GoSolo magazine reached out to me for their series on entrepreneurship so I said "yes".
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I'm a watercolor artist selling my work through my business, Little Splashes of Color, on Etsy, and on my own website. The majority of my customers are young mothers. They often mention toddlers helping to pick art out for their "big boy" rooms. It's so fun to hear about how excited they are. I have more boy art than girl art - construction trucks, pickup trucks, tractors, trains, airplanes, boats, and cars.
Tell us about yourself
I started selling online in the 2000s on Ebay when art trading cards were popular. It was hobby money. When Etsy was new, I joined, but I didn't do a lot with it because I didn't know how to market myself. A couple of years in, I decided one day to focus on nursery art, and I felt like art for boys was underrepresented, so I painted three yellow dump trucks and put them on Etsy. It took a while, but people started buying my truck prints and asking for others. So after a few years, I saw my sales start to pick up because I had started niching into boy's art. My truck collection was growing, and I also added tractors and other transportation prints, and then customers kept asking for more, so I kept adding vehicles to this day. What motivates me is that I get to work for myself doing what I love and getting to help so many nice people choose art for their homes.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest business accomplishment was going from an insecure artist to a confident artist and businesswoman- becoming who I wanted to be all of my life- a successful artist. In 2017, I joined a course called A Sale A Day so I could learn how to run a small online business. The lady who runs it has a very niche multi 6 figure business, and I figured if she could do it, then I could learn how to market my art from her. I worked part-time for the first three years, and I was also learning how to run my own business; then, I got laid off a few months before the pandemic. The timing ended up being a gift. I was already working at home, and I started doing more marketing, and my sales really started to grow. All of the things I had been learning from business courses I had been taking were finally reaping big results.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
The hardest thing about being a business owner for me is putting myself "out there" online and being social, saying, "look at me!". I love interacting with my customers. I have a pretty active inbox, and 99% of my customers are wonderful and kind. As an introvert, I don't mind being by myself all day, but I've recently realized that it's important that I make more of an effort to show pictures of myself with my art on my social accounts and in my emails and blog. So that is a big goal for 2023.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- My number one tip is that success doesn't happen overnight. Someone asked me how long it took to get to where I am right now, and OK, I officially started in 2017, but I had done so much in all of my years before that prepared and finally led me to the decision I made in 2017.
- Enjoy the process of learning and growing your business. You started it because you want to be independent or, like me, you want to make a business from your creative practice. Going back to #1, it takes time. So give yourself lots of room to learn and develop good habits needed to be a business.
- Work on your belief system. The one thing I had to work on in order to get this life I have now is my belief system. I struggled for most of my life with my thoughts about whether I could have a career as an artist. So while I was working my part-time job and nurturing my art business, I listened to a lot of podcasts and books about beliefs and mindset. I still do!