Olivia is a Forge INC community loan recipient. FORGE exists to help entrepreneurs start or grow small businesses by providing high quality business management, planning and support services in addition to its loan programs. They are committed to empowering and expanding economic opportunity through business ownership, creating opportunities for families and communities. This blog post is powered by FORGE, INC.
Tell us a little about yourself and what you do?
I'm a 2nd generation sign painter and muralist living in Fayetteville with my husband and two kids. I've recently opened a shop selling art, gifts, and art supplies.
What did you want to be when you were a child?
I wanted to be a doctor as a kid, being a sign painter/artist wasn't on my radar.
What began your journey as a creative?
I've always had different projects going, but it didn't register as a career path until I was 25 and had just had my 2nd child. I started out painting craft signs at the kitchen table, while nursing baby Ellie! I had a little booth at a flea market where I sold the things I painted and neat vintage items I'd collected. I had a booth at a craft show in 2014, and a local business saw me there and asked me to paint some signs for them. That business was Onyx Coffee Lab, and from there I picked up more and more projects. Before too long, I was painting signs full time while also juggling my two girls. I painted my first big mural in December of 2016 at Uptown Apartments in Fayetteville, it was a 400 sq ft quilt pattern.
How did you become a business owner?
It just came along with being commissioned to paint signs and murals.
What were some of the difficulties you faced in starting?
It was daily trial and error. I've never had an ideal space to create in, so just lots of juggling. I've never felt like I super knew what I was doing, I just did it and figured it out!
In moments of self-doubt, hardships or failure, how do you build back up?
I have a wonderful therapist and incredibly supportive friends who keep me from feeling low in hard times. They also literally jump in and physically help with my wild projects! My husband has also done more than his fair share of painting and jobsite prep (in addition to his demanding job). It really takes a village.
What is your best advice to someone just starting out?
If you want to start your own business, just call the ASBTDC and have them help you from the start! Beyond that, trust your intuition, always use a contract, and make sure you actually enjoy it.
What advice do you wish someone had said to you?
It's not necessary to push yourself to the brink for signs and murals. There's a saying in sign painting, "It's only a F'ing sign", like don't take it so seriously and don't diminish your quality of life for work!
Who/What has helped you along the way?
Therapy has been incredibly helpful in creating healthy work boundaries. Artist Inc. was very helpful, I recommend that any creative go through that program. The small business folks at the U of A have also been amazingly helpful.
What inspires you?
I'm inspired by little things, spaces and shops that I visit when I travel, stories of other working creatives with children.
Name some local creatives that you really admire.
l'm really admiring the young artists I've met as I've opened the shop. I love the way that they are hosting their own events, handling their own promotion, and bringing new energy into an arts community that could use it!
What message would you like to share with your community?
Just try your best, and take care of yourself and your neighbors.
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ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPHER | Mary Beth Breshears is a NWA based product, portrait and brand photographer. She helps small businesses get epic product and lifestyle shots that tell the story of who you are as a business and can produce photoshoots to demonstrate product use in the field. You can visit Mary Beth's website HERE.