Thank you so much for visiting our blog! I'm Natalia, Founder & Chief of Happiness here at Level Up.  We are on a mission to connect, educate and inspire women to create something beautiful through our pop-up classes and blog. So grab a cup of your favorite drink, kick your feet up and get ready to Level Up with us!


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LBF Features Level up owner Natalia Bishop

By  –  Reporter, Louisville Business First

Juggling several jobs at once is not something that's new to Louisville entrepreneur Natalia Bishop.

As a mother of two and the owner and CEO of three Louisville businesses, it's just her life. But the working-girl mentality goes back further than her businesses.

The 32-year-old moved to the U.S. from Colombia in 2002, when she was only 17 years old. She and her family came with $400 to support all five of them. Quickly, Bishop found a job working the graveyard shift at UPS, a second job as hostess at Applebee's and a third job working for a State Farm insurance agent.

Bishop worked those jobs as she made her way through the University of Louisville.

She graduated in 2009 with a business degree and decided that it was time to put her education to work. She opened the first of her business ventures, a photography studio called Chocolate Box Photography, in November 2010.

Chocolate Box was the eventual catalyst for two other businesses, Story Louisville and Level Up. She runs the businesses mostly by herself, but she has a studio manager for Chocolate Box and contracts public relations and marketing help as needed it for the others.

She said the hardest part of being an entrepreneur isn't the expected plight of running three businesses while raising her two kids. It's not always being able to act on her ideas.

"The hard part is not doing everything you want to do."

Story Louisville

Bishop was renting space in the Butchertown Market Building on Story Avenue for Chocolate Box, but she soon realized she had a lot more space than she needed for one business. So she invited a few other photographers to share the space.

She quickly saw the benefits of sharing an office.

"Just seeing the growth from that," Bishop said. "It was just that chemistry of having someone else there."

With that in mind, she decided to start Story Louisville, a collective workspace for creatives in May 2016. Story is a kind of support system for creative types or even not-so-creative types who work remotely. Story is part of the Chocolate Box studio at 1201 Story Ave., Suite 299.

"That isolation doesn't really lead to a creative community," Bishop said. "That's one of the reasons this is important to me."

It's a membership-based collective, with about 20 members right now, she said. She sells a full-time membership for $199 a month, a part-time membership for $99 a month and a digital membership for $15 a month.

With Story Louisville, Bishop started to realize that she was helping a lot of the people at the collective with general business questions, and she saw another opportunity.

Level Up

In November 2016 Bishop opened Level Up, a business focused on creating pop-up classes to continue adult education.

The classes are held at different locations and have different themes.

Some of the classes are focused on growing a business or improving a small business, such as the marketing "masters" class that was taught by Jason Clark, CEO of VIA Studios. That one was part of a small-business series, which is ongoing and will offer classes on branding, social media and building a brand.

Others are more fun-centered, like an upcoming Mixology 101 class taught by Butchertown Grocery bartending expert Nic Christiansen. Other upcoming fun classes include one on watercolor painting and another on wedding-planning essentials.

"It's really introducing Louisville to the original and unique things that are around here in a fun way. It's like, 'Come on, let's have a party,' and then you leave with a skill," she said. "We're trying to enrich people's lives."

The classes range in price, from $30 to $75 for some of the more fun ones and $75 to $300 for masters classes. It mostly depends on the materials necessary, Bishop said. But keeping it affordable is her goal.

The businesses

Each of the businesses feeds off the others, and Bishop said with each one it's gotten a little easier because she has gained more experience of little things, such as building a website and creating a brand with each new business.

Before opening the Chocolate Box, Bishop sat down to write a business plan. She funded the business on her own, so Bishop was sure to know down to the penny how many clients she had to bring on to support herself. The company was in the black within a year of opening, she said.

"That's a big hangup in the (arts) community — we try to do the pretty part first."

But Bishop didn't spend four years working three jobs to forget what she learned in business school.

"I figured out the money part first," she said. "I have zero debt for all of my businesses."

She said she's been very conscious of the growth of each business, and she is choosey about when and how to reinvest in branding, public relations and other non-vital pieces of the business.

Bishop said she loves being part of the arts community in Louisville — which, after 15 years, she considers her home.

"People are insanely creative in this community," she said. "And people are so ready to step in and give. I don't think it's like that anywhere else. That's really special about here."

Natalia is the Founder and Chief of Happiness here at Level Up. Originally from Colombia but has called Louisville home for the last 17 years, her background is in Business Management and Marketing, but she has a passion for loving and investing in people and community. Natalia is also a wife and mother of two and the owner of ChocolateBox Photography, and Story Louisville in Louisville, KY.



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