This week we are getting social with Carly Deblock, the watercoloring Kansas City-based artist behind Carly Rae Studio. Her inspirations derive from her passions and interests such as nature, flowers, animals and traveling. Carly loves the idea of being meticulous for hours on end and was sweet enough to sponsor our KC socialites with the cutest tote bags. You can find Carly’s work in her Etsy shop ‘Be Wild and Free’ and also at local art shows. Today, she sheds some light on the KC community, how her business has grown since her move, and advice for entrepreneurs in the creative industry!
Have you participated as a sponsor in any event like this before? If so, how does it impact your business?
I actually have never sponsored an event before, but I really love your business and your mission. I have donated to a few organizations and events, when they align with my values and priorities. Donating has always been a welcome source of exposure for my business, especially on social media.
The KC community is amazing & we love the kind spirit of all of the business owners we have come in contact with. Does having a community like this around you help your business grow?
Kansas City has a passionate and unique community that supports local artists and makers. I have met so many talented people at craft shows and events here and their creativity amazes me. I moved to KC from San Diego last summer, and surprisingly it has jumpstarted my business. The art culture here has been pivotal to taking the next step in supporting myself through my art. I also teach part time at the Nelson-Atkins museum, which continues to inspire my work.
We’d love to hear more about Be Wild & Free. What is your favorite item you create + what do you specialize in?
My Etsy shop is Be Wild and Free, but my design brand is Carly Rae Studio.
I started out with my floral watercolor paintings, and now I mainly sell prints of my paintings. I start by drawing a silhouette in pencil, and then I fill it in with lots of little watercolor flowers. The prints of my watercolor paintings are definitely my favorite, and they allow people to have a little piece of artwork to brighten their day for an affordable price.
Do you have a motto or mantra–personally or professionally?
I feel like I have a different mantra every few weeks, but at the moment mine is "dreams don't work until you do." Many parts of my business don't feel like work, but there are days where I don't want to work on bookkeeping or shipping packages or setting up for a craft show. Everyday though, I am thankful that I can make a living doing what I love and it motivates me to keep doing whatever I need to. I am thankful that I can make a living doing what I love!
How did you get started & when did you know this was what you wanted to make your career out of?
I went to San Diego State for a degree in Art Education and I had a lot of art projects “due” while I was in school, but I rarely found time to paint outside of class. One evening, I pulled out my watercolors and started filling in a light pencil sketch of a shark jaw with lots of little flowers. I posted a picture of it on Instagram and a few people said they would be interested in buying it. I spent the next few weeks painting different images nonstop and I loved the meticulous process. I decided to open an Etsy shop online and it has grown into a business from there.
I honestly didn't think about making it a career until a year or so after I started painting in my floral style. I first saw it becoming a career when I was contacted by an art licensing agent that found me on Etsy. They continue to help me set up contracts for publishing and licensing on a large, wholesale level. Knowing that a company believed in my artwork gave me the confidence to make it a full time job.
In a creative field that is booming, how do you set yourself apart?
There are so many creative people out there and it is such an exciting time to be an artist. It can be hard to make your work stand out, especially on a platform like Etsy where there are so many talented makers. I think I have found a unique style and not everyone would love painting teeny tiny flowers. I try to keep creating new designs and treat my customers and fans well so that they will always be interested in what I am creating.
How do you get the word out about your company?
Social media is the main way that I spread the word, especially Instagram. I also do a lot of local art shows and pop-up shops that allow me to meet people in this amazing community.
What keeps you constantly inspired?
It is hard to stay constantly inspired, but nature is probably one of my biggest inspirations. Fresh bouquets of flowers that my wonderful finance brings home also inspire me to paint. Working as a part-time teacher at the Nelson-Atkins Art Museum also allows me to be around art almost every day.
What’s your favorite social media network and why?
Instagram! Social media can be intimidating for some people, but I tell everyone to start an Instagram because it is so easy to snap a photo. It ends up being a bunch of great behind the scene photos of your life and your business. I am not a huge writer, so I love the fact you can just add a couple of words to your snapshot and you are done.
If you could give other entrepreneurs one tip of advice, what would it be?
One tip that has helped me is to remember that there are so many steps to creating a business and the path is different for everyone. It is important not to compare your beginning to someone else's middle. So if you are just starting out, don't get discouraged by mistakes but learn from them (there will be plenty) and don't compare yourself to businesses that have been around for years. It is important not to compare your beginning to someone else's middle.
"It is important not to compare your beginning to someone else's middle." (Tweet this!)
What exciting things does Be Wild & Free have in store for us in 2015?
I have only had my business for a few years, so I cannot wait to see what what is ahead. I just designed some tank tops with a floral KC design that went into my Etsy shop a couple weeks ago. I also hope to start designing and printing wedding stationary, since I am currently working on my own! I am also (finally) building my own website that I should have ready later this year.