On Monday mornings around here for quite a while, I published interviews on various topics, conversations I had with women who inspired me. In August and September, the theme was RUNNING AN ONLINE SHOP.
Then pregnancy and morning sickness and moving all happened and I hit the “pause” button on the series. But today I’m excited to introduce you to publish the last post in this series, an interview with Michelle, someone who started from Business Ground Zero and now runs a thriving online shop selling her art.
Since Michelle and I chatted about this topic, she became engaged (Congratulations, Michelle!) and she and her fiancee are planning a September wedding. I’m always inspired by how she manages to keep her business running smoothly, no matter what life is throwing at her.
Tell me about your business!
My business is called Paintspiration Art. I create affordable pieces of artwork that have inspirational messages and uplifting vibes. I making canvas paintings using acrylic paint, and I also have my designs printed on paper, cell phone cases, pillows, etc.
Describe a typical day for your business.
Oh my goodness. This is a hard question because for the past two years my fiance and I have been traveling, so we have no house! On a typical day when I have the time and space to work, I start my day out with some coffee and internet stuff: answering messages, social media, marketing, and packing and fulfilling any orders. I like to spend the afternoons doing more creative endevors, like painting, designing, or writing.
Do you feel like where you are now was a “goalpost” or did it evolve? Did you plan to be here?
When I first started I didn’t expect my little Etsy shop to grow into a full-time business. After the first 6 months when I realized its potential, I started making business goals. So yes, I did set goals to reach the point I am at now. I’m always reaching for bigger goals to continue growing.
What’s your greatest daily challenge related to your business or family life right now?
Like I said, my fiance Scott and I have been traveling for the past two years. We just returned to the US in July and have been juggling visiting with friends and family as well as trying to find a place to live. Because of all this, my biggest challenging is finding the time and space to work. I’m always on the go and right now I’m living out of a backpack. Since I’ve been back in the U.S., I have been lugging my paints and canvases around with me. Normally I thrive off of a routinue, so it’s really challenging to focus on growing a business right now. Although I certainly can’t complain- life is very sweet!
What part of your daily juggle are you most proud of right now?
I’m really proud of the growth of my art shop. I spent countless hours studying up on SEO (which, if you’re not familiar with it, is a fancy way to say “getting found in search engines”) as well as implimenting marketing techniques and networking. Even though I haven’t been able to necessarily priorize my business while I was backpacking, effectively maintaining these things has kept the business going.
Who are some of your mentors, role models, and creative inspirations?
I like to find, follow, and surround myself with people who encompass where I want to be and have a great attitude about business and life. One of my early on role models is a cartoonist out of California, Molly Hahn. She grew her business Buddha Doodles into a highly successful brand, and is so positive and willing to share insights both about her business and life. I also love to follow entrepruenurs who are highly successful and share their advice and strategies, like Marie Forleo. Those who work hard to do what they love and love what they do are highly inspirational to me.
What is one time management tip you would give to someone trying to build a creative business or portfolio?
I’d say that one of the biggest things that helps me with time management is writing out a schedule. When you’re running a business, especially a creative business, it’s easy to get lost in the tasks that are fun and enjoyable, and procrastinate on those that aren’t so fun. Every night I begin a to-do list for the next day and week. That way, the next morning I know what tasks need to be done that day. It keeps me from painting all day long and pushes me to do the yucky stuff, like some SEO work or pricing out materials.
What is one piece of life advice you’d give to someone worried about juggling a family, life, and business/creative endeavors?
Well, I don’t have any children which I think gives me a bit more time to spare, but I’d say setting a schedule is really important if you’re going to start your own business or endeavor. It’s easy to spend too much or too little time engrossed in your project. For me, I got a little obsessed with my business and spent WAY too much time working. Setting some limits with myself was very important for maintaining a work/life balance. I can only imagine that becomes even more the case when you have little ones!
What’s one goal for your business in the next year?
Since I’m back home and able to really focus on Paintspiration, I plan to invest in a professional printer so I can fulfill my own prints and increase profits. I also hope to do a lot more marketing and media outreach, and hopefully grow the business that way!
What is the hardest part of your business for you?
The most difficult part of running an art shop for me is pricing. I tend to want to price my items too low, because I’m always on the look-out for a good deal and want to pass that along to my buyers. I’ve found it helpful to create a formula in Excel for pricing items which includes their material costs plus my time to create the artwork. That has helped heaps!
What are you most grateful for?
I’m so grateful that Paintspiration has enabled me the freedom to make a living doing something I love and also the flexibilty to fulfill some life dreams, like traveling!
If you could start over and, knowing where you are now, change one thing, what would it be?
My answer is going to serve as a huge warning to all bloggers and website owners out there– back your things up! Double back them up! And make sure your backups are functioning! Over the summer while in India, my website was hacked and I lost everything. Two years of work and a sucessful website vanished– and worst yet, my backup file was corrupted. If I could go back in time, I would have been way more attentive to these things, rather than thinking that would never happen to me!
Thank you so much for chatting with me, Michelle! I have been so inspired to watch your business journey from its beginnings and am so excited for your success!
As an aside, one book on my booklist is Jessica Turner’s The Fringe Hours: Making Time for You. It’s been recommended to me as wonderful encouragement, especially for moms, who are trying to make more time to create.
*Some links are affiliate. Thank you for supporting the Orange Slate!