As I reflect upon the decade that is now coming to a close, it’s freakin amazing how much a person can actually accomplish.
My background is extremely humble and I always wanted more.
I never knew how I was going to get it and set out on this dream.
I’d watch Shark Tank every single week, religiously. Trying and thinking of business idea after business idea. Each time there was a reason why not. I was relentless about my ideas. I then opened up an arts and crafts business called Glitter and Glue. It was so much fun but I had no way of scaling it, got burnt out and shut it down. I tried making headbands, walking into stores and selling them. That worked but my heart wasn’t in it. (Clearly that was a factor!)
I did summer camps for kids. That was ultimate burnout. Crossed it off the list! I thought of idea after idea and I remember laying down on my apartment floor thinking how in the world was I ever going to buy a house?! I had no savings, couldn’t rely on my parents or in laws financially and trying to make each month. All while being a part time teacher.
Teaching was great. Kids are my first love and it’s so refreshing hanging out with them. But I disliked the work vs pay. For the amount of work I was putting in, I wasn’t being significantly appreciated. I knew it in the depths of my heart and it bothered me. When I told my boss - the principal, I was leaving, she begged me to reconsider. She told me I had a gift and was talented in teaching. She said “I had it” and if I ever wanted to come back, I could. Honestly, if the teacher salary would have been higher, I would have probably still been doing that right now (and if my artist spirt was dead)
But I knew I couldn’t go on teaching. It wasn’t worth my efforts. If I’m in, I’m ALL in. I can’t be half and half. So I stayed home. I was going to be a stay at home mom. (A poor one but at least a happy one;))
Ya, that didn’t last either. I didn’t know to what extent at the time but I’m a doer! Doers need to DO. I had a degree in special ed and applied for a case through an agency. Got the case. That was the next two years. Good. Solid. Can’t complain. Ohhhh but I did! I was SO BORED. Was I just doomed?? Yep. Or That’s what I thought.
I then emailed my Rabbi from seminary asking him if this is what life is supposed to feel like - grey and plain...He didn’t respond and I didn’t need him to. I was slowly figuring it out.
I had a miscarriage during this time and took out some paints to get me through my thoughts and feelings of the time. I painted one painting every two nights for about three weeks. When the paintings were done, they were GOOD. It was exciting! I then went on to paint my sons shoes, my family at the beach, random scenery, and gifts for anyone I knew. I went outside and painted the water. I started to dabble.
I’d go to my case in the mornings, come home and paint. Sometimes I’d stop in Michaels on the way home for supplies. The “greyness” was disappearing!
I remember telling a colleague at work that I’d love to start a business ONE DAY...and that if I’d ever leave special ed that’s what I’d do. Ohhh, watch your words! Be careful what you wish for...!! But as it goes one step backwards, 20 steps forwards....
September came along. They let me go. There was no cases for me - aka - I was fired.
Breathing. Breathing. Not breathing. Why was I going to do? No monthly income. Omg. Nothing to rely on?! HOW? WERE? WE? GOING? TO? MAKE? IT? I called my husband, unable to speak through my tears and he said - tzadik of a human - were going to be fine, this is the best thing that ever happened to you. You’re going to paint. You’ll see.
So I took a deep breath, and began painting. ALL IN. I was a starving artist, in the very essence of the word. I never went shopping. Not even for food. I’d buy art supplies before it. I saved all my dollars. I’d make leftovers for supper and then use the leftovers for leftovers. I was on a mission. I didn’t care what anyone thought. I’d make aluminum pans out of silver foil. I wouldn’t drive much so no need for that much gas. That’s how calculated I became. (It was the best for me to learn, since I’m naturally a big spender. I’ll never forget what I learned) I learned that every dollar equals $100. Think before you spend. Don’t use three tissues if you can use one. Things I never thought of before, rose to the surface and became apparent. I wasn’t fanatic by any means, but we were on a tight tight budget = zero. Nada. Lucky for us, our kids were very little and didn’t ask for much then. I never knew how resourceful I was, until I was put to the challenge. (All learned from my mother - watching her while I was growing up) I sewed the hems, cleaned my house, cooked and baked everything myself. And painted.
Then came the best part which was free - SOCIAL MEDIA. And I committed to it. I posted each and every day. When you post, you need to have what to post....so I painted each and every day! I gave myself goals. Painting goals, posting goals and followers goals.
No one knew me. No daddy with contacts. No mama with contacts. No neighbors with contacts. (Contacts that buy art I mean) I was a complete nobody to anyone outside of my close family and friends. But hey, I had a paintings to sell with a message behind each one, I needed the world to know me! So I virtually knocked on every persons door. I requested to follow them. If they’d see who’s knocking, they just might enjoy the art! I wasn’t embarrassed at all - I was doing them a favor by introducing them to beautiful and moving artwork! I don’t know if it was my mindset or the art, or both, but it worked! People started to jump on board and then word of mouth spread like wild fire. I would sit on my couch every single Sunday for a year and follow people. (Sunday was the day everyone was on) I was painting late passed midnight most nights of the week, building my collection. People were messaging me, asking to view my works and purchase - this was crazy! I would read the messages over and over again, debating if it was real. Omg!!! I had a business growing from under neath me! I hired an agent. He wanted me to sign a contract. I didn’t like the contract. We parted ways. Continued posting. Then collaborating. Got more followers on board. And slowly slowly built myself up. With one sale, I was able to scan a few works. Then put out a print. No one purchased it. So I would put the print option on the site without inventory and print when someone was interested. That worked. Saved and built some more. One giclee turned to two. Some got ruined in shipping. Shipping. That’s a thing. Figure that out. Then websites. Three of them. Build. Build. Build. Paint. Paint. Paint. Schlepping paintings from one private viewing to the next. Those days were hard but good. There’s nothing like building. It’s where all life happens - in the process. So much happened during that time. Ups and downs. Wins and losses. I would celebrate the wins like crazy and learn and try again with the looses. Nothing can come in the way of painting. It’s the air I breath and my world is SO colorful!
For years and years I was trying to find the perfect business, and it was staring me dead in the face all along. Many times the thing that we do best, is the thing we should be doing but we can’t imagine it, because we do it so naturally. Why would someone actually pay dollars for this? Because, you are the best.
Throughout this entire time, I davened (prayed) and strengthened my emunah with Hashem (G-d). I would close my eyes and envision what I wanted and calmly know that I was in good hands. (And sometimes extremely not calmly.) I’d also attach myself to virtual mentors via YouTube& Google, learning everything I didn’t know.
With prayer, histadlus, learning and a lot of hard work, the sky is the limit.
(*with the house, since you’re all wondering. We purchased a small tiny starter home back in 2013. We did it with an FHA loan, and put down $11,000. That’s it. With zero savings to back things up. No emergency cash. We would figure it out. Huge risk. It was old and untouched. Slowly, we flipped it ourselves. Ripping up carpets, freshly painting the walls, spray painting kitchen cabinets, tiling the floor, and painting the tub... after four years, we sold the home and moved to our current home.)