Back in May, I was chosen to participate in the first ever On-Ramp program for creative entrepreneurs in Indiana. This was a 3-day weekend in Madison, Indiana (gorgeous historic town, way at the bottom of the state) sponsored by the Indiana Arts Commission. Our guide for the weekend was the lovely and talented Elaine Grogan Luttrull. She is an Ohio-based author, accountant, and financial adviser who feels passionately about helping artists and arts organizations thrive with their businesses – the perfect woman for the job!
The selected group of entrepreneurs consisted of a vast array of talent! Painters, sculptors, mixed media artists, film makers, hip hop artists, folks specializing in public art, fiber artists, graphic artists – the list was incredibly impressive! And I thought it was quite the testament to the IAC that they didn’t stick with simply the traditional arts! (Gold star for them!) The weekend kicked off on Friday morning and went strong until Sunday afternoon. The sheer volume of information from Elaine and from each other was staggering! Very intense. Our group developed this strong bond in an extremely short amount of time, everyone sharing their experiences, struggles, and successes. We were all there with the same goal in mind – develop a business that will support ourselves doing what we love. Amen!!
So for all those who completed the weekend, we were then qualified to apply to the On-Ramp Fellowship. This is a $2000 grant meant to assist you in progressing your business. I knew instantly how I would apply the money, were I to be awarded it – the Acton Creative website. Last year, I started a partnership with SERA Solutions in Michigan City to develop a website, shopping cart and all! As we began putting the pieces together, Seth Spencer (head honcho at SERA) mentioned how they could better customize the site in the future. At the beginning of this year, I asked the SERA gang to lay out a proposal explaining various costs for the future vision of the website. And this fellowship was like a sign from above saying, “here is how you’ll do it”!
Since I am a grant-writing newbie, I was especially grateful that Elaine explained the various fellowship questions as we moved through the weekend. Plus, we were all given access to a secret weapon – Paige and Anna, from the Indiana Arts Commission! The ladies hung with us the entire weekend, organizing food/beverages, making sure we were comfortable & we knew where we were going next. Most importantly, they lent an ear to each of us as we explained our concept for the fellowship proposal. I worked with Anna on this and she quickly thought through my idea and presented me with ways to make it stronger, as well as additional elements to consider. And, Elaine granted us each a 45 minute phone call after the weekend to review any concerns we had about the fellowship, business, or life in general! She is awesome, I’m telling you!
Now, these IAC folks had our number, for sure. We ended the weekend on Sunday, May 20 and the fellowship application was due at the end of the month. (Someone must have explained to the program organizers how artists can be expert procrastinators!) Because of the quick turn around, I didn’t have too much time to obsess over it (thank god for little favors). My goal was to present my fellowship proposal clearly and succinctly, with enough information to make it personal and compelling. I turned mine in and waited (impatiently, mind you). They announced the winners mid-June and I was thrilled they gave me the green light! Woohoo!
So that brings me to now. For the past month or so, I’ve been working consistently with my boys over at SERA Solutions on developing a new & improved website. During that time, I have employed the incredible Colby Aitchison to create a logo, and have met with Kate Murray, who will be doing some lifestyle images this fall. It’s been awesome and so much work – all at the same time! I cannot wait to share it with you! My hope is that when all is said and done, the new website will accurately depict my work and Acton Creative, giving visitors lots of fabulous woven items to drool over! Fingers crossed! I will definitely show you little nuggets as they are finalized!
Through this entire process, I have been lucky enough to work with amazing people, solidify the direction my business is going, and find a renewed sense of focus! Let’s just say that the website won’t be the only thing new & improved! Happy weaving, friends!