Name: Heather Allen
a.k.a.: Dr. Arts Entrepreneurship
Age at heart: 28
Kids: Not yet but hopefully in the next 2-4 years.
Current title/Company/Blog: Business & Marketing Consultant to Artists at HeatherAllenOnline.com.
Year you launched your Blog: I launched my blog in 2012 without any direction. It has since taken many turns but I’m happy with where it is right now.
When did you decide to add “author” to your new book ‘Let your Creativity Work for You: How to Turn Artwork into Opportunity‘? I decided that writing a business and marketing book would help me to get a lot of useful information into one place for my clients and artists everywhere. I have so much to share from my work with artists, and it helps to have information organized in a step-by-step “how to” that artists can read through once, and then use as reference whenever they need specific sections of the book. People can purchase my book at HeatherAllenOnline.com.
What have been people’s responses? The book has been selling, so that’s a good thing! There’s a fairly obvious gap in the arts where business and marketing are not discussed. But, as I mention in my book, the National Endowment for the Arts revealed that artists are 3.5 times more likely to be self-employed. As a former employee of a small business development center, I understand the importance of being equipped with small business knowhow. Artists should be privy to this information too.
When was your first ‘I’m a grown up’ experience? I’ve had a number of “grown up still feeling like a kid” experiences. In fact, I’m not sure I’ll feel entirely like a grown up until I have kids. Despite the fact that I’m a self-employed homeowner, I still feel very lighthearted and spirited. I’d say that I feel the most “grown up” when people twice my age are asking me for guidance and advice. We can help each other out no matter how young or old we are. Everyone has something to offer.
How do you balance work and your personal life? I use deadlines and the accountability of my clients to get things done in my business. I try to schedule big personal life events fairly far into the future so that my business works around my personal life. I’m also able to bring work with me wherever I go—which has its pros and cons.
Take us through your day. How does a normal day for you look like and how do you usually end it? For me, a normal day starts out the same: 20 push-ups and 100 sit-ups followed by a hot mug of tea. No joke—I’ve had this routine for almost 4 years now! I highly recommend incorporating this simple exercise set into your life because it only takes five minutes.
I typically work from home or from a co-working space that I’m a member of. I may have one or two Skype conferences with collaborators, and I’ll connect with clients for strategy sessions during the day. In the evenings, I look forward to a fun activity like my Improv class. Or, I’ll meet friends at my fiancé’s wine bar to catch up over a flight of something delicious.
How was growing up, and how did you know this was what you were meant to do?
I grew up in St. Louis, lived in Paris as a four-year-old, and had traveled to 25 countries by the time I was 22. In St. Louis, there are two arts centers that nurtured my creative spirit early on: The Craft Alliance and the Center for Contemporary Arts (COCA). I’m forever indebted to them for teaching me the language of performing and visual arts, and developing my creative intuition.
My career began in architectural design. Then, I pursued a business innovation dual-Masters, which added some practical, business-oriented tools to my wheelhouse. From there, I lived and worked at Penland School of Crafts where my neighbors were all internationally recognized artists and craftspeople. This meant that I was seeing the best of the best at work. This is where I discovered how much goes in to a creative career path—one that requires a lot of soul and physical demand.
When I returned to Raleigh to continue my career journey, I started working for an artist who was very successful but had seen dramatic shifts in buyer behavior after the Recession. He was intimidated by the rate at which technology was changing. I helped him acclimate and forge ahead. Simultaneously, I was working for a small business consulting center. This is where I noticed a huge gap between the consultants in the firm and the creative businesses that walked in the door. If you can’t talk the talk, how can you truly relate to the people you’re serving? I saw my window of opportunity and started my own consulting practice to help artists and creatives in business.
What has been a highlight? At this point, my biggest highlight is getting my book published and printed. Because of this milestone, I’m receiving speaking invitations for [in] 2015 and am planning my next moves. Very excited about this.
Other highlights include the amazing serendipities that happen naturally when you put yourself out there and get to meet amazing people. I met most of my collaborators while teaching or attending workshops. Many of my clients have become cherished friends. I encourage solopreneurs to use their self-employed status to create meaningful serendipities in their own lives.
What has been a lowlight and how did you bounce back? A lowlight that I’m sure many solopreneurs face is experiencing the loneliness of working solo. To counter this reality, I’ve made partnerships with some exceptional people. Collaborating with them virtually and in-person makes a huge difference in the rate at which things get done, and gives me a lot to look forward to.
What is one key piece you would share about the Art industry? There are no rules.
What do you tell yourself that keeps you motivated? My next adventures in life include finding farmland for a biodynamic vineyard and retreat that I can raise a family on, and start business #2. I want to create spaces for people to rejuvenate and collaborate. This vision is capital-intensive but incredibly rewarding. I hope to be there sooner rather than later!
Favorite Lipstick color? My soon to be brother-in-law and his girlfriend made everyone homemade chap stick last year for the holidays. I use mine everyday. It’s a perfect natural remedy for lips. But, with the holidays approaching again, I may try out a bold red at a few parties.
Coffee or Tea? I enjoy both, but I drink tea with a generous pinch of cream every morning. Coffee I reserve for special occasions, like Sunday mornings.
Finish the sentence, Be the woman…who makes herself laugh!