Back in 2017, well, maybe it was way back before that, I had a dream of starting a creative business. I had always been selling my wares – that was part of my creative process. I always liked to make and share, make and share. It was fun to connect to people by offerings things that delighted or inspired. Every time I showed my work or set up a little table at a craft show I felt more and more certain that I wanted to create an actual business but I wasn’t exactly sure how. I had talked about this with John for hours on end until one day he said what we hear all the time, “Just start, Sarah!” I toyed with two or three creative ideas before turning to the process that I fell in love with and had always had a love affair with — cyanotypes. And that was it. With $600, some cyanotypes, a camera and Instagram, I started Atwater Designs and little did I know it was the road to totally changing my life.
I started with cards and as I went down the rabbit trail of the internet trying to find answers to the silliest of questions from editing photos to website building, I started to see that I was not alone. There were tons of women out there doing what I wanted to do and they were doing it well. They were doing it successfully. They were earning money with their art.
During that first year I was exposed to women like Shanna Skidmore and Emily Jeffords, both women that I admire and have learned a ton from. I took a Pricing for Creatives class from Shanna via If I Made and just like that the internet did its thing and I was hooked. I was inspired.
They didn’t teach much about the business side of being an artist in school so learning a lot of this has been trial and error. It’s been late nights and early mornings and sometimes it has felt a bit lonely. Those first connections I made in my art business life (where I got to talk business and strategy) were so meaningful. They only continue to be. Once this became more clear, I started to seek out more community within my day — more education and opportunities to share. I watched the power of community take hold. It propelled my business forward in meaningful ways. These groups of creatives have, no doubt, changed the way my business has moved forward. I cannot wait to help a small group of creatives do the same!
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