Candy Phelps, iCandy Graphics & Web Design

IB’s Professional of the Week is the premier way to meet Dane County’s professionals. This week features Candy Phelps, founder, iCandy Graphics & Web Design.

1. What are the most challenging and rewarding aspects of your job and why?

The most rewarding thing about being an entrepreneur is being able to write the script of my own life and help others do the same. By crafting my business around my core values, I aim to have a positive impact on my team, my clients, and the community.

Happiness is our main objective and gratitude is a core part of my day. I feel very lucky that I get paid to have ideas, design, write, learn, and lead an awesome team in creative endeavors.

I love being able to work with other entrepreneurs to turn their ideas into a real business. When someone is giddy about their new logo or gets an important lead through their website, we feel like we’re helping them succeed.

As for the challenges, almost any business owner will tell you entrepreneurship comes with added pressure and long hours. Especially because I love what I do so much, it can be hard to stop working at the end of the day. Sometimes I have to remind myself to look up from my computer and go outside!

2. Who do you look up to or admire in business and why?

There is a long list of people I admire in business, but one person I especially admire locally is Barbara Boustead of Mary’s Daughter. Barbara is a client who started a business after retiring from lifelong social work. Now, she helps elderly folks and veterans with their bill paying and financial matters. She is a teacher of financial literacy and an advocate for many excellent causes. The thing about Barbara I admire most is her ability to lift other people up. She spends an incredible amount of time supporting others, connecting people, attending people’s events, taking the time to write thank-you notes, and sharing people’s content online. She seems to do this with a truly joyful heart. She is simply a positive force of energy. The world would be a better place with more people like Barbara and I strive to emulate her generous, giving spirit.

3. What has been the high point of your career so far?

I feel fortunate that my career has been peppered with highlights, including starting my own business at age 29, overcoming my fear of public speaking, and publishing a book about search engine optimization. But I feel like my career is just getting started and the high point is definitely yet to come. Once we have a champagne drinking fountain in our office I’ll know I’ve made it.

4. Thinking back on your career, what advice would you give your 21-year-old self?

When I was 21, I was in college and planning a traditional career path. I didn’t know I wanted to own my own business. Compared to my life now I had immense amounts of spare time. If I could talk to 21-year-old Candy, I would tell her to start early on the path to entrepreneurship and read everything you can get your hands on. There is so much information out there that I’m dying to consume and I wish I had more time now to read. You can learn almost anything from a library book, or nowadays from a YouTube tutorial. There are so many skills I wish I had and things I wish I knew more about.

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5. What would you say are the best things about living and working in Dane County?

I’ve lived in both a town in the middle of Montana with only 1,500 people and in Chicago. My husband, Tim, and I moved to Madison because we think it is the perfect mix of big city and small town. We quickly found a community of friends, neighbors, and business relationships almost as if we’re in a small town. Yet I love how many things there are to do, including interesting restaurants, music, arts, and outdoor opportunities. The bike trails, walking around Olbrich Botanical Gardens, and watching the sunset over the lakes are special things that never get old.

6. Do you have any secret talents or abilities that people would be surprised to discover?

I was a pole vaulter in high school and at one point I held the school record. This is actually not very impressive though because I was the first female pole vaulter my school ever had, so I got the record just for participating in my first track meet. Every subsequent track meet I broke my own record. Maybe that’s not a secret talent, but it goes to show that showing up is 80% of success in life!

7. What are your guilty pleasures?

Portion control is something I learned much later in life, and I occasionally stray from this in a big way. Sometimes I can’t resist eating an entire bag of Doritos or a whole brick of cheese in one sitting. Recently, I got my husband a one-pound vat of cheese puffs sort as a joke for his birthday but then we proceeded to eat the whole thing in less than a week. It’s not something I’m proud of but what can I say? I have a weakness for junk food.

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