Victoria Van Ness


Here at Mavenly, we are all about helping you find clarity in your career path. This week's Maven We Love, Victoria Van Nees, shares how she used her passions and creativity to start her own business at just 21, without a degree. Keep reading to learn how she turned her fun hobby into a major brand.

Name:: Victoria Van Ness

Twitter or Instagram Handle:: @victoriavanness

Location:: Atlanta, GA

Occupation:: Founder of Cheat Sheet Co. + blogger

Age:: 21

Secretly Obsessed With:: Reality TV + popcorn

On My Nightstand:: The book I'm reading, lavender essential oil, water (always!), my phone, and my Santal 33 candle.

Last Thing You Read:: "Outliers" by Malcolm Gladwell

How did you get started on your career path?: My career so far has been such a "stepping stone" path - it's crazy! I was 18, living downtown, going to college, and extremely unsure of what I wanted to do with my life. I took my life day by day without any real plan, which looking back now, is insane because I swear I have, like, the next six months of my life buzzing in my head! I met my boyfriend while he was working in Atlanta for two months (thank goodness I swiped right!) and ended up dropping out of school to travel with him.

We spent a summer in Montreal, where I realized I desperately needed a creative outlet. That's how my blog was born. It started off showcasing my outfits, beauty tips, and things I was seeing while on tour. It gave me something to do when we were traveling all over the globe. It was just for fun, and I never thought it would lead anywhere...until my boyfriend got offered a job in NYC. My blog opened so many doors for me. I landed a job at Bloglovin', where I learned the ins and outs of the industry, attended events in Manhattan with major designers, and worked with companies I grew up loving. It was a whirlwind!

From working in the digital space, I realized I loved the social media + influencer aspect of what I did, and started to freelance in both careers when we left NYC to travel once again. Fast forward a year later, and I've recently launched my own company, Cheat Sheet Co., where I develop online strategies for small businesses and help them implement those plans. A year prior to anything I've done, I would never have said I'd be doing it. I started off in my career with truly no experience, no degree, and I've figured things out along the way. I mean, the things I've checked off my list were always in a 5-10 year plan for me, but when the momentum starts going, you just have to roll with the punches!

What key elements played into your success?: 1. Determination. I've always had a little entrepreneurial bone in my body. Whether it was doing yard sales for fun as a kid (really weird, I know) or working in the beauty industry at 14, I loved the "hustle" of it all. If I want something, I really go after it. If I don't, it's extremely irrelevant in my life. I think being able to really focus on what drives me and block out what doesn't is key. I'm all about efficiency.

What struggles did you face getting to this point?: I think being 21 does present its challenges. As someone who's potentially working with someone in their early 20s, it can seem scary! A lot of people underestimate me. A lot of people chuckle when I introduce myself and say I'm a business owner. It's hard because you can feel like you're on the defensive and you have to consistently prove yourself, but I secretly love it. When I talk about my experience, resume, or companies I've worked with, I see people start to sit back a little bit, and I live for that moment.

Who was the biggest influence in your professional life?: Ah, I don't think I have just one. Right now is an incredible time for female leaders, I look up to so many women. From my first boss, Morgan Kaye, VP of Community at Activate, to other boss women like Jaclyn Johnson, Babba C. Rivera, Jen Atkin, Raissa Gerona, Pia Arrobio, women are crushing it and I'm here for it.

When do you feel most successful?: Honestly, just when I'm connecting with people. Whether it's one DM from a follower, a client telling me they are happy with my work, or someone saying they're interested in what I'm doing, inspiring other women fuels my fire.

What’s the best piece of advice you received?: The people closest to me are always telling me to chill out! Does that count? Haha! I'm learning to be patient. As a business owner, it's hard to not let the mishaps stick with you. As a blogger, it's hard to persevere when you're not always seeing incredible growth. Nothing comes overnight, but if the work is consistently put in, success will always be right behind it.

What advice would you give to women looking to enter your industry/space?: Don't overthink it. I started my blog after maybe five hours of consideration, and I think I started my company after about a week of thought. I'm not a huge planner; can you tell? Sometimes people don't end up doing what they truly want because they think too far in the future of what could go wrong. Start sooner rather than later and figure it out as you go.

What accomplishment are you most proud of? : I shot with Glamour this past year, which was pretty insane. Business-wise, just launching my company was a total pinch-me-moment.

Want more ways to design a career with purpose? Mavenly + Co. is the best resource to turn to if you’re looking for answers to those big career questions, from coaching programs to podcasts to tools and much more. We're here to help you, girl.