Connect
To Top

Life and Work with Kelly Suan

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kelly Suan.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Kelly. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
Well, I could tell you about growing up in San Diego and always being a creative… drawing on everything as a kid, taking every art class I could as a teenager, and graduating from Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles as a young adult, but the real story began once I came home to San Diego. I came back to the sunny beaches of San Diego without a clue as to what I was going to do. I loved photography and design, but I had no idea how to put my college degree to work. With the help of my then boyfriend, I opened KDNstudio in 2014. I specialized in product photography and graphic design back then; helping local businesses with restaurant menus or new business cards.

But, over the course of three years, that same boyfriend and I moved multiple times, had jobs in events and media, acquired fur-babies, got married, and bought a home together. My work had always continued on the side, but it wasn’t until 2018 that the studio really got the love and attention it needed. I began pouring into the community I loved so much! I went to events, connecting with locals on social media, built websites, designed huge promotional packages, and then found myself at another crossroad. I had completely fallen in love with the possibilities for social media and branding. I loved helping people bring their dreams to life and get them started on the entrepreneurial path with the best tools possible.

After connecting with so many local artists, entrepreneurs, and small businesses as @kellydawnnoel, I realized that that was the direction I wanted to continue to grow in. So, I stepped out as Kelly Dawn Noel, a content creator, social media manager, and image consultant, driven and inspired by the local San Diego community and committed to doing everything in my power to continue to help the incredible people of this city to build their own entrepreneurial stories.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
My road was fraught with doubt, fear, and uncertainty for a very long time and far from what I would call a smooth road. But I had a sculpture teacher in high school, (shout out to Mr. Stout!) who always told me, “Nothing in life worth doing is ever easy.” He always told me this because even back then, I struggled with doubting my own abilities… and I may have been incredibly stubborn back then too.

Over the years, my doubt held me back from reaching out to a possible collaborator, led me to pass on opportunities, and let me stay in stressful or unhealthy situations longer than I would have wished. Whether or not your story is full of hardship or life has simply gifted you with all the luck and success you could ever want, nearly every single person will doubt themselves at some point. My one piece of advice for any soon-to-be-boss babe would be that when that doubt strikes, don’t give up, don’t ask anyone else, don’t search for something to copy… simply decide that you are and always will be worthy of greatness and tell yourself this every single time you feel any doubt creeping in. The only thing that is worse than having to get back up after falling, is always wondering what if. The best thing to do is start, because guess what? In my personal opinion, it’s not your job to be perfect, it’s your job to be your favorite version of yourself. Find your joy in what you do, work your tail off, and trust yourself!

Please tell us more about your work, what you are currently focused on and most proud of.
My work has evolved so much over the years but has settled in the world of social media, branding, and design. I offer services to small businesses and entrepreneurs to help get them started or give them a fresh new beginning. My projects can vary from rebranding a seasoned business, who are looking to modernize their look to social media consulting for an up and coming entrepreneur who wants to make a big entrance, and all the way to image consulting for local influencers, who need help organizing their media efforts and keeping the image of their brand in the best of light. But really, what I specialize in is giving the much-needed support that so many of us lack when trying to get something off the ground. I strive to be, not only, a tool for my clients, but also a guide, a support system, a sounding board, and in most cases, a friend who’s got their back during a time full of questions and risks. My work goes further than just showing up, punching in, and checking off my boxes. I am so in love with the stories that each person has and through my design work, interviews, blogs, and coaching, I hope to continue to share these stories to help our community grow and to encourage entrepreneurs to embrace their community over the competition.

Do you think there are structural or other barriers impeding the emergence of more female leaders?
The biggest barrier that I see my fellow media girl bosses face, and that I’ve faced all too often, is the negative perception of social media. Don’t get me wrong! I know the threats of social media and how easily social media can tear through a person. But I also see the incredible opportunities we have with it.

Through the voices of many boss babes, we are working hard to show people that each profile is a life and every username is a person, but we still face the stereotype of the anti-social, lazy, and incapable millennials. Professional bloggers are to often accused of their work being a “fun hobby” or managers and consultants are viewed as having no real value or skill. We are constantly having to prove ourselves and defend our work.

I feel that many women, no matter their industry, will face this barrier at one time or another. We seem to always ask one another to prove our worth, rather than allowing each of us to be worthy. Today’s women are rewriting the rules and throwing out old expectations, so I hope to continue to see my fellow boss babes stand up to inequality, injustice, and speak out about old ways that must change.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Miranda Allen of Wildly Free Photography | www.wildlyfree.photography | @wildlyfreephotography

Getting in touch: SDVoyager is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More in

  • San Diego’s Most Inspiring Stories

    Every neighborhood in San Diego has its own vibe, style, culture and history, but what consistently amazes us is not what...

    Local StoriesOctober 18, 2021
  • Community Member Spotlights

    It’s more important to understand someone than to judge them. We think the first step to understanding someone is asking them...

    Local StoriesOctober 11, 2021
  • Heart to Heart with Whitley: Episode 4

    You are going to love our next episode where Whitley interviews the incredibly successful, articulate and inspiring Monica Stockhausen. If you...

    Local StoriesSeptember 1, 2021
  • Introverted Entrepreneur Success Stories: Episode 3

    We are thrilled to present Introverted Entrepreneur Success Stories, a show we’ve launched with sales and marketing expert Aleasha Bahr. Aleasha...

    Local StoriesAugust 25, 2021
  • Community Member Spotlights

    It’s more important to understand someone than to judge them. We think the first step to understanding someone is asking them...

    Local StoriesAugust 9, 2021
  • Introverted Entrepreneur Success Stories: Episode 2

    We are thrilled to present Introverted Entrepreneur Success Stories, a show we’ve launched with sales and marketing expert Aleasha Bahr. Aleasha...

    Local StoriesJuly 21, 2021
  • Community Member Spotlights

    It’s more important to understand someone than to judge them. We think the first step to understanding someone is asking them...

    Local StoriesMay 5, 2021
  • Introverted Entrepreneur Success Stories: Episode 1

    We are thrilled to present Introverted Entrepreneur Success Stories, a show we’ve launched with sales and marketing expert Aleasha Bahr. Aleasha...

    Local StoriesMarch 22, 2021
  • Heart to Heart with Whitley: Episode 1

    We are so thrilled to present Heart to Heart with Whitley, a high-energy talk show hosted by the brilliant and empowering...

    Local StoriesFebruary 1, 2021