Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in arts but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Nikki Gardner, Founder of Art Spot Studio LLC, located in Snohomish, WA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Art Spot Studio is a private art school for youth, offering in-person fine art classes, camps, and workshops, as well as online courses. My in-person classes are for ages 6-18, but all ages, from kids through adults, enjoy my online offerings.
Tell us about yourself
Fifteen years ago, I was a single mom looking to use my fine art background to support myself and my kids. I started out teaching for someone else, but the hours weren't enough, and childcare was difficult. When those classes took a break for the summer, I started my own "art camps" in the basement of my house. I was so happy that my own kids could be in the camps or nearby, and I loved being about to come up with my own lesson plans and being able to make my own schedule. And the commute was perfect, haha!
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment as a business owner has been building a strong enough business to support myself and my family. I built it up from almost nothing- I had zero capital to start with, and the first year barely came out ahead after reinvesting almost everything into business supplies. Fifteen years later, I am still working from home but have built a dedicated studio/classroom space out of the garage.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
The hardest thing about being a business owner is all of the different hats you have to wear. People don't see that I am not only teaching my students, but I also handle the website designing and maintenance, photo taking/editing, video recording/editing, marketing, social media managing, invoicing, inventory, and supply ordering, lesson planning, handing emails and phone calls for potential clients and with enrolled families, janitorial services, entering students in contests, planning and hanging art shows…the list goes on. As the only person working for my business, the buck starts and stops with me. If anything needs to get done, I'm the one doing it.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Don't put the cart before the horse. It can get too overwhelming to start when you are looking at the top of the mountain from the bottom. Start small, and pace yourself.
- Set boundaries for yourself. Schedule "off work" time. You don't have to work 24 hrs a day or be available to everyone all the time. It is ok to answer emails and phone calls during your set work hours.
- Keep your business money separate from your personal bank account, and give yourself a paycheck from your business account. Don't skip out on paying yourself! When you are able to, start saving for lean times. The COVID shutdown was a real eye-opener for a lot of us business owners!
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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