Happy Friday! As a part of the count down to Building a Creatively Made Business 2.0, I have another awesome interview with Jenny Heid from Everyday is a Holiday.
This shop owner,talented artist, instructor and author has grown a creative business with her partner Aaron, and has been featured in numerous major publications, has licensed their artwork and rocks some pretty awesome pink hair.
Thank you so much for being here today! Tell us a little bit about your business and how you got started.
How we got started is definitely a looooong story. But I’ll do my best to make it brief. First off, I’ll define the current incarnation of our business. It’s me and Aaron, the two of us, together making art, teaching art, and designing. A big percentage of the business we do is on the internet. We have our online shop with our artwork, and on a daily basis we are receiving orders which we then hand make and ship out. Rounding out our schedule are trips to teach at art events around the country, and our design work for companies that license our artwork, for example, our Keep Calm and Have a Cupcake collection for Peter Pauper Press, and our scrapbooking collection for Melissa Frances, which is called “The Sweet Life.”
The two of us got together as teenagers and within a couple months of graduating high school we were working together on hand painted antique furniture, which we kinda stumbled into. My dad was a cabinet maker and was working for an antique dealer, doing some structural repair to a dresser. The dresser had great bones but it was painted a hideous shade of salmon. Upon my dad fixing it, the antique dealer said “well now I have to get it painted.” to which my dad offered “my daughter and her boyfriend can paint.” Granted, we could paint…but we’d never painted professionally. Just school projects, random canvases at home, that sort of thing. Anyway, long story short, the antique dealer showed us a picture of an elaborately painted antique piece that he’d like this salmon dresser to look like. A few days later the two of had reproduced it perfectly. For the next couple of years we worked for that dealer…we didn’t even drive at that point, (I still don’t drive…and Aaron got his license late…we’re weirdos) we were being driven by our parents to job estimates. We then got business cards, started doing murals and wall finishes. We hand painted things for craft shows, sold our wares wholesale to local shops, and then created our own line of hand painted furniture which we sold to some of the best shops in NYC and all over. That then led to us opening our own brick and mortar shop in our hometown, and also creating a line of home decor items that we sold to shops worldwide, getting our first big exposure at the huge NYC Gift Show at the Javits center. By 21 years old our work was already being featured in magazines such as Country Living, Country Home, etc…
Ok, then in the midst of all that hard work Aaron got in a near fatal car crash and everything stopped. He had a half dozen surgeries over the next few years to rebuild his leg and with all of the recovery time peppered into those years our fast life became much slower. At home we discovered a new outlet for our artwork…the internet. And we decided on a new mission statement and a new name…Everyday is a Holiday. Because we faced something that showed us how fragile life can be, and how much importance you should put on the day at hand. Celebrate Every Day. In the early days we sold our artwork on ebay, and we found a great audience right away. Since then we started a blog, found our niche, and have kept creating more and more each day.
Where does your true creative passion come from?
Like most artists there is definitely the pain angle. But not in some negative gothic way. It’s just a fact that there are times in your life that aren’t the best. And as artists we both cope with these times by making art. But we don’t ever create things that reflect those less than ideal times. The art we make is the antidote…the cure. In painting, it’s sorta like we visualize things that we’d like to see and then make them appear. From the subject matter to the colors that we use. It’s a celebration of the things that make us happy. I’m a big collector and I like to paint things that are evocative of my favorite vintage collectibles. These are the things that make me feel happy, safe, light hearted…all those good things. But I’m not saying that all of our work is total catharsis. We’re also very much into making art that is pleasing to others…artwork that people will respond to very easily…artwork that can inhabit their everyday lives and bring some happiness and light.
You have made handmade goods for years, but took a leap into
licensing. How was that change for you and how did you feel about it.
We are lucky in the licensing department. So far, there have been none of those nightmare stories that you hear about. Everyone we have dealt with has given us full creative control and very fair deals. We have liked every item that has been produced by the companies that we have worked with. And it wasn’t scary for us at all. We are very confident in our artistic identities and never had the notion that our integrity might get compromised, or that our style would get watered down. As an artist you have to know that your best work is ahead of you…so whatever you do now can only be improved upon tomorrow. We’re always looking forward to the next creative endeavor. Licensing was such a natural step for us, but we continue to make things by hand for our collectors and it is extremely satisfying.
How do you balance art life and real life?
I don’t know…how do you? ha!
It’s a challenge at times. One simple thing that helps us in our workday is cooking. We love to cook together. We stop our day, get out the ingredients, Aaron mans the cutting board, I conjure the spices and create the mise en place. We only eat good whole foods that are delicious and that we know will benefit our bodies and minds.
We also make actual plans for leaving the house. When you work from home you might forget that there is a world out there. Even if it’s a walk up to the beach, which is three blocks from our house, or trip to Target or the Movies, it is so very vital to get out there and socialize.
What advice do you have for someone just starting out.
A few things… Start small before you go big. You don’t just sit down this week, start painting, and then go out looking for a licensing deal. You need to first develop a true style and hopefully find your own specific audience.
The internet is there for you but you should also think local. Try to get in a small group art show, do a craft show, a flea market even. Connect with your audience. And never ever model your work after something that is already out there in the marketplace. You’ll never be satisfied with yourself and it can be detrimental to your creative energy. If your first forays into the creative process are mimicking another artist that’s fine…but just keep that work for yourself. It doesn’t belong in the marketplace if it’s derivative. But once you are confident enough in your very own unique style then get it out there…show it off to whoever will look. If you think it’s genuinely good then someone else is bound to as well.
Looking back, how are your dreams for your business different now then they
Well, it’s amazing when some of your dreams come true. For instance, our book! “Mixed Media Masterpieces with Jenny & Aaron” We always wanted to write a book…and this is exactly the type of book that we wanted to write. It’s instructional and the reader can follow along with each project step-by-step. And there is a lot of variety in the book. Lots of Art Journaling, but also there are many three dimensional projects…faux doughnuts, a life size faux cake, jewelry, assemblage. We touch on many of the mediums that we like to play with and at the same time we keep the projects very do-able for the lay person.
So, about dreams…they’re different because some of them are now realized…which is amazing. But it doesn’t slow you down. It just sets you up for more dreams…such as a second book, or an even greater licensing deal.
What are your big dreams for your creative business now for the future?
There’s the one dream that every artist should strive for. And that is: less work, more art. And that just means that you hope to make more art that takes you further. It’s about making the right choices in what you create…having much less of those back to the drawing board moments. Less mistakes, less hiccups, less learning experiences. You reach a point where you want to say…”I’m through with the learning experiences, I should be a genius by now with all that I’ve learned!” ha! but seriously, my dreams are pretty simple. I want to make art that I can look at and say instantly and unequivocally “that is EXACTLY what I was going for.” It’s probably an impossible dream…but that is also why we call it a dream. But to be more specific, I’d love to design a line of fabric and also wallpaper.