Catherine Was Creating Beautiful Art That She Wanted to Sell More Of…
“I had ventured out of galleries into my own business selling my paintings,” explained artist Catherine Abel. “That move required me to learn a whole lot more about business. I had very specific questions – but no one to answer them. I was watching inspirational videos and reading HerBusiness posts, but I was stuck.”
Catherine Abel is an established artist who sells her paintings all over the world, but before Catherine’s art was doing this well, she had a problem. When sales of her art had not been overly successful in galleries, she decided she needed to learn how to sell art on her own. She was looking for help in all the right places and eventually came across the HerBusiness mentoring program.
Her mentor, Valerie Khoo, has an accounting background, and owns the Australian Writers’ Centre. At first, Valerie’s background concerned Catherine. Catherine was looking for someone who was able to answer her specific questions and understand her business needs on a unique level. Catherine was worried that her new mentor wouldn’t be able to relate to her art.
What Makes a Great Business
Fortunately, she was wrong.
What Valerie was able to give to Catherine was invaluable, and without her writing and accounting background, she would not have given the same counsel. Catherine quickly learned that a lot of what makes a great business is the same across the board, and many of the same rules applied.
What Catherine thought would be a setback actually turned into a set up. Valerie encouraged Catherine to tell the story of her artwork and taught her how to tell a good story. She pushed Catherine to tell her stories again and again, and showed her how to use social media as a story-telling platform.
The Power of Telling Stories
“Story telling has been the most powerful thing Valerie taught me. She told me to be clear and persistent in telling my stories. Not only has that given me a closer relationship with my customers and fans, but it has helped me show my expertise in my field. She helped me develop my voice, and it has become the imagery to my artwork.”
At first, Catherine was scared to tell her stories – afraid no one would have time to read them. Valerie persisted and constantly validated Catherine. Those stories helped Catherine grow her customer and fan base. Now she has many more customers that are willing to pay more for her artwork – which is what every artist wants.
“Catherine would tell me the beautiful stories behind her paintings and the inspiration that led her to paint a particular image. It was interesting to hear the background. Suddenly, the image took on more history and was more than just a painting. But she wasn’t sharing these stories with anyone else, so I encouraged her to tell the stories online because they would resonate with customers and relate their own unique experiences with the painting.”
A lot of what Valerie taught Catherine that changed the trajectory of Catherine’s business would have been really difficult for Catherine to learn on her own. She needed someone outside her industry, to take a holistic, objective approach and offer sound counsel from experience. Valerie gave Catherine golden bits of wisdom, along with so much more – like validation.
Valerie has helped Catherine get where she wants to be through support and firm encouragement. “She answered the tough questions,” said Catherine. “She told me I needed to up my prices if I wanted to continue. At first I didn’t want to, but she reminded me that it was okay.”
Valerie could see that Catherine thought her work was worth more than what she was charging. Catherine also believed that the prices were too low compared to the amount of work that was in each piece, especially considering the time it took to create all the details.
Catherine knew what needed to change, but just needed someone like Valerie to tell her she was right and encourage her to make the change.
“Valerie told me that I did have a justification and was worth that price. It was these times of constant validation and feedback that built my self confidence.”
Her self confidence has helped her grow as an artist and a business owner. Valerie pushed her to do the hard things – like understand the statistics for her business. Now what used to be the “hard things” are a bit easier.
Valerie says she didn’t set out to boost Catherine’s confidence, but she is glad that she helped her find it.
“Instead, I set out to help Catherine put some structure in her business, improve her turnover, make the right decisions and reduce the feeling of overwhelm. I think when those things are addressed, you feel more in control and on track, and confidence is a natural result.”
That’s what a mentor is there for, to show you the way and help you get to a place where you can do things on you own.
There’s also always room to grow. Catherine joked that it’s probably time for another mentoring session because she’s run into a few more questions. That’s the best part of mentoring – it doesn’t have to stop. You can always grow your business and find something else to learn.
So, if you are thinking of getting a mentor for the first time, Catherine says, “Do it! If you are already thinking about it, that probably means it is something you should do. Stop making excuses. Come up with a clear idea of what you need, and find someone who can help you.”
And, if you have already been mentored before, but feel like you might need it again, reach out. It’s okay to not have all the answers and feel like you have more to learn – there is always something more to learn!
To see Catherine’s amazing work, click here.
If you are interested in Valerie’s Australian Writer’s Centre, click here.
And if you want to learn more about the HerBusiness Mentoring Program, click here.