Work it, Mom: Illustrating childhood

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As Sarah Jane Wright began to decorate her daughter’s nursery, she found a need for a new style of artwork.

“I wasn’t seeing a revival of vintage trends,” the Orem artist says. “What I was finding was extremely fancy and expensive or loud, bright and fun. I love both, but I wanted to see something else in the nursery or playroom.”

So she headed to the library. Her book of choice? “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Making Money with your Hobby.”

“The first thing it said was, ‘Before you start a business, you must have your life in order,’” Sarah says. “With two little babies, my life wasn’t in order.”

Sarah spent the next three years researching, studying and making plans for her future business, Sarah Jane Studios.

“I knew I’d need to start with confidence,” she says. “I wanted to start strong, so I made that my focus.”

After designing, drawing and printing a solid collection of fanciful, storybook-illustration-themed artwork, Sarah e-mailed everyone she knew and contacted about 15 bloggers to let them know she’d soon have her work for sale. Three weeks later, she launched her product line on Etsy.com, a popular online marketplace for handmade goods.

“Before I even officially had everything set up on Etsy I had made five sales,” she says. “My first day I sold 60 prints. It was kind of overwhelming, because I was still working out of my bedroom.”

Now, 10 months later, Sarah still works from her home, although the drawing and printing take place from her home office, not her bedroom. Her prints continue to sell, and she’d love to expand her business — unless it means leaving the home and her two toddlers.

“I’m doing as much as I can within my home,” she says. “As soon as it gets bigger, I’d have to be less of a mom, and I want to be a full-time mom.”

Being a full-time mom for Sarah means not working when her children are awake. She uses naptime as her creative time, and also fills orders and keeps the business organized after they go to bed at night.

“I used to get frustrated, thinking I needed more time,” she says. “But when I’m focusing on my own children I’m actually growing as an artist, because I create for children. It has only expanded my style and my creative endeavors. The moment I sense I’m neglecting my children I feel extremely hypocritical because I’m in a children’s business. It’s a constant reminder of where I need to be.”

 

 

Sarah launched her business in October 2007. Check out her work at sarahjanestudios.com and sarahjaneblog.com

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