Let me start by saying I love each and every one of my sisters. When I say sisters, I’m specifically talking about the girls I know who constantly lift me up. The ones who support or share my craft. Ones who tag me in motivational post or send me inspirational blogs. The ones who are physically here with me through my struggles and success but also the ones who root for me that I’ve never met. Especially the ones that cheer me on that I’ve never met.
Here's the real story ---
Daniel Caesar released his new album and it’s brought on a light spirit that I’ve been needing for the past few weeks. It’s magical how music can influence your mood. When you listen to trap music all day, you find yourself being rowdy and turnt with no off switch. I think I’m over that mood for awhile. This album was exactly what I needed to reflect on the rollercoaster I’ve been experiencing. So do you want the good or bad news first? Let’s rip the bandage off and dive right into the darkness.
I always say being an artreprenuer is hard but I give the cupcake version of the struggles. I try to dress it up so that I don’t discourage any fellow entrepreneurs out there but let me be extremely real for a moment. In August I went 2 whole weeks without any sales. Just imagine working your full time job for 80+ hours and on your payday being told you’re not getting paid. Your bills didn’t stop coming in. Your expenses didn’t take a sharp decline. Nothing changed other than you had no income for 2 whole weeks. 14 days. No money coming in. I’ve had bad times with sales, a few days no activity but this was my longest stretch. I work a part time job doing about 25/hrs a week to make enough to solidify my rent and car note payment. For the first time ever I was setting up payment plans with all my bills. I think this hit me hard because I’m going on 2 years as a full time artist and have never been this low. It was a cycle of small losses rolled into one big headache. USPS was losing packages more than ever. I had issues with a batch of products which delayed me getting those orders finished. I was battling myself with how to move forward with new products or options in my shop. For once in a long time I was burnt out. I had a heated conversation with my brother which led to me hanging up in tears. I was tired of people telling me to keep pushing, keep taking each slap to ambition and not to get offended. How could I not be offended? I was still getting DMs and emails with empty inquiries to commission work. I was still painting every day, writing, reading, learning and trying to hold myself together. I wish I had just one day to sleep in and turn my phone off but that’s not so easy when you run everything yourself. I’m the artist, the accountant, the social media and marketing executive. I was ready to just shut down my Etsy shop until I could find the strength again to continue on. I put my shop on 40% - 50% off sales. I sent out multiple emails with promo codes. I followed up on inquiries that ended in “I’ll get back at you when I can pay”. I promoted my work so much (also an expense because promotion on social media platform is not free). I did all that I thought I could do.
You see being an entrepreneur isn’t easy at all. Being an artpreneur is even harder since what we do isn’t a necessity in life. Supporting an artist usually comes from having extra money and wanting to treat yourself, being a collector (which is rare), or wanting something no one else has. There’s no life need for art in the eyes of majority of the world. No matter how low we can cut the prices and give a backstory on a piece, it will never been a need.
Remember how light spirited I got from Daniel’s album? The whole album gave me the push I needed that it wasn’t over. It’s cool when you take an album about love and relate it to everyday life. The good news is I’m alive, I’m healthy and I have a bunch of ideas that I’m ready to execute. I haven’t gone one day without food, I have a place to sleep at night and I’m ready to continue this journey. I went back to the basics. Praying and hustling. I’m learning calligraphy so that I can enhance the planners and card designs. I’ve added personalization option to some listing to the shop. I’m open again for commission work and there’s a fashion/art show in the making! Yes, my art is finally getting turned into real outfits.
So while being an artreprenuer is hard as hell, I can’t say that I’d choose another career path. I know that the hard work I’m putting in right now will pay off again and again in the future. Besides, God has been keeping me safe and allowing me to continue to do what I love.