Chantelle Davis-Gray is a web and brand designer helping women grow their do-good, feel-good businesses. She blends her creative and technical skills with strategy so every project not only looks great, but also inspires action. With an innate knack for compassion and project management, she gets rid of the overwhelm and frustration. Chantelle provides next-level support for her clients, so they can put their time into the work they love and confidently share their brand and website with pride. Learn more and connect with her at  



Amy: Today on Virtually Free, I have the wonderful Chantelle Davis-Gray. Welcome.
Chantelle: Hello. Thank you for having me.
Amy: It’s a pleasure. I’m really excited to chat with you today. Before we kind of get into the juiciness that will be this interview, how about you just tell us a little bit about your business and how you got started in what I like to call this crazy online business world.
Chantelle: Sure. I always pause. I’m like, “How abridged do I go?” I guess where I’m at right now is that I am a web and brand designed for Do-Good. Feel-Good Businesses. How I got to this point has been a bit of a windy journey, like I think many of us have once we get to online business. We’ve had a road to pull us here. I was in the corporate design world for many, many years, probably about a dozen years. Corporate was going really well until it wasn’t anymore. It was sort of sucking the life out of me. I started just evaluating like what else would I want to be doing if I wasn’t this, and I was really getting pulled into the wellness arena. So, I went to IIN and got my health coaching certificate, and decided to pursue a health coaching business. I got a part-time job to give myself some stability, had a acupuncture office, so it was within that wellness world and I left corporate.
  I was starting to build my health coaching practice, but still designing on the side because that’s what everybody knew me as. As I was meeting new people and old friends were starting their own businesses, I was getting referrals to do websites and branding. I was simultaneously trying to build my health coaching business, continuing to design on the side, and I did both for about 18 months. It was going okay, but I sort of had this inner conflict the entire time because the health coaching wasn’t as gratifying as I hoped it would be. I loved the connections and the relationships that I built with my clients.
  But in terms of actually doing the health coaching business part of stuff, just it wasn’t lighting me up, and the design world was really lighting me up because now I was getting to work with clients that were in the wellness industry or that were working at nonprofits that were really doing some good things for the world. So, it had a completely different vibe than I was doing in corporate. As you know, being your own boss obviously gives you lots of freedom that you don’t have in the corporate world.
  Ultimately, this conflict of, “What am I doing? I’m trying to do both and I’m feeling like I’m being pulled in two different directions,” ultimately, I decided that the design really is where I’m meant to be and that getting to work with wellness practitioners is much better for me and for them because then I get to work in my zone of genius but still making a ripple effect in a different way. That was probably another 18 months ago that I’ve been doing design and not health coaching anymore. It is absolutely wonder. It’s like the first time in my life that I feel like what I’m doing is really aligned with not just my skills and my … you know, the experience based on my other work things, but it’s also aligned with my passions and my bigger view of the world.
Amy: Well, first of all, congratulations.
Chantelle: Thanks.
Amy: That’s awesome. That feeling must be so wonderful.
Chantelle: It’s amazing, absolutely amazing.
Amy: I love that we’re talking about this today. This, people are probably like, “What is this?” To me, what I hear from this, and we know what we’ve talked about before we actually started recording, is … and these are really like buzz words right now, you know, finding your purpose.
Chantelle: I know.
Amy: Being in alignment.
Chantelle: Exactly.
Amy: Some people are like, “Okay, you little woo-woo children,” but the reality is is that a lot of us are governed by this.
Chantelle: Yes.
Amy: I was not what I proclaim, as like a self-proclaim as like a woo-woo chick before I got into online business.
Chantelle: Ooh, interesting, so it like brought that out in you.
Amy: Yeah, it did. I look back and I see things. This is kind of my story about how I got started in online business, and I won’t go crazy into it, but you know, I was in … I had just graduated university. I graduated a little later. I didn’t grow up, but I live in Ottawa, Ontario, which is the capital of Canada. It’s not Toronto, unlike like everybody, but it is … You know, it’s a government town.
Chantelle: Gotcha.
Amy: You know, 50%, probably more, like 75% of my friends work in the government. It’s called the Golden Handcuffs, because once you get in, you stay there, because you have this very cushy, albeit unstimulating job, but I kind of thought that was my path. I went to school for political science. It’s why I came to Ottawa.
Chantelle: Oh.
Amy: I was like, “This is definitely. This is what I want.” You know, it’s from the time I was 14 or 13, I was like, “I’m going to work in politics. I’m going to do this. I’m going to do that.” You know, you focus on doing it … There is a reason I am telling this story, for everyone listening. But you know, I was doing it, and I was doing it. I finally graduated, I was like, “Perfect. I can put all my skills into action.” I went up there, and I got a job. I knew I needed to get some temp work before I could really myself up in the government, especially because I don’t speak French.
Chantelle: Oh, right, yeah.
Amy: For everybody that knows anything, we’re bilingual. You have to speak French to work. Not always, but you have to have some level of French to work in the government. So, I had a plan. I had everything set. You know, I started doing the temp work and I was in office. First time I’ve ever been in an … Well, not in an office, but working in an office. My body, within three days, shut down, like to a point where like … So, I started on a Monday. The Monday following, I called in after the day. I lasted six whole days. I said, “I can’t work. I’m in like the emergence … ” Well, not emergency, but like a walk-in clinic.
Chantelle: Oh my goodness.
Amy: Yeah, so I was like, “I need, I need to … I can’t.” They’re like, “Oh, you’ve been here for six days. What could be wrong?” They were just fought against me so much. But, my body literally shut down.
Chantelle: Wow.
Amy: You know, I still have issues with it. It has something to do with the, and I’m going to butcher this word, the ergonomics of a chair I was sitting in. You know, I’m okay now, but I just sit back and I’m like, “Wow. Could that not have been the biggest sign from the university ever?” But I didn’t have-
Chantelle: Yeah, that’s pretty dramatic.
Amy: It was pretty dramatic, but you know, my life is pretty dramatic. But you know, and I love that because you’re like, “Wow.” To me, that is what out of alignment is, and that is how it manifests in the physical form.
Chantelle: Wow.
Amy: And that was the universe and my body saying, “Hey, this is not what you do.”
Chantelle: Yup.
Amy: So, wrapping that in, or ringing that in, or whatever the terminology is, I would love to hear like, you know, you kind of briefly talked about how you were a health coach and then decided to go and work in wellness area but work in design. I would love to hear kind of your story in relation to how you kind of really decided that being a health coach, even though you invested all this money in IIN, which I can’t remember what … I know what it is, but for all they’re out there, because I know a lot of people might not know.
Chantelle: You’re right.
Amy: What is the full name again?
Chantelle: It is the Institute of Integrative Nutrition.
Amy: That.
Chantelle: Yes.
Amy: So, you invested, and I know that is a very rigorous program. I have a few friends and colleagues that have gone through it. You know, and it’s not cheap, either, so …
Chantelle: Right.
Amy: I would love to hear kind of like how that … like that story. How your story from investing all that into deciding that that’s not what you’re going to do and kind of the trials and tribulations that you went through as well, because we kind of don’t talk about that in the online sphere. We don’t about the struggles and the, you know, the more like less than glamorous aspects of online business.
Chantelle: Right, 
Amy: So if you’re ever so open and willing to share-
Chantelle: Of course.
Amy: Absolutely
Chantelle: Of course, of course. Yeah, so it really felt like … I feel like there’s an analogy or metaphor that’s like on the tip of my tongue, but it really kind of felt like if you have two kids and each one is pulling a separate arm, you know? And you’re sort of just being stretched in opposite directions. 
Amy: I’m thinking of some really weird horror story scene, horror-
Chantelle: Okay, yeah. Maybe don’t go quite that gruesome.
Amy: I know exactly where you’re headed
Chantelle: But yeah, because it wasn’t necessarily painful, but it was this feeling of just always being pulled in two different directions internally. It really got to the point where I was out loud laughing. So, I was very fortunate enough to develop some great relationships through some Facebook groups, actually, and found myself with a couple of good biz besties, quote, unquote, who are of course so much more than just biz besties. They’re, you know, friends.
  So, I confided in them that I was feeling really torn, and so they helped me process through it verbally, because I’m definitely a verbal processor. I would write about it, but it also, as time went on, got to the point where I was getting these little signs from the universe like … I remember there was this one day where I had just signed on to do like a health fair kind of thing where you have your own booth and that kind of stuff for the holiday season. I had just signed on, like paid the fee, and literally like 24 hours later got invited to do something similar but for design. I remember out loud saying like, “Okay, universe, I get it. I get that I need to make a choice. I can’t keep going on feeling so torn.”
  It was really just a matter of confiding in some close friends. Like I said, I was part of a mastermind within that I met through the Facebook world. Through those women and them really just sort of asking me lots and lots of questions and helping me get to the … like unlayering, you know? Like really providing that safe space for me to admit that, yes, I thought that I was going to love health coaching. And you’re right, I spent all that money. I left corporate. But the reality is I don’t want to do it anymore, and what does that mean? And really getting, and having, and holding the space for me to be able to explore like, “Well, it means that I feel like I’m giving up or maybe that other people are going to think I failed.” And of course, like most things, no one else thinks I failed. It’s really that I’m judging myself, you know?
Amy: Yeah.
Chantelle: Going through that and getting vulnerable enough to admit those things and recognizing that no, it’s not true. Those are the stories that I’m telling in my head about failure, but the reality is I left corporate because I was getting absolutely miserable and borderline sick from the stress of it all, and I left corporate to not be like that. If I’m not fully happy doing my own thing, then what’s the point? I might as well just be back in corporate right? So, I needed to pursue and follow the thing that I knew was really lighting my heart up, but that took months and months of picking away at the layers and getting a little bit more vulnerable, like week by week, with other people and with myself until ultimately really just admitting the truth of I wanted to be a designer, not a health coach anymore.
Amy: I would love for you, because I know there’s so many people out there … This is so relevant for people that are even wanting to quit the, quote, unquote, normal job or whatever you want to call it.
Chantelle: Right.
Amy: You know, or wanting to switch directions in an online business. Because you know, I’ve seen that as well. I have a few clients. You know, my beginning work is VA, which has grown into so much, so much different than just … Or, not different, but so much more than just a VA.
Chantelle: Right.
Amy: But you know, you see them, and you see them go through this, and it really manifests in their business, especially with online. You see clients aren’t buying from them or … or not clients, but perspective clients-
Chantelle: People, yeah.
Amy: … aren’t buying from them because they’re out of alignment or they’re not in their zone of genius or whatever you want to say, but it really works for both. It’s really hard to listen to … At least in my experience, I find it’s really hard to listen to my gut sometimes because I know the way that the society has kind of molded us into this empty gratification kind of thing. So you know, if I started my VA business … This hasn’t happened to me, but I know a lot of people that it has. You know, they get in there, they start their VA business, and they don’t have clients within the first month. They’re like, “Well, it was just supposed to come to me,” so they give up and they move on. So sometimes
Chantelle: That’s not surprising.
Amy: I know, right? But it’s really hard because it’s really difficult sometimes. Especially if your intuition isn’t that fine tuned at the beginning, believe me, once you really do a deep dive in entrepreneurialism, you’re going to get there.
Chantelle: Exactly.
Amy: But you know, at the beginning … Do you have any hints or tools that you used to really fine tune that intuition or help strengthen that kind of intuition muscle?
Chantelle: Mm-hmm (affirmative). I don’t have original answers, but the fact is they’re clichés because they’re true. I would say meditation, but what makes a big difference for me is that I also have to exercise or move your body if you hate the word exercise, because I kind of do. For me, that took a long time to find workouts that I actually enjoyed and didn’t dread, or resent, or feel crappy doing. Because for me, if I’m really anxious, and I sort of have … I am generally … I tend to be on the anxious side of life. If I’m not working out semi-regularly, then that gets way worse. Then, I do have a harder time tapping into my intuition because then it’s harder to separate like, “What are the stories I’m telling myself? What are irrational fears and what’s real intuition?” I know that when I’m working out more regularly, it clears through some of that and it gets rid of some of the muck.Then, be able to mediate afterwards.
  On my favorites is a local bar studio. After the class, like the ending, 5 or 10 minutes is essentially like a shavasana where they come by and do a little reiki with lavender. It’s so relaxing, and it’s a perfect combination.
Amy: That sounds divine.
Chantelle: It is. It’s a perfect combination, because … So, I’ve just worked out. I got through all that mucky energy, and then I have that quiet time to just settle. I find that a lot of stuff would sort of bubble up during those times, same thing like after a really good yoga class. You move through lots of stuff, and then you just have that quiet time to just listen. That’s been really key for me. While I do also have a meditation practice, a combination of the working out plus meditation makes a bigger impact for me and sort of clears through some of the noise so that I can actually hear my intuition, not thoughts trying to be pretend that they’re my intuition if that makes sense. Maybe that’s a little too woo, but …
Amy: No, it makes perfect sense for me. I’m very open and honest with the audience and everything is I have high-functioning anxiety and high-functioning depression. When you’re like, “I need to do this,” I’m like, “Oh, yes.” Because if you don’t move your body, you know, for me, I go through these horrible waves of being very, very anxious, and then I’m so anxious then it dips into depression and it goes up and down. You know, I have a handle on it now.
Chantelle: Right, but it’s not fun.
Amy: It’s definitely not fun. But you know, that quieting of the mind and … You know, you don’t need to have anxiety or a mental health issue to have a rapidly-running mind.
Chantelle: Exactly.
Amy: Especially if you are working in online business where it is very isolating and you’re just left alone with your thoughts for a lot of the time. So, thank you for that. I really … You know, another one that I, you know, for me, because I’m that rebel, and you know, everybody does meditation, but I can’t do meditation because it’s so whatever, so my rebels out there, walking or walking meditation is really good, too, and open eye meditation. I know it’s everyone is like, “What?” You literally just focus on an object. So, your eyes are open, but it’s still the same thing. Those work really well, just for those rebels out there. Walking meditation and open eye meditation.
Chantelle: I like the walking, for sure.
Amy: Yeah, that’s the best, for sure. But at least in my experience, it’s helped me the most. But yeah, going back, you’re like, “Oh, they’re so cliché,” but they’re cliché because they work.
Chantelle: Exactly.
Amy: You know, you kind of beat your head, or I feel like you’re like … What’s that ridiculous terminology where you’re like beating-
Chantelle: Beat your head against a wall or something?
Amy: Yeah, that.
Chantelle: Or a table.
Amy: Stick, or whatever it was.
Chantelle: Yes, I’m bad at those.
Amy: Yeah, me too, obviously. But, you know, excuse me. It’s said so much, but it’s because it works. People just like pretend like it doesn’t, but it works. That’s why we say it.
Chantelle: Right. Yup.
Amy: So thank you.
Chantelle: Of course.
Amy: Do you have any other ones, you know those … Do you have anything? Do you do any journal, journaling, or-
Chantelle: I go through waves of journaling where I’m like really good at it, and I get up and do a couple pages every morning. And then, there are months and months where I won’t even lift the pen. I’m kind of in one of those spots right now where I’m not journaling at all. It sort of seems to be a seasonal thing. There are times in my life where it was really helpful and other times where it’s just not. I think it, again, depends on the individual, but it can be really helpful.
Amy: Yes.
Chantelle: For sure.
Amy: I’m the same way. I go through like, you know, “Let me write everything down,” for like a week.
Chantelle: Yes.
Amy: Then, three months, I’m like, “All right, I did my journaling.” And that’s what works, right? But it’s how journaling works for each individual personal, which I feel like is a great segue, and totally not planned at all, into talking about how you’ve grown business with integrity, and how it makes it feel good, and how you’ve been able to block out all the shoulds.
Chantelle: Right.
Amy: Yeah.
Chantelle: I’m big on blocking the shoulds. Like you, I’m just very into trying to really do what’s right for your own life versus what we’ve been all been told our entire lives or what’s working for someone else. That definitely ties back into what we were just talking about in terms of being able to, whether you want to call it your intuition or listening to your gut, or whatever you want to call it, you need to be able to at some point be able to actually hear what it is what you want and enjoy versus what you think you’re supposed to want, slash, enjoy.
  A classic example, I think, for a lot of my clients and sometimes … I went through this a little bit when I was actually health coaching, is because I do website design, right? I’ll be talking to a new client and they’ll say, “Well, I know I should have a blog, but I really hate writing.” I’m like, “Okay, then we won’t give you a blog.” There’s not point in creating this thing for you that you’re then going to dread doing every other week or however often you’ve decided that you’ve had to do it. There’s other ways around it. Maybe we do videos for you. Maybe you do graphics. Maybe you do Facebook lives instead. There’s other ways that you can get yourself and your content out into the world. Just because they, quote, unquote, say you have to blog, you don’t have to blog, you know? There’s other ways to put your work into the world. That’s like a very classic example.
  Same kind of thing with social media. People have ideas in their head that they now need to be on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest. Like every single new thing that comes out, they have to do it, and they have to do it daily. So again, it’s like, “No, let’s start with at least one of them, maybe, just as a trial and see if you like it or don’t like it.” You know, there’s other ways that’s you can interact and meet people. It’s definitely about figuring out what actually works for you. Again, it comes back to most of us are doing this work because we want the freedom and want the control to be able to run our businesses the way that’s going to make us happy and make us feel excited about it. If we build our businesses from the ground up doing things that we resent or dread, then it’s sort of like the opposite.
  You know, obviously, not every piece of running your own business is going to be, “Ooh, this is so fun and so exciting.” That’s not reality, and that’s often not talked about, but everything shouldn’t be something you’re going to dread. I think it’s a matter of starting small and just experimenting, testing things out. Maybe you try Facebook for three months. Then, if you decide, “No, I really hate Facebook,” then try Instagram or whatever it is. But just sort of having an experimental approach to it instead of a set-in-stone, must-follow-these-rules.
Amy: Exactly. Because when you have those set in stone, kind of, “Yeah, I must do this. I must do that,” that energy, and this is where it’s going to go all woo, is that energy is going to really come out. Yeah, you might have good content. Maybe you have a content writer that just makes it look amazing, but reality is it’s probably not hitting that ideal client anyways because your authentic voice and your authentic energy, and what it is that you love is not put into that.
Chantelle: Right.
Amy: So, you know, all that kind of stuff. You know, we’re kind of in that place where, you know, we’re like, “But that’s person’s doing it.” It’s really hard to not do that, but it’s essential. Other thing is that, you know, I just wanted to touch upon, is that that whole idea, like we started this business to be our own boss, to do what we wanted to do. Yes, you have to follow, you know? There’s things that you have to do, like you said, that aren’t fun, but essential in a business, you know, like writing those emails every day or every other day and replying to, you know … I don’t even know, like a designer to do things, like little things. That might not light you up and make you super excited, although it should because if there’s anything like you, you’re making a beautiful website for them.
Chantelle: Right.
Amy: But you know, it’s not necessarily amazing. But one thing I notice, especially lately, is I’m seeing a lot of people get stuck in that trap of they’ve let the corporate or they’ve left … Not necessarily corporate, they’ve just left the traditional job market where they’re not their own boss. You know, they still fall back into that employee mindset kind of thing. I know we’re getting kind of off topic, but-
Chantelle: That’s okay.
Amy: You know, I think this is really important for them to hear because I have this wake-up call, I like to say, every about six months where I’m starting to do things because I think I should. Then, I’m like, “Wait a minute. Wait a minute. You’re the boss, Amy. You’re the one that gets to decide what you do.”
Chantelle: Exactly.
Amy: That in itself will be rejuvenating as well, so …
Chantelle: Yes.
Amy: Don’t always-
Chantelle: Yes, like …
Amy: Sorry, go on.
Chantelle: I think it’s Mel Robbins, I think it is, that posted on Instagram last week something like, and I might butcher this quote or hers, but it’s something like, “Approach your tasks with not that I have to do it, but that I get to do it.” Her point is like be thankful for that you’re alive and fortunate enough to be doing whatever tedious chore you’re about to do, but the same thing can apply in our business. Like, yes, maybe sending out invoices isn’t the most fun thing you do in your day, but how great is it that you get to do that because you’re your boss. You get to choose when and how you do these things.
Amy: Exactly. I have not seen that. I’m a huge, huge fan of Mel Robbins.
Chantelle: Oh, yeah. Awesome.
Amy: So, I will be searching that up after.
Chantelle: I think she posted it on Instagram sometime last week.
Amy: Okay. I will look at that. Everybody else should, too. Mel Robbins is awesome.
Chantelle: Yes.
Amy: She’s the author of The 5 Second Rule, if you guys have no idea what we’re talking about right now.
Chantelle: Exactly.
Amy: Also, great book. Go check it out. This is not sponsored by them, just so that you know.
Chantelle: No.
Amy: Although, it’d be great if Mel Robbins wanted to sponsor this podcast, but I don’t think that’s going to be an option. Well, who knows. Sky’s the limit, right?
Chantelle: Dream big.
Amy: Right? Well, thank you so much for chatting with me today, Chantelle. It’s been an absolute pleasure.
Chantelle: Absolutely. Thank you for having me. It’s been so fun.
Amy: I hope that the audience can really take some really great words of … golden nuggets from this, because this is stuff, like this is the stuff that you kind of forget, especially in the beginning stages. Then, you kind of hit that six, maybe six-month mark, and you’re like, “Oh, wait. Oh, wait a minute,” so thank you for this. I love this. I’m so jazzed about this topic.
Chantelle: Awesome.
Amy: I would love for you to leave the audience with some words of wisdom.
Chantelle: Words of wisdom. So, not surprisingly, based on our conversation, but my number one is really to get in touch with and then learn how to listen to your gut. Then, my other thing, because I’m really big on helping my clients get rid of overwhelm is to do one thing at a time. Things can get really overwhelming when we’re starting our business, and even when we’re well into our messy middle of our business, but just remembering that you don’t have to do it all at once, you know, like Rome wasn’t build in a day kind of thing, just do one thing at a time. Take it step by step by step, and your business is going to grow.