We had the good fortune of connecting with Kellin Esquivel-Gunn and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kellin, the decisions we make often shape our story in profound ways. What was one of the most difficult decisions you’ve had to make?
The most difficult decision I had to make was to quit my job back in Peru, leave my family and move to the USA to start all over again. It wasn’t easy to leave everything behind but it helped me grow as a person. I learned that I can conquer anything that I want, that I can achieve anything that I set my mind to, and that a “NO” will never stop me.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I’ve been painting ever since I was a kid, but I stopped it to pursue a career in Communications back in Peru. I started painting again in 2013 after adopting my chihuahua Lalita. She changed my life forever. She helped me to heal emotionally when I was going through a depression. In 2018, I decided to create SketchPup! My business is a combination of my love for animals and my love for art. It wasn’t easy, but the process was fun. I attended workshops on how to start a business, created my own website, and relearned graphic design on how to create digital pet portraits. My pet art is fun and unique. Customers can choose any pop art style, from Frida Kahlo to Queen Marie Antoinette. My clients are involved in the process of creating a portrait of their fur kids. They are part of their lives, so my goal is to bring happiness to them and their families. But I don’t only do custom pet portraits. I also have an apparel and home collection to raise awareness about animal rights, rescuing, adopting and fostering dogs and cats from high kill shelters. What I learned along the way is that creating a business takes time and patience. Making profits right away is difficult. People need to know my work and trust me first. I know I will face challenges and bumps along the road, but I can’t give up. I have to continue to do what I love to do. What I want that the world know is that through my pet art they are going to have a piece of their fur kid forever, and that his/her memory is going to be with them always. I also want to make sure that through my apparel and home collections I send a message: that I can be the voice for the voiceless. In this case, animals.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I would take my best friend to my favorite spots in Los Angeles. First, I would take her to The Lake Shrine in Pacific Palisades, a meditation garden surrounded by a beautiful lake with koi fish, turtles, ducks and swans. There my friend could see part of Gandhi’s ashes as well. Then we would head to Malibu, Paradise Cove beach, to enjoy the day on the beach and a sunset dinner at The Paradise Cove Beach Cafe. Then I would take my friend to the Getty Museum and walk through the gardens and see the famous art and photography exhibitions. After that, we would take the train to Downtown LA and go to the Broad to see other art exhibits by Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein and more. The following day I would probably take my friend to see the Hollywood Sign from the hillside, and then the walk of fame so she can take some pictures. Then we would finish the day with a cocktail and dinner at the famous Culver City Hotel in downtown Culver City. Then on the weekend, we would probably drive to Paso Robles and do some wine tasting at some dog-friendly wineries.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I have to say thank you to my husband John for supporting me as I launched my pet art business. He encouraged me to follow my dream. And without The New Economics for Women I wouldn’t be able to have my business. This organization helped me tremendously, from creating a business plan to getting my business license and more. And of course, I have to say thanks to my chihuahua, Lalita. She is my muse and my inspiration to start SketchPup!