“It’s going to take time” ... something Hillary Butler wishes she could go back and tell herself on day one of her business. Now eleven years into being a professional artist, Hillary has a thing or two to say about staying in the game, pivoting with the times, and being innovative while keeping true to yourself. She can remember the days of making connections over handshakes and selling art to friends, the rise and fall and rise again of social platforms like Facebook and Instagram, and the not so glamorous reality of putting your head down and doing the work.
If you want to stay in business for the long haul, take note from those who have done it! Over a decade of painting and selling things, Hillary Butler shares insights on sticking it out through the ebbs and flows of recessions, marketing strategies, slow seasons and pinch me moments. Today's guest is a client turned lifelong friend, the incredible artist Hillary Butler!
WILDFLOWER SHOWNOTES : shannaskidmore.com/hillary-butler
Hillary Butler (00:00):
I feel like the story that we all hear or wanna hear is like, and then I got featured here and then I made a million dollars. I think I was waiting for that moment and it was really just like a million different little moments like this feature here. I was on this podcast and somebody heard me and asked me to do this and connected here and here it was just consistently showing up, doing the work, very organic growth.
Shanna Skidmore (00:23):
You are listening to Consider the Wildflowers, the podcast episode 23. Our pass cross won fateful January day in 2015 with the picture perfect setting. That is Grove Park in Asheville, North Carolina. It was the second goal setting, annual planning conference I hosted. And 30 ladies from around the country came together to talk about dreams, goals, and making intentional plans for the year ahead. A process of now guided hundreds if not thousands of entrepreneurs through using my guided goal setting program called My Blueprint Year. Today's guest, Hillary came as an attendee back in 2015 and left as a dear friend. Now seven years later, almost to the day and 11 years into our art business, Hillary is sharing the journey of growing a business through recessions, ebbs and flows in the economy, the rise and fall and rise again of marketing strategies such as Facebook and Instagram and all the shifts, pivots and get creative moments that come with keeping a thriving business.
Thriving for the long call. Our chat today is not all that uncommon honestly for our friendship, but this time we turned on the cameras and the mics and captured it for you. Meet Hillary Butler. If you dig professional bios. Here it goes. Hillary is a semi-abstract painter who has been filling walls with the elevated color suaree since 2011. She's a podcast junkie lover of long dinners with good friends and Sunday afternoons with a good book. She and her husband live in Memphis, Tennessee and have two frenetic redheaded boys who keep them on their toes and make life really exciting. She is honored to have work featured on ABC's Hit Show Nashville and has had the opportunity to show at a Agora Gallery in New York. Several hit blogs have featured some HB work. Among those are Better Homes and Gardens Domino and Design Lovefest. Okay, formal introductions over, welcome to the HB SS Coffee hour.
Let's dig in. Hey, it's Shanna and this is Consider the Wildflowers, the podcast. For the past 15 plus years, I've had the honor to hear thousands of stories from entrepreneurs around the world. As a former Fortune 100 financial advisor, turn business consultant, I have a unique opportunity to see the reel behind the highlight reel. I'm talking profit and loss statements, unpaid taxes, moments of burnout, and those of utter victory. Or as my husband says, the content everyone is wondering but not many are talking about. And now I'm bringing these private conversations to you. Hear the untold stories of how industry leaders, founders, and up and coming entrepreneurs got their start, the experiences that shaped them and the journey to building the brands they have today. Stories that will inspire and reignite encourage to redefine success and build a life and business on your own terms. Welcome Wildflower. I'm so glad you're here. Here.
Welcome Hillary to the podcast. I'm so excited to have you.
Hillary Butler (03:03):
It's been fun. Thanks for asking me. Appreciate it friend. It's good to see your face!
Shanna Skidmore (03:07):
It's good to see your face. And I have on these a giant headphones, so
Hillary Butler (03:12):
You look like Princess Leia.
Shanna Skidmore (03:14):
I feel like Princess Leia.
Hillary Butler (03:17):
Hey, Carrie Fisher.
Shanna Skidmore (03:18):
Pretty, yeah, I mean, no big deal. Hey, how's business going?
Hillary Butler (03:22):
Girl! It has been a weird year with the recession. Last year was like boom year, best year ever. I was on top of the world. It was like, yes. And then January rolled around and it was just quiet and I was like, it's January, February, March and it's just been really weird sales wise, I've met my need numbers, which is praise the Lord great. But definitely not been to toe touching years, toe touching. This is one year toe touching year of the 22 financially. But other than that, financially it's weird. But I've been doing some really, really fun new stuff, which has been really exciting. And so it was just been a fun year for me to play. The creative side has been super, super, super fun, which has always great. When you're slower it just gives you time to play more. And also it's been super, super good for me because it's made me really stop and evaluate business model and start to make some changes and some pivots that I've wanted to do for a while and I'm really, really excited about that.
Shanna Skidmore (04:31):
Okay, I'm really excited to hear more of this story cuz what year, how long have you been in business, Hillary?
Hillary Butler (04:39):
Shanna Skidmore (04:40):
Yeah. I just feel like there's something in that 10, 11 year Well plus, yes, I think I've been hearing a lot from people and for anyone listening, I think people are starting to feel the effects of the economy that's real life. So that plus I, I'm excited to hear more of how you are adjusting in this season and what new ideas you have. But first I want you to take it back all the way back. Tell everybody who you are, what you do, and kind of your start in business.
Hillary Butler (05:16):
Well, Hillary Butler, I'm an artist. I, I call myself a semi-abstract painter because sometimes I do representational work and sometimes it's purely abstract and I like the freedom that that pedal gives me. Okay, so take it all the way back. August 12th, 1984. Okay. <laugh>
Shanna Skidmore (05:39):
84 Strong. That's right !
Hillary Butler (05:41):
Girl. It was a good year. A real good year. So I would say mean it's hard, hard to go back in a way because I've always had an artist brain, artist heart. I remember pictures so this is just so ridiculous. I remember pictures from elementary that I would draw and I would stare at <laugh> and be like, this is the greatest bowl of grapes in the whole world. I was so full of myself and looking back it's like not no honey, no, you just really liked that corola purple. And so always was always drawing. I was painting. I remember one of my favorite summers, my mom got me and my sister these desks and she filled 'em with art supplies and I remember spending the whole summer in my den just drawing and coloring. So fun. And then as I grew up, I always envisioned myself in a creative job.
I thought it was going to be interior design. I was a weird kid who always decorated their room but not teenager. Cute. It was, I wanted it to look like a magazine for an adult room. And it's just, it's funny looking back, but my parents were always so encouraging. They let us paint our rooms, whatever color we wanted. We had total freedom with that. It was super, super fun. And I didn't realize I got older that that was not a normal thing that a lot of parents do.
Did you have boy band posters?
No. Shanna, no, I sorry. Magazine cutouts from Victoria Magazine of beautiful flowers, bougie stuff. It was so beyond your time. I was so ahead of my time. Yeah, it's like a kinda an ole. Anyway, fast forward I did all the art classes that I could and started even in high school, made money doing portraits for people and paid for trips that way.
It was great. My parents moved, they actually gave me a studio. We moved to this big funky house and we went from this tiny, tiny house, this big house and there's an extra room and instead of, they were just so sweet, they could have used it for themselves. They were like, yeah, use it for a studio again, not realizing that's not normal. So I just envisioned all these careers for myself. I was going to be a station designer or I just was again so far in the future and then went to college and I was like, duh, of course I'm going to be an art major. And started off and then I got burned out when I was 18. It was so stupid. I was tired of being covered in charcoal and I wanted to look cute, other people, the worst reasons that anyone should ever change a major was so stupid.
And then I switched to English and art history, which I loved but didn't finish out my art degree. Graduated, got a job as an English teacher. I lost his whole Thanksgiving and then I was like, what am I going to do with my life? David and I were getting married and I just took any job that came my way and it was like this advent assistant and a tech firm and it was so crushing, climb the walls, claw your eyeballs out. Terrible. So I was looking for a new job, looking for a new job. And then 2008 hits, economy crashes. I try everything, cannot find a new job, go back, get a graphic design associates degree girl southwest to state community college, go to the Lu's, it's great, get that. And David kept joking, he was like, do you get a pay cut if you go down a degree for your second degree?
And so I did that. And then did some graphic design for that company. Again, my soul was dying, it was a bad situation. And then finally one day I was like, this is it. I'm quitting. We had a very tiny amount of money in savings. I had just a big dream and a okay, if I don't do this now, it's now or never cried for two weeks cuz I was so just anxious to how am I going to go from two incomes to one? And part of me was, oops, easy in three months I'll have my old salary in the bank and it'll be so easy. And then part of me was like, I can't make this so quit. I did not get up to my original salary in the first three months. It took a while, but I just started beating the bushes. Facebook was a thing then a lot of people were on Facebook.
Started at built my business on Facebook and started a blog and did every art festival, anything that came up I did. I just threw everything at the wall trying to make it happen. And just gradually, it was a very gentle organic growth. Things started growing. I started honing my style and then eventually it just became, I mean within the first year it was profitable but I just had no idea what it was doing and I was just painting whatever I thought people wanted. And finally I was like, screw it. I'm just going to paint what I want. And it was really surprised to see just how well people responded to that. And it's just been growing ever since. And my audience has just been really kind. A lot of people who have been with me since the very beginning. It's so funny to look at what I was doing then versus what I do now are still around and still purchasing. And it's just been a really sweet journey. And the fact that I get to wake up every day and do this as a real job, which a lot of people still don't think it's a real job, but it's a real job. It's just great.
Shanna Skidmore (10:44):
Yeah. And you take a real paycheck from it. It's real cash money. So I think it counts.
Hillary Butler (10:50):
It pays bills.
Shanna Skidmore (10:51):
Yeah, it's Great.
Hillary Butler (10:53):
I just think about what would our life look like without my job and it would be really sad, <laugh>, financially sad. And so yeah, it's really neat When you think about how you're contributing to your family,
Shanna Skidmore (11:06):
What is the deal with us believing that if we aren't, I don't know what the word is in a profession, a tradit, a traditional, I don't know even what the word is, that it's not a quote real job. Isn't that right?
Hillary Butler (11:23):
If we don't go to a real,
Shanna Skidmore (11:24):
What is a real ?
Hillary Butler (11:25):
Job and wear real pantyhose, who does that
Shanna Skidmore (11:28):
Right? And get out of our black leggings? You, you always look cute Hillary. I wish everybody could see <laugh> animal print is your love language.
Hillary Butler (11:36):
I think leopard's a neutral. I do.
Shanna Skidmore (11:39):
You and Amy. Hey there's a question I got asked on this side note everybody I got asked a question on a podcast years ago. This was not in the prep questions, but I want to know cause you'll know the answer I think. Okay. If you could be any animal, what animal would you be?
Hillary Butler (11:57):
I would be a flamingo Shan,
Shanna Skidmore (11:59):
Duh. We've already had this conversation. We did this at my house already. You are a flamingo.
Hillary Butler (12:04):
Wait, wait, you're hold on. Wait. I'm trying to remember which one you are. It's really sweet. It's not a teddy bear. Is it a bear?
Shanna Skidmore (12:10):
No, it's not. Duh. I'll tell you what I answered on this podcast cuz. So es for everybody listening, I send prep questions to our guests because of this podcast interview that I had years ago That is traumatic in my brain where, great question but just let me think about it. And so I was like, I mean I guess I would be a dog because man's best friend... I would be a dolphin. Yes, I would totally be a dolphin because they are smart and they are playful and that's like what I wanna embody in life.
Hillary Butler (12:50):
Have you ever swam with them?
Shanna Skidmore (12:52):
I've never swam with them, but I've been in a boat when they're around
Hillary Butler (12:56):
Shanna Skidmore (12:57):
<laugh> counts. Okay, back on track. Sorry, everybody listening, the animal print leggings got me off. So real job, here we are, we're in it. Tell me about those early years. What were you painting? What were you charging? Did you have a sales goal?
Hillary Butler (13:11):
What was I doing back then? It's so hard to remember that far back. I was a lifetime ago, I was painting, I think I was just painting kind of what everybody else around me was painting. The whole pallet knife thing was very ill. And I mean I needed to bring in income so I was just, I think panic what I've been the best way to describe the first sphere. So that I just feel like that's just was kind of the internal monologue of dude whatever, okay, yes this is, come on, let me do it, me to paint this and yeah, I'll do that for you. And I, I've painted some weird stuff for people, but I mean it paid the both. But I think everybody's, every artist has to go on that trajectory. You tried a bunch of different hats and you see which one you best and then eventually, oh what's the book?
I think Austin Kleon wrote it, steal like an artist So freaking good. Everybody needs to order it. He says that basically stealing and copying is when you take, you mean emulate one person's stuff, but really great artists you, you're pulling true creativity. True inspiration is you're pulling from a little bitty pieces from a hundred different things and then you have a true original. And so read that book, several others and just really had to figure out, even though I had a big art background, an official degree, I still knew a lot. I didn't have the benefit of having been through a program and hunting my style. So I was doing that. I was doing festivals. I think my pricing was super, super low. I remember I would do a lot of paintings for a hundred dollars and just anything to make a sale. I had no idea how to price it, no idea if I was doing anything. And then that's what I think I met you four years in, I was like yeah, I'm crushing it. Yeah.
But I was like, I have no idea what I can actually pay myself. How much money I need to be leaving in this art account. No idea whatsoever. And so learning my numbers, especially learning how to price per, so I used your model to teach myself how to price per square foot cuz I was like how I don't know how to price product cuz everything I do is so different. And that was just a total game changer. I have an actual pricing list that I now reference. So okay, I've run the numbers, I know it gives me a 60% profit margin and then I go from there. But I also learned this really cool thing from this really cool podcast, you're running your numbers of like, okay, yeah this is getting me into a 60% profit plus. But then there's also pricing for value. And that's one thing I really started doing is the value ad is just that this quote will tie in.
Picasso would say when people would come up to him, they would say, how long did it take you to do this painting? And he would tell you the age that he was. So right now, if you're getting one of my pieces, you're getting 38 years of experience and technique. And also, I mean it grows in value because they increase in price over time because you're getting more and more greater work. And the really neat thing that I like to tell people too is art is an investment. It's not so many things that you purchase, it grows in value over time and it's just one of the coolest things that you get to purchase for yourself, for your home. It's just such an expression of you. And the neat thing, another thing that adds value too is my DNA is actually on this painting. If they swipe it years from now, you might be able to find particles of hair or my fingerprint.
You'll see fingerprints on the back sometimes, which I just think is just so incredibly cool. So learning to add pricing for value as well I think was revolutionary for me because I think we all often carry those limiting beliefs of nobody's going to pay this much for art, there's no way. And just because I may not pay that doesn't mean somebody else will not value it the same. And also my hours are so limited, I have two small children if I have to pay bills to keep them fed and clothed and at school. And so there's a certain price point that I have to hit in order to make it worth my time to even keep doing this job.
Shanna Skidmore (17:07):
That's so good. So we met in 2015.
Hillary Butler (17:10):
I was like five weeks pregnant. Nobody else knew I was pregnant except for my blueprint girls.
Shanna Skidmore (17:20):
Yeah. Oh my goodness. I'm pretty sure I know a lot of people were pregnant at that workshop. What would you say, figuring out your pricing it sounds like, and then what were some other kind of key moments in those first few years of business that you saw started seeing traction? Was it growing? Was it Instagram or Facebook or marketing wise or just walk me through what you felt was going really well.
Hillary Butler (17:52):
I think anything you do consistently and you start to do it well. I started getting a following just of collectors and then word of mouth is so powerful. And then I wanna say 2015 ish, Instagram became an actual thing. And it was so different now it's a totally different animal. But then you could just post beautiful pictures and you would get all these followers and people would see, anytime you posted, every person he followed, you would see it. It was just the gluey days. And so I remember actually Emily, Jeffs was really starting to take off about that point. And I remember at the time, you ready for this? She had 2,500 followers and I was like at the time time that was like, oh my gosh, she has made it. And so I think I remember doing, apparently I was her first artist consult call or whatnot and she was so sweet. She put together this little presentation for me and it was adorable. And basically she was just be the feed, do you wanna follow? And several, I had several key takeaways from that conversation that I've translated into just a marketing in general. And I always feel like I'm just kind of unnatural born marketer, whatever that strength finder test. I score high on the hype, whatever that I can just,
Shanna Skidmore (19:15):
Oh, the hype. So you, Hillary,
Hillary Butler (19:18):
Don't you want this
Shanna Skidmore (19:19):
Hillary Butler (19:23):
But basically just kind of taking that and applying that, oh I don't know why. It just never occurred to me. If you want people to follow you, you need to post really pretty stuff. And so just changing started changing my feed and then it's, it just started just growing, massively growing. And so that's really fun. And so to this day, Instagram is still one of my top places. People find me. And you're asking what other things,
Shanna Skidmore (19:47):
How you started seeing traction? So marketing wise and then it sounds like you got your pricing.
Hillary Butler (19:53):
Got my pricing and I think just my mailing list. I think it got really serious about really nurturing my mailing list and just I feel like once that reached a certain number, I had a big enough of people who were really interested in my work and they just started becoming nice to some of my most faithful clients. Like return clients have been some of the best. So I mean I think that was really it. Word of mouth, Instagram and mailing list, really nailing those down and then just the natural snowball that business takes.
Shanna Skidmore (20:23):
So would you say that until the last couple years, which I wanna get into, did the business just continually day in slow growth, day in, day out, doing the work, making a little more each year or were there any whoa, this changed everything.
Hillary Butler (20:43):
There really wasn't. I feel like I was just waiting. I feel like the story that we all hear or wanna hear is, and then I got featured here and then I made a million dollars. I think I was waiting for that moment and it was really just a million different little moments. This feature here, I was on this podcast and somebody heard me and asked me to do this and connected here and here it was just consistently showing up, doing the work, very organic growth over just a long period of time. And that's been consistently upward every year, which is been, I think every year it's gone upward. Can't think of any year until this year. But I've had a dip and last year was a big bump because of all the people still stuck on their homes with Covid.
Shanna Skidmore (21:27):
Hillary Butler (21:28):
I wish I could tell you some big fantastic,
Shanna Skidmore (21:30):
No, I actually very great. I love that. This is the conversation. I referenced this in another podcast interview so I should probably watch some different movies. But that movie, he's just not that into you love and he says, you're not the exception, you're the rule. This moment of we all focus on the exception. But what is the rule? And you are the exception. Hillary, you, you're the exception, you are exceptional. But just this idea of a lot of business is just showing up day in, day out, doing the work, doing the thing and it grows with time. And I think we don't talk about that enough because we went shiny and flashy and fast.
Hillary Butler (22:17):
But I think my question has always been for me and honestly the fact that I've been doing this for 11 years is celebratory. I was talking with our dear friend Katie Bryant recently. I called her one day and just a panic cuz I was like, I have recently discovered, I've kind of known this for a while, but recently discovered the true depth I have ADHD and it's real board of half American suffer from this daily Shannon. And so it is real. It is real. And so sometimes I can be so envious of friends like you who can just sit down and just hammer hammering out. You're so focused and you have these goals. And she was even joking, she was like, I wanna start a platform for business for the rest of us. And I was like, I'm on board, I'm there Katie do it. And we both agreed it would last about three weeks.
Hillary Butler (23:07):
Where was I going with this... I was in a spiral. I called Katie. The fact that we have actually stayed in the game consistently this long is quite miraculous. And sometimes I forget what a huge, huge hurdle that in and of itself is. But then again, I don't know what I would do if I wasn't an artist. I ask myself that just for a fun question all the time. I'm like, but I think my career could have done a thousand different ways. But I'm like this is the greatest thing ever. Why would I wanna do anything different even in a weird year where it's really frustrating
Shanna Skidmore (23:36):
On moments where you get bored or tired or burn out or cuz that's all inevitable. How have you kept yourself having fun or in the game still
Hillary Butler (23:48):
Gilmore girls? Gilmore girls in the studio? No, I do. I really do. I turn it on sometimes I get really, really, really angsty and antsy and I have a lot of work to do. And I turn on Gilmore Girls.
Shanna Skidmore (24:03):
Our friends Lorelai and Rory,
Hillary Butler (24:07):
I don't have work friends, they're my friends.
But that's, no, but that's just kind of a daily practical thing. What has kept me going in those seasons, honestly, I think it's just practically I have to pay bills and I just shoot David calls was shooting through the slump. I know it's a basketball term and I really think that's it. Just, and then two, I think it's play a lot of it's play and it's like, okay, I like fricking hate being in here today. What I'm going to do something really fun. And then I remember Hemingway had this amazing process where he would always end his work day and the middle of something really exciting so that he would be really excited to show up the next day. And so I have really tried to emulate that. I'd make sure I'm ending working on a fun piece so that I'm really psyched to show up in the studio the next day.
Shanna Skidmore (24:55):
That's so fun. Okay, tell me what your work days look like now and then Yeah, I just wanna talk about with kiddos and stuff and what your work days look like. And then I wanna talk about this year.
Hillary Butler (25:09):
I basically have my to-do list and I try to section them out and it's really just like what has to be done next? That is income producing. And so sometimes it's painting, sometimes it's computer work. I did a lot of computer work today. Sometimes it's again, and two, I think I'm also training myself, I think to view Instagram a little bit differently. It's not just a selling platform, it's a relationship building. So today I was on there nurturing some relationships, asking some business questions. I think I'm starting to learn it as to really helpful tool, client relations, things like that. So I was doing a bunch of that today. So I was trying to break it up. I was like, okay, I need to be on the computer for this amount of time and then I have to go in the studio for X amount of hours.
And then I'm talking with Shanna this afternoons. I really try to segment it out and if I have to, sometimes it's just like I've got to see a real life person and make a human connection. Whether it's like for business or personally I realize this here I was like, I am on a deficit after this whole covid thing and I've just been really trying to make some time, maybe once or twice a month to have coffee with the brand. And so I try to do that right after drop offs. I drop my kids off at school by eight 15 and then I erase home or I'm at the gym and I do that really fast and then I just jump in the studio and get as much as I can. So if I'm meeting somebody, I try to do that right up the drop off or right before I go pick them up so that I can just keep a steady workflow.
And as far as when I'm in the studio working, it could be so many different things. Some days I'm packaging art to send. Some days I'm working on a new collection, sometimes I'm working on a commission. Sometimes I'm just kind of playing with somebody, playing with somebody with an idea just to see where it goes. It could be a myriad of different things. But the really neat part though that I love about what I do is I can be so tired and so weary and just be not just be sick today and I'll just walk in and I smell the studio and something happens in my brain and I just wake up and I just turn on. It's crazy sometimes if I have to grab something at night, I walk in there and two hours later I've been painting on something just because it's just, that was that conditioned response just kicks in.
Shanna Skidmore (27:19):
I think that's so good because sometimes I think it's real to acknowledge I don't want to work today
Hillary Butler (27:24):
Shanna Skidmore (27:25):
And when you work from your home and there's plenty of other things I could be doing at my home other than working.
Hillary Butler (27:31):
Cause I pass through really filthy house all the time and it's so stressful.
Shanna Skidmore (27:34):
Well you live with three boys so
Hillary Butler (27:37):
is My house's ever going to be clean again?
Shanna Skidmore (27:39):
Okay, well walk me through this here Hillary and what you've seen going on and the good things, the challenges. Yeah, I would love to hear about that.
Hillary Butler (27:50):
Yeah, I would say what are the good things that have been going on? I like the challenges. The challenges being just the slow sales. The good things were, it was really fun to my galleries were really good to me this year and I did a lot of work for them this summer we got take a fun trip to Florida to drop off a bunch of work at a gallery there. So that was just really fun to take my kids to the beach they had never been before and we totally surprised them and put 'em in their car in their pajamas at 4:00 AM and when they woke up we told 'em we were going and they were like, this is the greatest thing ever. And we were like, yeah, we know we're amazing.
But it was just so fun. I loved it that it was just a chance for them to see mom's job is for vacation and we went to the gallery and saw the work and they just got to see a little bit more of what I do. And I just think it's so important for them to see their parents at work, especially their mom's life just doesn't appear to you. You have to work really hard for these things. And so that was really, really fun. A definite highlighted this year and the gallery ended up selling most of the stuff that I brought super fast. And that was just this huge shot in the arm for just, I hear that I've been pretty slow but it's just been really good. I would say pivot wise, I had a goal this year, you ready? Where I had some visions for some pattern design that I've wanted to do from some new pieces that I've been playing with.
And so my goal was by December I was going to work out a proposal and send it out to sim licensing agency. And so I finished that up by August woo. And so I'm working, I'm in the middle of sending them out to any licensing agency. So if there's anybody out there listening who would like to hire Hill Butler you please give me a call. So I got that done. And then I'm also just really, I think exploring what would more as far as when I'm thinking about sustainability, my kids are only getting busier. The energy I have towards this job is just feels everywhere, limited every day. It's like how could this be more sustainable? So even just thinking through what would even some wholesale prints look like for somewhere high-end boutiques and maybe some limited edition runs of some pieces. I'm trying to think, more licensing but in an upscale way.
I wanna be really careful how I do this. I don't wanna be at Hobby Lobby or no offense to anyone who has art at Hobby Lobby. There's a lot of money in that. But definitely kind of maintaining that luxury brand type thing. And so I'm just really excited with some of the brainstorms that I've been having. Cause I feel like for so long I was just so stuck and I had the same three ideas that were coming to me and I was just on a loop and I just needed that loop interrupted. And so I think the whole licensing thing anyway, that has been super, super exciting. And then two another, the biggest thing is really it's really pushed me out of my studio and got me doing live events more Like last weekend I did live painting. I'll have done three live paintings this holiday season for this big home show in town.
I applied for a show in Nashville next spring and just that's how I got started and that's how I gathered so many clients was those in-person interactions and relationships. And it's just been so nice the past couple years to just hide in the studio and sell things behind a screen. But ultimately that's not sustainable long term. So it's been good. It's always good. I think I was reading somewhere somebody said don't waste a good crisis. And I thought that was just really, really good advice business wise. Yeah, you could sit in the corner and ball your eyes out or you can get busy tweaking things because, and two I, I don't know about you. I love listening to business wars. Do you listen?
Shanna Skidmore (31:24):
wait, what is business wars?
Hillary Butler (31:24):
This is so good. Wondery puts it out. Okay. You gotta listen to, it's so good.
Shanna Skidmore (31:31):
It's a podcast ?
Hillary Butler (31:32):
it's massive, massive companies like Walmart versus Target, Coca-Cola versus Pepsi, these companies that have been around for a hundred years and it's always so encouraging to me to hear their story. And if you wanna be around in longer than a minute, you're going to have to pivot with the times. And I think they did. The Mars versus Hershey's was one of my favorites and it was just so cool to hear about how they were in competition with each other, but it made them so much better when they couldn't just keep doing what they had always been doing before.
Shanna Skidmore (32:03):
And such a perspective shift right there.
Hillary Butler (32:05):
Yeah, so good. So good. It just makes you so much better. So I just feel like although it's been a frustrating year, it's been so good for me mentally, my mind feels frustrated than it's been in a really long time cuz I had just hit the autopilot for several years and part of that was just out of necessity. Covid was just so stressful and it was just such a gift from the Lord to just be able to coast through some of the worst of that. And now it's like, all right girl, buckle your seatbelt, let's go. So I'm really excited about 2023 and all the new fun changes that I'm making.
Shanna Skidmore (32:35):
I'm really excited too. And two comments on that. One is, I think when we had a launch that didn't go as we had hoped, this beautiful byproduct of that was getting, making things even better makes me so excited. Changes we're making now for 2023. Exactly. So I have to read comments. So that's one, it makes you get innovative and creative and pushes you. So that's so great. Number two, the comment you made about selling behind a screen. I mean I remember I started in finance picking up the phone where our goals, 40 phone calls a day, 40 phone calls a day to people. You dunno, hi, I'm Shana Skier, I'm a financial, blah blah blah. I could use my script right now. And I don't think all business owners and especially business owners who have started, I mean business is hard. Growing a business is hard, but the environment last few years has been a different way of business. You know what I mean? And so now it's going back. I think that it's swinging back to relationships big time.
Hillary Butler (33:47):
I've projected for a long time that we're going to see a giant social media crash, all of it. Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, just because
Shanna Skidmore (33:58):
you heard it Here first folks,
Hillary Butler (33:59):
<laugh>, the non-economist
Hillary Butler (34:03):
Non-social Degree, just human beings sitting here feeling just this massive panic of content overload. We all, it's so easy to sit and scroll but it's like it's harder and harder and harder to stand out in a world where everyone is screaming at you. And somebody told me recently that the most thought for basically the thing that everyone is fighting for right time right now, it's not your money, it's your attention. And I thought that was so fascinating that they were saying that the highest, highest thought commodity, that's what I was looking for is our attention. And I was like, oh 100%. And it's just create becoming these just crazy people. So I'm excited to actually, and we were just made for community and we were made to actually talk to a real person. And it's so funny cuz I can't tell you how many pieces I've sold to other people that I've met and they really haven't even seen much of my work. They wanna buy something because they like me and they've enjoyed talking with me and people, they want a piece in their home that tells a story and they can be able to say, I'm in this artist and she's really nice and here's why she does what she does. And so it's just exciting to think about selling a real product to a real person you can actually see and talk to.
Shanna Skidmore (35:12):
Yeah. Oh this is so good. I was doing another interview and they were sent, the person was saying, I don't do what Instagram in particular, not to demonize Instagram, but with impressions I don't show up enough and I don't stay on there long enough to be rewarded. And I just was like, yeah, they are now rewarding attention and keeping someone's attention. We could go on a whole rabbit trail there. But the last third thing I wanted to point out is I feel like we, I mean I don't know if you've ever felt this way, but when am I going to make it? I'm just make it and I think we all just wanna make it and I don't know, I kind of wonder, does anyone feel like, oh I've made it.
Hillary Butler (36:08):
I don't know if I'm ever going to feel like I've made it, but I think the interesting thing is, even having done this 11 years, you look back and you realize like, oh, I was making it all along. Yes, I was making a good living, I was making great art, I was making great relationships with people, clients and colleagues and so forth that's making literal. And I literally in my studio, I'm making art, I'm making it.
Shanna Skidmore (36:31):
You're making it. And that was just a bomb that you just dropped, which was so good you, you're making it all along
Hillary Butler (36:39):
Were making it all along. It'll be an inspirational tale.
Shanna Skidmore (36:42):
I was when I worked in finance this story, but I had a mentor tell me, if you don't wanna make more money, you're just lying to yourself. And it wasn't until years later that I was like my first year in finance, I made more money than my parents. I mean that tears me up. Even now I get choked up thinking about that my parents ever made my first year I was like a 21 year old and then I left almost every day at round three and went to the gym. I was making it all along and I always felt like a failure because I wasn't. That's why I'm so passionate now about goal setting and just defining enough and shaped my whole philosophy. So don't waste a good crisis right there.
Hillary Butler (37:27):
I think my biggest takeaway, I think I've told you this before from that first summit in 2015 was you were the first person in the whole business world who had ever I'd ever heard say you define enough work for enough, make that your baseline and then go from there. And I just remember sobbing at that conference just thinking, cause I was just so terrified of I have to make more, more. When's it going to ever be enough? I have to compete with this person who I think is just really crushing it. And you just gave us the freedom to work from a place of just contentment. And that was like I, I don't know about my personality. I needed somebody to sign off on that and say it's totally okay to do this. You can get off that hamster wheel.
Shanna Skidmore (38:10):
This is a real job. I still feel like sometimes the hamster wheel, but I need that number gives me rest. It makes me breathe because more feels suffocating to me. That's how I got, when I worked in finance, it was like when you see every person as a prospective buyer feels like you never get to turn off. And I didn't seeing people as my next sell, that was hard. So maybe that's where all that comes from, man. What an awesome conversation we've had here. Hillary, thanks for sharing all of your 11 years of business genius. Hey, I do. You are wonderful. I love you and thank you for sharing even the hard of this year. I actually am hearing from a lot of people that this year has, there's going to be some massive shifts happening. You heard it here first, everybody prediction, city
Hillary Butler (39:05):
<laugh> make t-shirts.
Shanna Skidmore (39:07):
But I think it's good, it's letting all of us business owners, entrepreneurs get our elbows out and let's like, let's go. We got this. Hey, I wanna end with, we're going to do a quick first round, but I always like to hear what's the best thing that you've ever learned about money?
Hillary Butler (39:27):
I think, like I said before, that it can be enough. That's just freedom beyond freedom right there. Because not many people even and the faith that you and I share are going to tell you that.
Shanna Skidmore (39:39):
Yeah, I'm just sitting and I need to take my own advice some days too. I need to hear it again.
Hillary Butler (39:47):
Yeah, I need it all the time
Shanna Skidmore (39:49):
Because there's always more money to be made. There's always, you know what I'm saying? It's hard to trust and sit. And that's my philosophy. That's literally my philosophy. I teach it every day of my life and I believe it, but I still have to accept it and re-accept every day. Yeah, because it's, it's not cultural.
Hillary Butler (40:08):
Well, I just really, I had time on a drive recently and I just like God with the Lord and I was just really praying. I was like, you know what? Apparent, I haven't prayed in a long time. It's like, Lord, what do you want from me? Normally it's like me being like, here's what I need from you. Let me check off some boxes. And it was really just like, oh my gosh, I'm feeling terrible. I haven't really asked the question, where would you have me in this season? And I really didn't get many answers. But the only thing in that thing I keep hearing, saying to me over and over and over again is like, will you trust me? Do you trust me? Do you trust me? And most days my gut really honest answer is I don't. And I really need you to help me trust you because at the end of the day, I'm trying to control all this and it's not going so well.
Shanna Skidmore (40:51):
And I like to be in control.
Hillary Butler (40:53):
It's good until I mess it up big Time.
Shanna Skidmore (40:57):
I know Hillary, that's so good. Thank you for sharing. I feel so much of that deep in my soul. But trust, it was my word at that retreat in 2015. I still have the picture of me holding that little sign. Ooh. Trust is always been my thing. What I struggle with. And especially I think in seasons where it's not going as we had planned or it didn't go, it went last time or whatever it is, it's like maybe it's nothing went wrong, it's just maybe nothing went wrong. We're just going to try something new. This is good. And I think my big takeaway from our conversation today is growth will always be required in business. And I don't know why. Maybe am I just crazy and silly, but I guess I just didn't know that going in <affirmative> like it's, it's always going to shift and pivot and and grow. And it's not just one way the rest of the time. We're going to do it this one way the rest of the time.
Hillary Butler (41:54):
Well I was talking with a mentor recently and it was in the middle of an o of a really great year. And I was like, this is great but this is so hard. And she goes, it is, isn't it? And I thought she was going to be like, yeah, just put wait until you get to this point and it's going to get easier. And she just really well in her business and she was like, yeah it, it's hard. Every day is really hard. And I was very encouraged and very discouraged at the same time. That's what I would go back and tell younger Hillary of there's not going to get a point in which you can just hit the easy button and it's going to be great. It's just you're challenge. It's always going to be challenging. It's going to look really different in each season. It's always going to be the next challenge.
Shanna Skidmore (42:31):
Yeah. Okay, that's good. Let's quick fire. Do it. Let's quick fire. Hot seated. Okay.
What is one thing, Hillary one only that you would be embarrassed if people knew ?
Hillary Butler (42:44):
Just how gross my shower is right now. Don't tell anyone.
Shanna Skidmore (42:50):
I won't tell. I promise no one will hear. Well, no one will know <laugh>. Okay. Use a different shower. That's what I do. Just bump to the next.
Any regrets or wish you could do over moments
Hillary Butler (43:03):
In business or in life?
Shanna Skidmore (43:05):
Bring it on either way.
Hillary Butler (43:07):
Well there was this little purse that I had when I was six and had little hearts on it and I still miss it. So I would go back in time and I would just put that in a place where I could find it after the last time that I remember seeing it.
Shanna Skidmore (43:20):
And you're still thinking about it?
Hillary Butler (43:22):
Shanna Skidmore (43:23):
I think you should look it up. eBay probably has one.
Hillary Butler (43:25):
It probably do. It was So cute.
Shanna Skidmore (43:28):
Biggest win or pinch me moment.
Hillary Butler (43:31):
Okay, this is really weird. So this was several years ago. I was eating lunch with a friend middle of the week. I looked really gross. I was one of my days where I wasn't working and my oldest was really little and we're sitting at this restaurant eating and all of a sudden this girl walks up to me and she's like, are you Hillary Beller? And I was like, yes. She was like, I followed you for a really long time and I live in Georgia and I'm here visiting my sister and I have been a huge fan of your work. And she was totally fangirling and I was freaking out cause I was like, what is happening? What is happening? <laugh> like somebody, one, they recognized
Hillary Butler (44:06):
They fangirled me, but also they recognized me looking this gross. I don't know what that means, but it was just really sweet of somebody out of town actually had taken the time to follow me enough to know what I looked like and it was incredibly humbling and honoring and definitely what is happening
Shanna Skidmore (44:24):
And makes you think twice when you go out in public now when you haven't showered.
Hillary Butler (44:29):
Just always check the bottom of your feet, some toilet paper.
Shanna Skidmore (44:34):
Best advice you've ever received or just really good advice.
Hillary Butler (44:38):
It's going to take time.
just with anything in life. It's going to take time. I need a t-shirt made of that.
Shanna Skidmore (44:48):
Put that in the HB Shop.
Shanna Skidmore (44:55):
Okay, I love it.
Last quickfire question, what are you working on now and or one resource you want to share?
Hillary Butler (45:02):
I am working on this really, really, really fun new series is a giant pivot from what I normally do. I had to have several people talk me off ledge to even post it, but they're so fun and I'm so glad I've done it. This Square Prisms series. And they're super colorful, semi monochromatic, not necessarily, and they're really big and it's the first design I've ever come up with that works vertically and horizontally. So it's just a really easy, it's just an easy win of a piece. Cause often somebody's like, I love it, but I need it this way and I'm signing it in the corner.
It's genius shanna. It's just genius, but I'm just kidding. Super, super excited about that. And a resource that I'm going to share if people are Instagram followers, it's an account that if you were on Instagram is totally your account and I think I've sent you screenshots from it. It's called Philosophy of Leisure and it's a hundred percent this mentality that you teach of just like you have enough and they just even, they post a lot of practical things like if you're getting extra money in certain seasons, don't increase your living expenses, increase your savings so that you can live a rich life continuously. And it's just basically you creating a rich life, not necessarily with tons of money, but just enjoy really, really enjoying life and it's just like the most refreshing feed on the planet.
Shanna Skidmore (46:21):
I love that. Hillary, when does your Prism series drop?
Hillary Butler (46:24):
Not really sure. Sometime like maybe early 2023.
Shanna Skidmore (46:27):
Okay. Ooh. Okay, good. Let me know. Keep me posted.
Hillary Butler (46:31):
I will. Thanks friend.
Shanna Skidmore (46:32):
This has been so fun. Thanks for sharing. You're welcome. And I love having our, y'all just have our little non-coffee chat. I wish we had coffee, but you don't even drink coffee. Whatever. Let's send it off with, okay. What would you tell yourself going back to day one of your art business?
Hillary Butler (46:51):
I think I would tell her you're going to make it. You are going to make it. This is going to work and it's going to be way harder and way better than you ever anticipated.
Stick with it. Cupcake. Definitely called myself cupcake.
Shanna Skidmore (47:04):
All right, cupcake. That was so fun. Thanks for your time today, Hillary. I'm just grateful for you and our journey. We've been together a good seven, almost eight years now.
Hillary Butler (47:15):
What? That's true.
Shanna Skidmore (47:17):
BFF for life,
Hillary Butler (47:18):
Shanna Skidmore (47:20):
Yeah. And the journey goes on. Have a great rest of your day.
Hillary Butler (47:24):
You too. Bye friend.
Shanna Skidmore (47:25):
Bye. Hey, wildflower, you just finished another episode of Consider the Wildflowers the podcast. Head over to consider the wildflowers podcast.com for show notes, resource links, and to learn how you can connect with Hillary. I'm going to send it off today with a little fist pump from my good friend Hill. Stick with it cupcake. As always, thank you for listening. I'll see you next time.