Wonderland is a short documentary that features illustrators, film directors and other creatives discussing the challenges they face in bridging the gap between creating content with artistic integrity and creating content for “the man”, so to speak. Wonderland is beautifully orchestrated, presenting the audience with something to think about while at the same time inspiring creatives to go forth and find their place amongst art and commerce. Filmmakers Terry Rayment (Eskimo) and Hunter Hampton (cargocollective.com/hunter) weave together a concise narrative that brings together view points and stories from artists across the board, the common theme being they have all found success by doing what they love. At first their love may not have been profitable, in many cases it may have cost them money to create. Yet, as they continued to find ways to create with integrity, they continued to be propelled forward within their fields and amongst their peers in the creative world. Wonderland is a must see for any young creative out there wondering where to begin or how to find that balance. In the end true success is a subjective matter, finding a balance of work and passion and staying true to your own identity seem to be core elements to the success of the young artists featured here.
Heather Williams toggles back and forth between her decorative retail shop and floral design workspace at Twig & Twine. She greets customers as they enter while snipping arranging, and pruning upcoming orders for clients. Ending a strip of shops, her store perfectly punctuates the, Silver Lake adjacent, Virgil Village (East Hollywood). On the other side of the cluster of stores is the much prized SQRL, making this spot a relatively unknown local oasis. The area is certainly budding.
Just about everything inside Twig & Twine is beautiful. There is artisanal soap from Plant Brooklyn, hand crafted jewelry from the made in Seattle brand Baleen , and hand made ceramics from Humble Ceramics in Los Angeles. Inarguably the most beautiful thing inside the store comes from the hands of its owner. Heather’s work has been featured in publications like Angeleno magazine,Refinery 29, Racked LA and dozens of bridal blogs and websites. In 2013 she was doing well enough to open a space to house workshop, spreading her wings from working at a home studio.
The transition from live/work, to a dedicated office or workspace is pivotal for any business owner and Twig & Twine is no exception. Along with the drastic increase in overhead, having a physical space comes with the demand of having to staff the location, and manage the core component of the business, which, for Heather, is still offsite. Floral design can be tough work of little financial reward. It is manual labor, on your feet all day. Long hours need to be put in to prepare the pieces, load and unload them on the day of an event. It is not always as pretty of a situation as the arrangements themselves.
Though schooled in graphic design from Northern California, Heather has made a sustainable floral design business in Los Angeles without formal business training, and very little advertising. It seems that Heather, not only knows how to make flowers bloom but opportunity as well.
She got her start in the flower business working for a florist friend in San Francisco who needed some help at the same time she needed a job. Her design training from art school lent itself well to understanding colors and textures. It was only a matter of learning the technical aspects of handling the various types of flowers. After moving to Los Angeles the flower shop she was working for closed, Heather took it as a chance to focus on her own business.
Starting a business from scratch is no small task, but it is important to pace yourself. In regards to getting off the ground she explains, ” I’ve never felt the need to reach out so much that my business grows before I am even ready for it. I also feel that my work should speak for itself to a certain extent.” She formed relationships with other young businesses in the same industry.This meant reaching out to wedding and event planners that were just starting out, and photographers that needed work on their portfolio to get images done.
By offering to help other floral designers she was able to establish herself in a new city and be of aid when they were overbooked. Heather seems to understand the competitive nature of running a business but not to the point where there is not a friendship that underlines the work relations.She began to get press from blogs by doing weddings, and not from having to pay for marketing. She built a reputation for doing quality work, and that reputation translated into more work through referral.
Now things are a bit different because has to maintain inventory and her space. Heather talks about the transition into getting into a space ” Getting the space was more of a necessity than a decision. I had all this stuff in my apartment. I would have three freelancers doing arrangements in my home studio and things started to overflow into other areas of my home.” She has not only expanded her capability but it also has personal benefit, “Now I can better manage a work/life balance, which is already difficult as a small business owner.”
Having a physical presence has done a lot for marketing her business and she also does not only sell flowers. Selling hard goods helps with rent and provides and opportunity to be creative in sourcing new items to carry in the store. The challenge has become something she looks forward to, changing the shape of her business as it grows.With a solid reputation in events and weddings Twig & Twine is looking to do more daily arrangements, and deliveries to homes and business that enjoy flowers.
Events will always be a part of the business because it is another way to get the name out. She’s found smart way to spread the word organically and support her business at the same time.
The next phase of the business is to develop a staff that can handle more operations at a time on a regular basis. Being able to work and manage a social life is important to keeping a passion for your work and not getting bogged down by the everyday. There is a period of growing pains between the time she can afford more regular staff and having to work those heavier days until she can.
She has many favorites when it comes to flowers. ” In each season I have something that I really love. In Spring time the ranunculus are gorgeous. I like little delicate things that you can only get for a month or two each year. ” If you catch a glimpse of her left arm you can’t miss her brightly colored tattoo of poppies, she grew up with them in her mother’s garden. Both her mother and grandmother were gardeners, and though she never took to gardening she was familiar with seeing different flowers and knowing their names. She recognizes the gardeners and growers that bring her flowers to life and all the work that comes before she gets them.
Heather has found a way to support self, utilize and contribute to her professional community while growing her business, also putting her schooling to use, and just happens to coincide with some of her personal history. She not only has a knack for arranging flowers, but apparently for arranging her career as well. If you find yourself in Virgil Village make sure you stop by and pick up something beautiful.
Incase you hadn’t heard, we are in the middle of tax season. Whether you are working with a traditional employer, an entrepreneur, or freelancer it is one thing we all have in common. For me, this is a very reflective period. When sit down to organize my tax documents find that I am actually reviewing and element of my personal history. There is a very clear look at the last year of choices that I have made. I chose to move in to a more expensive apartment, I chose to do major work on my car, I chose so many things last year that are the collective reasoning for the live I have today. I also chose to leave my job. That decision has had a major impact on my financial situation. It was a choice that I knew I could endure for better or worse because I am aware of the economics of my community.
The choice was made with the knowledge that I have at least some skills that are of value you to my community. The community in this case is the creative economy. It is the market place where ideas and concepts are created cultivated and exchange as goods and services. This market place serves as the soil from which my livelihood was to grow, but not without work.
The timing of this month has provided the perfect context for inquiry into the very things that fuel the creative. We will discuss, in a very pragmatic way, the financial constraints and conditions we face as individuals along with how we tend to manage those constraints. Things we often keep relegated to private discussions between professionals and parents will brought to light like credit scores, spending, and income. There is a culture of dialogue that, among all the ideas we share that can improve our lives, seems to be taboo and off limits. But, it is this barrier that keeps so many of us from making the best choices.
Since the path we travel is often guided by the context in which it is presented to us this context must also be analyzed. We are going to dig into the very nature of choice, why we choose things that oppose our intellect, and will, and even our health. This inquiry will me made in conjunction with the C2O Book Club as we read, Nudge:Improving Decisions about Wealth, Health, and Happiness. Understanding the root of our choices that can help us make better ones.
It is not just our individual choices that impact us, but also the greater movement of our community of creatives and how we fit within it all. While we all have to take care of ourselves, how can we modify our perspective to improve our own lives and the lives of others in the community to create a quality experiences for everyone involved. The creative economy is a tricky place, where we are often asked to make decisions that impact us positively from a financial perspective but cause us to compromise our creative or personal desires. So it is only natural that we discuss the notion of selling out, artistic integrity, and business ethics. Is there a line to be drawn between art and entrepreneurship? We will seek to understand where these lines are drawn and how we toe them.
By the end of the month, my hope, is that we will have gained a better understanding of how to navigate the tumultuous waters of our financial ecosystem as a culture of people that is seemingly at ends with the tide.
Any one running their own shop creative firm will tell you that you end up spending a disproportionate amount of time on operational action items. More managing invoices, emailing, and marketing your work and far less time than you would have imagined on actually creating it. Many of us are not yet at the point where we can afford hire some one like Chelsea Matthews, a marketing maven and her culture marketing agency Matte Black .That doesn’t mean we don’t need to make sure that the time we invest in marketing ourselves is most fruitful, and where is more fruit than the trees of online and social media. I remember that when I’d hit rock bottom, the youtube views from TheMarketingHeaven.com kept me going. To fill this need, Matte Black Design puts on Social Derby, a one day intensive workshop that is a bang for your buck crash course in digital brand strategy.
If you are wondering how many posts are going to deter your Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram followers, then you should definitely check out social derby. It is not just a once sided program, but more so, a social learning experience lead by Matte Black. The workshop is populated with other creatives that have their own challenges and some common solutions are shared in discuss and group work. Along with that you have the opportunity to engage with others in the creative community so there is of course the added bonus of a networking opportunity.
Ironically you may not have the cash to hire professional marketing firm but Social Derby gives you the opportunity to beef up your own skills to actually make it to a point where you can. Enough praises can’t be sung about the workshop without it sounding preachy but if nothing else consider the impact you might be missing by not educating your self where other businesses are.
We’ve gone to the trouble of arranging a special code for our readers so if you do decide to enroll in Social Derby use the discount code “Derby VIP50” for $50 dollars off. The next course is November 22, so they are accepting enrollments on the site here. Once you finish the workshop its okay to email us and say thanks.
This Wednesday, April 3rd. HUB Los Angeles, the cities very own start-up incubator space will be celebrating seven LA area start-ups and the launch of the City of Los Angeles’ MyLA311 mobile app.
The showcase will feature groundbreaking technology from InVenture, ThrdPlace, iSocialite, AppMyForm, Recargo, City Innovation Group, and RideAmigos Corp. From web to widgets to mobile apps, these start-ups service entire municipal populations to increase civic engagement and improve the lives of citizens. The ticketed event will provide all attendees with early access, free consulting, and free use of these new tech-for-change products.
This event is being hosted in conjunction with Mayor Villaraigosa’s press conference at Hub LA on Monday April 1 in which the City of Los Angeles’ new “MyLA311” app will be officially unveiled. This new City mobile application allows Angelenos to submit 311 service requests, locate city resources, and pay city bills through their smartphones. By taking advantage of a smartphone’s GPS and camera, the app promises to make reporting complaints and finding city services simpler and more accessible.
On April 3, Hub Los Angeles will also announce it’s exciting partnership with the newly formed Technology Center created by the LA Chamber of Commerce and the Small Business Development Center. The Technology Center will provide advising, and resources for Hub LA member start-ups.
“As home to a new generation of business leaders and start-ups dedicated to building a sustainable economy, Hub Los Angeles has created a community of values-aligned entrepreneurs fueled by collaboration and innovation,” says Elizabeth Stewart, CEO, Hub Los Angeles. “The six start-ups featured at the Civic Innovation Showcase—all of whom are Hub LA members—are representative of this drive to use business to enhance our civic lives in Los Angeles and beyond. The wave of entrepreneurs using tech to drive social change is about to explode in Los Angeles. The city is a playground for social entrepreneurs driven by the need to solve large urban issues.”
Civic Innovation Showcase and MyLA311 Launch Party
Hub Los Angeles 830 Traction Avenue, Third Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90013 Parking lot fee $5-$7: free street parking available on Traction Ave.