Wednesday, November 30, 2011

My personal Mompreneur story: Unmask your hidden talents

How I ended up a mompreneur before it was cool: In the early seventies, my husband opened a retail floor covering store and stationed me on the front desk. I was miserable.
Bored to tears, I started playing with some of the scraps of carpet in my spare time and "The Hooked LOOK" was born.

My crafty escapism started off with simple designs as this little cover reveals; and grew to impressive contemporary full wall-scapes. Yes, you may have seen them in your favorite airport.

I was credited by the Dallas Times Herald as the creator of a new craft and featured in our local city paper. Then - I was selected to be the first artist/craftsperson featured in the Premier Issue of the Dallas Homes and Gardens Magazine. It was so exciting! The feature editor discovered my work at my first ever public  exhibit at Cottonwood Art Show in Richardson, Texas.

From that article, I received a commission to do a massive abstract logo for the decorator of a large bank in Dallas. Many commercial accounts followed. Soon my husband joined my efforts, and together, we developed an art manufacturing company (and closed that floor covering store!). Our contemporary wallhangings were distributed nationally through reps and in permanent showrooms in all of the major home furniture markets, including the World Trade Centers in Dallas, Atlanta, New York, San Francisco, Las Angeles and conventions in High Point. Our accounts included IRS, Hilton Double Tree hotel chain, Armed Forces Commissaries and many, many exclusive decorator commissions and orders.

Another line of designs were offered direct to the public in highly juried art exhibits through out the nation -- so many that it was necessary to have seven to eight trucks on the road at all times. We were overjoyed to see how very popular our wallscapes were and to meet many celebrities who took more than one home with them.  If you look very close, you can see one of our tree wall hangings on old reruns of the "Three's Company" set!
Alas, earth-tones and contemporary furnishings were replaced with country kitschy, owls and mushrooms. My husband wasn't willing to go there and I had more  little ones at home by then and just wanted to stay home. But all of that work and effort, only good while it lasted, and then,

WOW! I've Never Thought of Painting Clothes: My son was modeling at a Lee Jeans runway show at the Dallas Apparel Mart. The dancers and models were outfitted in Lee Jeans and the wildest painted t-shirts imaginable. I was totally blown away by the possibilities. Though I loved staying home, and being with my kids was my first priority, I needed to contribute financially. I thought I saw a chance to do both.

With prayer, faith, and much struggle to conquer a new learning curve, I developed a line of ten fashion painting patterns; presented them to MJ Designs and my Painter Friendly Designs by Devonia patterns were soon sold nationwide.

That was a fun, kitchen-table career that allowed me to stay home with my kiddos - the second stage of my  mompreneurism. Before the craft industry began it's tragic crash, my pattern lines swelled to more than ten with more than a thousand designs and were marketed in all of the major craft stores across the nation, including Michaels, MJ Designs, Ambers, Hobby Lobby, Garden Ridge Pottery and many mom and pop stores. I worked very hard at my kitchen table - things always sound easier than they are.

Life was wonderful while the craze lasted and my sons grew to be teenagers.
Occasionally I find a Designs by Devonia pattern packet offered on eBay and I feel a bit nostalgic.

Here's one currently available on eBay.


Maybe it's time I get a REAL job:
Another creative cycle had ended. My kiddos were
nearly out of the nest and I was again looking for something to keep my mind and fingers busy and contribute financially (I was already finding out that older kids are very expensive) - this time I looked outside my home, uncertain I had anything to offer that would benefit any company.

A local adult education facility, Fun/ED, advertised for an art marketing director with heavy experience in publishing, marketing, art and public speaking. I applied and was shocked that the job was mine!

I felt as if I had been dropped to float on a creative cloud. An extra perk, of course, was that I could attend any of the more than 350 classes - FREE! plus as co-ordinator for for all major "happenings", I rubbed elbows with many renowned authors in events hosted by our facility. It was a fast-paced environment aptly named Fun/ED. I wore many hats and though he responsibilities were daunting , I was happily very busy. I couldn't believe I was being paid big $$$'s to do this job while someone else had all the worries. I loved it!

In my spare time, I designed all of the four-color covers for our class catalog, chose the models, set up and oversaw the photo shoots and edited the magazine, placed all advertisements, etc. The classes were presented in a full color magazine form - mine to create from concept to final print sign-off (often at three in the morning). One of my favorite covers is shown at the left- tagged "Unmask Your Hidden Talents!".

Eventually the owners of this private institution, Fun/ED, serving DFW more than twenty years, wanted to retire so another change loomed. I was heartbroken, yet...

I Had Always Yearned To Paint ROSES: Just about the time that Rachel Ashwell's book, Shabby Chic, set a new trend for home decor - eBay was new and exciting! I picked up a paint brush and realized I was right back at my kitchen table. My art began to travel to homes as far, globally, as eBay could reach and I fell in love with the many wonderful customers. This has been a personally rewarding time and I've enjoyed it since 1997 , however,

If you have read this far, you must have noticed a pattern. Life changes - art changes - we change. Once I forced change myself, but most of the time, change was forced upon me. A part of me always feared changes because I liked things just the way they were. I was happy and not eager to change nor did I always trust what the newest open door might offer. Someone recently asked a group if we believed that everything happens for a reason. I don't know the answer. I just know that change is inevitable; yet, by reviewing my own experience, I have to believe if we tap into our hidden talents, change can open new opportunities. It's up to us to explore the possibilities. What's true in a Dallas lifestyle is true anywhere. Sooo tell me your story.

And sooo, while I give this some thought, I bet blogging and writing might be fun!


Nancy said...

Thank you for sharing. I know my days at eBay are over with my current product line and I am floundering in my search for a new direction. Your little work bio is an inspiration to keep searching. Hope you share more...I'm signing up to see.

Country French Antiques said...

Sounds like you know how to take advantage of opportunities!
HOORAY for you.
You Go Girl!!

Cindy ~ My Romantic Home said...

you should not be afraid of have been very successful and I'm sure you will be in the future!

mylulus said...

I am in complete agreement with your blog, I feel that with every door that closes new ones open and usually whats behind the new door is even better than what we had, though it sometimes takes us a while to figure that out. We need to accept that change is good even if its hard its the only way we really grow.

Lynn@ The Vintage Nest said...

Devonia, I saw the change in eBay two years ago and was not happy at all. I studied and researched for a year before taking the plunge and opening my own website. I was scared to death as I knew no one that had a website nor a mentor to look up to. But it worked and I love it. Maybe you should do that too. Your roses and work is just exquisite. I loved reading your story. ~ Lynn

Siobhan said...

Hello, I just found your blog and wow! I love your paintings they are really beautiful.
Siobhan xo

Devonia said...

Nan, Shawn, Cindy, Sandy, Lynn, & Siobhan: Thanks bunches for the encouragement and the faith that though things "change", we can change too!

My bests, Devonia

Anonymous said...

I agree with them all Devonia. Any one with your talent is so blessed.
I enjoyed this article so much. Good luck with whatever path you take.

Devonia said...

Thank you for your encouragement and the nice compliment, Pam. I genuinely appreciate it.