Sorry if you've come here looking for me only to find me gone!
I have integrated my blog into my website in hopes of making life a little easier for me and also to make finding out about little e studio easier for you!
Just go to www.littleestudio.com to read my latest posts or go to www.facebook.com/littleestudio and like my page to get the latest news and pictures of current work and shows!
As always, thank you oh so much!!!
Tuesday, July 17, 2012
After seeing the little e line at the Atlanta Market this weekend, I may have to change my name to Big E Studio due to the size of my head. Creative Co-op made me feel like a total rock star. From the display, to the reps, to the customers, to the owners, to the details.
I had never been to market before this weekend. This was a grand introduction, for sure. I really didn't grasp the enormity of this opportunity until I walked into that 12,000 square foot bright and bustling showroom and saw little e me staring back at me from wall after wall.
My friend Tawnya who owns C'est Moi, the store where my work was discovered by the owner of Creative Co-op, met me in the lobby of Building 2 to walk me in for the first time. Before we walked in, she stopped and looked me in the eye and tried to explain what a big deal this licensing agreement is, how distinctive this company is, how sought after their products are, how impressive their showroom is, how wide their reach. I am so glad she did that because it allowed me to take a minute to try to wrap my pea brain about what I was about to see. But nothing can really fully prepare you. I can say without a shadow of a doubt that I had no idea what I was getting myself into. And I'm so glad I had no idea because fear and lack of confidence might have prevented me from experiencing this:
That's me, weepy and dazed, upon first arriving in the showroom.
That's one wall of my line. Buckets, travel mugs, trays, wall decor.
One of twelve best sellers that were in my line.
Prior to walking into this showroom, I had only seen fuzzy cellphone pictures and thumbnails. The only person from Creative Co-op that I had met in person was Sandy, the rep for my area. Let me just sum it all up by saying I wept all weekend. Every single time I walked into that showroom, I was overcome. Each display was bright and colorful. Each piece they created was a perfect collaboration between my images and their vision. Their complete belief in my work and in me. Their welcome embrace and encouragement. The owners, the reps, the staff. All just as excited about me as I was about them. They loved my story and I loved that they were willing to give a complete unknown a shot at what thousands of working artists can only dream about. I do not take this for granted. I came back energized and inspired and grateful and eager. I can't wait to see what they come up with next!
A few highlights:
My wonderful husband and Tawnya from C'est Moi, the whole reason I got this deal. We were a little excited. I can never say thanks enough. I am so glad I made that wrong turn last summer.
These two metal pieces were fantastic. Embossed, rusted, textured. A best seller.
Heart trays and travel mugs, another best selling item.
Tin Prayer Box. I adored this piece. One of my top three.
Coasters. Another top three for me. Just fabulous in person.
This enormous distressed, embossed, textured tin wall hanging was stunning in person.
We cannot wait to get this mirror! And the birdcage dish is my absolute favorite.
These frames were ingenious. They are magnetic so you can easily change the pictures.
My Daisy, Daisy painting and set of hearts...another best seller!
Another opportunity for tears. Creative Co-op featured my hearts in a full page ad in Home Accents Today. My heart just burst when I saw this!
Here it is up close. Little ol' little e me. Sniff.
See what I mean? They made me feel like a rock star. This write up is the perfect description of my aesthetic. When I saw this, I wept. Again.
How cute are these bucket/hooks. They will soon be hanging in my baby's bathroom!
This was the first piece I saw for approval. Can you even imagine? I send images off and I get a picture a few months later with this!!! I almost died. This piece fills me with such joy. It makes me happy!
View of three crosses on wall, pillows and metal crosses on mirror. All best sellers.
This man. Amazing. My biggest fan. My faithful encourager.
This was the last picture we took of me in my booth. I am a drippy mess. I am so glad this picture was blurry because I was puffy and delirious.
So what does all this mean? I have no idea. I truly don't. When I sell 30 paintings at an art show, I am doing cartwheels. I cannot fathom the volume of this company. When I say that something is a best seller, it means that out of the thousands of items in this 12,000 foot showroom, I have twelve items in my product line that are in the top 200 sellers for the whole company up to this point. Heart palpitations. Welling eyes. Racing thoughts. Boundless thanks.
I am not boasting. I boast in nothing. I did not do this. I am not being humble either. I did not do this. I quit my job. I made a wrong turn. I ended up here. Thank goodness God can do more than we can ask or imagine because I would not have known to ask or imagine this turn of events.
And thank goodness He can also turn mourning into dancing. Last year at this exact weekend, I was not preparing for market. I was preparing to bury my best friend who died of ALS, Lou Gehrig's Disease, on July 15. No one would have been more genuinely excited for me about this crazy art business. Design-wise, she was my inspiration. My guru. My go-to. If she liked it, I knew I would like it. At one point we even had the exact same furniture. I remember calling her from the furniture store after agonizing over fabric for hours to see if I could just get what she had. Of course her purity of heart and generosity of spirit had no issue with us copying her. And I remember painting a bedroom a taupey-gold color and bringing the paint swatch over to her house to see what she thought. She had been painting, too. Spent the whole day hand mixing and tinting her paint to get just the right shade of taupey-gold. I promise I do not exaggerate when I say my swatch and her wall were identical. One year we decided to take our design sensibility and get a booth at the flea market together for the weekend. We spent hours sanding Cheech and Chong's decoupaged faces off a cute side table we had nabbed from the trash for our booth, but the 24 hour lipstick and ceramic animals at the vendor across the way were bigger hits that weekend. Even now, I have her kitchen chairs, her rug, her sofa, her coffee table, her end tables, and her paint choices all over my house. Even now, every painting begins with the shade of brown she picked for her condo remodel. To be in this career without her eye and opinion is so very strange.
Oh. I love her. I miss her. I'm weepy again.
But God granted me mercy this weekend. He blessed me with sweet remembrance and joy in the moment.
And here's the thing. I know He's not done.
Look for little e in a store near you. Especially in Iowa. I hear I'm HUGE in Iowa.
From the bottom of my heart...
Monday, June 4, 2012
I've been holding on to big news. A few of you here and there know. But I've been holding it tightly, barely believing it's real, until this envelope arrived today bearing tangible proof. Because the past year has been so surreal, so whirlwind-ish, so rollercoaster-y, so busy, so overwhelming, I couldn't shout it from the rooftops until I went to the mailbox today!!! But now I can...
WOOOOHOOOOOOO!! I got a licensing deal! I got a LICENSING deal! I got a LICENSING DEAL!!!
What does this mean? Just indulge me for a little flashback...
I guess if we go back to the beginning, it started with a leap of faith that may actually have been more of a leap of desperation. I quit my job. A job that I felt was a ministry to children with learning issues. I loved my kids. I loved helping them and their families. I especially loved making a difference. But when I went from working with kids to managing adults, it literally sucked the life out of me. I quit my hobbies including an antique booth. I quit other ministries I was passionate about. I quit church for a while. I knew it was time to go when I began to describe my job, a good and meaningful job, as a dementor, the soul-sucking-happiness-draining creatures from Harry Potter. But it was a good and meaningful job, with benefits and a salary, and I had reached the top position in my department. Who quits that kind of thing? This was pre-economic fall-out in 2008. I left for another job in education that would afford me time and healing but also fulfillment. Then the economy tanked. The business I was working for started to struggle.
I had no idea what to do next. It seemed like I had taken a wrong turn. But in all honesty, I was so much happier than I had been in years. I had felt the nudging from God for years that I needed to leave that job. But I kept plugging away because it was a job and it was a ministry. I am telling you this because even good and meaningful things can take a toll. I could not fix the situations for the kids, parents, teachers and coworkers that I encountered on a daily basis no matter how hard I tried. Because I considered it a ministry, I thought surely this was my calling, but I kept ignoring the prompts, urges, nudges, whispers that there was something else God had in store for me. I thought I was smarter and that I knew best. But the minute I finally just gave in, let go and quit, years of burden just fell off my back. I literally felt lighter.
That same year, I took the fabled weekend art class that changed my world. I did not go into it looking for a business or even a hobby. I just thought it would be fun and it seemed like time to have fun again. I've talked about the class in other posts so I won't dwell on it except to say, it opened me up to possibility and released me from some inhibitions. For the next year, I painted. I had the time for once in my life. I was just messing around. Then friends wanted to buy a piece. Then friends of friends. Then friends of friends of friends. I started to believe that maybe I had something I could do on the side once I found a real job at some point. I am so funny. I still thought I was in charge.
Then I got pregnant. After 15 years of wonderful marriage, my wonderful husband and I decided it was high time we had a little Little. It was now or never. Painting got put on a bit of a hold during my pregnancy and that first year, but the demand was still there and once again the nudging began. It was time to step out on faith and see what happened.
So in spring of 2011, I decided to talk to people that were in the know. I was so blessed that artists like Margaret Eliot, Deann Hebert, Marilyn Wendling, Erin Rickleton and Ron York were willing to meet with me and give me advice about shows and galleries and pricing and the art business. I knew nothing. I mean nothing. No one discouraged me. They all encouraged and directed me and shared their stories. In fact, Deann has become a friend who continues to inspire. Margaret continues to encourage. Erin and Marilyn have been my neighbors at several shows and Ron now represents me in his gallery. I am forever grateful.
And then, I made another wrong turn. Last May, a year ago, I decided to make cold calls. I don't do cold calls. I am ever so funny and clever online, but I am quirky and awkward in person. I say the darndest things. There are legends at my church about the things I have said in the name of small talk. But I packed a bag with my paintings, put on my shiny shoes and headed to Brentwood where a friend of a friend had a store.
I literally made a wrong turn. I am as directionally challenged as I am socially awkward. I ended up at C'est Moi, an adorable boutique in Brentwood. I thought I'd grab a bite at the deli next store and peek in C'est Moi and get back on track. But the minute I walked in the store, I felt at home. They carried Dash and Albert rugs! My favorite! They had amazing jewelry, refurbished furniture, gifts and artwork...I could have bought one of everything. I decided to bring my art in and show it to the owner. By the end of my visit that day, Tawnya, the amazing and beautiful owner, decided to carry my artwork in her store! I was simply floored. My first stop. A wrong turn. Validation. Opportunity. New friendship. Inspiration. Amazing.
With my confidence boosted, I decided to apply to shows. I got in all of them. Starting in September and ending the beginning of this past May, I have done six shows, including the biggest one in town, the Harding Art Show. Honestly, I thought this was the pinnacle. Each show has been a gift, but Harding was a surprise. If I had bothered to make a five-year plan, Harding would have been the culmination of that plan.
But I had made that wrong turn. In the middle of all the hullabaloo with the fall shows, I went to C'est Moi to drop off paintings and visit for a minute. Little did I know that the day before I stopped in, the owner and the representative for an international home decor company called Creative Co-op had been in C'est Moi. Tawnya had an impressive display of my work behind the register and it had caught the owner's eye. When I showed up the next morning, the rep was back in the store. Timing. God's timing. Tawnya introduced us and she began to talk to me about licensing my work. I had no idea what that meant. I thought it was another show and I was already having trouble keeping up with a store, a gallery and all the shows. I was hesitant, but she explained it to me and my heart began to flip-flop. I said yes, yes, yes. She said the company would be in touch. So in early December, I got a call from the product developer for Creative Co-op. She walked me through the process, explained what they had in mind, shared their vision, sent me catalogs...and asked me to get images to them by mid-February so that they could launch a line of home decor products bearing my images.
What does this mean? It means I am a songwriter who just got my song picked up by a major recording artist. It means that an international company who sells to retail stores, catalog companies, boutiques, big box stores, etc., is mass producing furniture, wall decor, frames, knick knacks, coasters, and other home decor products bearing images that I painted. Little 'ol little e me.
There is no such thing as a wrong turn. I am so glad I let Someone else steer for a while. There is no other explanation for this new direction I am headed. If I had planned it, none of it would have happened. All I can do is be grateful. I am not saying I deserve this. I am not saying I am exceptionally talented. I am not saying it has all been easy. I am not saying that this last year has been all rainbows and candy corn. I am not saying I have been faithful in all things. Something wonderful has happened to me in spite of me. That is all I am saying.
Thank you for taking this wrong turn with me. I can't wait to see where God steers me next!
Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Monday, April 30, 2012
It has been almost three months since I last posted. Oops. I realized that I just left you hanging as I prepped to return to Lipscomb but this time as an artist instead of a student or employee. It was just as surreal as I expected it to be. Made even more surreal by the fact that I completely lost my voice before the show. I felt like I was shouting the whole weekend but no one could hear me. Still, I had a great show. Got teary-eyed visiting with former students who are now grown with families of their own. And so touched that my former department, the Learning Enhancement Program, sponsored my booth. The food was delicious. I almost tackled the server who was toting a tray of flatbread with gorgonzola, pear and balsamic vinagrette. Oh my.
Wednesday, February 8, 2012
When I was growing up, I didn't want to be an astronaut or a veterinarian. I wanted to be a librarian. Even in elementary school, I would volunteer to work in the library so that I could stamp due dates and roll the book cart around. I loved-and still love-actual books on actual shelves. In high school, I used to drive to the downtown library to research topics like hats and millinery because I also fancied becoming a milliner. Seriously? I was such a nerd. When I went to college as an English major, I spent an inordinate amount of time in the stacks at the old library, studying and writing...and stalking my husband who was as smart as he was, and is, funny. Sadly, a counselor in college steered me away from library sciences. Maybe this was for the best since the romance of rolling ladders and card catalogs has been replaced by a technology I have yet to embrace.
Eventually I graduated as an English major. What to do? What to do? Who would pay me to spend most of my waking hours in a library reading books and writing about them? Well. No one. So I began a thirteen year stint as an English tutor at David Lipscomb Campus School, encouraging and teaching children who struggled with reading and writing. What a gift! By the time I left, I was the director of the program, no longer working directly with the children, no longer immersed in reading and writing. I knew it was time to move on but what to do, what to do?
As evidenced by my brief dalliance with millinery, I was a crafty sort of girl. I had a booth at an antique mall for a while, selling refurbished thrift store finds. I had closed it when I became director, but desperately missed being creative. What to do? What to do? A weekend art class with friends, just for fun, or so I thought....
So now to the full circle moment. I haunted the stacks at Lipscomb University as a student. I molded young minds at David Lipscomb Campus School as a teacher. Now I'm coming back as an artist. I did not foresee this. As much as I love a good book, I could not have written this ending...or should I say new beginning?
If you like stories with twists and turns with a plucky heroine in a familar setting surrounded by a colorful cast of characters, come see me this weekend at the Art Event at Lipscomb, February 10-12.
Opening night complete with food and music is Friday from 5-9. http://www.lipscomb.edu/advancement.dlcs/Filter/Item/762/6780
Hope to see you there!