I am sure I am not the only artist whose 2020 was not the year of "vision" and "manifestation" that they envisioned at the close of 2019:
I understood, though. With unemployment rates growing quickly, the prospect of a full-on global pandemic rustling in the worldwide ethos, and the general feeling of panic and uncertainty, purchasing new pillows, t-shirts or getting a custom painting created just didn’t take priority. Most entrepreneurs would disagree with my next moves but they made sense to me. I pulled back from hard marketing efforts.
There was something about asking someone to buy from me when people were frantic about having enough toilet paper for their family that just didn’t “sit” right with me. At the time, we didn’t have any hefty overhead costs, like rent, mortgage (outside of our private home), business utilities, etc. so I pivoted my focus.
I focused on supporting my two children; one that was completing middle school and navigating how their 8th grade graduation would be remembered and one that was completing high school online hoping that his first year of college would be on campus. I made sure my mother, who lives with us, stayed safe from the virus through a vigorous routine of hand washing, hand sanitizer (both at work and in the car) and being a “clean freak” at my part time job. I supported my part time job at a local food pantry supporting the city’s most vulnerable.
Never in a million years would I have thought I would be working at a food pantry applying my love for all things spreadsheets and program coordination to making sure home-bound clients had access to food. Never in a million years did I think that just 3 months after starting there that I would have a stable income (even if partially) due to now being an "essential worker." God moves in mysterious ways. I was extremely grateful.
It was there that I had the most amazing experiences even during such a dark time. I found it an honor to be with people during their most difficult hours. There were clients that had never been in “the food line” asking for help; people who had lost their once-stable jobs whose rent or mortgage was looming.
I was honored to lend a hand with respect to those who now had to ask for food, toilet paper; people who were just grateful for a dozen eggs and a mask. There were days when I was exhausted between working my business and being an “essential worker” but it was also very gratifying to give of myself, my skills and services in those ways. My daily mantra was "I will not complain" about my job.
The vision and the goals for my business were never lost. Throughout the year, Custom Arts Studio applied for EVERYTHING we got our hands on! COVID-19 Business Grants, SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans, Bartol Foundation Grants,... EVERYTHING that came across our laptop screen, we applied for; even some that seemed far-fetched. When the QVC/HSN Small Business Spotlight opportunity came our way I applied simply because, like I shared, I apply for everything. But I never thought I would “land” it… Read more about that experience here.
As a result of those moves; applying, "putting my name in the hat" as I like to put it, Custom Arts Studio was broadcasted across the country. We met people from all over! Orders were shipped to all four corners of the country. Some folks called us by phone just to congratulate us. Each time the taping was aired I would received at least one phone call from a new fan. That is an experience that I will never forget.
To put it mildly, there was a certain level of validation that came from the response our work was getting. It was such a powerful force to help us "keep pushing forward." As you can imagine, being an entrepreneur is not easy and being a creative entrepreneur can add a new layer of complexity to the mix.
My amazing support system (my mother, my children, my inner circle of amazing friends and associates), could not be thanked enough. There really are no words. 2020 was a hell of a year. It was challenging, exhausting and complex, but it was also rewarding, taught me so many lessons, and was a year full of resilience. The year uncovered some insecurities, unearthed some strengths, showed us who we really are and, most importantly, helped us discover what is most important.
BEHIND THE BRUSH