Tell us something about yourself. What is your niche? How did you get your idea or concept for the business?
With my dad being a professional illustrator and art always in the house. I took a strong interest in pencil drawing and started drawing with him around age 5.What outweighed that desire for a bit of time was my strong interest in ballet at the age of 13. I was fortunate over the years to work hard enough and have the right opportunities to become a professional ballet dancer. While I love dancing professionally, it takes a toll on you physically mentally, and emotionally. (As do so many jobs) I definitely needed an outlet, a therapy if you will, to help bring balance to my life. I started drawing again, as well as taking photographs. I would draw anything that calmed me or reflected my emotions through Portrait or Abstract art. As for photography, I always loved having my camera in the studio or theater. I began taking BTS photographs and headshots for the San Diego Ballet, where I was currently dancing. Documenting the movement and emotion was almost(!) as satisfying to me as dancing. When Covid hit and the dance world shut down, I decided to take matters into my own hands. ily(eye-lee)creative is a brand that I developed as a way to share my work as an artist and photographer. These have always been creative outlets for me and I’ve been working hard the last couple of months to compile my work for this visual platform! • ilycreative.art is where I will share my hand-drawn or digitally draw art, that is downloadable via Etsy (Shop creative to see my shop!) • iycreative.photo is the fine art section where I will share my photography of dance, movement, and portraits. (Currently have a portfolio on IG) Stay tuned for my website for all things ilycreative! I am excited to share more and look forward to collaborating!••• Behind the name! ily (eye-lee) was my nickname when I was younger, as well as a family name on my mother’s side. I wanted to go back to my roots, and pick something personal to me. “Creative” because I did not want to box myself in with one specific medium of art.
What are your responsibilities as a business owner?
I am a new online Shop Owner! I started my business about two months ago on Etsy. With selling downloadable Wall decor on Etsy, I’ve learned I need to be extremely organized. I have folders on my desktop that hold my 300 DPI files for purchase/upload, folders that hold my original artwork, folders with my artwork in frames, etc for listings. Some days I will upload a bunch of listings, while other days I find it best to manage and keep track of my sales and stats through the Etsy App. My favorite and most important aspect of my business is customer service. I make sure to personally reach out and thank each customer. I want to develop strong connections.
What are your best selling products, what type of materials are used in your creations, how do you design your products, what makes your products stand out?
My best selling product is in my collection of Line drawings! My Rose Line drawing + portrait line drawings are two pieces that people seem to gravitate to. I have created these pieces with my Apple Pencil and iPad through an art app, utilizing multiple types of textures and colors. I would say my work is minimalist with a twist! I challenge myself to find new ways I can make something as linear as a line drawing, different & refreshing.
What do you enjoy most about being an entrepreneur? What’s the hardest about it?
The consistency is the hardest part and knowing that it is solely up to you for things to get done. It’s something that I personally have to continue to stay on top of and challenge myself to do more of each and every day. I make goals to work towards as I navigate this new road! The second part is patience- knowing that your customer clientele will not appear to develop overnight. I would say the part I enjoy most about being an entrepreneur is sharing my artwork on the Internet and connecting to people all across the world! I get excited about checking my Etsy app to see if there are any new messages or if my stats have gone up. Taking action on something that I love and I’m passionate about is liberating to me. Selling art is a beautiful way to connect to people and give people a part of something that you’ve created out of love, no obligation.
Who do you sell to (and how do you get customers)? What marketing tools or strategies you use to boost your sales? Are you satisfied with the results?
My art is for anyone who loves it! If I had to pinpoint a clientele, I would guess that it would be targeted for people (60% female 40%male) ages 20- 35. Some tools and strategies have been trying: • SEO • Adding seasonal sales to my shop • Pinterest • Instagram (ilycreative.art & ilycreative.photo) My shop is relatively new, so I want more sales and traffic. I have seen an increase in views since I started my IG last week, but I feel like I am still hoping to get more traction.
Do you believe there is a winning formula for becoming a successful entrepreneur? What is yours?
I think organization, consistency and actually DOING it would be part of that winning formula! I also think loving what you do will always keep you moving forward, and your work fresh. I would say that is my current formula, but I hope to add to that list as time goes on.
What was the toughest moment you have experienced in your business practice? How did you succeed to get over it and move forward?
I started my business from scratch, and so there were a lot of learning curves! For example, I did not know how to use Photoshop and I think I made every mistake under the sun before using it correctly. I knew I wanted to start out selling digital downloads, which meant learning what ratios DPI meant/where, and how to formulate a cohesive listing with downloadable attachments. Because of Covid, I had a lot of extra time! In the past, time was what always held me back from starting my business. Because of this, I was hungry to learn a new skill, like Photoshop. I honestly just immersed myself into everything I could possibly learn about to kick start my business… I dove in! Looking back, the first couple of weeks I would be on the computer for six hours a day, redoing mistakes I had made.
What inspires you when you’re creating? How do you get ideas for new products? What are some methods or tools you use to get creative?
Curiosity! I have been recently working a lot with my Apple Pencil and three or apps on my iPad, exploring what I usually do with a real pencil on my iPad has been eye-opening. I love doing anything from realist work to abstract art.
Do you ship your product internationally? How do you handle postage pricing? What is the average time it takes from the order to the delivery? Do you use free shipping? If so, why? How do you package your products?
What I love about digital downloads, is anyone ANYWHERE can buy them! When I add physical prints to my shop, they will most likely only be sold in the US, though this may change as I am still working out all of the details!
What would you say are the key elements for starting and running a successful online business?
Being clear with your intention on what you want to sell and what style you want to bring to the table.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs who are starting out?
Have fun with it! If you don’t have fun with it, it will not last in the long run.
How do you personally define business success? Is it money? Freedom? Influence? Creative expression and innovation? Something else?
A combination of all of the above! As a professional dancer, I know how important it is to feel valued artistically and respected financially. To me, business success blends loving what you do, with making money to support what you do. I want to be able to enjoy each day of the workweek, and not live for the weekends. That’s the goal!
Describe your day-to-day operation. How do you manage your time?
With the pandemic, I am home most of the time. I find I work best on the computer at night, so I do not try and force myself to edit my shop during the day. As for planning posts for IG or create new artwork, the daytime works best for me. It is important to know yourself and when you work best. I try to do exercise whether it’s taking ballet class, yoga, or a walk before sitting down and focusing on my Etsy Shop. Being a bit tired helps me calm down and focus!
How do you plan on growing your business? What is the biggest impact on your profitability?
I have big plans for my brand! I plan to include physical Prints and more art in my Etsy shop very soon. My goal is to establish my shop well enough to collaborate with other companies and expand my storefront past Etsy onto other platforms. As I dove into my Etsy shop for the majority of this interview, I also have a lot of plans for my photography. I am located in Los Angeles, CA. I am opening up an in-house photo studio for dancers & movers who want to collaborate with me. With living in LA, I also plan on selling my artwork (both hand-drawn and photography) in person at lots of flea and farmers markets! ilycreative.art and it’s sister store ilycreative.photo are the two platforms that make up my brand ilycreative. ilycreative was born this year, and I am excited to see when my brand goes in the future.
What are some things you did to set your shop for success on Etsy? What is one lesson you learned the hard way?
SEO is important! Having beautiful photos to help attract customers, and being personable!!! As well as getting my Instagrams together to share on a larger platform. A lesson I learned the hard way: Being new at working with images at 300 DPI! I learned that when I give a customer a digital download of 2:3 ratio, I need to make sure the largest size* offered can be blown up to be 300 DPI. I had to read do about three hours of work to fix this. Now I know and will never forget 🙂
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Thank you so much for having this platform for new entrepreneurs like myself! My brand, ilycreative is uniquely mine – I own all of my work and it is copywritten under my name. (ilycreative website coming soon- I will post it on IG and Etsy when open to the public!)