My First Business Was Not a Lemonade Stand

My first business was creating paper flowers like this one - Pyragraph

I was a bit of a loner in elementary school.

I wasn’t alone longing for something else, I just really liked playing alone. I did many things at recess, and one of them led me to entrepreneurship. Sitting alone one day under a tree I started peeling the bark off of sticks. I don’t know if you’ve ever done this, but it is amazingly satisfying. I can still remember peeling back the bark, and the feel of the bare wood. These weren’t large sticks but tiny sprigs. After a full recess of work I had a nice pile of smooth sticks that I loved to rub my fingers across.

I must have had some knowledge of supply and demand, because I didn’t want to create more flowers than people wanted.

I returned to class, and then it hit me. These weren’t just sticks, they were meant to be held. So one thing led to another and I made a crepe paper flower. Soon I had the sweetest little bouquet. I gave a few away to friends but mainly I just made them. This was the first time I can remember feeling so much joy creating, without attachment to the finished product. But soon that attachment grew.

Everything shifted when a girl from a different class asked if she could have one.

She was not one of my closest friends, and so I hesitated—suddenly I was very attached to my creation. So I told her she couldn’t have one…but she could buy one.

I can’t remember what I sold it for but I definitely did not use the art pricing formula. I just chose a price that felt good to me. She agreed, and I made my first sale. Once word got out I started selling more and more flowers. One of my friends started working with me because she wanted to be part of this business, but really I think she realized how satisfying it was to peel sticks. I guess I had my first employee, although I don’t remember paying her, except in gold bars.

Others wanted to join in but I must have had some knowledge of supply and demand, because I didn’t want to create more flowers than people wanted. Here are some more lessons I learned from my first business:

  • Be selective of whom you hire. Make sure they are intrinsically motivated.
  • It’s good to give a few products set aside for marketing purposes.
  • Set a price that you feel good about. (Although now I would use the as a starting point.)
  • Keep some stock on hand, but not more than your intended market will buy. I wish I had learned this lesson then. I didn’t really learn until my next endeavor— when I was left with a surplus of friendship bracelets.

When did you first sell your art?

Photo by Lydia Lark.

Materials + Labor + Expenses + Profit = Wholesale x 2 = Retail

About Antonia Montoya

Antonia spends most of her time helping her clients make the positive changes they want in their lives as a health coach. She is most proud of her dedication to a well-rounded life outside of work: rocking out on upright bass, family, knitting, love, friends, painting, photography, seeing live bands, dancing, playing with her dogs, and practicing daily gratitude. She is most alive when she is performing with her band, Sin Serenade, and her solo project, Alonerly.

13 Comments

  1. Antonia Montoya on March 11, 2014 at 10:26 am

    This was a fun article to write and to realize that I did learn business lessons back then that still stick with me.
    My latest creative endeavor is a workshop that I will be facilitating as part of Women in Creativity: Exploring Gratitude Through your Five Senses. Come experience it with us … Saturday, March 22 12-2. Sign up at http://changeisyours.com.

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