I am THRILLED to share with you my first of many interviews! This is a special one not only because it is the first, but because Sarah Mann is a seriously impressive human being and I'm so excited to share her story! We met when we both worked at a small after school program in Short Pump. She was the brave one who drove the giant bus to pick up the kids. I was the wimpy one who was afraid of driving it and instead sat in the front seat and tried to keep the kids from singing the "What does the Fox Say?" song while demanding the quiet game be played in exchange for Starburst candies. I always enjoyed the few minutes we had together before the cute and crazy children stomped onto the bus, to talk about our dream careers and our mutual love for art and any form of creativity. It's so awesome that we're now both doing what we love full time! So without further ado, here begins the interview:
First things first, in a sentence or two, how would you describe yourself/your art style?
"I’m Sarah Mann. I’m a wife, a mom, an entrepreneur, and an artist! I love typography and making colors. I’d have to say mixing ink or paint is one of my favorite things to do."
What is the driving force behind your art making?
"My personal freedom and self-expression. I need to create and express my ideas to keep in touch with my “true self” without anyone managing me."
Where is the place that you feel most inspired?
"In my studio, listening to music. Maybe an old MTV Unplugged performance or a dedicated Pandora station. When I hear an artist that’s original and authentic, it inspires me to create something of my own."
Lily Amongst the Thorns
Oil painting on Canvas Board
Original by Sarah Mann
What is your favorite design software to work with & why?
"I love Adobe Illustrator. I used it in school as far back as 1997 and it’s still around. They put out a great new version with every update. There’s a cloud version which I currently subscribe to & there’s plenty of help and useful tools and training too!"
If you had all the money in the world, what extravagant art-related purchase would you make?
"Definitely a huge sculpture. I saw one once in Brooklyn, NY that was metal and made of dancers, It came up from the ground and was all connected in a spherical egg shape. I’d want something like that."
Many artists say they spend 50% of their time creating art and the other 50% marketing themselves. If you could break up your work day into percentages based off of how much time you spend marketing your business & actually creating – how would that look?
"My dad (also an entrepreneur) taught me a long time ago that a business is made up of 4 parts: Marketing, Sales, Operations, and Finance. Over the course of a week, I’d say I spend 50% of my time in operations, 25% in finance and the remaining 25% in marketing and sales. The websites we sell on market for us 24/7 and we have website ads as well so, that cuts down on some of the marketing I have to do. But, marketing and sales should be any business’ number one priority."
I’ve seen you sell on Amazon and Ebay. Which site do you get the most traffic to when selling your work?
"Amazon definitely brings in the most orders and revenue. Since last October, we’ve doubled our Amazon revenue each month and Joe just got us approved in Amazon’s clothing category, in addition to home décor and vehicle accessories. So, we’ll be adding some fun work- out clothes, graphic tees, gyms bags, etc. really soon!"
How did you divide up the tasks for your business? (Who deals with money, marketing, etc.)
"We basically chose the tasks that come easily to us. I’m the designer, the money manager, and the decision maker. My husband is the machinist, the research department, and the supplies manager. Neither of us could do the other person’s job and we share the other responsibilities as needed."
Describe an average work day. Do you have a specific routine you like to stick to?
"We like to say the shop opens at 9 but, we actually get there around 7:30 in the morning and sign on to our various sales websites. We try to fill all those orders first thing, before we turn on the open sign, so we can move on to product development, helping customers, making shirts, signs, etc.
Time passes really fast at the shop. I think because we’re working on the business and in the business. A lot of times, we need an alarm to go off to remind us it’s lunch time or time to pick up the kids from school.
By the end of the day, we’ve filled our orders, made new product listings, added to our “pipeline” with new potential customers and scribbled out a list of things to do the next day. We try to leave by 4 pm each day so that we can disconnect from work and focus on our family at night."
What’s your advice on how to handle criticism?
"My advice is: When you hear criticism, wait for the initial sting to fade and then decide what to do with it. If there’s any truth to it, use it to make you better. If it’s not true, just mentally throw it away."
What do you think is the hardest thing about being an artist/graphic designer?
"Making it my career and not just a hobby."
Thank you so much for taking the time to read about this talented entrepreneur! To learn more about her and her company check out the following links:
To view Sarah's blog click here: www.818designco.com
Follow 818 Design Co. on Facebook by clicking here: www.facebook.com/818design
& You can follow @818designco on Instagram!
Hi friends! Welcome to the blog! I'm Mandy and I'm an artist, blogger & founder of the "Artists to Know" interview series. Here you'll find photos of my latest art adventures, furniture makeover projects & advice from successful artists!
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