Starting a business is full of learning experiences. Some decisions are good, some are bad and some you may never understand why you made, but two local creatives with a thriving business are aiming to help fellow artisans take some of the guesswork out of the process.
These are Things founders Jen Adrion and Omar Noory open up about their experience and offer advice in Designed to Sell: The Unconventional Guide to Creative Freedom.
Noory describes the book as, “What we wished we would have learned while we were working these last four years.” The book provides a step-by-step guide for creatives to take their products from idea to production.
The guide serves many purposes.
Designed to Sell highlights and addresses those differences that exist between creating a “normal” business versus a creative business. While much of the process overlaps, Adrion and Noory found many things could be different as well. The book acts as a resources to cover all those business details that never seem to be taught in school.
The duo also wants the guide to help creatives legitimize their business. Many people think creative businesses come and go or aren’t a means of stable support, but the guide is designed so readers can take the lessons and actually turn their idea into something tangible and profitable.
“It’s important for people to realize it can be a long career,” Adrion says.
The book developed through a partnership with Portland-based entrepreneur and author, Chris Guillebeau. These Are Things was featured in one of his books, The $100 Startup. Guillebeau also coordinates a series of unconventional guides with a heavy focus on entrepreneurship.
He told the pair, “I want you to write the manual to help any other artist do what you’ve done.”
Designed to Sell brings the duo’s experience together with the secrets and knowledge of several other successful creative entrepreneurs, with a dose of expert advice from professionals in other fields like photography and finance.
“It’s a very actionable, real-world guide,” Adrion says. The book breaks down the process of starting a business into a series of achievable steps.
Adrion and Noory wanted to include more than one viewpoint in the book. By providing examples of other successful creatives, the process seems more achievable. It is possible to take the leap and make a business out of a creative idea.
The guide is geared towards people who want to make a product versus freelancers or service-oriented designers. It contains examples from a wide range of creatives making jewelry, art prints, apparel, accessories, magazines and ceramics, just to name a few.
From diverse products to diverse business models, “There are a wide range of forms a creative business can take,” Adrion says.
Four local entrepreneurs are featured in the book and truly highlight various means to running a successful, creative business.
Jewelry designer Anne Holman took the skills she learned at her former day job and uses them in her, so far, decade-long jewelry career. Allison Chapman of Igloo Letterpress built a successful business that allowed her to hire employees so she could get back to her creative love. Scott Ulliman demonstrates how selling prints in addition to a full-time position can provide a creative outlet that doesn’t have to turn into a business. And Eric Bisignano, certified CPA and founder of Charitx, provides an expert financial perspective on “all the fun stuff that creatives hate.”
The book represents Noory and Adrion’s dream team of creative businesses and includes perspectives from entrepreneurs in London, Portland, Philly, Minneapolis and New York.
“We’re really excited to see what comes of it,” Adrion says.
For more information, visit creativefreedomguide.com.