Tell us something about yourself. What is your niche? How did you get your idea or concept for the business?
I’ve always loved painting. As a child, I wanted to be a painter, and nobody including my parents supported it. I decided to become successful as a painter was the only way to prove them all wrong.
What are your responsibilities as a business owner?
I handle it all. I edit my Etsy and other sites I use to sell. I manage my own business social media. Packing and shipping are all me and obviously all of the painting is done by me too. My favorite part is getting to talk to customers. It makes the art feel more personal.
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?
Mystery boxes are a HUGE hit. I don’t think people like making decisions so this makes it easy. They know they want art but aren’t sure what to get. I usually paint on canvas panels or wood. Although lately, I’ve gotten really into framed work. I get the idea, and make a quick sketch on tracing paper and then start painting using the sketch as a guide. Once it’s all done I seal it for longevity and package it to be shipped! I love writing little notes to go with each order.
What do you enjoy most about being an entrepreneur? What’s the hardest about it?
Tricky question. I love the freedom I have as an artist. Not only do I not have to work a 9-5 job but I also love what I do, so it never truly feels like work. My least favorite part is dealing with unhappy people. I’ve only run into a few and fixing their unhappiness is fairly easy. It’s the aftermath of it that I struggle with. One bad review has the power to make me question what else was wrong and wonder if anyone else is actually super mad. Keeping up confidence as an entrepreneur is hard but it’s a very rewarding path.
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 client group is mostly women between ages 15-40. I paint a lot of flowers and honestly, I have a very feminine art style. I post heavily on social media and I’m very active in answering questions for people and showing off work and the process of creating. But, paying for Etsy Ads was a major boost in sales. It’s one thing I don’t have to take care of, I just pay for it. I saw a nice increase in sales once I started that. I recommend anyone invest a little into advertising.
Do you believe there is a winning formula for becoming a successful entrepreneur? What is yours?
There is no secret to success. You just have to never give up. I painted and tried making a sale for about 3 years before I made a real sale. I spent years giving away art just to get it in people’s hands. Then after 3 years, I started making one or two decent sales a year. Now, I’m shipping 5-10 packages every week. Just keep at it and never be too hard on yourself.
What was the toughest moment you have experienced in your business practice? How did you succeed to get over it and move forward?
Oh geez. For me, that’s got to be an art block. Sometimes I get orders for a mystery painting and I have no idea what to paint. It’s like I want to paint everything and nothing at the same time. In those times I just find a pretty flower to paint and I usually get my creative juices back.
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?
I’m heavily inspired by tattoos. I hand-poked tattoos on the side as kind of a hobby. I love Sailor Jerry and I do a lot of pin-up girls in a style similar to his. Stan Bowery is another huge inspiration. When I need inspo, I open up one of my tattoo books and just find something that catches my eye. I’ll see a tiger or a flower or a pin-up and my brain goes “OOOO do that!!” And I do something along that theme.
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?
I ship all over the world. And I consider shipping costs an investment. The most I’ve ever charged for shipping was $10 and when COVID began, I listed all shipping as free to make my art even more affordable during economic repression. I use so much bubble wrap and tape lol. I make sure nothing can bounce around in the box. People seem pretty pleased with how I package. Every package gets a handwritten note and a business card from me too!
What would you say are the key elements for starting and running a successful online business?
Believing you can do it is first and foremost. Even if the world disagrees, you have to believe in you. After that, it’s practice until you’re good enough to produce a product that people want to buy. And this is for any business. If you’re not good at selling cars, you’d have to practice. If you can’t draw, you’ll have to practice before someone will want to buy the art. After practice, it’s all about consistency. Keep up what you’ve practiced and never stop trying to improve.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs who are starting out?
Just go for it. We have one life in which we can try everything. Whatever you want to do, as long as it doesn’t bring you or others harm, just go for it. Don’t be scared to list something “expensive” because the right people will buy it. And most importantly, have confidence in yourself. You were brave enough to embark on this journey, you’re brave enough to see it through.
How do you personally define business success? Is it money? Freedom? Influence? Creative expression and innovation? Something else?
It’s all freedom for me. As I said, nobody supported me being an artist until I met a couple of people who pushed me to start a business. I set out to prove to my parents, teachers, and old friends wrong. They’d said I needed to be realistic. Well, I was very realistic and with the encouragement of my best friend, I opened my Etsy. I was able to quit my day job at a daycare and now I paint full time and art pays the bills. This freedom is something I never imagined and I love every moment of it.
Describe your day-to-day operation. How do you manage your time?
I wake up, check my Etsy and social media, and write out what I’d like to do today. I work on sketches in the morning and spend the early afternoon managing home stuff like cooking and cleaning. At night, I paint heavy and package what was finished the day before. I always ship on Fridays so on those days I have to make it to the post office before they close lol.
How do you plan on growing your business? What is the biggest impact on your profitability?
I just want to get my art in more hands and my business name in more ears. I’d like to experiment more with different mediums and styles, so hopefully, people get excited about that. I plan to just keep doing what I am until the business stops growing. Then I’ll try something new to make things exciting. I think this type of business is all about trial and error. What do people like? What’s not so popular? How can I improve on this thing? That’s what I ask myself a lot.
What are some things you did to set your shop for success on Etsy? What is one lesson you learned the hard way?
I made a lot of listings at first. Then I limited it and made sure the listings I had were valuable in the sense of nice photos, good descriptions, and fair prices. I learned the hard way to not beat myself up if something doesn’t go right. A canceled order or a bad review can ruin a day. Even if the review has no merit. Being nice to myself in the process of building a business had been the biggest hurdle. But I still find it very worth it to run a shop. I meet so many wonderful people and I’ve been given the opportunity to create pieces that sometimes have a lot of meaning to the person buying it. And I always try to keep that in mind.
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My cat is a huge ‘help’ in my business. He likes to hang out while I work and he sniffs all of the packages. I call it ‘blessing the Art’. He’s very cute.