Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in arts but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Marie-Michèle Desmarais, Founder of LE NID atelier, located in Magog, QC, Canada.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Le nid atelier has become the largest collection of animal charcoal illustrations in Canada. Each of the illustrations is from my original works and is available as posters or ready-to-hang canvases. On a daily basis, I add life to people's nests with art and animal lovers who have a little corner of the house to decorate. When they adopt a "LE NID"'s companion, they welcome an animal presence that comes with its own little personality and big character.
Tell us about yourself
Born in Granby, I lived my childhood right next to the zoo. My parents used to walk me there every morning! (Yes, they have a lifetime pass that cost them $100 back in the day) So I developed a real affection for the animal world. "In those days, you could feed the animals. Every morning, the elephant would see us coming with the stroller and would come to get his orange." I studied to become a speech therapist at the University of Ottawa and, until recently, worked in schools in the Eastern Townships. I also did a passage in Fine Arts at Concordia during my studies, where I perfected my drawing techniques. My passion for art and animals remained dormant until I became pregnant with my first. Then it was time to decorate the baby's room, and wow! Finding delicate, modern, and, above all, comforting illustrations was not easy.
So I created small animal works in charcoal, in black and white, very pure, with the most "cute" things on the planet, and with an artistic touch that is pleasant to the adult eye! With this project, I discovered the world of entrepreneurship. A fascinating world that requires a multitude of communication, planning, and management skills. It also requires you to be hyper-creative in order to create a community that appreciates your product and to feed this community on a daily basis. So, what I love is the challenging side of entrepreneurship.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
From the company's beginning, I decided to diversify my sources of income. So, today, I sell as much online as I do through in-store distribution. My cards and prints are distributed through 70 retail outlets (Canada, USA, and Sweden) and online through my website www.lenidatelier.com and the Artisan de la Maison Simons platform LE NID Atelier | Fabrique 1840 | Simons.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
In the beginning, you have to learn everything. It's not only being an artist; it's becoming an entrepreneur. Then, you don't have the money to delegate tasks, and anyway, you don't know yet what and to what extent to delegate. So we do everything; in addition to the creation, we have to take care of social networks, newsletters, advertising, contact with stores, management of a website, and finally, accounting.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Start by defining the why of your art, why you do what you do, and the story behind your project. This little story will guide you in your decisions and help you create quick and intimate contact with your clients.
- Then, one step at a time, "take one action a day for your dream," in the words of Fred Pellerin. To do this, you need to surround yourself with people who specialize in what you feel are the biggest challenges. For example, if you're intimidated by setting up a website, take online courses and get coaching. We have excellent resources in Quebec. For myself, I joined "La Tranchée," an online community and course for entrepreneurs and marketers, which has helped me a lot.
- Finally, the best way to be at that important meeting you've been dreaming of is to create it yourself. Be active and create opportunities.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
I love working on collaborative projects. It allows me to move forward with new perspectives and shared visions. This spring, I created a capsule collection with the Granby Zoo to finance the Granby Zoo Foundation. https://boutique.zoodegranby.com/categorie-produit/fondation-du-zoo/
This fall, I am collaborating with Le Marais de la Rivière aux cerises. I am presenting a mother-daughter exhibition entitled "Avec Toi," where my mother Renée Powell's Bronze-Rock sculptures are presented alongside my charcoals on canvas. 20% of the profits go to the protection of the Marsh and its wildlife.
And this winter, I am organizing, with Amélie Roy, graphic designer, the event not to be missed in the Eastern Townships: The FALALA Christmas Market. In collaboration with Musique Orford, 18 carefully selected artisans will present their unique products ready to be given as gifts. This will be THE Christmas market that everyone will be talking about; the enchantment will be there! People will leave with their hearts filled with magic, their pockets filled with handmade treasures, and humming Fa-la-la! November 26-27 at the Centre d'Art Musique-Orford https://www.instagram.com/marche_falala/.
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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