Client Story - New England Wedding Painter
Client Name: Carol Lake
Business Name: New England Wedding Painter
Business Website: www.newenglandweddingpainter.com
Location: Canterbury, NH
SBDC Advisor's Name: Julie Glosner
Carol Lake, Artist and Owner of New England Wedding Painter, wishes her father and aunt could see her now - making a living doing what she loves most - art. Although both Carol’s aunt and sister were professional artists, they struggled to make enough money to truly make a living. Suffice it to say, Carol’s father didn’t exactly encourage Carol to follow in their footsteps. But, Carol says, “I’ve always been an artist. I don’t remember not being an artist.”
Carol attended UNH, initially majoring in fine arts with an interest in abstract expressionism and classical art. Turns out, as Carol puts it, it wasn’t realistic and “it just wasn’t my jam.” So, Carol shifted to a major in English with a minor in Light Horse Science (another interest of hers) which brought her to a career training horses and doing marketing. Art never left her heart though. It was always in the background.
It wasn’t until she moved to New York in 2016 and saw a sign posted on a fine art store bulletin board looking for a LIVE EVENT ARTIST. Carol wasn’t sure what that meant, but it piqued her interest, prompting her to call the phone number. It was a florist who was doing a wedding on the Hudson River and they were looking for someone to paint it. Carol said, “well that sounds interesting. Sign me up!” It was her first live painting. Martha Stewart happened to be there and she highlighted wedding painting in her blog. That marked the beginning of what is now New England Wedding Painter.
New England Wedding Painter captures the magic of your special day on canvas. On her website, Carol explains, “As a live wedding painter, I use color, style, and emotion to intuitively capture one magical moment during your wedding and paint the essence of your special day. You’ll take home a wedding day painting that looks like your day felt.”
While in New York, Carol provided her service throughout the tri-state area of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, but when she moved back home to New Hampshire to take care of her mom, she essentially let the business go. However, people found her old website and asked her to paint their weddings right here in NH. As more requests came through, Carol thought, “Okay…why don’t I give this a try?”
As her studio grew, Carol knew if she was going to move forward with this business, she wanted to do it right. She realized that since she is an artist, not a businessperson, she needed some help.
“I am confident in my ability as an artist, but creating art is only part of the equation. In order to run a successful business, I also needed to learn both business and marketing skills.”
So, she sought out the advice of the SBDC and began working with her Business Advisor, Julie Glosner, Southern Regional Director.
Carol states, “Julie has been really instrumental in helping me grow the company. She was able to steer the ship.” Julie understood Carol’s business vision and knew who and what she needed to get her there.
For example, Carol was accepted into the FAME program (now sunsetted) and subsequently paired with marketing expert Alec Newcomb of ScaledOn. Through FAME, Carol received help to rebrand and update her old website to New England Wedding Painter and to strengthen her website’s SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Today, she has tripled the sales she had last quarter at the same time of year. As of March, she had already booked more weddings than she did all last year.
She attributes much of that to her time in FAME, which gave her a better understanding of marketing funnels, how Google functions, and the importance and application of SEO and website development.
Julie Glosner also connected Carol with fellow SBDC Business Advisor Hollis McGuire, who helped Carol understand the finances of her business. Hollis helped clarify what Carol should be working on regarding bookkeeping and overall financials, and the best approaches, as well as contacts that could help as the business grows.
“SBDC has helped me grow and refine my business into a unique product for the luxury market,” says Carol. If not for SBDC, Carol believes she’d still just be treading water. Instead, she has focus and is able to manage the business herself with a little bit of help.
“The assistance has been invaluable, and I look forward to continuing to learn best business practices with SBDC as my business grows,” says Carol. “My brain is still like ‘oh my God…I’m making a living as an artist!”