My Story - personal

My Story - personal

Hi Friends,

This blog post is a little different than my usual. I’m going to get a little personal today. So many people ask me how I can do my art full-time. Or they tell me, “Oh, I could never leave my day job. My ______ is just a side hustle.” I said the same thing for YEARS. But I kept feeling the nudge to do more with the things I loved to do. So, to dispel the myth that I am some sort of magical unicorn and hopefully empower you to feel inspired to take steps toward your business dreams, I thought I’d share my story of how I became a full-time business owner. It wasn’t straight forward journey (not many are), and I made a LOT of mistakes (still do). But I also had three key elements that helped strap a jet pack on my back and allowed me to quit my day job and commit to my art business full time. If you or someone you know owns a business, or would like to one day, this story is for you.

"Hello? "- Early work (2003)

As long as I can remember I LOVED art. I loved making things with my hands. So did everyone else in my family. I also LOVED the outdoors. If I could make things in the natural world I was in heaven. I realize now that both of those things – art and nature – are where I feel the most peace, intuitive connection, and flow. So, it makes sense that those have always been my dual passions. But at the time I felt like they were two disparate parts of me, and I needed to choose one.

I was a good student and had the grades to do whatever I wanted. When it came time to choose a career path, I felt the need to make a responsible choice – one that could land me a career where I could “make a living” and not live out my days as a starving artist. So I started in pre-med, quickly changed to a biology major, then to teaching, then to studio art, and back to biology. After a several years of this, I went to see my guidance counselor to change my major yet again and she said “Honey, you have enough credits to graduate now with a BS in biology, and two minors in studio art and chemistry.” So, that’s what I did.

"Wish" - early work (2005)

Okay. Science it was. That was a responsible choice. From there, I went straight to graduate school and got a master’s in environmental management. I was an ecologist. And for the first several years of that career path, I loved it. I was in the field nearly every day. I was living in Oregon where I had met my future husband and was making art on the side. A friend (Rin Carroll Jackson) had urged me to sell my artwork after I worked on a mural with her in SE Portland. So, I sold my first collage at her event – the SE Area ARTWalk.

From then on, I began selling my artwork at festivals and shows on the weekends while working as a natural resource manager during the week. Several times, my side hustle had the potential to grow bigger, but I reigned it in because I didn’t have the time to let it get bigger than my weekend and evening gigs. I was progressing in my science career and eventually became manager of the organization I was working for. I wasn’t spending time in the field much anymore but was gaining loads of experience and responsibilities. Life was full.

My "studio" in the early days... It was NOT glamorous, but it was a space that I could create in.

All of that changed when we decided to try to start a family. I stopped working shows on the weekends and I pretty much stopped making art altogether. I wanted to make space and time for a baby. But the baby didn’t come. We tried for over two years and had two miscarriages but no baby. It was heartbreaking. (Actually, anyone who has every gone through their own conception journey knows that “heartbreaking” hardly covers it.) And I had done myself a double disservice by not making art anymore. I was in a dark place. And my husband and I decided to stop trying to conceive.

Then, of course, we got pregnant! I carried this baby to full term. We had our healthy baby boy! He felt like a miracle. We got pregnant twice more after our sweet boy was born and lost both of those babies. Again, heartbreak doesn’t begin to describe this.

What I gained from our trying to conceive journey was some clarity on my priorities. I knew that I wanted to be available for our son as much as humanly possible. And I knew that I needed to make art and spend time in nature to be healthy in my soul.

Me and our miracle baby.

I started making art again as a way to process my grief from losing four babies, and my elation at becoming a mother. I took a TON of online classes during this time. And I changed the way I made my art. I started collaging elements and assembling compositions digitally. It made for more efficient use of time (major plus as a new mama), and I thought I could potentially license my work more easily this way.

Finally, I decided if I couldn’t have another baby, I would birth a business. I would follow my heart and my passions so that I could live a life on my schedule, making space and time for my family, and feeling true to my heart so I would be the best me I could be. And that’s when I switched my mindset from doing art as a hobby to being a professional artist. From that moment in 2014, I worked my buns off to grow my business until I signed with a rep. group in 2016 and left my day job in 2018 to become a full-time entrepreneur.

Three VERY important things made this dream possible.

    1. I have an incredibly supportive spouse. My partner was and is amazingly supportive of my dream. Words cannot express the gratitude I have for his profound faith in me and my business. Surrounding yourself with a supportive tribe is KEY.
    2. I hired a life coach – Melanie McCloskey. Melanie helped me get out of my own way and lit a fire under my booty by helping me get crystal clear on my strengths, values and visions for my life and business.
    3. I signed up for Marie Forleo’s B-School. B-School was and still is one of the best business investments I ever made. It wasn’t cheap, but I more than made back my investment within a few months of taking the program thanks to the business GOLD Marie teaches. I never took any business classes in college or grad school. I had worked for businesses and managed people, but never run my own business. B-School gave me the knowledge I needed with the “everything is figure-outable” attitude to get sh*t done. And I gained the support of an amazing community of fellow big-hearted, multi-passionate entrepreneurs I met in the course. You can take the class every year or come back to it whenever you want FOREVER. So this has been an investment that keeps on giving back to my business.

And here I am – still thriving. My business has continued to grow - miraculously even through the pandemic. But I did not do it alone. I make lots of mistakes and honestly, that’s when I learn the most about what my business and I are capable of. While I am a doer through and through, I am not any different from you. If you have a business dream or a passion project that you want to launch, I’m here to tell you that it is possible.

I am not a life coach, but I am a strong believer in them! And I am honored to get to be an affiliate for Marie Forleo’s B-School this year. So, I wanted to make sure you know that Marie is offering a series of 3 FREE B-School lessons starting today. If you're dreaming of a starting your own business or adding a jet pack to the one you already have, this series of lessons will set you up for success! As an instructor, Marie is super generous with her experience and knowledge. She's funny, inspiring, and genuine. B-School has quite literally launched the creative careers of so many amazing people.

The lessons are FREE! And when you sign up to watch them, you will get more info about B-School too. Even if you don’t choose to do B-School, I encourage you to watch the videos for a taste of the type of business gold that Marie dishes out.

I hope this post inspires you to take action towards making your own business dreams a reality. I know you can do it. Reach out if you have any questions about my journey or if I can support you in any way.

With love and gratitude,


Back to blog