Printed Mint #Girlboss Interview Series
Tell us about yourself, your brand (business name, products you sell & services you provide, and the market you serve) and your email address
I'm Johnna! And just in case you were wondering how to say that, this usually helps: my parents are John & Donna...put that together, and you get Johnna! I’m the owner and graphic and watercolor artist behind @johnna.elyse
I live in Colorado with my husband, Joe, and our dog, Grohl. We moved here last summer as Joe is a professional adaptive snowboard (he is a below the knee amputee), and he is training with the US Parasnowboard team in hopes to make it to the 2022 Winter Paralympics.
Since the move, the watercolors I create through Twila have meant more to me than ever. I specialize in creating memories that people will hold on to of the places they've been. We all have places and homes that have meant something to us, that have shaped who we are, but may no longer be in our lives and through painting, I create watercolors and maps of those places. I miss my Virginia home, but these watercolors make me feel homesick. To me, it's more than just a painting, it's about the memory it evokes when you look at it.
What year did you start your business and what inspired you to become an entrepreneur?
My parents were entrepreneurs most of my life, so I've seen the passion and time they've put into it. It was always something I wanted to do. So I started my business in 2012 and haven't looked back!
How did you come to learn what you do? (self-taught, education, classes, books, mentors etc.)
I went to college for business and marketing as well as studio art. That has helped with both the business side and the art side of my business. After college, I had a job that allowed me to learn graphic design, which has also been incredibly helpful!
What has been the most rewarding phase of your career?
I used to do Wedding Invitations as well, and while it was very intense (as weddings often can be!), it was still so much fun and I loved it. It was amazing to create one of kind invitations for brides. Seeing the looks on their faces when they were complete was the best. Sometimes I miss that!
What is the most challenging part about being an entrepreneur?
All of the hats you have to wear! You can't JUST be an artist or a designer; you have to do your finances, management, emails, taxes, contracts, marketing, websites, etc. It took me a few years to get into a rhythm with it, but I've definitely figured out what works best for me.
What do you do for inspiration? Do you ever hit creative roadblocks and how do you overcome them?
Unfortunately, I hit them roadblocks all the time! Especially right now in this quarantine. I look for inspiration around me and within me. I use personal experience or feelings to try to inspire and relate those experiences to things around me. I'm still one of those people who subscribes to multiple magazines a month. On Saturday mornings before my husband wakes up, I love watching TV, drinking my coffee, and reading through/cutting up magazines. The old fashioned Pinterest!
What’s the secret to your success (personally/professionally/spiritually)?
It took me a few years and I am even still working on it now, but I would say it's just being myself. My instinct is to be more private, but I've found that by putting more of myself out there, people have been more open back. And when it comes down to it, business is a lot about relationships and building connections. But being more open about myself and my life, I've been able to connect with more people.
What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs just starting out? Do you have any tips or tricks you learned along the way that you’d like to share?
Don't take yourself too seriously. Of course, you want to be serious about your business and be motivated, but at the end of the day, it's about making yourself happy and doing what you love. You may not love it all day every day, but you want to love it enough that all the little annoying things are worth it. If something bad happens, it can feel like the end of the world at the time. But I promise a month or so later, it'll feel so small.
As my dad always says, Kill 'em with kindness. It sounds so cliche, but it's so true. The only things I regret in my business are when I let my pride or anger go above being kind. If you have to, take a day to think about it before responding to that angry client email. I PROMISE it's so worth it. Stand your ground, but do it in a kind manner.
What do you think the #girlboss / creative female community needs right now?
More reality. In an age of Instagram where everything is perfect and everyone's lives are perfect (I'm totally guilty of that!), it has created such a comparison game. Rather than comparing ourselves, we need to come together and put the real us out there.
What are you working on now and what’s in store for your business this year?
While in quarantine, I've been working on more watercolors and maps. Launched a few new ones (with mugs and cutting boards!) a few weeks, but I have some more I'd like to get done in time for a summer launch.
I've been taking this time to try to map out my year for designs and launches so I can have new and fresh content coming out more and more. Printed Mint helps with all of that, because without you, I'd only have a few paper goods!