I believe in a world where we cheer one another on and we don’t see any other entrepreneur as a competitor. (It’s why I love the Rising Tide Society so much!) I love when I see other business owners support one another and I can’t possibly count all of the times I’ve been inspired or motivated by another business owner. It can be a lonely world, sitting in a corner of your home, balancing the roles of parenthood, wife, photographer, creative and just overall human with obligations to friends and the house and hobbies and passions. It feels a lot less lonely when you celebrate all the other people who get it.
So, today, we’re introducing our new entrepreneur blog series, Focus On.
Our first Focus On is a spotlight on Jamie Redmond, a Syracuse, New York artist. Enjoy this peek into her business, her balance and her dreams. Be sure to follow her, cheer her on and stay tuned for more entrepreneur spotlights every two weeks.
I am Jamie Redmond, the artist and owner behind The Memorable Image. I create a line of greeting cards called the Animal Tales. They bring my images and stories together to hilariously explore all the lessons life has to teach us. I work out of my studio in Syracuse, NY.
When did you start your business? What inspired you to do this?
I started my business in 2013, but it took me about a year to find my footing. When I started out, I thought I would pursue 'serious' photography. But I kept finding myself drawn to creating these little images that were vignettes of daily life using toy animals. And then I'd pair them with these three sentence stories I was writing.
The Animal Tales began as a personal challenge to push me creatively. They were weird and quirky: I didn't think of them as my business. I created them for me. Each card is a little pep-talk commiserating over how amazing or heartbreaking life can be.
When I started the Animal Tales I wasn't in a particularly good place. My parents had died when I was in my 20s. I didn't know how to grieve that type of tragedy. So I threw myself into working for other people and design agencies.
When I started my own business, as busy as I was, it was like I had time to breathe for the first time in six years. And slowly that is when the grief hit me as depression. At the time I couldn't see what was going on, or how bad it had gotten, but during that time I started the Animal Tales because they made me laugh and captured my imagination. They pulled me forward.
Looking back now, I can see how each Tale was a pep-talk to myself and steeped in the legacy of my parents. My earliest memories are of my mom teaching me to read, she was huge proponent of early childhood literacy. My father would spin the most amazing stories every night, all pulled out of thin air based on the limits of my imagination. The Animal Tales became my way of staying in touch with and honoring my memories of them.
After I had been working on them for about a year I started showing them off at different craft and art shows, and they resonated with other people in a way that made the world feel just a bit smaller and more like a community.
The Animal Tales are designed to make people laugh and feel less alone in this bewildering boat of life. I like to think of them as sending hugs or high-fives in the mail.
About how many hours a week would you say you spend on your business? What are some of the behind-the-scenes things that your business requires that people may not realize?
I spend about 50+ hours a week on my business. It is so much part of my life sometimes it is hard to tell if I am working or relaxing. Ideas come to me when I am just living life, and I have to ride that inspiration or at least record it which pulls me back into work mode.
But I thrive on the seamlessness of it. When I worked for other people I was always bringing the job home with me. Sometimes it was work to do at night, and sometimes it was sleepless nights because my mind couldn't stop running.
If I was going to be working that hard, I wanted to be doing it for myself.
One thing I don't think people realize is that some of the Tales take years to complete. I need to find the right props, the right animals, and sometimes when everything comes together and I have the image I may still struggle for the words.
Many of the Tales have two different stories, one that is light and inspirational and one that is dark and snarky. When I am ready to publish I have to decide which way the Tale is going go and that can be hard. I've had to learn to trust my instincts.
On a scale of 1-10, how balanced would you say you are between your work and family/personal life? How do you try to balance both worlds?
I'd say my work and personal life are balanced somewhere around a 5. I never feel like there is enough time or that I am paying enough attention to either one of them. It is a big struggle. But I am not unhappy with it, I just keep trying new things to see what makes me feel balanced, and learn from the times I feel stressed about it all.
What would you say is the biggest challenge in owning your own business?
FOCUS...Definitely focus. I have the hardest time not being distracted by the interwebs. It's a form of self-sabotage that I am really trying to be more aware of. Knowing what is going on in the world makes me feel like I have some sort of control through knowledge. But it doesn't actually give me control over anything and I'm not maintaining meaningful relationships with friends online. So for me, it is a big waste of time to get sucked into the waterfall of information out there.
What has been your proudest moment/greatest victory as an entrepreneur?
When I finally had the clarity to just focus on the Animal Tales. I moved away from what I was taught I 'should do' from fine art school, to what I wanted to do. It was very inspiring to have that clarity and confidence.
What is the hardest part of being a business owner?
Time management. Knowing how much time a project will actually take. When I worked for design agencies I was really good at assigning multipliers to different designers: they would say a project would take them x number of hours, and from experience, I knew how to interpret that into actual hours.
I think we all really underestimate how much time any given task will take. I know my multiplier is three (tasks will take me 3 times longer to do that I think they will), but I am really resistant to using that when planning out my time. I convince myself I can do everything I want every day.
How important is it to you to support other entrepreneurs and business owners?
This one is HUGE for me. As a small business, I see directly how spending money with other small businesses affects them. It's like its own little economy. And I love having the stories behind what I purchase.
I actively seek out other handmade artisans, small bakeries (cake forever), farms, and shops because I want to contribute directly to someone else's dreams.
What are some ways that you try to do this?
I visit craft shows, participate in CSAs (for vegetables and flowers), go to farmers markets, seek out local bakeries and mom and pop toy shops for most of my animals.
What are your one-year and five-year goals for your business?
Ah, this is a tough one. In one year I'd like to see the Animal Tales find homes in 100 shops across the US. This year I really started to focus on wholesale in conjunction with my Etsy shop and craft shows.
In five years, I want to have a book published. Storytelling has always been my goal, and I'd really like to complete some of my longer works and combine them with my images.
What else would you like to share? You can share anything here!!!
Don't be afraid to indulge in personal projects and create for yourself. It feels like a ridiculous luxury to do that sometimes, but it is how you discover what really speaks to you. Don't be afraid to explore and pivot, but give yourself time to grow before you share it with others. Then give yourself more time.
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thememorableimage/ @TheMemorableImage
Note: Photos are by Jamie Redmond unless otherwise noted.