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Meet Erika: Mom and Owner of Black Currant Creative

Erika and I grew up together, and although she’s a bit younger than me I’ve always looked up to her. Erika recently launched her Etsy shop where she sells beautiful hand painted prints; Black Currant Creative, be sure to check it out! I was so inspired by her drive to take a creative hobby of hers and turn it into a business.

Tell us a little about yourself and your career

I’m a wife and stay at home mom to my one year old. I love trying new restaurants, traveling (but also being at home!), trying out new recipes, going on walks with my dog, binge watching Netflix, fostering puppies, and spending time with my family.

I graduated from Brigham Young University-Idaho in 2013 with a degree in Communications. After graduation, I worked as a marketing manager for a company that did 5K races across the country. My team was in charge of marketing, social media, customer service, and occasionally event management. In August 2014, we moved to Nebraska for my husband’s job. I worked remotely for the same company, but quickly realized that that wasn’t for me. I actually started to feel like marketing wasn’t the right path for me at all. Long story short, I had a sort of “life crisis” for a while as I tried to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. After a lot of exploring and research, I determined that my dream job needed to be something creative, and that I wanted to work for myself and have something that would be flexible with kids.

I’ve always loved art in all forms. I’ve been a lifelong doodler, and a few years ago, I started painting with acrylic paint as a hobby. Last year, I discovered handlettering. I really discovered it when I was 12 and my mom bought me the American Girl “Letter Art” book for Christmas, but I didn’t know it had an official name til last year. I started with pointed pen, then moved to markers, and then tried out watered down gouache for a watercolor look. In early 2017, I bought some cheap watercolor paint, and found my niche! A few weeks later, I bought some nicer paint and really started to find my stride. A couple months later, I sold my first custom watercolor canvas, and things just took off from there.

How does your community of women you surround yourself with support you?

I’m a part of an awesome Facebook group of other handletterers/calligraphers that are so supportive of one another! I also found some friends through that group that I regularly communicate with on Instagram. We talk about everything, and they are so great for getting feedback and business advice. My mom and the other women (and men!) in my family have been so supportive. They have given me ideas of things to make, and helped me to push my imagination and creativity. They have also ordered products from me, which helps as well.

My husband’s cousin is a graphic designer who recently started doing some handlettering, and she has been a great resource for running ideas by and helping me figure design things out.

My sister in law has a woodworking business, and she’s been so helpful when I’ve done handlettered wood signs. She also has encouraged me to do craft fairs, and I have a goal to do at least one in 2018.

I have friends who ordered from me in the beginning (and even still) and have supported me in that way, and friends who have appreciated my art and let me know they appreciated it or shared it with someone else. Both of those have helped push me towards opening my shop and continuing to work at my business.

Why did you decide to start Black Currant Creative?

While I was pregnant, I was pretty sick, so I wasn’t painting very much. After my son was born, I realized really quickly that I needed a good hobby to help me maintain my identity as “Erika” and not just “Mom.” I love being a mom, but I am a better mom (and wife!) when I take time for my hobbies and interests. I kept working on improving my art, and did some custom orders for friends. I missed the sense of accomplishment that comes from earning a paycheck, and I was getting good feedback from my work, so I decided to apply for a business license and start to make things more official. In September, I officially launched Black Currant Creative!

What do you wish you could go back and tell your younger self re: your career aspirations?

That’s tricky! Sometimes, I wish I had gotten a degree in Art, but most of the time I feel like my degree and the work experience I have helped push me to where I am now, and has also helped me to be successful with Black Currant Creative.

I think I would tell myself to find the balance between being too busy and not busy enough. When I’m too busy, I either shut down and do nothing, or get things done, but not as well as I intend to. If I’m not busy at all, then I have a hard time motivating myself to do anything. There’s a sweet spot where I’m just busy enough to be motivated, but not overwhelmed.

I also would tell myself that while there is never a perfect time to do something, there is a right time.

What is your career-related mantra?

Lately, it has been ‘You can do this”, which I know is so simple. But every time I started feeling overwhelmed with all of my Christmas orders, I repeated that to myself, and reminded myself that i have enough time, I have enough ability, and stressing about it is not going to get things done any quicker.

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