Are you confused about if there is a difference in Self Care (a word everyone is throwing around) and Self Love? Self Love is our theme for February.
Above is a clip from my IGTV, where I talk with Lori Gaylor, MS LPC about this and more.
I have strong feelings that they are very different. Self Care to me is getting your hair done, getting a facial, going for a massage, making that doctor appointment you have been putting off.
Self Love is what comes from within and is what encourages you that you are worth doing the above things for yourself without guilt, or at least with less guilt.
I also feel like there is a difference in Self Respect and Self Love. For example, I think someone like Kim Kardashian for sure has self love, does plenty of self care, but I'd question if she has self respect. I think anyone can have self love, it doesn't require being a good person. Self respect requires character, which requires awareness and some people either choose to not be aware of their actions or they just don't care. It is also hard to have self respect if you don't respect others, laws, etc.
It would be hard for a criminal to possess self respect when they don't respect laws, the people their actions affect, but it is certainly possible for them to love themselves in their unawareness.
Join me on Thursday, January 11 at 2pm Eastern (or anytime after for the replay) as we continue our discussions on Self Love and this week our topic is Friendships. I will be talking with my BFF for over 25 years.
Do you need more self love, self care, or self respect in your life? You may even need more of all three. Leave any questions below.
Why is a paint place showing me mascara?
This month is about Loving Yourself and I love a good mascara. I’m almost 42 and have probably been wearing mascara for almost 30 years.
It’s taken me this long to accept the fact that I LOVE travel sized mascaras more than full size. And I always feel guilty because by weight, they’re more expensive. I went to Ulta a couple weeks ago and told the girl helping me that I like them better and she said “Me Too!”. I’m not alone!
Then I saw an article, or post, or something in the last week that said it’s much better to buy the travel size because they last about as long as you’re suppose to use a tube of mascara. So they’re cheaper and healthier and I know people think it’s crazy but they work BETTER!
Why am I sharing this? What do you feel guilty of doing? Maybe it’s time to let that shit go. It may be as simple as a travel mascara or as heavy as major trauma. But it may be time to ease up on yourself a little bit.
I often hear people want to come to Lush Art but they don’t because they “don’t know how”, “would suck at it”, or they “haven’t painted since they were kids”. While all are legitimate excuses, they are all excuses based on fear of trying something new.
Allow yourself to be a beginner is such a powerful and true quote.
Trying new things can lead to some amazing discoveries about yourself and the world around you. Think about those little quizzes that go around and it asks out of these 50 foods how many have you tried. I am always amazed that some people have tried only a handful of things. Usually I have tried all but a few of the items. And my life is fuller because of it. Do I always like everything? No, but am I glad I tried it? Sure.
I am trying to spend this March trying new things. I have never tried a raw oyster, so that is on my list. So the nest time I am with friends who are eating them, I will give it a try. I like them baked, they are ok fried, but to just eat that slimy giant booger? No.
I asked the girls at work for book suggestions since they all read books outside my normal genre which is romance with a tidy happy ending. I like historical and contemporary romance novels and since I started reading them about 10 years ago, I can’t seem to put them down. I enjoy a quirky, smart, sarcastic female lead and a strong, interesting male lead. But I started The Awakening by Kate Chopin. I tried getting into it, I just couldn’t. The story just couldn’t
Keep my attention. So on to something else. While I am trying new things, I also have very limited free time and I don’t plan to push myself to read an entire book I don’t enjoy. Life is too short.
Now this doesn’t mean I am going to be jumping out of planes or bungee jumping, but I do want to think of things that are outside of my comfort zone and try them. Say yes to things I might normally say no to.
I joined 2 groups this month. The Society of Creative Founders and The Web, a coworking space in Macon. If you know me, I am very outgoing in my space at Lush Art but I am quite introverted in my business and personal life. I wanted to change that. I also am in a business coaching program. I want to grow my connections and feel less alone in this entrepreneur journey and there is only one way of doing that and is by getting out there.
I have been thinking on the idea of adding a Paint Splatter room for 2 years. And finally just pulled the trigger on it this month. So coming soon you can come in and get your Jackson Pollock on. It is a great way of loosening up because you have no control over the splatter. We have the room we are turning into the room cleaned out (whoa that was a task) and we will be installing it soon. I plan to have date night options, parent child options, and hopefully black light glow options once I talk with an electrician.
What else should I try? What do you want to try? Is it painting? If you are worried about coming in, please contact me personally and I will either come and paint with you or find someone to introduce you that I know will be welcoming to help you get over your fear of trying something new.
Does reading that word make you not want to even read this post?
I am not talking about BOO horror movie fear, but the kind of fear that holds you back from doing what your heart wants.
Something we hear all the time is “I would love to come paint but… (insert excuse here). Now, sometimes that excuse is money and I totally get that and it is a legitimate problem. But most often the excuse is fear. Fear of coming alone, fear of being bad at painting, fear of judgement, fear that no one will want to come with them, fear of leaving their families at home and doing something for themselves, fear of making a commitment to an event and actually having the gumption to follow through and show up.
Let me break it down.
“I would love to come paint but I don’t have the money.” I get it, I really do. But are you buying material things you don’t need as a way to cope with other things in your life? Are you going out to eat a bunch? Are you paying for subscriptions you don’t use? Are you mindlessly ordering shit on Amazon? (Yeah, I do that.) Think of what would make you happier this next month. Ordering a pair of yoga pants you will put in your drawer or taking an entire evening to do something you want to do. Experiences are wonderful because even after they are over, you have the memory of the time spent doing something worthwhile.
“I would love to come paint but I am afraid to come alone.” PLEASE don’t let this stop you. Our regulars all come alone, sure they now have met friends they know and recognize but they still come alone and don’t worry about trying to coordinate with others to do something they love. For the longest time I was the person who had never eaten alone, never went places alone, then I got over it. Why and how? Because I realized it was holding me back. I had a dream for YEARS to go to Italy. At one point I thought my best friend and I would go together. Then she kept having babies and got insanely busy. I thought maybe my husband and I might eventually go. Nah, man. I finally realized he was NEVER going to go, and even if he went we have such different interests I wouldn’t get to see and do the Italy I wanted. So what did I do? I saved and I went. Alone. I found a group that would be painting and traveled by myself. Scared shitless. But I went. And I LOVED IT. That was a few years ago. And I had a hankering to go again. SO I went AGAIN. ALONE. Found a different group, went to a different area of Italy, used credit card points to go and went and lived my best life. Now I have these memories that will last forever or until the dementia sets in and I am so damn happy I went and can’t wait to go again. I am thinking France next. Would l love for someone to go with me? Sure. But will I wait around until I am old(er) and gray(er)? NO. Stop waiting. Please go read my earlier blog post: the-importance-of-being-solo.html
“I would love to come paint but I will be bad it. I can’t even draw a stick figure.” This is the one I hear the most. As humans and in the society we live in, we expect to be experts at everything. The media shows perfection, shows people doing it all and doing it well, they ridicule failure. But what do all people who are good at something have in common? A beginning. A beginning where no one knew who they were and they didn’t know what they were doing. Allow yourself to be a beginner. Allow yourself to be bad at something so you can improve at it and enjoy the process along the way. Will you be amazing your first class? Probably not. It is like any skill, it takes practice and persistence to improve. But will you have fun? YES!
“I would love to come paint but someone will judge me.” Nope. We are a very supportive group. We are mostly all self taught artists, who still struggle getting an idea from thought to creation. You will be surrounded by other people in your same boat. Everyone is much kinder to those around them, than they are to themselves. We talk in class about letting go of comparison and perfection. It is a constant theme. Don’t let that stop you. And remember to be kind to yourself.
“I would love to come paint but I am so busy at night and need to do x,y,and z for my family unit to run properly.” Bullshit. Let them miss you for a night. ALL PEOPLE deserve some time to themselves. Sometimes that means having the husband do bath and bedtime. Sometimes that means hiring a sitter if you are a single parent. But you deserve a night off (or come during our daytime Open Studio hours or our Saturday classes), and they deserve to see you take time for yourself. And if you are married, many a husband has come up to me and thanked me. WHY? Because they know after a night off their wife comes home happier, more fulfilled, and often a little friendly because they are relaxed and recharged. Children need to see their parents have a life outside of them so they will be healthy and well rounded as they become adults. Spouses need to see what a night is like without their partner so they are more appreciative of all the things you do. YOU need to see what a night out is like to remember who YOU are.
“I would love to come paint but I will get scared and nervous in my car and can’t come in. I won’t know anyone.” Come in anyway, make a plan anyway, we are a fun and welcoming group. And often the best thing about not knowing anyone is you don’t have to then spend your night out listening to someone’s problems for the 105th time. You can just paint and sip and wine the night away all by yourself (surrounded by other people doing the exact same thing). And if you are truly worried, let us know in the notes section at checkout and we will put you with one of our fabulous Lush Club members who are regulars and know the place almost as well as the staff. No questions are stupid questions. No one is made to feel like we don’t want you there. We are always so happy to see you out there in our seats. We are a group of awkward and anxious introverts who manage to extrovert on stage a few times a month. We see you, we get you.
Lush Art’s goal is to provide a safe space to share our love of creating using step by step instruction, encouragement, passion, and humor in an authentic, nonjudgmental and fun way by creating a community of diverse and curious people. I recently needed to write an updated mission statement for a marketing workshop and that was what I came up with and I feel it truly represents our WHY.
What is your fear? What can we do to help you overcome it? Occasionally Lush Art isn’t the answer for someone but often times it is. I have seen it help people through crisis by diverting their attention for a couple of hours. It has helped people through divorce, loss of a parent, loss of a child, loss of a job, moving to a new town, health issues, self esteem issues. What can it do for you? Let’s find out!
As we wrap up 2019 I wanted to share each of the instructors favorite classes of 2019.
Were you in one of these? Comment below.
Was a different class you took your favorite? Comment below! We’d love to hear.
💗Cara: the Pine Tree in January. It was a small class. I loved that half the class were men. Why does that matter?!? Our mainstay will always be providing a safe space for women but I love when men paint. They create stories, they have less hang ups about perfection and just have a great time and enjoy a couple of beers. In this class I had a funny guy cracking jokes who had a great accent, a guy who painted a pond and fisherman in the background, a guy who added Spanish Moss and his tree was in Savannah. It was a lot of fun. I also have that painting in my dining room framed because it’s truly “my style”. (Pic in stories.)
💗Nancy: “My sweet Sloth was my favorite! It is just so dang cute and I love painting animals! It is a HaPpY whimsical painting. Every one of them were amazing and full of personality!”
💗Rhonda: “The wave. It used the spoon for the first time. Love love love trying new techniques.”
💗Heather: “The giraffe. Loved only working with black and white.”
💗Blair: “ Pennywise Oct 15. The little extras we did were great. Red balloons. IT showing up. Everyone was in such a fun mood. I love horror and getting to show that it does mix with paint classes was really fun for me. It’s also just a really fun painting to paint. It has loose parts, lining, shading, all the works. Plus so many people were excited to either take it home or give it to friends and family. Not to mention some folks got creative and inverted one so it made an entire IT face. All around just a good spooky time.”
💗Dawn: “Hands down, the Bull. It was different from what we usually offer, there was immediate excitement about the class, it wound up being just my second class to teach and an abstract, to boot! Everyone's turned out so differently, but very cool! The support I felt from the Lush Club members at this members' only event was incredible!”
💗Mena: “The Santa silhouette taught in December. Because it’s a fun class for all ages and well it’s Christmas related.”
💗Catelyn: “My favorite class to teach was definitely my tree class (lol)! It was so much fun and a perfect “first-time” class.” (She just taught for the first time yesterday!)
💗Sarah: “The Tulips in April. It was my favorite because of the texture technique we used in the tulips and the overall color pallette.” Yes, she’s coming back in January!
But now we look forward to 2020 and all that the future holds for us. We already have our assignments for the first few months. Here are the paintings we are most excited for between now and July.
💗Cara: I love my carnations scheduled for January for the Birth Flower series. They are totally my style. I am most excited to paint a manatee in March because I haven’t painted that subject before. (JAN AND MAR)
💗Nancy: “Pupcasso! He was fun to paint! Love using random colors and just getting kinda messy with him. He reminds me of my artist friends age 5 to ?? When we let ourselves let go and not think too much, our paintings turn out the best!” (JAN)
💗Rhonda: “Probably the Geisha. I’m hoping it won’t scare people off just because it’s a face. Faces aren’t hard when you aren’t trying to capture the essence of someone you know. It’s freeing painting nondescript faces.” (FEB)
💗Heather: “Lettering. It's fun to show people all the different styles and help them find their own.” (JAN)
💗Blair: “I’m excited for my camera. It’s something that isn’t very “me”. But I think it will do well and people will like it!” (FEB)
💗Dawn: “I’d say the irises, which surprises me, because I wasn't looking forward to it, honestly. I was afraid of the assignment. However, once I decided on painting an abstract piece I was at home with it. I'm excited to bring abstract irises to Lush in March! I love doing abstracts and this one will be fun and individualistic like all abstracts!!” (MAR)
💗Mena: “I am most excited to create the masque for Mardi Gras’s. When I was little I used to play pretend that I would attend Masquerades. This painting for me is like walking down memory lane.” (FEB)
💗Catelyn: “I’m working on a genie lamp for February and a mulan inspired fan art piece for March. The genie lamp is awesome because it uses the paper towel technique for the night sky and splatter for the stars and the lamp is shiny so it’s got a lot of the things I have grown to love.” (FEB AND MAR)
💗Sarah: “I am most excited about the feather because it will be in colors that make me feel calm and relaxed and it will be mostly in my comfort zone/style.” (FEB)
We hope you can join us for one of these fun upcoming classes and you will be as excited about them as we are. Happy New Years and Cheers to a FABULOUSLY creative 2020.
Remember you are supporting a small, locally owned independent business and each of these local artists each time you come to Lush Art. We aren't a franchise, we are us! All of our art is created in house by our instructors, we aren't getting them from a headquarters. We are the headquarters. We make art specifically with our customers in mind, taking suggestions and turning them into reality.
Cheers, The Lush Art Team
YOU are the reason we do what we do!
This week is a time of thanks. I think if most of us came to each week with a heart of thanks, the world would be a better place. I want each of you to know that I am thankful for each of you. I am thankful to those of you that attend and tag us each time. I am thankful for those of you who started off as customers and have become friends, sounding boards, advice givers, and soul encouragers. You will never know how much it means when you can tell I am having a rough day to see a positive message in my inbox, to get the email that says you appreciate what we do and have brought to your life, to get a good review, to be tagged in funny memes.
I am thankful for each of the people who have worked for me over the years, the ones that have left, and obviously the ones who have stayed. We have a good thing going, we love our painters, and we try to think of ways to make even our critics happy.
I never imagined I would be doing this in the way it has developed. I had a business plan, I dream a lot, I imagine the future but if when I opened you would have told me we are where we are now I would have laughed. I remember looking at the little space I found and thinking if I can just get x amount of people here a month I can pay my bills. And some months that didn’t happen. I had made a commitment though and I kept going, sinking more money in. And it is worth it and I am grateful for all that it has been and all that it is, and for whatever it becomes.
I am thankful for my husband who believed in me or at least pretended to when he didn’t. He was the only person that never looked at me like I was crazy when I first started out. He is the one who encouraged me to go to the bank and get a loan, who didn’t expect me to make money at first, who let me cry when the days were hard, who encouraged me to get out of bed when I went there to hide and wallow. Lots of people have been there for the celebrations, not as many for the disappointments.
I am thankful for my son, because it isn’t easy being the kid of a business owner. He gets told no a lot. He has to be pro-active and self sufficient a lot. But I know ultimately that will serve him well. He will have seen both sides. The ups and downs of working in corporate America through his dad’s journey and the ups and downs of working for yourself through my journey. I hope whatever he chooses he knows we worked hard, we played hard, and we loved hard.
Photo credit Mary Beth Wood Photography
I haven’t always made the best decisions (I had never managed anyone or owned anything like this before opening), but I have also made some really great decisions. We have a team I am proud of, who continue to improve, who love what they do. That made all the difference! Knowing to hire people that aren’t like me, aren’t always the obvious choice has been amazing. I know I am not for everyone, but I know amongst the staff there is someone you (yes YOU, whoever you are) will connect with and be able to learn from and enjoy.
So thank you! We have grown from a one woman show to a multi-woman show with a delightful and silly and creative cast of characters. We would love to paint with you, inspire you, build you up, make you laugh, teach you. Thank YOU!
If you ever feel like you don’t belong, that you are missing something, that you just need to add a little fun in your life, that you are struggling with life… I hope you will come visit us and see my many reasons to be grateful.
Six Years. A lot has happened in 6 years. I have seen customers come, go, come back again, disappear after being regular fixtures to the studio, move away, get pissed at the experience or at me, been yelled at, been treated like trash, been looked down upon by artists, been hugged, been thanked, helped people celebrate, grieve, get through hurts and illnesses, painted so many things, cancelled classes we loved, taught classes we didn’t love, shampoo, rinse, repeat. One thing that doesn’t change is my why. Why did I open Lush Art? It certainly wasn’t for a get rich (fast or slow) scheme. It wasn’t because I just wanted something fun to do, didn’t want to work my tail off, wanted a little side job.
Lush Art has been a labor of love since before we opened our doors. I worked 80 hours a week at the beginning, for no pay. I didn’t pay myself for two years. TWO YEARS. That first year I lost SO MUCH MONEY and it took another year to recoup those losses. I kept going. Even when it was hard, even when it wasn’t what I expected it to be, even when people didn’t believe in my mission. Why? Because I believed in this idea. I knew what painting had become to me as a person, a woman, a wife, a mother. I had never painted really. Then I moved across the country from Arkansas to North Carolina with a baby and didn’t go back to work as a hair stylist. I was slowly losing myself day by day. Missing a creative outlet, missing adult conversations, missing my independence, missing me. I started painting because it was an affordable outlet. I taught myself. Looking back my artwork was mostly horrible. But it wasn’t about the art. It was about me, about who it was making me, little by little I came back to me. I even became more than who I had been. Painting was something that had nothing to do with being a mom, a wife. It was just for me.
Then my friend Jodie and I cooked up (well more likely we drank up) this idea of painting things we liked for our friends. It was working, slowly. And then my husband lost his job. And we ended up moving to Georgia. I DID NOT WANT TO MOVE HERE. DID NOT, AT ALL. I was angry, and sad, and disappointed. Jon saw how unhappy I was and suggested going to the bank and getting a loan and starting a Lush Art here. So we did. On a hope and a prayer and a small line of credit. I made a list of what I wanted, I found the space, and I fought tooth and nail to make it happen. I cried. I yelled. I cussed. I remember signing a three year lease and couldn’t imagine living here for 3 years. I even had a clause put in the lease if we had to move before the time was up.
I happy danced when I sold those tickets.
My first class has two whole people in it. Every month we barely squeaked by. I saw other businesses come and go. I realized the power in hiring help, and made the sacrifice to pay others before paying myself. Even though I had never owned a business before, I knew the importance in building it strong before paying my pocket. I hired Nancy, so I wasn’t teaching every single class, which would strengthen our offerings. I slowly added more staff.
I also made the decision at that point to think completely outside of the box. I pay my instructors in a way no other studio pays. I pay them a commission of their class sales. This makes my payroll so much higher than the standard but it also helps them to feel invested. They want to promote their own classes and the others at the studio. It has created an amazing loyalty that goes both ways. We have very little instructor turnover. It allows me the freedom to not live at the studio, I trust them all to get the job done, and done well each and every time.
And now I feel at home in Warner Robins, in my studio, in my life, in my roles of wife, mother, boss, artist, owner. Are there still bad days, God yes. Is it rainbow and unicorns? God no. Is it just all about painting and drinking? No. There’s constant things to do that have nothing to do with painting, paperwork for days, never-ending bills, inventory, responsibilities, compromises. Is it everything I thought it would be? No, I never could have imagined all the lives we have touched. There are still tears and frustrations and worry and being scared. But the laughs, the friendships, the pride in building something so amazing make continuing worth it.
What will happen in the next 6 years? I have no idea. I am sure it will be full of 14 hour days, frustrations, and quite a bit of fun. I am sure it will be full of our crazy band of employees who are more like characters from The Breakfast Club who are all so different and full of anxiety, unlimited creativity, an unhealthy dose of self doubt which leads to very relatable and understanding teachers. I am determined to enjoy the ride. I am lucky to have a Heather who dials down my big dreams with her dose of reality and I hope I have helped her dream and create more than she did without me. I will keep throwing the big ideas to her so she can find tune them and make it all happen.
Has my business been affected by the new DIY craze in town? OH yes. Drastically. Will this new franchise moving to town kill my business like chain/franchises have done all over the country? I don’t know. If you ask me most days if you should start a business I would tell you no. What I really mean is not unless you are ready to devote your life to something that may fail, to work your ass off, to put your all into it, commit to all the work and no pay so you can reinvest in your idea, if you don’t want to hire people who are invested in what your vision is. We have had some hiccups. Like the employee who left on bad terms, the few mean customers, when I have been treated poorly. I have had to learn as I went with a lot of trials and a lot of errors. I have made mistakes, had so much stress over the years, gained 20 pounds because I don’t take care of myself so I can get all the things done.
But I do know Lush Art has something those other places or any places that may come will never have and that is something I will continue to be proud of. So I plan to continue to kick ass every single month to create the best creative painting options for Middle Georgia. I plan to continue to provide a home for those who need a fun place to escape from their reality. A place for people to improve and grow. I will be over here with my own brand of sarcasm and snark cheering on my tribe of employees and customers. I will continue to do it so that other wives, moms, empty nesters, singles, men, women, children can find themselves one paint class at a time.
So join me and raise a glass to cheers to making it against all the odds. Cheers to yourself. Cheers to dreaming. Come see us and be a part of our tribe of weirdos.
Let me say it again for those in the back. Life is like a painting.
We all start with a blank canvas and little by little we add to our canvas.
Are you choosing to add all one color? Are you staying just in one area of your canvas? Are you playing it safe? Think of the relationships in your life... Is everyone around you the same? Does everyone in your tribe think, act, dress, and look alike?
Are you ever reaching outside of your comfort zone and choosing a paint tone that may shake things up a little?
This can also work the other way. Did you know if you mix too many colors at once, you will get muddy tones? Are you adding so much to your canvas of life that you aren't able to enjoy anything. Are you doing too much? Have you left any white space to make the other aspects of your life pop? Think of the relationships in your life... Do you have people in your life that are so dark and life sucking that they are dulling your colors?
My friends also tease me because I don't play. Some people I find so life sucking I just don't interact with them. It isn't that I want to be mean. It is just they aren't for me and I have enough self respect for myself and my happiness that I won't put up with it. (Also I don't have a poker face and can't train my WTF face.) I also don't like uncomfortable clothes, shoes, situations. Life is short, friends. And I want to be as happy as I can when I am here.
Or are you choosing a chaos of different tones? Is your canvas vibrant, full, with some white space balanced to allow room for your eye to enjoy it all? Is your painting subject all on the canvas or does it move off canvas to allow breathing room and room for imagination?
Some things I have noticed in my travels and people watching, in my businesses and interacting with so many different types of people over the years, and also learned about myself in therapy. We often add so much to our lives we are miserable instead of living this one life we have to live as we are, who we are, why we are.
So the next time you are unhappy, overwhelmed, miserable think about the root cause. Is it something you can change, is it someone you can edge out of your life, is there a way to approach the situation with a better attitude? Do you need to gesso over a section and start over?
I learned in therapy most of my unhappiness stems from my high expectations. The ones I put on myself and on those around me, so whenever something or someone didn't live up to what I had dreamed, expected, wanted I become sad, depressed, disappointed. I battle with this everyday. I can tell you that once I learned that about myself it was the biggest ah ha moment in my life. Am I still hard on myself? Yep. Do I still get disappointed by those around me when I don't feel like they are giving all of themselves? Yep. But knowing this about myself has helped me with resetting my expectations, live a bit more in the "it is what it is" mindset. And also move on when when something truly makes me unhappy.
What it also makes me aware of is the energy I see sucked out of people who are so busy doing all the things, they aren't enjoying any of the things. Take some time each day to turn off the noise. That may mean waking up earlier (ew) or staying up later (this is me). I read at night when everyone else is in bed to quiet it all out. I paint to quiet it all out.
Are you involved in too many activities? Are your kids? Are you allowing time to be or are you afraid of what you might find out about yourself if you quiet down? Are the things you are involved in filling your cup or are they draining you down.
Do I have it figured all out? Nope. I keep wanting to add businesses, or move to a new town, or change my hair to deal with things when they get stagnant. I recognize it. I am a ennegram seven. I like new shiny things, I like the process of thinking of new things and having new experiences. I have learned I physically need to travel to keep that fresh and new aspect in my life because exploring new things is what lights me up and fills my cup. I also have learned it often a healthier coping mechanism when I get bored.
So take stock of your life canvas. What do you need to add? What do you need to take away? Are the people you are surrounding yourself with helping or hindering your progress? Get in there, get messy, and live life to the fullest on your terms.
Why LOCAL LOVE is important!
I talk often about supporting local business and try to post about it often, calling out my favorites on social media both professionally and personally. I know some people who follow may wonder why I do that since “it has nothing to do with my businesses”. I do it because I know how important it is.
Do you know the difference in locally owned independent business, franchise businesses, and big box corporations?
A brick-and-mortar is a traditional business model where the retailers, wholesalers, and manufacturers deal with the customers face-to-face in an office, a shop, or a store that the business owns or rents. My business Escape Artists War Town fits under this model. We have some one on one time with the customers but the experience is booked online and then the room is completed without someone physically in the room with you.
A High Touch locally owned independent business, such as my business Lush Art, is a model which requires lots of human interaction. The relationship between the brand and the customer has a huge impact on the overall revenues of the company. The companies with this business model operate on trust and credibility. While the initial booking is done online, we are there very hands on during the event and a lot goes in to prepping the event before you arrive.
For both businesses I create my own marketing materials, ads, posts, rooms, paintings with help of my staff.
A franchise can be a manufacturer, distributor or retailer. Instead of creating a new product, the franchisee uses the parent business’s model and brand while paying royalties to it. They are spoon fed what to do for marketing and have less say over creation of the product or service.
A retailer sells directly to the public after purchasing the products from a distributor or wholesaler. This could be locally owned (such as Abreanne’s or Southern Crush boutique) or franchise (such as Dress Barn).
A big box retailer is a retail store that occupies an enormous amount of physical space and offers a variety of products to its customers. These stores achieve economies of scale by focusing on large sales volumes. I think we all know who they are.
I recently talked at a local middle school for Career Day. Since my businesses are so niche I focused mainly on telling the classes about the importance of shopping and supporting locally owned businesses whenever possible. One of my examples is if it is Taco Tuesday and you want tacos instead of rolling through Taco Bell, go to Tacos and More or Taco Shed. Both of those are local, independent businesses. They have created their own menus, marketing, branding.
After one of the classes a sweet boy came up to me and thanked me for what I was teaching. “My parents own Tacos and More and it does make such a difference to our family when people choose us over fast food tacos.” I got chills. It is so true. Does the owner of Taco Bell know you when you come in? Does the owner of Taco Bell know your order, ask about your kids, wonder how your mom is doing? NOPE.
In the same vein, at Lush Art we create a new and exciting calendar each and every month for our customers. Each of those paintings we have painted with our own hands. We curate the designs in such a way each month to provide a variance of options created directly for our audience based on their preferences. We put literal blood, sweat, and tears into building the businesses from the ground up. We created our ideas and through A LOT of trial and error are finally to a point we feel pretty comfortable with what we are providing and doing. Do we still make mistakes? Sure. Do we still create ideas that fail and bomb? Yep.
I still happy dance for every order. I still celebrate every good review. I still despair and get upset over every failure and every bad review. I take things personally when I shouldn’t but it is because I have put SO much of myself into this entrepreneur lifestyle.
Independent, locally-owned businesses recirculate a far greater percentage of revenue locally compared to absentee-owned businesses or locally-owned franchises. In other words, going local creates more local wealth and jobs.
I hire local artists to create paintings. I pay them better than any other studio that I have come across, in the entire world. I am on multiple groups and each time pay comes up I am giving back more to my employees than anyone else. It creates a longer lasting relationship between my staff and how they take care of our customers. We have lower turn over and can create a more home-like atmosphere because someone new is not always at the helm. We love getting to know our customers, finding out what they like and why they come to us.
I love seeing what our staff can bring to their families with the supplement income from the businesses. Aside from Heather (the manager) and myself each of our employees work other full time jobs or are going to school. We get to be the passion project that also brings extra income to all of these households. Each are there because they WANT to be, and love our mission of making art accessible to everyone.
So here are some other examples of ways I try to choose LOCAL LOVE over chains and franchises.
I use a local accountant and bookkeeping service, Works Bookkeeping and Payroll where the owner does my taxes, payroll, and answers my questions instead of some big company exec that I don’t know.
I use a local cleaning company, Robins Commercial Cleaning, where the owner cleans for me instead of some chain who sends different people every week.
What is important about these two businesses? I am doing business with people I know, like, and trust. They are owned by women, who live here locally in our community. It is empowering women to provide for their families on a schedule that works for them and they in turn put it back into the community. $68 for every $100 stays in the community when spent at a local business. When spending the same at a non-local business like a national chain, only $43 stays in your community. This is important!!
It is America, free will is always there for you when you make choices. Next time you think about buying, shopping, eating please think what choice you can make that will make the most impact on your community.
I love to read. And love community. So I decided to start Club Book: Lush Lounge’s new book club. We will select a book each month and then plan a time to meet and discuss the book. These will take place in our Lush Lounge. Please park in back and come in through Suite 600 for these events.
Our FIRST selection is The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin. Find it at Sams, on Amazon Prime, Target, or Kindle. Gottwals books may have it? Libraries might have it?
Discussion for those that have read the month's selection will be February 24 at 1 pm. Free to participate. Drinks available for purchase. Look for the event page on FB to rsvp.