First of all, let me say that I do not currently practice Yoga. I barely have time for my current exercise regime, but everyone who does Yoga, always sounds like they love it. The stretching. The breathing. The meditative aspects. The fantastic way they feel after their sessions.
So, imagine you are an artist. And you and your wife practice yoga. And on Saturday evenings, you do charcoal drawings of your wife and other friends in yoga positions. What would you do with these drawings?
You might take your drawings, put them on bookmarks, note cards, art prints, and clothing, and start a business!
This is what my friends Tina and Steve did.
|Reclining Double Stretch sculpture by Steve
Steve is an incredible artist. Besides the beautiful charcoal drawings he creates, I know his passion is sculpture. He has created some amazing sculptures and has assembled those that he has not sold into a sculpture garden in their backyard. Some of these sculptures are also stylized interpretations of yoga poses! Steve is a traditionally trained medical artist with a passion for the human figure and the poetry of Asana (Asana is the Sanskrit word for a yoga pose). Steve and Tina set out to artistically portray the serenity of breath and movement realized in yoga.
Over the last two years, we have become good friends and our dinner conversations have often revolved around them launching a business, combining their passions of art and yoga.
So many people want to take their ideas and turn them into a business. You know the story… “If I like this product (or service), there must be thousands of others who do, too…”
I cautioned Steve and Tina about many of the challenges of owning a business.
• They would need to be prepared to fund the business from their personal finances.
• They would both need to continue their full-time jobs AND work nights and weekends on their new venture.
• Married couples working together in a new business feel particular strains because they are together 24/7.
They told me they did their research (they went to yoga conventions – who knew there were such things?), and as they asked around, they felt they had found a great opportunity to be first to market yoga fine art. Not just “yoga shirts,” but shirts with images that reflected the values of yoga: Art ~ Breath ~ Movement. (Actually, that’s their tag line!).
Steve and Tina also invested in social media marketing — Facebook, YouTube, Tumblr and Twitter — which got the word out to the local yoga community. Then they staged an event with the partnership of the Huntington Beach Artwalk and YogaWorks Huntington Beach with a live drawing of yoga in the studio. The crowds were there and it was a big win for all three organizations!
Steve and Tina share the lessons they learned in these first few months (with my comments following in parenthesis):
1. It’s all about the art — the art is what makes them unique. And it’s how you display the art — since we started framing the pieces, revenue has gone way up. (They made it easy for their customers to visualize their art in use, and probably took a casual suggestion from an early shopper).
2. Start in your own local community — the outpouring of support we received from our local community has driven the business. (By starting small and local, they can be hands-on, and make corrections quickly. As in many businesses, your network of family, friends, and friends of friends are usually the early adopters).
3. People are passionate about yoga, and even more passionate when these two (yoga and art) are combined – over 14 million people in the U.S. practice yoga, according to Yoga Journal magazine, the premier publication in the yoga world. (They researched the size of their market and saw the potential. Their product appeal is NOT just local, but they will have to move quickly to make sure they don’t have imitators or cheap knock-offs.)
So, if you have a passion and want to turn it into an enterprise, it’s possible! Do your research. Put together a small “Kitchen Cabinet” (it’s like a board of advisors) of knowledgeable friends who will give you honest feedback. And whatever you think you’ll spend on your business in the first year, double or triple the amount. You will always run over budget.
It will be interesting to see how Asana Art (www.asanaart.com) is doing after their first year, as I expect they will be looking at new options to expand: licensing images, endorsements, and social media marketing.
The day after they received their first order of printed cards, I was at their home and was their very first customer. The cards are quite beautiful and artistic and even if I don’t practice yoga, I feel more peaceful by sending them to friends.
As you look at the images on these cards, you can see why they make me happy! Visit their website if you are interested in ordering some: www.asanaart.com
P.S. Namaste is Sanskrit for “I honor the divine in you.”