The guest I had announced in June’s Gazette ended up not being able to share with us today, but it’s not all loss and actually quite the timely opposite. It must be the summertime vibes or just the current entrepreneurial environment, but collaborations have been flourishing everywhere. Just in the past two weeks I have received six different collaboration opportunities and they are all so enticing. We talked about the subject a little last week on Instagram but today I have an expert at it sharing her journey through the past year. How she went from moving to NYC not knowing how or even if it was possible for an artist to build a profitable business to thriving at it and becoming a leader in her creative community. She shares her secret and all the ways to make it happen. Without further ado… our guest, Megan Elizabeth!
Hi there! I am Megan, the artist behind @artbymegan and I wanted to share a little bit about the secret to my success/progress in my first year of business as a full-time artist: collaboration.
‘Teal Sea’ acrylic on birch panel by Megan Elizabeth.
Megan’s studio in NYC. – photo by Amy Frances Photography
When I was still working as an artist part-time for the 3 years prior to August 2015, I often felt like I was cold calling, sending emails into the abyss, and waiting for someone to notice me. I started out doubting in myself and feeling a little alone, to be quite honest. But, I quickly learned that that was not the case if I got out of my little shell, met new people and offered to work with others as a team, without an agenda, coming from a place of sharing and being kind.
Taking the first step…
My first collaboration was with the fabulous ladies behind HERE. A Pop-up Shop in Annapolis, Maryland. The owners, Amy and El, invited me into their world, with outstretched arms and showed me that being “new” was not something to be concerned by or ashamed of. I felt more confident immediately after meeting them! What began as a simple business exchange (my art + their pop-up shops) has become a beautiful friendship. Recently, I was even able to see them speak in NYC at Girls Loft Series event in Manhattan and I got a little lump in my throat thinking of how brave, kind + wonderful they were back in 2012 to take a chance on me.
Going “all in”:
Another collaboration that has changed my career has been as a member and then eventually as leader of Tuesdays Together, a meet-up for creatives, led by the amazing Rising Tide Society.
Each month, since June of last year, our group of creatives (artists, photographers, makeup artists, wedding planners, event planners, sculptors, business coaches, weavers, florists, future entrepreneurs, dreamers and many others) meets up to chat informally about the challenges and successes involved in being a business owner. We have dug deeply in our conversations together and spoken about the really tough issues that those following a dream or pursuing a passion can face.
We have collaborated, but not in the traditional or predictable sense of the word. Collaboration to us has looked more like a community of friends: meals together, potluck dinners, Christmas gift collections for charity, laughter, friendship and so much fun. Again, I am thankful and so grateful for this fabulous group that has changed my life, and my outlook on HOW to grow my business. Having these people in my life has led to amazing business connections, but more importantly to a group that I call friends, after only living in NYC for one year.
The big investment:
Last fall, I started hearing more and more about a conference that will forever be special to me, Creative at Heart. I thought to myself, “I cannot afford that because this job is not really making me any money yet.”. And then, I bought a ticket. And a plane ticket. And a hotel room.
Do I regret it? Not one bit!
At Creative at Heart, I met leaders in the creative industry who shared ALL of their secrets: books to read, social media techniques, website tools and secrets, client interaction recommendations, philosophy behind business, financial tools….you name it. I soaked it all up like a sponge and nearly fainted after 3 days of intense creative training. I also met some of the most fabulous people in the world while there.
So, again, collaboration took the form of something different than what I had initially thought. I learned that just by listening to another person, hearing their story and sharing my ideas with them, that my business could grow slowly. I also learned that even those who are the “big wigs” in our lines of work have their own doubts, struggles and have overcome the obstacles we all face when starting businesses that we love with our whole hearts and souls. I still text a couple of the awesome people I met there at least once a week. Thank you, Creative at Heart, for my “coworkers”.
Going out on a limb:
This past year, I met with the owners of Mac + Murphy, an amazing stationery company and paper goods store in Charleston, South Carolina. I left our first meeting thinking to myself “Oh my gosh, what if we actually got to work together? This doesn’t feel real!”. Well, long story short, we ended up doing a collaboration of original prints, artwork and notecards, notepads and wrapping paper that was not only gorgeous, but made with love. HERE The team at Mac + Murphy is like a group of new friends that I didn’t know I had in Charleston and I cannot wait to work with them again soon! I felt like my crazy idea of working with a company to create paper goods was far fetched, but sometimes going out on a limb is totally worth overcoming the fear!
I thought that I had to scramble, push really hard and fight to start a business and keep it running. It turns out that I have found that by being natural, becoming confident over time, making mistakes and relying on good, kind friends in the industry, I can become my version of successful.
I am happiest when I know that I am working with people who share a vision of doing good, working with others, and enjoying the adventures of life.
I know that in time, my approach of being kind, honest, and slowly growing my business will prove to be successful in a grander scheme. But for now, I am proud that I have taken a tiny little “kitchen table” dream and turned it into something that feels right.
Photo of Megan at the Whitney Museum taken by her husband.
If you haven’t taken the time to look at Megan’s work yet, please go dive into her beautiful pieces on her website and follow her on Instagram because she is as funny as she is talented. IG: @artbymegan
REVERIE MINGLES: Do you tend to jump right in collaboration opportunities or do you tend to say ‘no’ instinctively? What have been your best collaborations and why?