The Sarah Jane Story: Part 1

Photo by Katherine Le Cheminant

Next month is Sarah Jane Studios' 3 year anniversary! Now through the end of the month, I will be sharing my personal story of how a simple idea turned into a stay-at-home career in illustration & design

THREE YEARS AGO was an interesting time in my life. I had 2 children,  2 1/2 years old and 1 and 1/2 years old. I was finally sleeping through the night after 2 solid years of nursing and having babies. We were living in a tiny, middle story condo and my husband was in graduate school. Part of me was really tired, and the other part of me was just getting out of the slump of having my babies 12 months apart and I was finding  a new energy. I had this incredible urge to start a business from the paintings and the drawings I had been working on that summer. I had recently graduated with a BFA in Musical Theater, and was ready to put my stage life behind. I have always been an artist, and knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life in my art. I had big ideas, big energy and big hopes, but no money, tactics or direction.

But beyond my burning creative energy, I had a strong motivation to start working with my art to support my husband through school. He is a school teacher, and had just recently decided he wanted to get his master's degree. It left him with absolutely no time to get a second job, and left me even more convinced that I needed to step in and help out.

Me and by babies the month I opened the shop.

My faith is a huge part of my life. I can't tell you how many times you'll find me praying in a day. This art journey of mine is no exception and during this time 3 years ago, I was very prayerful about how to start a business at home without it getting in the way of my two infants. I barely had any time! Addie's naps were very short and Ian's were long. They went to bed early so I had some time in the evening, but they were very early risers so it was hard to stay up late. I told God that I needed to start a business to help support my husband through graduate school, but I didn't want to leave my babies. I also had a dream about making a mark in the children's industry, but I told him I didn't know how to even get started. But I started working in that direction, and prayed for a way to make it happen.

One of the first items in my shop 3 years ago

My husband came home from work one night with a clipping from a newspaper he had read that day. He never reads the paper. He prefers the computer.  But that day he had read the paper, and saw a clipping about an event specifically for women entrepreneurs who want to start a business. It was the following night and it was only a few miles away. I had no idea in that moment how much I would learn about how to get from the "dream" stage to the "make it happen and really have a business" stage. I was about to embark on a really awesome journey.

The event was perfect. Was it a coincidence that Nancy Cajun spoke on the very topic of "Turning an Idea into a Business?" Was it a coincidence that she was a published author and she spoke about the lifestyle and ropes being an author and illustrator?  Was it a coincidence that she talked about protecting your art and holding to copyrights? It was almost too perfect. It was just what I needed to really have the motivation and tools to move forward. But even more than that, I met people that night who could help mentor me, brainstorm, and give me ideas and support.

Goodnight friend: My very first sale.

But from here, I learned things like:"Know where you fit in the market, but don't try to fit in." "Your business needs to fill a need in the market. Identify it, and fill it." "Do your homework and know your competition." Simple business tips like this that allowed me to think beyond my own sketchbook and gave me the motivation to move forward. Someone like me, who had no business training, art education or professional experience in this market, needed to hear these things, and I was so grateful.

I will stop there with my story. There is a lot more to tell. But it's long, and it's not fair to ask you to read it all in one sitting. But what I did want to express this morning is how grateful I am this month for the mentors and support I found 3 years ago which ultimately gave me the boost I needed and the contacts I needed to get Sarah Jane Studios from my head into an LLC. I realized how guided I was then, but I see it even more now as I look back. It's just amazing...all the people and events a long the way that took me, step by step, in the right direction.

Kelly King Anderson, founder of Startup Princess has provided a fantastic network of support, and if you are feeling the need to start a business from your hobby, or if you have already started but need some extra support or inspiration, there is an event next week that will really help you. Sept 23& 24 I'm going to be speaking about building online sales, specifically on ETSY. I'm feeling rather sentimental and hope there are "Sarah Jane's" out there like I was 3 years ago....driven but needing help and ideas. I know how much these events can help, and I hope to see you there! Register here: and enter in 'princess' for $50 off.

I'm going to be writing parts of my story over the next few weeks. It's a special one to me, and I love looking back to see how I have been so led and guided the whole way.

Happy weekend everyone! And thanks for all your support. It's been an amazing journey!