Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Kathleen Roling, a botanical sculptor, painter, & moss artist based in Des Moines, IA, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

I create sacred spaces through biophilic artworks using natural materials. I make botanical compositions using a variety of natural materials I find on my travels. Some of the materials I work with are moss, mushrooms, wasp nests, ferns, wood, and sticks. My artwork is for the soul that loves nature. This soul desires to bring the outside inside their own home or workspace.

Tell us about yourself

Nature inspires me to create what I see and to express it to others for their encouragement and joy. My experiences and thoughts throughout the day greatly influence my creative decisions. Reflecting on the nature that inspires me, my physical process is equally natural. Often my space for creating is set apart from the rest of the world so I can reflect on the process and allow myself to meditate on my inspiration for that piece. My attention is closely partnered with an awareness of a spiritual side of life that is unseen. Painting becomes a place of deep thought and prayer inspired by the Creator Himself.

I am an accomplished, professional fine artist that has traveled all over the world displaying my creativity. I am well known for my unique award-winning skill in 3D anamorphic chalk illusion performances at public festivals all over the United States. I am also a muralist, fine art painter, LIVE event painter, and botanical sculptor using elements of nature and preserved moss to create biophilic compositions. I am also a passionate teacher, using fine art to spark young minds and engage with learning new subjects. My mission is to cultivate joy, peace, and love with my work to bring more light into this world.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

I have had big name clients like Red Bull, HyVee, and the Iowa State Fair. But honestly, I consider my greatest accomplishment to simply be the fact that I've come to the place I can support myself in my art. It is rare to accomplish that and live my dream.

What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?

I think the hardest thing is the misunderstanding most have of what it is to be an artist. Most think that being an artist is a life of relaxation and free time. But in reality, I work more hours and work harder than most I know with a regular job. It is a life of sacrifice for work. Many don't understand why I can't spend time 'after work' with them since they have clearly defined work hours and free time. I don't have that luxury. But the sacrifice is worth it to follow my dream.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. To young artists specifically, I'd say, "Please don't make the mistake I did and go to college for art." They really don't teach you what you need. If you take courses, then only take business classes. Learn the art skills elsewhere. It is not worth the debt. I'd recommend simply finding specific lessons/courses on how to be a professional artist and learning art skills on your own. You'll end up only spending a few thousand dollars versus $30,000. College simply doesn't teach you how to be an artist in the real world.
  2. Make the LLC yourself. Don't pay a company to do it for you. It is super easy, and those companies that promise to do it for you are just taking advantage of your anxiety.
  3. Invest in quality materials and tools.

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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