Riley Sheehey was hoping for something a bit more romantic when she opened a Christmas gift from her now-husband in 2016. But her gift—the graphic design program Photoshop—would ultimately help Riley make a career out of a passion project.
At the time, the Falls Church, Virginia native was tinkering with hand-drawn sketches while working full-time as an elementary school art teacher. One summer break, she’d been experimenting with watercolors when a soon-to-be-married friend asked her to create a custom wedding invitation. Word traveled fast among her circle, who started keeping Riley busy every wedding season. “An invitation would go out to 200 people, who’d see my artwork and ask about me,” she says. “It quickly became more than I could manage on the side.”
Trial and error were valuable teachers. Riley explored and experimented, learning the ins and outs of Photoshop, file types and the printing process. “I had zero graphic design skills,” she notes. “Someone would say ‘I need this much bleed room’ and I’d have to google it.”
By 2017, it was enough to take into full-time territory. “I loved teaching, but I’d found something I loved even more,” says Riley. Invitations and house portraits gave way to brand projects with Hilton Hotels, LaCroix, Sorel and Kiel James Patrick. A lifelong love of fashion, she says, inspires her best work with brands she admires. “I always keep in mind that this work is about positioning a brand in its best light, thinking about how I can lift it up with my art.”
Riley was already a #dsgoods fan when we asked her to create custom illustrations for ours. Our cozy chic fleece fits perfectly with her WFH lifestyle. “It’s this great life hack—a comfortable fleece you can wear in the house, walking the dog or out to dinner,” she says. “It’s the only thing I wear that three people ask about wherever I go.” This self-taught talent is more than happy to share the Dudley Stephens name (often), along with this advice for anyone considering a career change: “It’s never too late to learn a new skill,” she says. “The transition is hard work—you never talk to someone who just casually decides to leave a 9-5 job—but it’s so worth it to chase your dream.”
Riley is wearing our Brighton Boatneck in Pink!