I’ve been lucky enough to have an interview published by 365 Small Business Profiles! For the original, full interview, please visit: http://365smbprofiles.com/?p=244
Painting and Profits, Katie Napier Abstract Artist
Katie Napier is an abstract artist creating modern paintings inspired by nature. She started her business in 2009.
SMB Profiles: What prompted you to become an entrepreneur? How did you get started in this particular business?
KN: I come from a family of entrepreneurs. My father created an office supply business that grew to include over 100 people. He started by fixing one photocopier in his basement. My great-aunt (my Dad’s mentor) was a successful entrepreneur after becoming a widow and having to take over the company to support herself and her four kids. So, I guess I’ve always been around successful, driven business owners. I don’t think I will be nearly as successful as they both were, as I am having too much fun being a stay-at-home mom..… but you can always dream.
I’ve always been creative. I always wanted to be an artist, ever since my childhood. I thought about it seriously in High School, but also thought practically about it, as I knew typically artists struggled financially. So I decided to become a practical artist. I became a Graphic Artist. I attended college and took general arts studies, many art history classes and took night classes to build up my portfolio for acceptance in to design school. After acceptance, I then attended a design college for three years and got 2 Design Diplomas
SMB Profiles: Are you full-time or part-time in your business? How many hours per-week do you work on or in your company?
KN: This is a part-time business. My dream is to expand it in to a full-time business. I also run my own graphic design firm and have been doing so for 10 years. Today, my 2 little boys (ages 4 and 16 months) take up most of my days, which is a lot fun, but challenging to fit in the time for everything… but I still manage to run both the businesses part-time and am able to be a stay-at-home mom. Between the actual painting and managing the social media / website, blog posts aspect of things, I probably spend about 20-30 hours a week.
SMB Profiles: How did you acquire funding for the initial startup costs for your business?
KN: I didn’t need funding to start my company. I just used the money from my first sale to buy some more supplies and then I started small and slowly. Because I am a graphic designer, I was able to do all my own branding and my first, original website set-up, social media etc.
SMB Profiles: What was the process like?
KN: Well… this isn’t your typical start up story.
I never really thought I could become an artist. I just started painting a few years ago and I really enjoyed it. It was somewhat therapeutic. One evening, a family member was over for dinner and saw a large abstract painting on the wall that I had created. He said he loved it and offered to buy it. I laughed it off and thanked him for his compliments as I thought he was just being kind. He then said, “no, I’m serious… I will give you $600 for that painting”. Well.. he left that night with the painting, and the rest is history. I went out and bought some more canvases and paint with my profits, but more importantly, this gave me the confidence to follow my dreams and create more artwork. I figured if he liked the piece, maybe others would too. I created a little do-it-yourself website (I have since upgraded to a professionally designed site), opened up a Facebook page, attended some craft fairs, posted classifieds and to-date have sold close to 150 original paintings
SMB Profiles: A long the way, what mistakes did you make?
KN: I honestly can’t think of any real “mistakes” that I have made. I have done a lot of experimentation in my painting and in my marketing. Along the way, you learn what works and what doesn’t. What people like and what they don’t like as much. So you take that information and try again. You re-jig it and see if that works. I feel that you always have to be evolving both creatively, and in your business.
SMB Profiles: Looking back, what 3 tips would you give entrepreneurs starting a business in your industry?
KN: 1. Keep at it.
3. Don’t lose heart.
SMB Profiles: What are some free/low cost resources you use in your business and would recommend to others?
KN: Social Media
The importance of a well designed website and professional promotional materials. (I’m sure this could be coming from the Graphic Designer in me though)
SMB Profiles: What popular entrepreneurial advice do you disagree with or what is the worst piece of business advice you’ve received?
KN: I can’t think of any, really. But people are always going to give you advice in everything you do. Be it a new business or being a new parent. Politely, take what applies to you, and brush the rest off. I don’t have the thickest skin in the world, but I definitely had to thicken up and learn to roll with the punches and try and not take things personally.
SMB Profiles: Is this your only business? Do you have additional businesses?
KN: Yes, I have been a graphic designer for 10 years. My company is Stoker Designs.
SMB Profiles: What is next for your company?
KN: To expand to selling more pieces on-line and to get my artwork in to a few new stores. (Currently I have my artwork in 3 stores). My dream would be to be represented by an Art Gallery one day.
Connect with Katie at the links below: