May Member of the Month :: Meaghan Willis of Lucky13Letters
1 What is your favorite part of being a creative (or creative entrepreneur) in Memphis?
I love being a creative entrepreneur in Memphis because everything in this town has two parts- a little bit of sweet and southern, and a whole lot of grit. I can create light and airy invitation suites one day and sassy, sarcastic prints the next and this city will inspire me to create either!
2 What is your favorite part of your creative business?
My favorite part of being a creative business owner is the freedom and empowerment. I'm an engineer by day and a calligrapher by night. I have so much structure in my day-to-day and I love having the ability to adapt and evolve this business into whatever I want it to be! I'm completely self-taught and there is something so incredibly empowering about that, especially as an adult. It has been so fun to connect and collaborate with other creatives, in Memphis or otherwise, to learn how to grow a hobby into a business!
3 What would you tell yourself if you could go back in time to your first day of starting a business?
To know the value of your time! I pulled lots of all-nighters with hardly any profit to show for it when I first started. I was creating lots of items, but wasn't understanding the intention behind them. I grew my business, but I was exhausted and getting burnt out quickly. I now focus on putting all my energy into the pieces that I love to create and that my customers feel are created specifically for them! It's much more fulfilling and so rewarding.
4 A main revenue stream for you are commissions. What does that process from start to finish look like and how do you plan for pricing your work?
Commissions vary so much! That's part of the fun, but also can make pricing difficult. Our custom orders include rentals, envelope orders, wood signs, chalkboards, and much more. Currently, we receive most orders through email or social media. I gather all the details from the customer before pricing and giving an estimated lead time. I have lots of Excel sheets, calendars, and behind-the-scenes notes to make sure our pricing is clear and consistent. If we aren't providing the base product, pricing includes my time and materials with some overhead included. It gets much trickier when we are making the entire piece, like wood signs!
5 What is the biggest challenge as a calligrapher? How do you overcome that obstacle?
My biggest challenge as a calligrapher has been finding the balance between having a niche market and trying new things. It can be difficult to keep a consistent customer base while being adventurous and evolving as an artist. I do my best to stick to a general style and then expand that out into different markets and fun side projects! It has definitely gotten easier over time to figure out what satisfies both my customers and myself!