Tell us a little bit about yourself and your craft.
My name is Leana Fischer and I’m an artist and designer in Fayetteville, AR. I have a small stationery shop called May We Fly, where I sell my artwork and drawings on products like greeting cards, art prints, and calendars. My primary craft is watercolor painting with a focus on botanicals, though I love painting just about anything that catches my eye.
What was your AHA moment?
I learned how to paint with watercolors in a semester elective I took during architecture school. I fell in love with the medium then, but didn’t paint seriously until several years after graduating when I was temporarily in between jobs. When I re-discovered my enjoyment of painting with watercolor, I started to invest a lot more time in it and spent hours painting to refine my skills and develop my style. It took several years to get to the point where selling my artwork became a substantial portion of my income, but I’ll always be thankful for that “in-between” season where I had the time to re-invest in my love for painting.
Where do you draw energy and inspiration for your work?
I love to walk, and I find that much of my inspiration is found right outside my door. Sometimes I see something that inspires me, or new ideas will come to mind as I slow down my pace and let my mind wander.
What’s one of your favorite moments of the creative process?
There’s a moment in almost every painting where I want to give up on it and think it’s a disaster. But when I force myself to work through that stage, there’s usually one stroke or one detail that brings everything together. That’s a beautiful moment.
As small business owners, I think it’s safe to say we learn as we go! What’s something you’ve learned from operating your business that you wish you could have told yourself when you started?
I’m definitely someone who learns literally everything the hard way, and one of the things I’m still learning is the importance of being patient. This year especially, I’ve been learning how to invest my time, energy, and resources more wisely. Sometimes that means saying no to more things, or focusing on one large project rather than five small ones. It’s always a long game, and I don’t think I completely realized that at the beginning. It’s easy to look from the outside at other businesses that you admire and think they were successful overnight, but I know now that, outside of the rare exception, building and operating a business is almost solely based on patience, perseverance, and passion.
What roadblocks have you hit and overcome as a small business owner?
I would say that many of my roadblocks come from my own insecurities or fears about growing my business. One that I seem to hit fairly frequently is the fear of investing my finances in supplies, marketing opportunities, or other expenses that aren’t guaranteed to pay off. I’ve come a lot farther in my ability to embrace this aspect of growing my business, but it still feels like a roadblock sometimes.
What are your go-to podcasts, books or blogs?
I listen to a LOT of podcasts while I work, and a few of my go-tos are:
- Elsie Gets Crafty
- How I Built This
- Positively Creative
- Seanwes Podcast
- Happier with Gretchen Rubin
What is your favorite thing about the handmade community?
I’ve found the handmade community to be such a supportive place. There’s something very unique and vulnerable about the process of creating something with your hands and choosing to share it with the world. In the handmade community, I really appreciate that we all understand the challenges that come with that.
What do you have planned for your business in the months to come? Any new projects, collabs, collections you can hint at?
One newer part of my business has been hosting my own watercolor workshops, and I’m planning to expand those next year into multi-week courses. I also have a goal to (hopefully) record a course to submit to Skillshare.
I’ve got a few new collection ideas up my sleeve, one inspired by my recent travels out west, and another based on the small things I love about my own home. I hope to produce both collections in the new year.
Tell us about a small victory! The little things are so worthy of celebration! (Anything that made you do your happy dance!)
One artist I follow, Becky Simpson of Chipper Things, talks about the importance of celebrating the “new normals.” At the end of this year, I’m realizing that there are quite a few things for me that are now normal that didn’t used to be. One that makes me especially happy is that I have an actual studio space now, one that is not in a corner of my house, but is an actual space in town. I’ve had it almost a year now, but it still makes me happy every time I walk in.