Sunday, April 13, 2014

An Opportunity for Connections

If you've been following the blog this year, you will likely remember that I won a position in Jennifer Lee's  Right Brain Business Plan eCourse hosted by Kiala Givehand. I posted my progress with that and the subsequent video challenge here on the blog.

Since launching the Living With Arachnoiditis: Art, Adaptability, and Empowerment project, I have been following the 2014 RBBP Video Summit and decided to apply for the scholarship for the mentoring and networking opportunities available with the Premium Pass. 

Application Q&A

Tell us a little bit about your business in two sentences.
I am an artist and studio owner in Upstate New York creatively striving to participate in the community of life.  With community action goals in mind, I create affordable classical and conceptual fine art for home and business use.

What is next for your business? What are you super excited about?
The main goal at my studio has always been to become a self-sustaining studio which increases my own personal independence while improving my quality of life. It is important to me to create art which has a resonant purpose for the patron.  Now that my studio is established, I am excited, and a little terrified, to be expanding my reach beyond the boundaries of my local community.

What are you currently doing to move toward that vision? (Every little step counts. Keep in mind that I'm very interested in this answer as it lets me know that you're already taking the initiative to make your big vision real.)
I completed the Entrepreneurial Assistance Program and very Left Brain business plan at my local community action agency in 2010. I then purchased my own live/work studio space to allow reasonable accommodations for a new permanent disability. Later my business plan won a small business grant from vocational rehabilitation services. With their assistance, I started my business in 2011.I began following RBBP in 2012. I have recently completed the RBBP eCourse and posted progress and reflections on my blog throughout that process. I have a small following on my studio website (2010), blog(2009), and  Facebook page.
In 2013 I became the artist for the annual Great Wellsville Balloon Rally. My conceptual drawing for the painting, Safe Landing, was selected by the committee to be the painting on all of the T-shirts and posters for that July 2013 event. I joined the Allegany Artisan Studio tours and opened my doors to the public in October 2013.
Having achieved all of my vocational rehabilitation goals, I wasn’t really sure where I wanted to go from there.
I began 2014 by doing the Root 30 Day Journal Project with Lisa Sonora Beam. This progress generated my daily blog post about portions of the process and increased my blog following. Working through this also helped me get back in touch with the things that were truly important to me about having my own studio.
This year I completed the 15 day Zero to Hero video challenge with Holly Sugrue to help me reach my “getting the word out” goals during the RBBP eCourse. This increased my following on Youtube. As the e-Course was coming to a close, I began to expand my use of Pinterest  and Google +. [I also have accounts on Manta, LinkedIn, and Tumbler but do not use them as often. Like many other businesses, I am working toward moving away from reliance on Facebook.]
With the clarity that came with working through the eCourse, I planned and decided to launch a very large project called Living With Arachnoditis: An Art, Adaptability, andEmpowerment Project to benefit fellow spinal adhesive arachnoiditis survivors and increase Awareness and Prevention efforts for this little known condition. After the initial launch of this four-component project on my website and facebook page, I also began my first crowdfunding campaign on AIM|hatchfund to raise the money needed for the travel portion of the conceptual portrait series of this project. 
My studio is an established for-profit business. Campaigning via Hatchfund gave me the option to provide donors/sponsors/benefactors with a tax deductible method to support this project.

What is stopping you?
Although money is always an obstacle that I must find a way to work around, my biggest struggle is re-developing a network. A community of support, “followers,” and patron lists will not grow at a satisfactory rate under my current isolated circumstances. Although I am working on this issue daily, there are significant limits to my own personal reach.

What have been your biggest take aways so far from the summit?
The most important take-away for me has to do with remembering self-care. Without attentiveness to self-care, any discussion about business goals becomes a moot point. My business and my life will literally fall apart if I do not pay attention to what my body tells me to do. I have always been a very driven person. It is easy, and hazardous, for me to fall back into old habits of over-doing it. I am absorbing the tips on ways to incorporate this important topic INTO the big vision.
Next in line is the message about self-image. Having the courage to put your true self out there for public consumption is a huge leap of faith. My own personal struggle to accept the “me” I have to be now, has, at times, gotten in the way of doing that. The RBBP creative cohorts are truly helping me to move beyond that frame of mind.

How do you think the premium pass will help you move forward and how do you plan to make the most of it?
In 2013 I completed my vocational rehabilitation goals. I had reached the limits of the services that they could provide. I believe the continued support of a creative network of like-minded individuals will keep the momentum going for me. The knowledge and experience available at RBBP truly has the potential to fill in the gaps that are causing my business to stagnate at this phase of development. Exchanging knowledge and ideas with a trusted group of courageous people (who really understand how easy it is to get in your own way) is a crucial resource in both the planning and implementation process. 

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