It’s a new month…you know the drill. We’re back with a new Creative Corner instalment!
This week our focus is on a wonderful human being who I’ve never met, but I can tell just from chatting with her that we’d get along like a house on fire. She has an amazing online store where she sells beautiful mandala-style artwork.
Everyone, meet Shae…
Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with me today, Shae. Let’s start with learning a little bit about you and your life. Can you give us a little bit of background information about yourself?
I’m a 32 year old introvert from South-West Sydney who dreams of living in the mountains!
I am married to my best friend of almost 15 years and am a mummy to three beautiful children plus a Dalmatian, python, goldfish and 15 houseplants! I am a lover of sweets, nature, bushwalking, animals and all things creative.
Ok, I can already tell that we’re going to get along swimmingly. You had me at mountains! haha 😃 Now, can you tell us a little about your business?
I run a small business called Mandala Moon selling drawings. The shop name simply combines the use of mandalas in my work and slight obsession and recurring theme of the moon. My drawings predominantly consist of spirituality and motherhood themes, done simply with pen and paper. They are mostly drawn while I am sitting at my dining room table with all three of my children hanging off of me!
It’s been about 18 months since I started selling online, which would have been a lot longer if I had the courage to do it earlier! I was quite scared of putting myself out there and felt overwhelmed by what I thought the process consisted of, but to be honest it wasn’t nearly as daunting as I thought. To put it simply, the hardest part about starting was starting.
Ugh, I feel that 100%. I’m in the same boat. I wish I’d started freelancing so much earlier than I did. But a starting point is a starting point nonetheless! So, how long has art and drawing been a part of your life? What first drew you to it as a career option?
I have always been an artsy type, preferring creativity over academia or sports. After high school I studied Visual Communications at Uni where my love for illustration grew. I took a long break from the art world to start my little family, picking up a pen again shortly after my 2nd daughter was born. What started out as an outlet for stress led me to reigniting my love for drawing.
I experimented with style for a while but was ultimately drawn to the simplicity of black and white lines. This mixed with the intricacy of mandalas, I was able to develop my niche little style. As my drawings folder filled up with art, I started to think that this was something I could share with other people, and also make a little side hustle out of too!
Love it! So, how do you sell your products?
I use Etsy to sell the majority of my drawings but also have commissions which come through to my main social media account, Instagram, as messages.
Being able to reach and engage my target audience is quite a big challenge. If I do not get exposure to the types of people who are interested in my niche style of artwork, making sales becomes a lot harder. I have to rely a lot on things like hashtags, frequent posting and referrals. I’m starting to slowly get repeat customers now which is reassuring!
I agree, it’s tough to firstly know who your target audience is, let alone making sure you’re actually targeting them with your content. Now, when you first decided to start your own business, what was the reaction of your family and friends? Did their reactions help or hinder your experience?
I had always talked to friends and family about wanting to put my art out there but was lacking the motivation and it always just ended up in the ‘too hard’ basket. The constant encouragement from people around me and the push and nudge from a certain few got me to finally take the leap. Having a supportive network makes all the difference, especially when entering something so far from your comfort zone!
Yessss! I say this to everyone who asks about my journey too. I never could have figured it all out without the help of the amazing people around me. So, what is it that you enjoy most about being a creative small business owner? I’m curious to see if it aligns with other creative professionals I’ve spoken with.
I enjoy being able to create and sell art that comes from my heart and brings others happiness! Having customers message me such lovely things about my work is such a driving force. It’s fills me with such gratitude and joy.
Yep, it seems that there’s a definite link between creative business owners and wanting to make people happy. I love it. Now, in general, what are the 3 best tips you’d give to aspiring small business owners? In other words, what were 3 things you wish you’d known about running a small business before going into it?
That it’s not as scary as it seems. At first it may seem like there are so many things to organise and that can seem daunting and off-putting. In reality it’s helpful to have a check list of tasks that you can break down and check off one by one.
You learn as you go. You don’t have to know everything about business to start with. You’ll make little mistakes and that’s okay, you will eventually find your groove and learn what works for you.
It’s a slow burn. You most likely won’t get 100 sales over night, but don’t let that put you off. Keep at it, keep doing what you love and eventually you’ll have customers who love your work as much as you love creating it.
These are such great tips to end on. I think it’s an amazing thing to encourage people to branch out and turn what they love doing into a business. You’ve hit the nail right on the head there and I daresay you’ve eased a few minds by letting other small business owners know that they’re not alone in feeling overwhelmed at times. Thank you so much for sharing!
To visit Shae’s Etsy store and pick up your very own Mandala Moon masterpiece check out the links below…
Website (Etsy): www.etsy.com/shop/mandalamoonau
☕ Coffee is good. Sponsor Shae’s next cup here: www.ko-fi.com/iscribecreative
If you have any questions at all for Shae that weren’t answered in this article, pop them in the comments and I’ll follow up with her for you 🙂
Creative Corner will be back at the beginning of next month so follow the blog to stay in the loop!