I'm thrilled to announce the launch of a new blog series here on the Buck & Libby blog!
I'm in the process of collecting interview responses from tons of artists, illustrators, designers, bloggers, and entrepreneurs who are doing what they love every single day. This series will introduce you to some pretty fab people and give you a peek inside their creative process, the ups and downs of owning a creative business, how they got to where they are, and where they are headed next!
To kick off this party, I thought that I would step up to the plate and be the very first interviewee to share my Do-What-You-Love Story!
So pull up a seat, grab a cup of coffee, and let's chat!
Tell us who you are, where you are from, and what it is that you do.
My name is Megan. I am Artist, Illustrator, and Do-What-You-Love Enthusiast from Cincinnati, OH. I own Buck & Libby, an illustration company that creates adorable doodles and custom gifts. I also love to blog and to connect with other indie business owners and passionate creatives.
What made you decide to pursue this career path?
When I was little my response to the question, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" was always "an artist." I've loved drawing and painting since I was little. As a teenager, I remember telling my older sister that I just wanted a job where I could wake up whenever I wanted, wear jeans to work, paint all day, and get paid for it. We laughed and decided that job didn't exist.
I didn't study art in college because I fell into the thought-trap that it wasn't a "practical" course of study, so instead I chose Psychology ('Cause that's practical, right? Ha!) After graduating, I got a job doing Bipolar Disorder research at a local university. I found it interesting, and loved the people I worked with, but in the end, it was still an 8-to-5, boss-on-your-case, business-casual, soul-sucking kind of job.
I decided I needed to get out of that situation so I started looking into grad school (again, for Psychology---what was I thinking!?). I knew I'd have to find a way to pay for additional schooling and in one late-night moment of desperation I googled, "Unusual Ways To Make Money". Lots of crazy things popped up ("Sell your hair!" Um... no thanks) and on the list was this thing called Etsy. "What the heck is an Etsy?"
As I browsed the website, I decided that it would be a good idea to list some of the paintings I had stored in my basement collecting dust, just to see what would happen. In the meantime, I was also browsing the rest of the website and discovered this whole other world-- thousands of people just like me, selling their talents, and (GASP!) ) making money doing it. Then... something miraculous happened. I stumbled upon the "Quit Your Day Job" series on the Etsy blog...
And then my brain exploded.
Here were people, waking up whenever they wanted, wearing jeans, painting all day, and getting PAID for it! And not just, make-a-couple-of-bucks-to-squirrel-away-for-grad-school paid. Like, FULL-TIME JOB paid!
My dream job DID exist, and it was TOTALLY doable. That's where it all began.
What is the best part about running your own business? What is the most difficult part?
One of the best parts about running my own business is also, at times, one of the most difficult parts and that is having the freedom of my own time. It is absolutely freeing to have complete control over my own schedule and not have to worry about rushing to clock-in somewhere or request time off to go to a doctor's appointment. I get to schedule tasks around my own rhythm and when I'm naturally most productive and creative (aka NOT in the early morning hours... just... no).
However, having this freedom also requires some discipline and drive. Sometimes I need to finish a custom piece on a deadline but it's so beautiful outside and the last thing I want to do is sit in front of a computer all day. Or, when my husband's days off don't match my days off and I need to prepare for a craft show while he wants to go hiking. These times can be tricky but, with a little planning, the flexibility I have with my schedule makes it possible to do it all.
What is your most popular product/service? Why do you think people like it?
My most popular items are definitely the custom doodles. Customization is huge these days! I think it's because with a tough economy, and most people having a tighter budget, they want gifts that are more meaningful and one of a kind. Something created just for them. Plus, everyone looks cuter in doodle-form, right?!
What advice would you give to someone who wants to pursue their creative dreams as a career?
Yes. Yes. and YES! But not so fast.
First of all, know that it is definitely possible to pursue a creative career and be successful at it. The "starving artist" mentality is a myth and you don't have to choose between financial security and a job you love. You CAN do both.
However, also know that it takes time. Those people you see who are living the dream? The ones who look like they were an overnight success? The ones that make it look so easy? They've been working their asses off for years!
So, keep your day job to begin with but use every spare minute to find what you're passionate about, learn about the business, experiment, see what people buy, what they respond to, and what you enjoy working on. Build up your experience, your confidence, and your customer list. Then, when you feel ready, but still a little bit scared, leap.
What are you currently working on?
I'm working on building some collections: an alphabet series, some surface pattern designs, and occasion-specific greeting cards like birthdays and anniversaries, taking custom orders in advance to get a leg up on the holiday rush, and contacting retailers to start selling some Buck & Libby goods in stores.
Where would you like to see your business in 10 years?
I would like to have a wide range of product lines in stores all over the country, some licensing deals with some big names on my dream-list, maybe a cute little storefront, and a couple of rockstar employees to help me run it all. Oh, and a 7-figure income would be nice too! :)
Walk us through a typical day of running your business.
I usually wake up sometime between 7am and 8am. I let my two pups out, feed them, and if I'm feeling motivated, I will start the day off with some exercise (usually a long walk around the neighborhood or some time on our basement treadmill). Then, I'll make a little breakfast and tidy up my apartment and get some chores out of the way (do you see a theme here with the chores and working out? If I don't do it early and get it out of the way, it won't happen, let's be serious.)
Then, I start my day with a few little rituals. I make a cup of coffee, or if I'm feeling healthy, a green smoothie. I make sure my needy pup, Sadie, is snugasabug in a blanket (otherwise she'll stare at me and whine all day as I work), turn on Pandora (Coffee Shop Soundtrack, Florence and the Machine, or Zac Brown Band are some of my favorite stations), and the Coffitivity app (it provides some soothing and subconsciously motivating background noise--check it out!) and I go over the to-do list post-it I made the night before to see what needs to be done.
Then I get to work! "Work" involves everything from designing new prints and products, working on custom portraits, listing things in the Etsy shop, ordering inventory, and packaging orders to writing blog posts, responding to emails, writing newsletters, posting some updates on social media, updating my website, and keeping track of finances. I set the alarm on my phone for every two hours or so to make sure I take breaks, get up and stretch, get outside for a bit, or visit my parents who live right next door. Sometimes breaks are spent reading blogs I follow or having fun on mindless websites like Buzzfeed or YouTube, but I usually try to step away from the computer so that my eyeballs don't dry up and fall out of my head.
I stop working around 5:45pm or so and start making dinner. My husband, Kyle, gets home from work around 6:20 and we tell each other about our days while we cook. Then we eat dinner and we watch some of our favorite shows on Hulu or Netflix (Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, The New Girl, Modern Family, Mad Men, Bob's Burgers, etc.) and relax for a while.
Around 8:30 or so we start to get ready for bed. Kyle showers and packs his lunch for the next day while I finish up emails for the day, do some final facebook posting (my fans are most engaged in late evening (thank you FB insights!), and create my list of To-Do's for the following day.
Bedtime rituals are sleepytime tea, reading or doodling in bed, cuddling with the pups, and lights out around 10 or so.
If you could have one superpower what would it be?
Invisibility, definitely. It basically means you can do anything you ever wanted, anytime, for free! Sneak onto planes and into movies, be a "fly on the wall" around the people you want to learn more about, get your errands done incognito when you're having a bad hair day...the possibilities are endless!
If you could switch jobs with someone for a day, what occupation would you try?
Professional spa critic. Massages, facials, and pedis all day everyday? Yes, I think I could handle it.
I hope you enjoyed my interview and I hope you join us for many more fun interviews with creative professionals coming up in the next few weeks!
Many of the images used in this post are from my Instagram feed, which you can follow here if you'd like: @BuckAndLibby