CONVERSATIONS: Running an Online Shop with Michelle of Paintspiration.





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!

For the other conversations in this series, check out my conversations with NicoleMeg, and Amy.

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.


Connect with Michelle and Paintspiration: Instagram | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | web site | Etsy shop.


*Some links are affiliate. Thank you for supporting the Orange Slate!


 Albania | The Orange Slate

Chickens | The Orange Slate

Albania | The Orange Slate

Happy weekend! What are your plans? Miles and I had such a fun time in San Diego with my extended family, but settling back into our routine and wrapping up July projects has been a little crazy and we’re looking forward to a restful family weekend.

Thoughts on balancing working from home and motherhood. Wise advice for all-too-familiar doubts! (via Cupcakes and Cashmere)

These. Look. So. Delicious. I’ll be frying this weekend. (via Joy the Baker)

Great business advice from someone who has overcome incredible odds. (via Design*Sponge)

This list of beautiful (intelligent!) people never fails to fascinate me. (via The Hill)

Does your resume need an update? (via Lifehacker)

Love these prints. (via KITCHENBATHPRINTS)

Inspiring. (via Seth Godin)

Miles is loving this sing-along album on Spotify.

6 phrases wealthy women never use. (via Levo)

Behind the scenes of a successful online business built from scratch. (via Inspired by This)


*Some links are affiliate. Thank you for supporting the Orange Slate!

Conversations about Creativity.


Mission Bay, San Diego | The Orange Slate

While I’ve been investing a bit of extra time behind the scenes around here to line up some exciting topics for the late summer and fall, I’ve been sharing interviews from past series. (If you are excited about the upcoming interviews, subscribe by providing your email in that box in the right-hand column.)

I’ve so enjoyed talking to the friends who have been willing to share their hearts, but one of my favorite topics (and one of the focus points of this blog) is creativity, so this series was especially exciting for me.

In this (over)busy, (over)connected age, it takes intentional effort to make time to create something truly significant. If you haven’t seen these before, I hope you enjoy the encouragement, inspiration, and rich examples provided by the lovely friends who were willing to be interviewed for this series:

Here are some quick takeaways from this interview series. Pin them as encouraging reminders to yourself!

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Craving more inspiration? Check out these links:

And for more practical encouragement on incorporating creativity into your schedule (especially a schedule involving small children), check out the wonderful book by Amanda Blake Soule (of SouleMama) The Creative Family: How to Encourage Imagination and Nurture Family Connections.


*Some links are affiliate. Thank you for supporting the Orange Slate!

Conversations About Hospitality.

Kitchen | The Orange Slate

Coffee art | The Orange Slate

Lately, while I invest a bit of extra time behind the scenes around here and line up some exciting topics for the late summer and fall, I’ve been sharing interviews from past series. (If you are excited about upcoming interview series, subscribe by providing your email in that box in the upper right-hand corner.)

I’ve so enjoyed talking to the friends who have been willing to share their hearts, but the series on hospitality was especially inspiring and challenging to me.

Hospitality is really about so much more than new recipes or beautiful table settings. It’s an attitude, a perspective on life, and I’m so inspired by the way this is evidenced by the incredible ladies who shared their thoughts in these conversations.

I hope you enjoy these interviews on HOSPITALITY with Amy, Kathy, Emily, Abbie, Jess, and Shannon (along with my own answers!).

If you need some extra encouragement or inspiration as you entertain others, check out one of the sweetest food memoirs I’ve ever read, Molly Wizenberg’s Delancey: A Man, a Woman, a Restaurant, a Marriage.


*Some links are affiliate. Thank you for supporting the Orange Slate!

Conversations About Joy.

Joy | The Orange Slate

Kite | The Orange Slate

Coffee Cup | The Orange Slate

Those of you who have read this blog for a while probably remember the Monday interview series that ran through last fall and winter into the spring. While I took a few months off from the series, it certainly hasn’t disappeared for good.

Of all the freelance projects I have ever done, interviews may be my favorite. One of the first pieces I did as a freelancer right out of college involved an interview – I couldn’t believe I was being paid to make up questions and talk to someone! I love to hear other people tell their stories and reflect on the lessons they learned and when I get to do that *and* share the conversation with other – it’s magical.

I’ve so enjoyed talking to the friends who have been willing to share their hearts on this blog and am really excited about the topics that I am lining up for the late summer and fall.

BUT. Meanwhile, for those of you haven’t been reading this blog for very long, I wanted to share some of the past interviews.

The first set of conversations centered around JOY – check out the interviews with Rachel, Erin, Katy, Stephanie, and Audrey (along with my own answers to the questions) for some wonderful encouragement and inspiration.

And if you need an extra shot of encouragement as you pursue a more joy-centered life, I encourage you to read Bob Goff’s Love Does.


*Some links are affiliate. Thank you for supporting the Orange Slate!