Parkslife, my art and upcycling business, is celebrating its first anniversary this month.
In the last year, I’ve sold 59 pieces: that’s 29 original artworks, 9 upcycled items, 16 art commissions and 5 upcycling commissions, ranging from personalised Christmas baubles and a laundry basket to a pair of table centrepieces and a rocking chair.
I just tend to go with the flow each day but, when I looked back and worked out how much I’ve actually done in the last year, I don’t think that a bad output for my first year of self-employed life.
I’ve worked with clients to create bespoke artwork that is truly special and unique: paintings to promote their business ethos, keepsakes for lost babies, gifts for loved ones and a bit of “I’ve got this; can you do anything with it? Oh wow that’s amazing!”
It’s been a huge learning curve, not just in discovering new art techniques and researching the best materials to use, but also in simply running my own business.
It was always my intention to grow my business organically. I don’t have more of a business plan or strategy than that, I don’t have targets, I haven’t done a SWOT analysis… but what I do have is an artistic eye, the curiosity to try new things and a desire to delight my clients.
I deliberately don’t want to grow too fast or be too commercial because, if I’m honest, I’m afraid that could diminish the Parkslife magic. I’m not about mass production; I’m about bespoke, special and different.
Luckily I don’t have to rely on the art and upcycling as my main income stream – if I did, I’d probably approach things a little differently. And it probably wouldn’t be as much fun.
The only showcase I have is my Parkslife Facebook page, although I do also post about my work on LinkedIn. I tried a couple of Christmas events last year but I don’t think that’s really the way forward for me; it’s simply not the right audience.
What I really enjoy most is the commissions. They usually start with “oh, could you…” – to which I always reply “yes”.
I find this type work more satisfying, a meeting of minds and exploring exactly what the client wants to deliver something magical.
A key milestone came in October last year when I got my first commission from someone I’d never even met but had seen my work on the WIBN Facebook page and loved what she saw. And that’s exactly how I want my business to grow. Word of mouth or just by capturing someone’s imagination.
I have had amazing support from my WIBN group (Chalfonts & Amersham) since I joined a year ago. At the start of 2018 I was having a tough time believing in myself in my reinvention after corporate life. The WIBN ladies didn’t laugh when I introduced myself as a “bespoke artist”; they took me seriously and gave me the confidence to speak about “my business” with confidence, to not be apologetic for what I do.
And after all, it’s not brain surgery, no-one’s gonna die if I get it wrong, and I can always paint over it if I make a mess. Pretty much my metaphor for life. That, and a belief in magic.