through signs, in local papers and on radio.

Teresa Shishim is a good example of today's entrepreneur. A graphic design consultant, she's passionate about the creative process. The logo for her on-line business, Yoka Design, models after the yoka star turban seashell she discovered while studying marine ecology.

She digitally reproduces her hand-drawn images for use as logos and in advertisements, brochures and business cards, and in information graphics. She uses social media sites like Facebook to advertise, and relies heavily on search engines like Google and Bing for potential customers to find her.

Shishim, a member of the North Fork Valley Creative Coalition, recently was awarded a $2,500 Career Advancement grant from Colorado Creative Industries (CCI), a division of the Governor's Office of Economic Development & International Trade that seeks to promote, support and expand creative industries to help drive the state's economy, grow jobs and enhance quality of life. Grants help owners "achieve tangible business benefits such as increased revenue, new audiences or improved management practices."

As one of the state's creative industries that continues to grow, "Many creative entrepreneurs are self-employed, sole proprietors or small businesses," says CCI director Margaret Hunt in announcing the more than $22,000 it recently awarded to a dozen entrepreneurs. "Career Advancement awards support creative workers and give them the competitive edge they need to take their career or business to the next level."

Shishim plans to use the cash-match, reimbursement grant to increase her online business exposure, and to share her passion for design through a creative inspiration journal.

Shishim was first drawn to the area by the North Fork River Improvement Area (now Western Slope Conservation Center). She worked for local non-profits from 2001 to 2006 before moving to Durango, where she met husband Scott, whose parents live in Paonia. They liked the North Fork lifestyle and want to raise their 5-year-old daughter here, but they also knew the economy is slow and that they would have to be creative financially to make it work, said Shishim. After nine years in Durango, they returned to Paonia.

Scott, an avid cyclist, earns a living as a part-time physical education teacher with the Delta County School District, opened Shish KaBikes, a bike repair business now located at The Cirque, a cooperative of three businesses in downtown Paonia.

Teresa plans to use the grant to ramp up her website. To keep the money in the valley she hired a local photographer to provide beautiful images to let people see what a beautiful area she lives in, and a local search engine optimization expert to pull her website up when people search words like "creativity," "logo" and "design."

Her designs include the posters for the Take a Seat at the Paradise fundraising campaign, and the logo for Scott's first company, Shish KaBikes. In her creative journal she describes the creative processes used in making each of her designs. For Scott's logo, she used "the rules of arcs and straight lines," and included a pen and ink rendering of one of her ideas.

To create a design for the National Federation of Community Broadcasters she played with the themes of broadcasting and individual communities. The result is a simple image of a dandelion with microphone-shaped seed heads floating off the flower and into the community.

Shishim also offers consulting on social media sites to help others build their connections.

While she plans to roll out her new website by fall, the original website is up and running. And while her presence is largely on-line, "I'm happy to sit down face to face," she said. "I don't want to lose that part of it."

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