lady startup

How Instagram is helping artists like Nicola Waghorn share their artwork with the world.

Nicola Waghorn was always creative, but she only saw her paintings as a hobby.

After five years of only selling to family and friends, the NSW woman was inspired by other artists promoting their work on Instagram to give it a go herself.

Since then she’s been able to drop from full-time to part-time work as her business, Meadow Art Collective, grows.

Here she chats to Mamamia to clear up the misconception that artists don’t make money and that winging it is a solid business plan.

Tell us about Meadow Art Collective. What is it?

Meadow Art Collective is a collection of my art, inspired by Australiana themes. I live in regional NSW and adore the lifestyle and feel of country Australia. I sell original artworks, art prints and hand painted wares that capture this feeling for people to display in their homes. I’m expanding my product range very soon, which is exciting!

What were you doing before you went into business for yourself?

I was working in healthcare full time, and plodding along doing my creative thing after work until late. I started selling artworks to friends and family upon request about five years ago, just as a hobby. Just over a year ago now I became inspired by so many talented artists promoting via Instagram and thought I’d give it a crack myself!

What made you want to start your own business?

I have a creative itch that I always need to scratch, regardless of whether I have the time or not. I’d love more flexibility in my life, to be able to have a successful side business that allows me to travel and scratch my creative itch.

meadow art collective
Image: Meadow Art Collective

How did you come up with the name?

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My products depict youthful Australiana and nature themes, and the word ‘meadow’ appealed to me as encompassing all of the above! Some of the Lady Startup course material sparked my decision to tweak my business name idea. Meadow Art Collective is more specific and makes much more sense now, in hindsight.

What's the single best piece of advice you got?

Lay your foundations correctly from the very beginning. Also, don’t leave the bookkeeping until tax time. Accounting software has been my lifesaver.

What's the one bit of advice you would give yourself if you were starting again?

I started working on a very loose business plan about nine months before I started the Lady Startup Activation Plan course. They say "you don’t know what you don’t know" and boy... did I not know! I would have made things a lot easier for myself if I’d spoken to the experts about laying the foundations and ticking all the boxes from the very start. I learnt of the things I should have done during the Lady Startup course - better late than never!

At Mamamia, we have an expression "flearning" - failing and learning. What have been your biggest flearnings since you have started your business?

I have flearnt how much time NEEDS to be spent on bookkeeping (even though it’s not the fun part), and the processes to make it so much easier to keep on top of. I actually quite like this aspect now, whereas previously I would avoid making eye contact with my disorganised pile of receipts sitting in the corner.

What do you do when you're feeling like you're in a hole emotionally (or financially)?

Sometimes I need to walk away for a week or so, spend weekends out of town with friends or family. I also organise my physical workspace! When I come back feeling fresh, usually my difficulties are a lot easier to solve with a fresh and motivated brain.

meadow art collective
Image: Meadow Art Collective
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How many hours a day do you work on your business? Has this changed?

Four hours a day, generally after my day job or on weekends. My workload is definitely increasing, as I work only part-time in my healthcare job, when it was previously full-time.

What's the biggest misconception you had about starting your business?

I didn’t realise how much there was to know prior to starting my venture. You can only wing it so far! From the very start, get your foundations straight and make it easier in the long run. I wish that I’d made sure all the boxes were ticked at the beginning. All sorted now, but phwoar - I would have saved myself some hassle.

Tell us about your proudest moment.

Just lately I’ve felt proud of what I’ve learnt since starting this side hustle. I put in a lot of hours in 2018, and 2019 feels like things are falling into place very quickly. I have a solo exhibition coming up soon and a product launch lined up! I can handle more than I thought I could. I’m so excited and already proud of what I’m ready to achieve this year.

What can you recommend to women who might want to get their own hustle going?

If you’re passionate about it, go for it! Give it time - it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Also, don’t compare yourself to where others are at - it’s your ‘race’ so you can go as slow as you want!

Interested in becoming a Lady Startup yourself or know someone ready to chase their own business dreams? You’re invited to join us! Enrolments open from 21 January 2019. Find out all about The Lady Startup Activation Plan here.

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