Interview conducted by: Madison Duboise
Please tell me your full name, your official business name, where you are located and about your education.
Full Name: Sharon A. Keyser
Official Business Name: SKCreations, LLC
Location: Maryland, USA
Education: My educational background is in Accounting and Finance, and I am a Certified Public Accountant as well as a Real Estate Agent. I am a self-taught artist.
Where did your idea to start a business come from?
I have been creative my entire life and as an only child I found ways to keep myself engaged with personal creative projects. When I was a young girl my great-grandmother taught me to sew and it opened up a whole new world for me. I loved sewing so much that I was always in the fabric stores scoping out patterns, and over time I realized that it was the textiles that excited me most. This led to my learning about surface design, which allowed me to have my original artworks printed onto fabrics and a variety of other surfaces. My passion for creating was noticed by others and I was constantly being asked if I would make things to sell, so starting my business was the perfect way to make my products available to them.
Tell me about the start-up of your business. How did you feel once you finally opened up?
When I started my business, I felt like it was full speed ahead. I knew it was what I was supposed to be doing and I’ve never looked back. The focus of my business has evolved over the years as my drive to create has continued to grow.
Who helped you start your business, what type of support did you receive from friends and family?
I started my business on my own. With my accounting background I was very familiar with the process of establishing a business, particularly a sole proprietorship, so I knew what needed to be done to get it set up. My family and friends were very supportive of my creative projects, and saw opening a business as a natural move for me to make.
What products do you specialize in selling? Tell me about some of your favorites.
I sell apparel, handbags and accessories. My favorites are the handbags and pouches. I have always considered myself to be a bag lady and I have made and collected many bags throughout my lifetime. I also love pouches in different sizes because they’re a great way to store things at home and you can also drop them in your bag to keep things organized when you’re on the go.
Why is selling these items important to you?
Selling these items is important to me because I feel that self-expression is essential, and creativity is its purest form. The products I sell are designed with my original artworks, and my themes are inspirational and affirming. They offer the customer something that is not only useful in their everyday life, but is also empowering and uplifting in its design and message.
Tell me the process of creating and selling your products.
I begin with the artwork. When I get an idea to create new art, I usually draw a rough sketch of it on paper. I then use Adobe Illustrator to create the image, which may or may not end up looking like my sketch. Once I’m satisfied with my art, I then decide on the type of products on which I’d like it printed. This dictates my next steps. For items such as coats and jackets, I first have my art printed onto fabric which then goes to my contract sewer to produce the final product. For other apparel items and accessories, I work with several companies that will print my art directly onto the products. Once I have the finished products, I photograph and list them on my website for sale.
What do you do on a normal day for your business, walk me through that.
For me, every day is different. In addition to designing artwork and making arrangements to have my products manufactured, my daily activities include writing blog posts for my website which can focus on new artwork, new product/collection launches and other subjects that are tied to my art business. I also write newsletters and send them out to my email contacts on a weekly basis, and I try to post something to my business social media pages at least once a day. When my products arrive from the contractors/printers, I photograph them in my home studio then edit the images before uploading them and creating product listings on my website. When I have orders to process, I package the items and prepare them to ship the next day. I spend time marketing my products, and I send and respond to email messages and calls throughout the day. I’m currently a one-woman enterprise and I wear many hats, so no two days are the same.
What do you enjoy about running your business, what things can be hard at times?
I LOVE what I do and I find it very satisfying to see something I first imagined actually come to life. Being creative feeds my soul, and even when I face challenges, there’s no way I could give it up. At times it can be hard because, after pouring so much into my art and my products, I may publish, post, email and otherwise market them and receive little to no response. It can feel like I’m just sending things out into the ether. Those times aren’t enough to deter me though since I usually receive positive feedback and my customers often share with me how they used my products and how good it made them feel. Their happiness and satisfaction mean a lot to me and makes it all worth it.
What growth do you hope to see from your business in the future?
In the future, I would like to expand my apparel line and introduce some other product lines. I’m also exploring other ways to use my digital art. I would like to make it available to those who enjoy it but don’t desire to have it on an apparel or accessory item.