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Sunday, March 16, 2014

Six Years of Julie Ann Art

 I realized this month was Julie Ann Art's six year anniversary through Linkedin. They sent me a little "happy anniversary" message. How cute.

It got me thinking about how it all began six years ago. I don't think all of you know the story so I thought it would be fun to look back at the very beginning.
At the time I was working full-time as a photo editor at a photography studio. My coworker, Krystal, was the one who told me about Etsy. It immediately sparked my interest because I had always been creative (voted Most Creative in 8th grade!) and thought....why not?

I decided I'd sell paintings. Not because I will skilled in painting....or had a background in painting. I honestly don't know why my mind went to painting. But sure enough, I went to Michael's and bought a bunch of canvases, brushes, and paints. I closed myself in my room and started painting simple, modern art.

My first product photos were taken with a point-and-shoot camera....sometimes using....dare I say....the flash. Yes, you heard it straight from the source. Some of the first JAA product photos were taken with a direct flash. Shudder. OH! AND?!?! I used a black and white checkered fabric as my photo background. I don't know what I was thinking.

Despite the horrid product photos, my first sales came quickly. But I think this is greatly due to the fact that I priced my original paintings far too low.

Obviously, I was a little lost. In my little defense, this was in 2008 so the internet was not so seasoned with "Tips for new Etsy sellers" blog posts yet.

But I was trying. And man, I loved it.

I spent hours in the forums (quite different than the "Teams" we have now), trying to get sales, participating in things like BNS and SNS (do these still happen?).
I realized I needed more products than canvas paintings so I started painting magnets, picture frames and, you guessed it, cards! I picked up some watercolor paper and start painting original greeting cards. I sold them for $5. Granted, they prob took me about an hour to make.

At this point, I knew this wasn't working. The profit wasn't worth my time. So I invested in a printer....and it changed my entire business. I now had the ability to spend the time creating a design just once, and then printing as many as I needed. Much more effective business plan, I'd say.
It was around this time (2009) that I started following Elsie of A Beautiful Mess. I had found her blog through her Etsy shop and became so inspired. Elsie has always been so generous with her readers, offering tips and insight into her own techniques (she was very involved in painting at the time). One day she mentioned the need to "find your style," a style that becomes your own and makes you recognizable. She said it takes time to find it.

What was my style, I wondered. I knew I hadn't found it yet.

It's not that I didn't like painting cards, maybe I just felt like it wasn't quite "me." Maybe this is what made me, one day, pick up a pencil, do some sketching, and somewhere along the lines, create my first illustrated greeting cards.
(These product photo still hurt my eyes but at least they're not on a black and white checkered background!)

This is when things started to fall into place. I even remember telling my mom "I think I found my style!" Even so, it was not for another two years that my business really took off.

So I guess what I'm trying to say is that.....I didn't know what I was doing when I started out. And, if you're just starting out, and you feel like you don't know what you're doing, well, that's ok. I get asked a lot, for tips or advice on starting an Etsy shop. And honestly, you just need to jump in and go for it. You will learn from experience. I'm still learning (maybe even more-so now than I was six years ago).

I hope you guys enjoyed this post! It was fun for me to think back to those nights spent painting in my bedroom. Nights when "Julie Ann Art" was just a hobby....before I could even dream it would become anything but.

21 comments:

  1. Congratulations Julie! I admire you so much! <3

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  2. I love this! I had NO IDEA what I was doing either and you're right, the internet a few years ago was really lacking in all the beautiful blogs and "etsy seller" tips. I spent hours (while sitting in my cubicle at my day job) reading through the forums.

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  3. You're the reason I started being more consistent with my blog. I love your tips, insights & pee-your-pants funniness!

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  4. Happy anniversary! Here's to many more successful years!

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  5. Happy Anniversary! It's been such an inspiration to follow along with you for a couple years now, thanks for the "just jump into it" advice, because that's where I'm at right now and needed to read it. Congrats!!

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  6. happy anniversary! i totally remember your paintings! (and the old etsy forums, those were always a good time)

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  7. Julie you are such an inspiration! I am in the process of setting up my own Etsy store and plan on selling printables (greeting cards, photos, post cards, etc.) I've created over time. I am not sure whether or not I should invest in a home printer to print my greeting cards at home or work with a local print shop. I noticed in your blog post that you said you invested in a home printer...do you still produce your greeting cards that way? If so, what do you use? I'm concerned with color/quality so I want to make the right choice. Thanks in advance for any advice!

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  8. LOVED reading this!!!! You are such an inspiration.

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  9. That's great! Happy Anniversary :-). I know many more years of success are ahead.

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  10. Would love to hear more about the real technical stuff such as getting "legal" with your brand, taxes, etc. If you ever feel this wouldn't be too boring to write about .... I'd be ever so grateful.

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  11. Congrats! It's nice to know that everyone has to start somewhere and eventually finds their style. Not sure I've found mine yet, but I hope I have a moment where I just know! lol

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  12. Congratulations Julie :) I think I'm finally getting there with my illustration style, but is that what I what to do!? Who knows?! Maybe one day I've have the answer. Another inspiring read, thanks for the motivation! :) x

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  13. Wow, you've had quite a journey! Happy six-year anniversary! Just think of how far you've come in the last six years ... you never know where the next six (or even the next one or two) will take you! The cards I have purchased from you are always a hit, and I usually receive an email or a thank-you note telling me that they absolutely loved it. That they had a good laugh. That they're going to keep it. That it was their favorite. So, really, thank YOU for all your work and creativity!

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  14. Happy (belated) Anniversary! I's really cool to see the evolution of your business and see how far you have come.

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  15. This is pretty inspiring. Congratulations on 6 years!

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  16. Happy 6 years! I've recently started my Etsy and it's been a huge struggle trying to balance everything. Unfortunately, that struggle means Etsy has fallen off the list, at least until summer. In the meantime, I'm just trying to get as much inspiration as I can.

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  17. Yes! I still look at my first draft listings. I first started with random sharpie mugs that didn't quite work out lol. But it was a start and the whole point is jump-starting ideas and letting them evolve. It was your feature on Etsy that really made me think...wow maybe this could turn into something fulltime. I hope!

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  18. Nice to know how you got started and found your style. Inspirational. Keep up the marvellous work.

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Thanks for the comment! I read them all and reply when I can. Please be sure your blogger account is linked to your e-mail so I can do so! (Tutorial on how to do that here: http://tinyurl.com/c6gh9fk) xo JA

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