I need a little luck (and a little less procrastination)

I don’t speak well in front of large groups of people. One-on-one, I’m just dandy. But being in front of a large audience freaks me out.

So, then I ask myself why did I agree to give a presentation to the Guild on how to set up a Facebook Fan Page for Artists…. I dunno. But I’ve already got heartburn just thinking about it. To make it worse I’ve treated this talk like I would a high school term paper by fretting over it for weeks, but only this morning did I start to gather thoughts on paper. The meeting is tomorrow night. Yikes.

I’m procrastinating even further by writing this post. Geez. Ok. I’m off to type up my notes. Wish me luck!


10/13/2010 at 12:46 pm Leave a comment

Friday coolness, new work, and a fabulous new retailer

Over the last few months I’ve been having hours-long lunch every few weeks with a high school friend. She’s a small business owner as well, and our lunches are such a highlight for me. It’s so lovely to discuss the goings-on of the entrepreneurial world and to find out that I’m really ‘not crazy’ over some of my business ideas. In fact, these lunches have been such a great catalyst for inspiration. Today we talked about a five year plan. This whole small biz journey has already proven to be incredible, but if our five-year ideas come to fruition… well, let’s just say, I’m crossing every appendage I have. Thank you, K. I love your fashionista OCD-ness. My brain’s been a whirlwind since lunch.

I’ve got some new pieces to show that I’m so excited about – pendants and cuff links created from vintage postage stamps. I thought they were pretty nifty, but I’ve been blown away by the great response. Their official debut will be early next month, just in time for the holidays. But for now you can shop for them at a great new retailer in Louisville: Dolfinger’s. The shops in St. Matthews and in the Galt House are now stocked with some great new pieces, created just for them. You’ll find a lot of my fleur de lis, horse themed and my new vintage postage stamp pieces.

If you’re in Louisville tomorrow be sure to check out the Belknap Art Fair in Douglas Loop in the Highlands. This show runs from 11am to 9pm. There will be a lot of gifted artists, including a few from LAG. See you there!

10/09/2010 at 3:47 am Leave a comment

Starting a Business: a fun and exciting (and sometimes scary) roller coaster

A friend asked me if I would mind to give her daughter some insight to starting a business. I was so happy she asked and, as I wrote some notes, I thought there might be others interested in the same information. So here goes!

So exciting to be starting your business! It will be the scariest, most fun, gut- wrenching ride you’ve ever been on. And, I’m sure you’ll surprise yourself along the way. Here’s a little about how we began:

Dave and I have been married for two years and we currently own two small businesses. About eight years ago, while working full-time at a local newspaper, Dave started doing graphic design work on the side. It slowly evolved and last year he realized that he was so busy that he was working every night and every weekend, along with a full-time day job. It was then we decided that he would take Panorama Creative Group, LLC live and full force. We got the necessary permits and registered our ‘LLC’ with the state and IRS. Last November he was able to take his ‘day job’ and add that company as a client, along with our other clients. At this time I was working at Zirmed full-time, so he had health insurance through me. (Private health insurance is astronomically expensive, so during this time we saved a TON of money.) Along with a lot of hard work, we’ve been lucky that PCG has been so successful. It’s been so financially successful that I was able to go part-time at Zirmed and put a lot more time into my own company, while still doing business development for PCG.

In April 2008 I ‘officially’ started Kalla Studios, LLC, my jewelry and accessories company. I picked ‘Kalla Studios’, a) because I love calla lillies, and b) I couldn’t use my name because there is a famous actress with the same name, hence no one could google me and actually be able to find me. (Important Note – When coming up with a business name think long and hard about the name you choose – I’ve come up with at least 15 better/more meaningful company names since April ’08.) As a side business it, too, has evolved slowly. In the beginning, I purchased tools and supplies as I had the funds. Basically, I started with nothing and now I now sell online, as well as several boutiques and galleries.

My first major purchase was business cards. Business cards are a must so that people are holding your website in their hand. I find people almost think of a website address like they used to think of phone numbers – they’re a must. And, while there are companies that offer free business cards and free website hosting (no start-up costs) you should purchase cards and a website that compliment you and your business. Think of it as ‘branding’. When someone goes to your site, and/ or looks at your card, you want them to get a feeling for your company, and you only get one time to make a first impression. I’ve been lucky that Dave does graphic design  and could help me, but I’ve also taught myself and can now code my website and work with photoshop to perfect my own photos.

Both businesses started with us working full-time day jobs, and working A LOT of nights and weekends, but because we evolved slowly, over time, we never had a need for start-up capital. We have no credit cards and, thus, never went into debt for our companies. We run our companies out of our home in order to save rental payments for office/studio space – we’ve each taken one of our spare bedrooms as our office, and I use our enclosed back porch as my studio. That’s the thing, if you want it bad enough, you’re willing to make it work with whatever you’ve got at hand. And, it will make you so proud to say that you’re paying your bills, AND, you owe no one but the mortgage company. 🙂

Over the last couple of years I have devoured any business blogs for creative businesses that I could find. They offer a wealth of information and usually are written from experience. Here’s a few to get you started:

sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/ – I heart Seth Godin. His posts are usually brief, but give you a lot to think about.

craftmba.com/ – Megan gives real-world experiences on how to run a creative business.

designspongeonline.com – Grace writes a great blog, but I specifically love their segments on small business: designspongeonline.com/category/biz-ladies. You may get a lot of event planning ideas from designsponge.com, itself.

timelesspaper.com/blog/ – This is a beautiful blog that is part business, mostly inspiration

artbizblog.com/ – This one has some great information for the creative types.

whitneys-pottery.blogspot.com/ – I love the way Whitney writes – she speaks very frankly about her business and some of her customers

thinkbakery.com/blog/ – Again, this one is a wealth of information. Look along the side bar for other fantastic biz sites.

makeryblog.com/ – Pretty good blog, and I think Sarah, the blogger, lives in Louisville.

Just take a look at each one and go back a few posts to a feel for the blog. With the blogs above, if you look in the sidebar of each blog you’ll usually find the blogs that the blogger reads himself/herself and you can then see what inspires him/her.

09/13/2010 at 9:23 pm Leave a comment

What a Whirlwind

It’s been crazy the last few months, but I feel like I’m getting a better handle on my time management. I had two shows in May, my first Open Studio at Mellwood in June, a new gallery to carry my work, my induction into the Louisville Artisans Guild as Vice President, and the launch of a new line featuring recycled metals and recycled stained glass. Whew!

One of my shows in May, the Butchertown Art Fair, led to a new high end gallery carrying my work. (Thanks, Sherry!) My recycled glass pieces can now be found at the Glassworks/ VONFIRE Gallery in downtown Louisville. It’s a beautiful gallery full of amazing glass pieces, some formed, some blown – it’s really breathtaking with all of the color. They offer tours and you can even blow your own ornament! Dave and I will definitely be taking advantage of that after we get back from vacation.

My new role as Vice President of the LAG should be fun and a huge learning experience. I’ve been able to schedule some very cool events coming up in the near future for our members and I’m very excited about what the next two years will bring.

Starting next week I will be taking some much needed R&R in Muskegon, MI. It’s the perfect place to dream up some new designs, while basking in the warm sun, with my toes in the sand and a fruity adult beverage in my hand.

Have a great week!

07/12/2010 at 8:58 pm Leave a comment

Got focus?

When I was applying to college it never occurred to me to apply with the focus of a career in the arts. I thought art was something I was only supposed to do in free time – in college you went for a ‘high brow’ career. After multiple changes in my major I graduated with a Bachelor’s in Sociology, with emphasis on Justice Administration. (And then I went into Information Technology, but that’s another post…) I’ve had a great career in IT, and with my new work from home position I now have more time to draw and create more frequently. But feel that I lack focus in my metalsmithing, that I can’t seem to find a clear focus in my design asthetic – flora, fauna, geekery, serious, whimsical, resin work… the list could go on and on because I love it all. So, I sometimes wonder if this is because I didn’t go to ‘Art School’. Would I have gained a more direct focus there? I honestly don’t know.  On Tuesday I begin a refresher course in metalsmithing with one of my favorite instructors, and hoping that lends itself to a little more direction. But for now, I’ll just go with it and keep on practicing.

If you have any tips on developing a focus please let me know. I’d love to hear from you.

04/10/2010 at 6:20 pm Leave a comment

Dave and I got hitched…

With the turn to spring comes the season for weddings. Dave and I are coming up on our second anniversary (May 10), and while it’s gone by in the blink of an eye, it still feels as though we’ve been together forever. If there are any Louisville brides-to-be reading this, May is a gorgeous time to get married and makes for beautiful pictures. Everything was lush and green and well, simply gorgeous. Here a few pics, and you can see more here.

We were married in St. James Court, in Old Louisville, right in front of the fountain. It was a gorgeous day, beautiful backdrop, and all our close friends and family – some of the neighbors even came out to enjoy the festivities on their balconies. It was the happiest day of my life. (By the way, I made our wedding cake above. It turned out well and oh, so yummy, but this is not something I’d recommend to brides!)

Check out more on awesome weddings on scoutie girl!

03/31/2010 at 5:35 pm Leave a comment

Finding a niche

I thought this would be easy. But as someone who enjoys creating in so many different artforms, this has proved my biggest challenge. I love metalsmithing, yes, but I also love painting, and papercutting, and drawing, and bookmaking, and… well, you get the idea. Perhaps it’s my Gemini sensibilities of never being satisfied.

But with spring’s arrival (although it’s now 20 degrees outside!) I’ve decided to hunker down and locate that niche. I feel like I’m good at many things, but many still need refining. I’m still amazed at my metalsmithing skills, and how they’ve evolved in the years I’ve been honing them. Now, I’m going to try to turn my journey to include some color with my sterling work. Hmmm… how to do that… Resin? Concrete? Stained glass? Not sure yet. But it’s going to be fun experimenting.

03/26/2010 at 12:30 pm Leave a comment

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