This week’s feature + giveaway is really special. The Dreamy Giraffe is a shop that I noticed a long time ago when I first started my Etsy shop. I remember “hearting” the shop because I fell in love with the prints of sweet, big-eyed girls that were just….dreamy. Kathy, the artist behind The Dreamy Giraffe, gave an informative interview with some great advice for artists who dream of being as successful as her.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Kathy Jeffords and I go by both Kathy and KJ (a nickname from an old job that stuck). I’m 34 years old (though no one believes me when I tell them that, yay!) and have lived in South Carolina my whole life. I grew up wanting to be a writer and sort of became an artist by accident.
You have had an Etsy shop since 2006! What have you done to have continued success?
To tell you the truth…I’ve pretty much done everything wrong! Don’t misunderstand — I’m overjoyed with what I’ve been able to accomplish so far, but I’ve also been very, very fortunate that I’ve been able to make the sales I’ve made running my business the way I was.
For the longest time, my business plan was “do whatever I can do today to get a sale” — and there are lots of ways you can do that — but they’re quick fixes…and ultimately, that method will leave you constantly hustling and struggling to make that next sale. You need a business plan and it can’t be about today. You can’t be concerned with what money you’ve got coming in right now…you have to set things up so you’ll have CONTINUED and CONSISTENT sales in the future.
Many artists struggle to find a style of their own, but yours if very recognizable. How did you develop a style that worked for you?
To be honest? It just came very naturally and organically. This sounds a bit hokey, but: Just do what you love, what’s in your heart, and your style will just come. I just sat down and painted what I felt like painting (which was always big eyed people) and it just evolved over time. I’m branching out a bit now but I think as long as you’re true to yourself the “you”ness will shine through in whatever you do.
How did you make the leap from painting as a hobby to painting as a full-time-job?
I even started out backwards, actually. I had a “real job” where I was totally miserable. One day I just couldn’t take it anymore and I was chatting with my boss and he said, “Do you have anything else you’d like to add?” And I said, “I quit”. It was a bizarre move for me because I am someone who likes to think things out to the point of overthinking! I like to talk things over with my loved ones. NO ONE — not my mom, not my best friend — had any inkling that I was going to quit that day. Not even me! I just got to my breaking point.
It was a timing thing. My sister, who lived two and a half hours away, was very pregnant with my first niece. After I worked my two weeks notice, I decided that I wouldn’t start looking for another job until after the baby was born, so I could travel to be there whenever that happened. I was very blessed in that I had been saving up, squirreling away every spare penny for a down payment on a house, so I had a pretty nice nest egg saved up and had the luxury of being able to take that break. I still felt weird not having ANY money coming in (as I was single — and still am, so if you know any cute and sweet eligible dudes…hee hee) so I started putting up some original ACEOs on eBay. ACEOs were HOT back then. And to my surprise, they sold! I’d said I’d start looking for a job in a month, but I was making money, so I put it off another month, then another month and here we are in 2011, and my niece is now five and a half years old and my resume is still sitting dusty on a disk somewhere, never having been sent out.
To enter to win:
1. Leave a comment below with your e-mail address.
Extra credit: (leave an additional comment for each for a better chance to win!)
1. Follow this blog.
2. Comment with your favorite item from Kathy’s shop.
3. Share this giveaway on Twitter/Facebook using the share buttons below.
4. Follow Kathy’s blog.
5. Grab one of my buttons in the left column and share it on your blog.
I will announce the winner here on May 30th (or 31st, as I will be on a plane home from San Francisco on the 30th!). Good luck! xo, Julie