Can you tell me a little bit about Shiny Happy Art?
Shiny Happy Art has been ten years in the making I suppose. It’s had many different incarnations but at the moment my main business is paint-alongs, where I have people come into my studio and we all paint the same thing together in three or four hours and they leave with a painting that is strung, varnished and ready to hang. I also have online courses of paint-alongs and painting subjects, and I do corporate events like team building, where everyone either paints one big painting together or individual paintings or pieces of individual paintings.
Do people need to be good at art to attend?
Absolutely not. Everything is really beginner focused. I say my super power is making things simple so I have designed these paintings specifically so I can break them down in steps for beginners. So it’s either edu-tainment or learning by doing. I still get a selection of people like really accomplished artists that might not have the space at home at the moment or they might just want to get away from their kids for a while or they’re just getting back into it again and trying to find that creativity that they used to have. So there’s a huge variety of people that come along but I do say high school age and above which helps me manage the time that it takes with each painting.
You previously were working as a marketing manager, is that right?
My background’s marketing because my father said years ago that I’d never make a living out of art! I have four kids and at the moment they’re aged six to 17 and I had a fabulous job in marketing at my son’s school. I learnt so much and made some great friends so it was a really hard decision to leave and pursue Shiny Happy Art but this is it now!
How did you know that this was a viable business idea?
Back in 2011 I ran a sample night with some friends just to see how it would go. By early 2013 I’d be getting four to six people come along to paint-alongs so it was definitely a side business but word of mouth was great in my town, Toowoomba.
Now I announce new dates and times at the beginning of each term because I work it around my kids. I can fit 16 people in my studio comfortably and sometimes depending on the subject they will book out within hours if not minutes which has happened before. Knowing that the demand was there has been fantastic, but it took me four years to get to this point of knowing that I can guarantee it. It’s terrific, it’s really fun. I can’t believe it, every day I get to play with paint and really nice people come along so I’m so lucky.
What’s next for you?
I’d like to be able to go to at least capital cities and run some paint alongs throughout the next couple of years. My main focus for expanding the business in a leveraged way is online. I also have a book coming out; it’s on Amazon already and it will be published in another month or two. I’d like to have enough online courses to make the most of the interest that should be generated when the book comes out so online is definitely my focus, paralleling my studio offerings.
What would you say are your best tips for success?
Keep things simple. It’s a skill I use in my art and I apply it to my business. I don’t believe in 17-page business plans; I have a mind map basically that guides me every year. I also have a ‘two glasses approach’ which is have two glasses of wine and get relaxed. I do it for painting and for planning!
Social media is the other big thing too. Be where your customers are, enjoy it and live it because Facebook has certainly been huge. Facebook can sell a session out for me very very quickly.
Every day, KBB’s Dannie Doughan chats with an entrepreneur and features their story on our website. If your business wants a ‘Date with Dannie’, email us a quick bit about your biz!