Join us in this exclusive Founders Q&A where we sit down with the creators of Divine Impressions Studio, a standout in the modern Christian digital art scene. Cody and Haleigh Poole, the husband-and-wife duo behind this innovative startup, share their personal journey, from the inception of their business idea to navigating the competitive world of digital art. Discover how faith, art, and entrepreneurship blend in their mission to bring contemporary Christian design into everyday life.
Can you tell us about your personal background and how it led you to founding your startup?
Cody: I grew up in the small town of Bristow, Oklahoma in a family where Christian values were central to everyday life. This foundation led me to serve in my local church, where I not only deepened my faith but also met my future wife, Haleigh. Following our marriage, we relocated to Wilmington, North Carolina, and embarked on the journey of making our new house a home. In this process, we encountered a challenge: finding artwork that resonated with our modern, minimalist aesthetic while also expressing our deeply-rooted faith.
This gap in the market sparked the creation of Divine Impressions Studio. Our small business aims to bridge this divide by offering contemporary digital art that embodies Christian principles. We provide our artwork in a digital format, empowering customers with the flexibility to incorporate their faith into their personal living spaces in diverse and creative ways—whether through framed pieces, canvases, or printed on everyday items like coffee mugs and clothing. This approach not only fulfills a unique niche but also aligns with our vision of making faith-based art accessible and versatile for modern lifestyles.
What problem does your startup solve and how did you identify it?
Our startup, Divine Impressions Studio, addresses the challenge of finding modern, Christian-based digital art that can seamlessly integrate into everyday life and personal decor. We identified this gap through our personal experience of struggling to find art that matched our modern, minimalistic style while also reflecting our faith, a sentiment echoed by many in our community seeking similar solutions.
How did the idea of your startup first come about?
The idea for Divine Impressions Studio was born from a personal need when we were decorating our home and found a lack of contemporary, faith-inspired artwork in the market. This realization sparked a desire to create a platform that could offer digital art reflecting Christian themes in a modern aesthetic, fulfilling a need for ourselves and others who wish to express their faith through their living and personal spaces. By providing digital artwork with a modern twist on Christian themes, we offer a versatile solution that empowers individuals to incorporate their faith into everyday items and decor, from wall art to personal accessories, broadening the ways in which the gospel can be shared and experienced.
What is your startup's mission and how does it drive your daily operations?
Our mission is to provide modern, minimalist digital artwork that allows individuals to express their Christian faith in a way that aligns with contemporary lifestyles. This mission drives our operations by influencing our design choices, ensuring our art resonates with today’s aesthetic preferences while maintaining spiritual depth. It motivates us to innovate constantly, seek feedback to meet our community's needs, and ensure every piece of art we create helps integrate faith into everyday settings.
How did you go about securing initial funding for your startup?
Thanks to Etsy, we've been able to start our business with a small personal investment of $30.
What were some major obstacles faced during the early stages of your startup, and how did you overcome them?
Initially, we ambitiously attempted to address every aspect of our business simultaneously—from design and marketing to partnerships and store development. This approach quickly became overwhelming, as we found ourselves stretched too thin, trying to expedite every process.
The invaluable lesson we learned from this experience is the power of focus. By dedicating our full attention to completing one task at a time, we significantly enhanced our efficiency. Prioritizing our objectives allowed us to streamline our operations and achieve our goals more effectively, illustrating the importance of focused effort over divided attention in the early stages of a startup.
Can you tell us about a time you failed and what you learned from it?
Our business is still in its infant stages, and we've come to understand that not every piece of art we create will be met with success. We currently have a piece that, contrary to our expectations, didn't capture our audience's interest as we had hoped. This experience highlights the importance of closely listening to our customers. By analyzing the preferences and feedback from our audience, we can gain valuable insights that will guide us in curating new pieces more aligned with their tastes.
How does your startup stand out from competitors in your industry?
We separate ourselves in a few ways:
1. We are blending modern minimalism with timeless Christian themes and biblical stories.
2. We provide artwork in a digital format allowing our customers to create framed art, canvases, coffee mugs, journals and more. We create the design, and the consumer has full control of the product creation.
3. We are significantly cheaper than competing products. We've been able to keep all of our digital artwork at the low price of $7.77. We even provide additional discounts when you purchase more than one.
How do you stay motivated during challenging times?
Faith. "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28
How do you manage work-life balance, especially during intense periods of work?
Planning and prioritization! We set clear boundaries between work and personal time, ensuring to schedule regular breaks and dedicate time for relaxation and family. Additionally, we practice delegating tasks and leveraging technology to streamline work processes, allowing us to maintain focus and efficiency without compromising our well-being or family time.
What does success look like for your startup, and how do you measure it?
Success for us is measured by the positive impact our digital art makes on our customers' lives, whether it's beautifying their homes, adding a meaningful touch to their coffee mugs, or being proudly worn on a t-shirt. Our core mission is to spread the Gospel through our artwork. The broader the reach of our art, the more opportunities we create for individuals to encounter the good news of Jesus Christ. Witnessing our creations serve this dual purpose of decoration and evangelization is our ultimate marker of success.
How do you encourage a culture of innovation within your team?
We prioritize open communication and the free exchange of ideas. We foster an environment where taking calculated risks is not only accepted but encouraged, understanding that growth often comes from learning through failures as much as successes.
Could you share any pivots your startup had to make and the reasons behind it?
We experienced a game-changing pivot right after our launch. Initially, our vision was all about customers downloading our digital artwork to hang on their walls at home. Then, something unexpected happened. A customer reached out, excited about using one of our digital art pieces for a coffee mug. This feedback was a lightbulb moment for us—it completely transformed our perspective on the potential of digital art. Suddenly, it wasn't just about creating art for walls; it became about integrating our designs into everyday life, on items people use all the time. This shift has since opened up a whole new world of possibilities for us and our customers.
How have you leveraged technology to grow and improve your startup?
Technology has been a total game-changer for us. We kick things off with AI-driven designs, which is pretty cool because it allows us to start with something unique every single time. Then, we take those initial concepts and finesse them in Photoshop to add our personal touch and make sure each piece really resonates with our brand and mission. And when it comes to getting our art out into the world, Etsy has been our go-to platform. It's incredible how these tech tools have not only streamlined our creation process but also broadened our reach, connecting us with customers we might not have found otherwise. It's like having a digital brush in one hand and a megaphone in the other—technology has truly amplified our ability to create and share our work.
What is one thing you wish you knew before starting your business?
We wish we would've understood the power of community and customer feedback from day one. I understood the importance of market research, of course, but I didn't fully appreciate just how invaluable direct input from our audience would be right out of the gate. Engaging with our community not only provides us with real-time insights into their preferences and needs but also fosters a sense of belonging and loyalty towards our brand.
Can you discuss a time where customer feedback directly influenced a decision or direction for your startup?
We mentioned this previously, but the biggest influence we received was from a customer's feedback who was excited to use the digital artwork on a coffee mug. It made us think about our business differently and alter how we marketed our product.
How do you see your startup evolving in the next 5 years?
We plan to continue to scale our portfolio and provide more artwork that depicts biblical truths. Ultimately, we see ourselves not just as a business, but as a movement, spreading positivity and faith through art around the world.
How have you adapted your startup to changes in the market, especially during crises?
Given our business is so new, we have luckily avoided any major crises. However, we will continue to listen to our customers and do our best to always provide modern, Christian artwork that resonates with our audience.
What advice would you give to someone considering starting their own business?
Our key piece of advice is to deeply understand the problem you're solving and ensure there's a genuine market need for your solution. Passion is crucial, but it must be paired with thorough market research and a clear value proposition. Start lean, allowing room to adapt and pivot as you gather insights from your initial customers. Embrace failures as learning opportunities, and don't underestimate the importance of building a strong network. Surround yourself with mentors and peers who can offer guidance, support, and a different perspective. Lastly, prioritize your well-being; the journey of entrepreneurship is a marathon, not a sprint, and maintaining a balance is key to sustaining your drive and creativity.