What It's About
A college student taps into her love of pets and watercolors to create customized pet portraits.
Words of Wisdom
Even though she’s a marketing major, Sarah found that running a business in the real world was very different than studying it. She had to learn how to shift her skills from simply meeting a demand to actively building a brand, through conducting portrait giveaways, improving her packaging, and encouraging word-of-mouth marketing through her personalized services. She also learned to use business analytics from Instagram to post at the right time and target followers. And painting every day quickly improved her artistic skills.
sarahpaintspets founder Sarah Miller sold her first customized pet portrait for $10. She remembers this first order was from a guy who needed a birthday present for his girlfriend. Sarah painted her golden retriever, and when the guy came to pick it up, Sarah watched as his girlfriend cried when he gave it to her in his car. Sarah says, as she watched, she probably cried more than that girl did—in celebration, of course.
Notes from Chris
Twenty-one-year-old Sarah Miller has a bit of an animal obsession. She considers herself a cat person, and has long held to the tongue-in-cheek motto of “boys whatever; cats forever.” Her current obsession is her chubby, cross-eyed Siamese feline, Cooper, who she cares for amid her busy student schedule at Georgia College and State University. Her love for dogs comes in a close second. She also has a boyfriend, but he knows his place. Less than a year ago, Sarah’s love for animals unexpectedly led to a promising side hustle. At that time, like most students, Sarah was low on cash. So when she and her boyfriend’s anniversary rolled around in October, she knew she didn’t have the money to get him something pricey. She had to get creative. Luckily, Sarah had always had a knack for painting, so she chose to put this skill to use by painting a watercolor portrait of his tabby cat, Merlin. The boyfriend loved the finished product, and Sarah figured maybe other people would too. She decided to post about it on her school’s Facebook page, and the responses were explosive, with dozens of order requests for animal portraits flooding in. Sarah quickly got to work and managed to fill 100 orders before Christmas—charging just $15 a pop, for a $1500 profit. In addition to running an e-commerce site, she opened an Etsy storefront in July of this year, and now, just 9 months into managing her business, Sarah has painted more than 300 pets and earned $5,000.
MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:
- sarahpaintspets: See more of Sarah's cat-tivating portraits on her website!
- Wix: The online website platform that Sarah is using to set up her e-commerce store front
- 7 Steps to a Successful Start on Etsy: Starting a new business on Etsy can feel overwhelming. Find out how to make the process more manageable (and fun!) by following a few simple tips
- Graphic Designer Learns to Draw Caricatures for $250/Hr: How a graphic designer went from $8 an hour to $250 an hour in her side business. She now earns more than $100,000 working part-time—and she has some great advice that applies to a lot of hustles
- Designer Illustrates Success with Personalized Wedding Products: A graphic designer in New York City taps into the wedding e-commerce market and turns her side hustle into full-time work bringing in multiple six-figures
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