We had the good fortune of connecting with Sarah-Jane May and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Sarah-Jane, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
Starting my own business has been a bit of an unexpected but very exciting and fun turn of events in my life. It honestly all started with my flower crowns and then quickly grew from there. I’ve been making flower crowns for a while now, but it wasn’t until this last summer that I really started trying to get into festivals and markets to sell them. At first it was just an idea of something to do for fun, but after the first couple of festivals I did I really started to enjoy the whole experience of prepping for markets and the planning that it took to make sure I would have enough items and organization for my booth. From there I started to expand on what types of artwork I sold along with them, including stickers of my artwork. I honestly don’t think I would have had the courage to start my own business with my art if it weren’t for working for another small independent woman-owned business. This and surrounding myself with other wonderful artists and people has really given me the motivation to work towards building my own business.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I am still most definitely finding my style as an artist, but I think what sets me apart from others is that I’m not afraid to do different things and have different types of mediums as my artwork in my business. I make flower crowns but I also make stickers and wall art sculptures among other things and I find it exciting to put myself and my art out there. I’m just really enjoying making things that make me happy and in turn make others happy as well. With things being focused more on minimal contact online shopping recently I’ve really been focusing on trying to make customer’s packages look fun and pretty as much as possible, adding in fun tissue paper and a hand written note. As I mentioned, I’m still growing as an artist, and it hasn’t been easy. The current pandemic definitely threw a wrench in my plans, as it did many other artists who rely on festivals and markets for work. I was so looking forward to festival season this year as this was going to be my first spring doing festivals, when people are really looking for flower crowns for various music and outdoor festivals, but of course things kind of came to a stop before it could really begin. While it was very frustrating at first, I very quickly learned to pivot to online sales and did a complete redesign of my website so I could get my stock of floral crowns and my other pieces online. It has also been a time for me to practice more digital art, and also begin designing certain merchandise that I’ve been wanting to try but haven’t had the time for before now.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I have lived in Atlanta my whole life and this city just has so many amazing things to offer. The first thing that jumps out in my mind is definitely The Beltline. It has so much fun and amazing public art, and definitely takes up a whole day if not more of exploration. Related to midtown are the cat cafes, both Happy Tabby and Java Cats which are super fun and relaxing to go to if you love cats. The other part of the city that I absolutely love is my hometown of Chamblee and the nearby Doraville, which has so many amazing places to eat. One of my favorite places is Java Saga, a walk-up restaurant near Embry Hills that has the most amazing giant Taiwanese chicken sandwiches you can’t find anywhere else, as well as these amazing fries. Their building also has a ridiculously cool mural surrounding their window. And of course you can’t miss Buford Highway for other amazing food options. My favorite places on Buford Highway are definitely Sweet Hut Bakery and Pho Dai Loi #2. Nearby to Chamblee is the coolest independent book store Atlanta Vintage Books, known for not only their amazing and unique collection of books, but also for their sweet cats that roam the store. A must-see place I would want to take someone to would have to be Junkman’s Daughter, which is an amazing store in Little 5 Points full of fun and wacky items. And the last event on the list would be the East Atlanta Village on a festival day in the Farmer’s Market space. When festivals and markets are happening, you can find the coolest items from local artists in this space.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
There are so many people who have positively impacted my life that I would not be where I am today if it weren’t for them. I want to just focus on three people for sake of time though! The first person would be the owner of Hello Gorgeous Boutique, Kim Fredrickson. Kim is such a kind and cool human being, and has been such a great role model to me. I have worked at Hello Gorgeous for two years now, and even before I began working there Kim has always had such kind things to say about me and my work as an artist and as an employee. She was the first person I ever sold my items wholesale to, and it has been while working at the boutique that I realized I could start my own business and really could do this. The next person is my partner Charles. They are always there for me no matter what, whether that’s being my assistant at festivals to help set up and tear down my booth, being tech support for my website and the many many questions I have had, or just being my companion when I’m having a rough day. I really could not have started this business without them. The last person, or I guess I should say group of people, is every art teacher and instructor I have ever had in my life that has encouraged me to pursue my passions.