How Zinnia Sky Studio came to be — Part 2
So a few weeks back I started the story of how Zinnia Sky Studio came to be. If you didn’t read it, you might want to go back and start there. You can find it here: Part 1 – How Zinnia Sky Studio came to be
What comes after naming the business?
Now that Zinnia Sky Studio was officially a named business, there were a few more things to do. The most obvious thing was to start creating products. But what products? With art, the list is endless! So I decided to start with what I already knew and had been doing – calendars. That’s a story for another time, but I had been creating and selling calendars from my artwork for about 5 years so I was comfortable with that plan.
With my days now totally dedicated to creating art, I got out the sketchbook. I came up with my 12 ideas, got them sketched out and started painting. As you can see in the image below, this calendar was not southwest. It wasn’t even close. But it was what my artwork was at the time. I finished the calendar in record time and moved on to some other artwork that I thought would be sellable. Once I had enough inventory and had mustered up all my courage, it was time to venture out into my brand new world.
Selling my artwork for the first time.
One of the first things I did once I felt ready to jump into this new business was open an Etsy shop. That felt safe. I could learn all about online selling from them. They have a treasure trove of education – tutorials, seller communities, FAQs, you name it, they had it. So I set about learning how to create a successful online business. Not surprising, it’s really not all that easy. And even though it seemed everyone was doing it, it was hard to get in front of people you didn’t already know.
Thankfully, that was only part of my plan. My next endeavor was to find local farmers markets that allowed artists and set up a table there. Sounds super easy! Yea right. To back up just a little, I had lived in the same community my entire life. We had just moved across the country to a place where we knew exactly 4 people. I had some major research ahead of me. There are actually quite a few markets across the Tucson area and I was able to find one fairly close to home – if you consider 40 minutes close – and another about an hour away.
Time to get myself out there!
I visited those markets and acquired spaces at both. This was happening! With my newly acquired inventory, a card table from the garage and a tablecloth my mom made for me, I set up at the first farmers market in January 2014. If you’re curious, that market was at Dove Mountain in the parking lot of the clubhouse. It was small and perfect for me since I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. But the farmers market community is amazing and I made friends, learned how it worked and gained some confidence in what I was doing. I followed my new friends around to other markets all around Pima County and finally settled at my absolute favorite – The Green Valley Farmers & Artisans Market in Green Valley.
When I first set up at these markets, I was taking my whimsical but not southwest art. People would come by and talk to me, admire my artwork and leave. Without my artwork. It was exactly what I had been afraid of. Why would anyone want to buy MY art? Especially when there were so many other talented artists out there. At the end of every week I wanted to quit. I thought I’d go back to working in an office since being an artist didn’t seem like it was going to work out. But every week my husband encouraged me to go back one more week. And then another vendor at the market spoke up and said…. “you really need to paint cactus, that’s what people want to see”.
With that advice in my head, I started over. Since I love plants and flowers, it was a pretty easy transition to bring cactus to my art. And the saguaros! Well, need I tell you that they are endless inspiration? Starting again with my new ‘look’ I once again trekked off to the markets with my cacti in tow. And that’s when my world started to shift.
Now I was painting mountains and saguaros and prickly pears and road runners and javelina and well, all the desert things. I added some extra color to them with a little whimsy and humor and now when people stopped to admire my art, some of them were walking away with it and I was so excited! Most weeks I was selling almost everything I had painted the week before so I added some cards – just to see how they’d do. I bet you can guess where that went!
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