Hello to all The Cottonwood House fans and followers! My name is Kristen and I run an online art and gift shop called Munga Vision. Jenny is letting me take over her blog for the afternoon to share a little bit about myself and company. You can read Jenny’s interview over on my blog as well as we have done a fun little get to know each other guest post swap!
What is the main product you sell?
My biggest inventory is art prints and I do plan on continuing to focus a large part of the shop on this category. The most popular art print sellers at the moment are the poster lines which can pair with handmade magnetic wood hangers where you can easily swap out your art work. I tend to be a person who likes to update art and change things out on a whim so I really love the line as well. You consistently have the perfect frame and size for a little nook in your house, but can alter it seasonally or just whenever you feel like a new person!
How do you describe your style?
About two years ago I made the switch from corporate graphic design freelancing to designing and selling my art and it definitely has been a journey to narrow my focus. To this day I am still a little bit all over the place, but to me that’s life! It’s messy and eclectic and I am just not a one kind of style woman in the end. The one thing about my art that has come into focus is that it always incorporates a message. In fact, all of my pieces first start with the quote or saying I end up incorporating at the end of the design. Typically an entire series as spawned from favorite lines of text, like the Soul Full collection which then in turn I also put into anniversary and Valentine greeting cards with The Romance Collection. My art is always having a love affair with words I’ve come to realize.
Tell me something about yourself outside of business?
I have a hilarious and sexy husband who I love even more then when all was new over a decade ago. Together we have 3 children, Chance age 5, Zelda age 3 and our daughter Teddy who turned 1 in October. All 3 are mischief makers and not short on personality. We also have two dogs and two guinea pigs in the house. Ted and I come from large families and between my siblings and his siblings our children have 16 first cousins who they all know very well and I hope they get to remain close forever. Anyways, if you ever try to call me and wonder why I don’t pick up the phone ever it’s because our house is incredibly loud at almost all hours of daylight!
What does success mean for you?
I’d love to say that success means I am Sugarboo’s top competitor or the next Joanna Gaines, but for me it just means being able to work for myself, make a decent salary and take pride in running my own business and the art I produce. Right now I have grown my business over the last two years, but as a small shop (I am sure many can relate) the part where I am not at my goal success margin is that my costs are too high. Events I participate in and retail spaces like The Cotton Company and Three Little Birds Market all cost money to invest in your product and sometimes you sit on that product awhile before you can sell it. My 5 year plan is hopefully continuing to increase my sales, but more importantly to increase the profit margin by lowering costs as I get more into the groove in every sale.
What projects do you have lined up for the 2019 year?
I am currently working on my next greeting card line which is pretty fun because I am “painting” the entire series on my iPad. It’s a totally different field for me and I am really enjoying it because often with the kids at home and I begin to paint it’s so interrupted and the paint dries and I feel I’ve wasted so much time. The iPad has been a really cool thing to learn recently to work with because I am more comfortable designing on my computer screen anyways and also the constant interruptions don’t matter because I just save and go back to exactly where I left off when I can.
Other projects include another painted nature series, but this time instead of night sky paintings like The Star Gazing series I am going to be painting some local farm lands and my favorite spots around. The third and possibly final series to add to the year will be focused on a nursery series of art prints. In between the series release though I still work on custom invitations and orders which add new inventory (just not in full collection releases) and will be adding more t-shirts, throw pillows and mugs which are all new to the store as well in the house and living section!
Which product has been your favorite piece ever when done?
Definitely the Star Gazing series. I actually originally only intended them to be cards, but I received such great feedback I ended up putting them to poster prints to go with the wood hangers. I felt really proud with how they came out and have loved that others appreciated them too.
What’s the last book you read and what are you currently reading?
I just finished Men Explain Things to Me, which had a lot of interesting information about the gender divide, mansplaining, and interesting information on how it all shapes sexual assaults in the United States. After that more factual read though I jumped into the Matched trilogy which is essentially young adult fiction. (Giant LOL at eclectic tastes!) I read a lot and you can usually find me snapping a picture on my phone of my kindle or book page to remember a quote to spark a new design! Reading is great inspiration to come up with new design ideas. I actually have a quote tattoo on my back from my favorite book The Bell Jar which was done long before my business and art became obsessed with words.
Tell us the biggest tip you could offer another small business owner.
When you own your own business nothing just randomly clicks into place on it’s own free will. You have to maneuver and manipulate all the pieces and constantly take things apart to reevaluate and rework. I am a little early on this journey still so perhaps other bigger business owners would disagree, but for me it’s taken the past two years to conclude that retail is kind of like the weather. I use to think that if I could just sail along then I’d hit endless sunshine. That’s not the case. Sometimes I have weeks of great days and then some new storm approaches and threatens everything. I am learning to adjust my sails accordingly as that saying goes.
Do you do an actual happy dance when someone places an order?
Every damn time.