Passion versus paycheck is a struggle Lori Blaylock knows all too well. For as long as she can remember, she wanted to be an artist. “I pursued an art degree, the first in my family to earn a college degree,” explains Blaylock. “In my twenties, I realized that being an artist probably meant I would have to be an entrepreneur as well, but I didn’t know how to start and I had to make a living.”
So for 20 years, Blaylock worked in higher education, then tech, then the financial industry, all while dabbling in art. “I found some success here and there,” Blaylock says, “but never enough to leave a guaranteed paycheck.”
And then one day, things changed. “About nine years ago, I started making jewelry,” Blaylock says. “I realized I was not only finding my voice, but this new medium offered a lot more commercial potential than the others I had been working in.” Today, Blaylock mixes business with pleasure working as a full-time artist and owner of 2Dog Studio.
As of June 2018, Blaylock has more than doubled her sales numbers from when she was creating art part-time. Represented by five galleries in Montana, she’s working on out-of-state connections. Blaylock has also developed a new line of higher-end work and nailed down her wholesale offerings. “My first year as a full-time business owner is on track to turn a small profit,” says Blaylock.
How SCORE Helped
“My experience in banking had exposed me to SCORE as a resource and I thought maybe it would help me as well,” explains Blaylock, who was paired with mentors Frank Kelley and Maureen Jurovich. “My SCORE mentors, have provided me with so much good information and guidance, especially with financials.”
Though Blaylock admits the transition to self-employment has been “liberating but not easy,” she says, “My mentors have helped me think through goals, set them, report about progress, and check them off the list. They ask good questions that help me think my next move.”
Blaylock’s advice to other artists: “Don’t bend with the whims of the market. Stay true to your vision, find your audience and cultivate authenticity. One hundred ‘fans’ can promote you successfully enough to sustain your business.”
She adds, “Don’t be afraid to ask for help from experts, and SCORE is a great and free resource. If you don’t want to meet with mentors, check out the online resources!”