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.