Saturday, April 6, 2013

Following YOUR Path

                                                                                          Following YOUR Path...

If the transition from crafting, making art or having a hobby to full time income could be broken up and defined in stages, I would do it this way (for this blog at least):

Stage 1 - Formulating a plan .Thinking with intent and creating a plan to become full-time, including preparing financially for the initial loss of income and benefits etc...

Stage 2 - Jumping off. Quitting a full time job to begin working the plan. Actual risk begins now!

Stage 3 - Working and re-working your plan once you are on your own for a while and learning what works and what doesn't. Tackling challenges you didn't expect and overcoming them. Bravely moving forward even when you want to look back...

Stage 4 - Stability. Earning enough through your craft/art to live life in a way that makes you happy.

Last time we met Sarah Trumpp of Wonderstrumpet. Sarah is in Stage 2; she jumped off this past October.

This week we meet someone in Stage 3 who has been full-time for a while now and is overcoming challenges making progress and keeping her eye on the prize.

If you are someone who is Stage 1 and want to share your journey, please let me know!

Introducing: Alison of SilentMyloStudio

Name: Alison E. Kurek

Craft: I have a pretty wide range of products, from large, one-of-a-kind original paintings, to prints, to gift type items such as magnets and ornaments. The subject matter of my work falls into 4 main categories: animals, alcohol (wine, martinis, etc,). yoga and 

Where do you sell your workI've been on Etsy since July of 2007 but did very little business the first couple of years. Most of my sales come from shows and festivals, local and regional. The farthest I traveled last year was Syracuse and Ohio -- but I've done shows throughout the Northeast and in Michigan and Maryland in the past. I have a great working relationship with Debbie Steinbruckner, the owner of Village Artisans. She carries a wide selection of my work. Marcus Wise of 464 is also good person to work with. In addition to selling work in his gallery Marcus is constantly finding new ways to promote Buffalo artists.

What pushed you to "jump off" on your own:  I can’t say there ever was a final push. Being an artist is just who and what I am, so it seemed natural to me that that’s the way I would make a living. That’s not to say that I haven’t beaten that belief down with a stick on many occasions. I tried to force myself to “like what I did 40 hrs/wk, dammit!” when I was “convinced” I couldn't make it on my own. I guess the final straw came about 4 years ago when I was employed full time, with benefits, in the printing business. My income was stable, if not great, and I had a normal M-F, 40 hr/wk schedule. I was beyond miserable and knew I couldn't continue on in a job like that without it really affecting who and what I was at the core.

What were the top 2 or 3 things you were most afraid of when you jumped:  Ha ha. That’s easy. 1.) Money, 2.) Money, 3.) Money :-) But I have found out that money really isn't the only concern. I’m a social person by nature and working alone is difficult. Also, time management can be a problem. I can get a HUGE amount of work done when deadlines are looming, but staying focused and motivated during slower times of the year is a struggle.

Do you feel the risks have paid off yet, if not what keeps you going:  Paid off? If you mean have they led to financial stability or great success I’d have to say no. But this is who and what I am, and I HAVE seen my sales triple since I left the 40 hr/wk printing job. That’s not too shabby considering our economic climate. Where it HAS paid off is in my work itself and in the way I present it . I can’t easily explain that in a few sentences, but I will say that there is a direct correlation between that and the increase in my sales. My work used to be all over the place in the past. Being “full-time” has forced me to focus and look at my work as a business in a ways that I didn't before.

What are 2 or 3 goals you have for 2103:
1.) I REALLY want to increase my online sales. I know that Etsy is part of that -- but I also need my own website.

2.) I’d like to grow my shop and gallery sales, preferably on a wholesale basis.

3.) Make this work well enough to shut down that little voice in my head that routinely asks: “Are you CRAZY?!? Don’t you know this will never work!?” Yeah, I’d like to shut that voice down for good!

You can read even more about Alison if you scroll down to the great interview that Nicole Johnson did with her 2 weeks ago. 

             Coming Soon...

 The hardest lesson learned so far...

The most pleasant surprise so far...

What are you doing to move the business forward right now...

Updates on Sarah and Alison will follow over the next several weeks. In between I will post some helpful info, authors and articles about finding success based on your definition. If you have thoughts, comments or suggestions please leave them below.

Written by Al Pilato of harvestwoods


  1. This is good stuff, Al!

    Alison: congratulations on your success---and your nerve :)

    I'm wondering how anyone who has quit their day jobs manages without paid vacations, company-matched 401k contributions and health insurance. Yikes!

  2. I love those yoga animals - super cute. If you figure out a way to shut down that voice, please share it. ;)