From gorgeous watercolor crests and custom invitations to Holiday themed coffee mugs and Ginger Jars, there is no denying that watercolor artist Jessica Peddicord, Founder of Simply Jessica Marie, creates heirloom quality art. While many artists find themselves stuck in a cycle of trading time for money, Jessica figured out how to deliver heirloom quality products in a scalable way. In today’s episode, we get a behind the scenes look at how she pairs her love for art with data and analytics to strategically grow her business, consistently creating goods she enjoys making and that her audience will love!
WILDFLOWER SHOWNOTES : shannaskidmore.com/jessica-peddicord
Jessica Peddicord (00:00):
and then I feel like that's when things start to become a little bit easier is when you can find that sweet spot of what do you love to focus on offering? What do your customers really truly love coming to you for? And if there's something that strikes the chord between the two of those, then I feel like you've found your golden point.
Shanna Skidmore (00:19):
You are listening to Consider the Wildflowers the podcast, episode 32 From gorgeous watercolor crests and custom invitations to holiday themed coffee mugs and ginger jars. There is no denying that watercolor artists, Jessica Petor, founder of Simply Jessica Marie creates heirloom quality art. While many artists find themselves stuck in a cycle of trading time for money, Jessica figured out how to deliver heirloom quality products in a scalable way. In today's episode, we get a behind the scenes look at how she pairs her love for art with data and analytics to strategically grow her business, consistently creating goods she enjoys making and that her audience will love. She is one smart cookie. Y'all meet Jessica Pedicor. If you dig professional bios, here goes a family owned and operated small business. Simply Jessica Marie is founded and owned by Jessica Pedicor, a grand millennial watercolor artist, crest designer and educator who is dedicated to preserving family memories and decorating, intentionally passionate about teaching other small business owners.
Jessica also offers online courses and her student favorite vendor guide to help each student hone their craft, grow their own product shops, and navigate their industry. Formal introductions over, let's dive in. Hey, it's Shannon 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. Hi Jessica.
Jessica Peddicord (02:24):
Shanna Skidmore (02:26):
I'm so excited to have you. I love that you're sitting recording this in your soon to be nursery. Yes. And you're currently working on wallpaper, is this correct?
Jessica Peddicord (02:36):
Yes, this is correct. I actually just had a call this morning with the vendor that I'll be using to go over what options are best. I was thinking peel and stick would be ideal for a nursery in case we want to change it out when she gets a little older and she's like, actually, everyone thinks it's a fabulous idea, but peel and stick is kind of the worst. It's like, okay, we might go the traditional route then. So it's the learning lesson, which is really fun. It's something I've always wanted to do, so testing it out for our nursery seems extra special.
Shanna Skidmore (03:04):
I'm so excited for you. Yeah. If Kyle Thurman, Skidmore, my husband is listening to this right now, he will say, your vendor is a genius. Yeah, <laugh>, because I was like, pill and stick. This is a great idea. So I got that from Madeline's nursery and he was like, never again, <laugh>, because it the kind, I don't know if it's every pill and stick, but the kind we got, it kind of stretched while he was installing it, and so it was so hard for him to line up. So he was like, if we ever do wallpaper again, traditional is the way to go. Way to go. There you go. Yeah. Hi. Okay. I'm so excited to have you on this show and you are, what did you tell me? 34 weeks? Yes, pregnant 34
Jessica Peddicord (03:43):
Shanna Skidmore (03:44):
So we are getting this in stretch before this sweet little baby comes. Yeah. I'm
Jessica Peddicord (03:48):
So glad, so excited.
Shanna Skidmore (03:49):
Tell everybody who you are, what you do, and we'll just dive in.
Jessica Peddicord (03:54):
Yeah. So I am Jessica and I'm a watercolor artist. I'm actually also in Fargate, Tennessee, Knoxville for people who don't live near here. So Shannon and I actually live in the same area, which is really fun, but I have been painting my whole life and turned it into a business in 2013. And I specialize in grand millennial artwork that is beautiful for heirloom keepsake, whether you're interested in commissioning a watercolor crest from our shop for your wedding family, your own baby, or even purchasing artwork for your home, and gifts for friends and family. I really love creating intentional details that add that unique charm to your house, and then also equipping other artists to learn how to start and grow shops of their own too.
Shanna Skidmore (04:47):
Your work is so beautiful and you're absolutely talented, and I love just, you have built such an incredible audience of, I just feel like you have such an amazing community and they love you.
Jessica Peddicord (05:01):
They're the sweetest. I really do love them. We just did our annual survey a week or two ago, and I'm always blown away by how many people take the time to sit down and answer it and give their feedback and share what they're interested in, and I love connecting with them. I feel like that's such a big part of what makes my business continue to grow is those relationships that I do honestly love forming with them. So yeah, it's great having them as a part of this life journey with the
Shanna Skidmore (05:29):
Business. I bet they're also excited about the baby too.
Jessica Peddicord (05:31):
Yeah, they're really fun. Like, okay, cool. So my best content on Instagram is baby stuff. Oh, shop stuff. But that's to be expected.
Shanna Skidmore (05:40):
I know. It's so funny. I have started writing these because I'm not on Instagram and which is in some ways so wonderful, but I have a girl that I know and she was like, I love social media because it's like a time capsule for me. And I'm like, oh, that's such a beautiful way of looking at that. So since I don't use that platform, I started blogging these monthly just Skidmore life updates. And even if nobody ever reads these blogs, I do it for myself. And I post a few pictures in there and it's so funny to Kyle because I'm like, those are the most red blogs hands down. Oh, really? I love that. Oh yeah. They were like, okay, so what book are you reading and what's your favorite purchase of the month? And of course, yeah, Madeline Pictures. So I love our communities. Isn't that so fun? It's like you have a brand, you love your work, but it's you and your life, and that's the beauty I think, of small business.
Jessica Peddicord (06:33):
Shanna Skidmore (06:34):
Yeah. Okay. Tell me, what were you doing before you started your business? How did this all get started?
Jessica Peddicord (06:40):
Yeah, so I feel like it's hard to remember life before the business because I actually started it during college. But I always joke and say that I feel like I've been an artist since I was a kid. There's this really cute photo of me sitting in my highchair covered in paint with my little paintbrushes and everything. And I attempted doing the normal kid things like going to soccer camp and doing anything athletic, and I just don't have a single athletic bone in my body. So after a couple summers of trying that, my mom was like, let's enroll you in art camp instead. And then I was like, okay, this is more my speed. I really enjoy doing this. Our art teacher had this beautiful house that had a garden and she would take a few students, this is I think middle school baby, and we would basically be her students for the summer and get to paint her little pond in the backyard with her koi fish and her flowers.
And I was like, this is the life. If I could be like her when I grew up, that would be great. So I've always had art as a part of my life. And then I went to Elon University in North Carolina and as you do when you were first starting out, that young wasn't sure exactly what I wanted to study, and I started as a psychology major and business minor since one of my uncles is a psychologist, and I've always really admired him and I find psychology fascinating. And then one day freshman year, someone had told me about this major that was called sport and event management and was saying that you could use that degree to become a wedding planner. It's like you can get a degree to become a wedding planner. This is the coolest thing ever. So I quickly signed
Shanna Skidmore (08:24):
Jessica Peddicord (08:25):
Signed up for that, and then I ended up keeping my business minor and then dropping psychology to be a minor. So I double minored in psychology and business with a major in sport and event management, and ended up using that to become a wedding planner after college. But throughout college, I loved being kind of active in organizations around campus. I was in a sorority, Sigma Kappa and loved being a part of the social chair group and the philanthropy group, which kind of helped me to grow a portfolio of learning how to plan events, kind of getting some practice with that, and then also doing as many internships as I possibly could. So I had interned with a couple of wedding planners, one for a venue, and then Rebecca Rose events in North Carolina, and she's actually who did our wedding, which was really sweet and then interned for Southern Weddings Magazine, which I wish they would bring back.
It was just the best. But I interned for them senior year of college too. So it was always just kind of keeping myself busy and trying to prepare for life after college. And I actually started simply Jessica Marie, I think it was the summer before my senior year of college as a blog. And it was a way to kind of showcase all of the events I was planning on campus, showcase some of the weddings I was working on as an intern, and start to use that to grow kind of a portfolio for applying for jobs after college. So that's how my business got started, but it was a blog at the time, and that did lead me to connect with Amber Housley, who when I was working for her back in 2013, she was doing weddings and events. Now she's incredible. I know her and she focuses on coaching other small businesses, but it was a wonderful first job outside of college. But I was a part-time assistant, so I knew I needed to have another source of income because we were in Nashville and Renton, Nashville is cheap. So I added a shop onto my blog, and that's kind of how things got started.
Shanna Skidmore (10:32):
So was the shop originally, your artwork?
Jessica Peddicord (10:36):
It looks completely different now than it did back then. A lot of it was hand painted. So I started out with a few kind of more simple products that I could create on a one-off basis in college for our sorority. I had been doing these cute little hand painted monogrammed canvases that I would gift to my bigs and littles in our sorority family and to some of my friends and even gifted some to this other weddings lady. So that was my signature product that I started out with. And then a couple of other hand painted canvases and things like that. So it was a little bit more crafty at first, but it was always something that featured something with my hand on it, whether it was a monogram or eventually it started dabbling in wa watercolor again. But yeah, it was always artwork.
Shanna Skidmore (11:23):
I mean, you were working for Amber and you were pursuing wedding planning, it sounds like. Yes. Yeah. And the art was just kind of subs. I mean, did you wonder if people would buy it or,
Jessica Peddicord (11:34):
Yes. Well, I remember the day that I had launched on Etsy, I was like, okay, let the floodgates open. I'm about to have this slew of orders, and it was like crickets for a little while. I was like, dang it. That's not what I was expecting. But I, I was definitely curious to see how it would go and if it would be something that was sustainable. And thankfully, eventually it did start to pick up traction once I started doing watercolor artwork and making things a little bit more unique with my hand and everything, and eventually was able to grow it to the point when Zach had proposed to me and I moved from Nashville to Knoxville, that's when I took it. But yeah, it was flow growth for sure at the beginning, right. Humble beginnings. But yeah, I loved wedding planning, but this is definitely more my speed in terms of being an introverted homebody <laugh> compared to working weddings every weekend. Yeah.
Shanna Skidmore (12:31):
Wow. So you went to school in North Carolina, but you're from Nashville. Is that what brought you back to Nashville? Or how did you end up back in Nashville?
Jessica Peddicord (12:39):
So I actually grew up in North Carolina. We moved there when I was eight years old. So I grew up in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. And my family actually has lived there ever since then. They just moved this past year, four minutes from our house here in Tennessee, which is super helpful with our baby girl on the way. But I kind of, not on a whim, but I knew I wanted to explore a different state after college, and Nashville was kind of just picking up popularity and traction at that time. And I honestly moved there for Amber because I saw her work in southern weddings and I thought it was incredible. She had been doing wedding design instead of full service, wedding planning and design when she brought me on. We added the planning side since that was what my degree was in. But I just thought Nashville was such a vibrant creative city and was honestly polar opposite of Winston-Salem where I grew up in my opinion. So I moved there. There was one other girl who graduated from my year in college who moved to Nashville, so we ended up roommate together. So that was helpful to have a little slice of home there. But yeah, I moved to Nashville after college, met Zach within a year of living there, and then he's from Knoxville, so that's what brought us here. But we lived in Dallas, Texas for a few years as well, in between,
Shanna Skidmore (14:01):
I know you sound like me, we move, move, move, move. But you know what, go like orange because it always brings us home. So
Jessica Peddicord (14:08):
Shanna Skidmore (14:09):
I love that. Okay, so when you're making these goods and you started on Etsy, did you have, well, I have, oh, so many questions. How did you figure out your pricing then? My second is like how did you market it? And my third, I already forgot. So let's start with this. Okay. <laugh>
Jessica Peddicord (14:27):
Pricing and marketing. Yes. So pricing. I wish I could say that I used my business minor more, but honestly, having been interning for other small businesses and then working with Amber, she had put on a conference and I worked it, but was able to attend the sessions in between working them as well. And I had also attended, oh gosh, I am blanking on the name, but Southern Weddings had put on a conference back at the time that I was interning for them as well. And so thankfully I was able to kind of glean some wisdom about setting up proper business pricing and structures and everything like that from mentors in the industry who had been doing that for years. And I will say that in the early days, I was not the prime example of how to price things well. I feel like especially with things that were customer semi custom and not specifically a product that has a standard cost times for markup.
As a new artist, you tend to undervalue your work a little bit. And so I had some emotional pricing issues that I had to work through for the first few years. So I knew how to price with art print, but pricing something that was a custom canvas, I set what I thought was good, and then I kind of ran it through Amber and a couple of the other speakers who were at her conference since that conference was right before I launched my fts drop. So having their input was really helpful, and they gave me the encouragement to start a little bit higher than what I was thinking. And then after booking a few clients at that price point, then I could consider raising the pricing after having a few more and continuing to raise that latter approach to pricing. So yeah, that's kind of how I started out.
But I definitely feel like it was not a model for ideal pricing at first, and it took a lot of trial and error to figure all that out, which thankfully I have. And even when I had started diving into more products, greeting cards were some of the very first printed products that I had with my watercolor artwork. I had done a cute little ball collection with pumpkin spice lattes, and those were a fun hit. And I <laugh> didn't know any better, and I just bought envelopes retail price from Paper Source because I didn't realize that there were wholesale options. So there were some funny little learning lessons along the way in the first few years and did not have the best profit margin because of that. But after figuring out how to work with and source wholesale elements for products, that took a while, but it's been something that I've loved learning more about, and it's something I've actually compiled into a vendor guide for other artists who are interested in starting and growing their shops because of the bad lessons that I had to learn the hard
Shanna Skidmore (17:21):
Way. I was going to say that's probably why you're so passionate now about helping other artists because you didn't really have a model to go up. It sounds like you had some great mentors, but how are you getting the word out? I mean, how are people finding your goods?
Jessica Peddicord (17:37):
So I am actually pretty proud of younger Jessica. I feel like I was always very strategic in terms of marketing. Instagram was just taking off in 2013. It was maybe a couple years old at that point. And so thankfully I was able to use that platform to kind of like we were talking about before, engage followers and turn them into friends who would become customers. But on my launch day, I actually did a fun giveaway with Whitney English and the Day Designer, which helped to bring in some new fresh eyeballs to the brand and the business and continue to do things like that where I would partner with other small businesses to get the word out and grow my reach. And then once I started doing more watercolor painting, I was still learning that medium. And so to practice, I would use, I don't even think influencers were a term back in that
Shanna Skidmore (18:37):
Day. Yeah, they sure were <laugh>,
Jessica Peddicord (18:38):
But I was doing a lot of figure painting, so I would use examples of fashion bloggers and paint them for reference just for practice. But then I would post those practice paintings on Instagram and tag them, and then they would re-share and their followers would love it. And then that would kind of grow a customer base, which led into custom painting requests, which was kind of the second phase of my business going from just products to offering products and custom art artwork.
Shanna Skidmore (19:09):
Yeah. This is so good. Okay, I have to stop you right here and say, okay. You have said Whitney English, Amber Housley Southern Wedding, Cecil, Laura Casey. Yeah. These are in 2013. Some big people in the industry. They have already grown large businesses. Yes. They have been in business for a while. How did you do that? How did you connect with them?
Jessica Peddicord (19:31):
So I think Southern Weddings was the catalyst. So that internship, I feel like I owe so much to, and I had found out about the magazine through working with Rebecca Rose events since it was one of their very favorite magazines that they always hoped to continue to be published in. And so I had bought as many copies as I could, and I still have every issue, and it's stacked up on our coffee table downstairs. But I knew that I really wanted to intern for them, and I knew I wanted to set myself apart when I was applying. And so this is going to sound like so ellwood, but for the application, instead of just submitting something online, I actually found they had this cute little about us q and a that they had all of the girls who worked for Southern weddings fill out. So I printed that out and I filled it out on my own as kind of an example of how I would fit into the team.
And then I printed out my resume and cover letter, and I think I whole punched it and tied all of them together with a little lace doy at the top or something really tacky like that. And I put it in an envelope. I probably had confetti in there or something, and I mailed it to, and they actually had already had an intern picked out for that semester, but I guess they thought that it was such a creative application that they offered me a very part-time, just once a week internship with them. And so it was perfect because their office was about an hour from Elon. So I was able to squeeze in one day a week, just fine. It probably would've been better than going multiple days. But being a part of that company really introduced me to a lot of other incredible small businesses.
And like I mentioned, that's how I learned about Amber was through, she had done, I think it was bridal shower invitations for Emily, who was one of the people who worked at Southern Weddings, and that's how I got connected with her. And Laura Casey actually connected me with Amber directly because I was trying to get a job with Amber, but she wasn't actually actively hiring <laugh> at the moment. I was just kind of cold emailing her, being like, I love your work. I really feel like I'd be a great asset to your team. And then Laura kind of emailed her on my behalf being like, Hey, this girl has been working for us. I really do feel like you should give her a shot. So I was very grateful to her. And then I connected with Whitney through Amber, so was a bunch of just relationships and connections. Yeah.
Shanna Skidmore (22:07):
This makes me so happy, and I hope anyone listening picked up on I did, you said that you're an introvert and yeah, are you a natural network? I mean, I don't think people, I mean, I know wouldn't when I'm met, you think she's an introvert. You are friendly, you're bubblier and that not the introverts, but you know what, you're very outgoing in that way. And so how was that hard to network? Did it come naturally just because you were excited? I, I'm so yeah, intrigued.
Jessica Peddicord (22:37):
I think it did come naturally because I was so excited. And I don't know if it's just with age, I feel more introverted, and I forget which way it is, but I think there's that term extroverted introvert or introverted extrovert. And I feel like I do fall in that kind of odd middle spectrum where once I get in a situation, like a networking event or something, I love it and I thrive, but then I crash immediately afterwards. Same.
Shanna Skidmore (22:59):
So yeah, people always say, because I would say I'm definitely an introverted extrovert, <laugh> like, yeah, I need recharge time, and what about my introvert moments? But people don't expect that when they meet me. It's like, yeah, they're so friendly. And again, not that introverts aren't friendly, but it's just this, you've come across so extrovert. It's like, yeah, but that feels so draining afterwards. It's fun. It does. And then I'm tired. Yes, <laugh>. Exactly. Okay. I just wanted to point that out because I know as a new business owner, it can feel so hard to connect with somebody 10 years in, and now you're on the other side of the spectrum and 10 years into your business, and you have to be about to have a baby. You have to have those boundaries. So yes. Yeah, that's was so interesting to me. You talked about Instagram. Would you say that was a big part of your marketing and growth in those first few years? And then I would love to hear, has that shifted throughout the years?
Jessica Peddicord (24:01):
Yeah, so Instagram has always been, I guess, my personal preference in terms of which platform to use for growing. I am very thankful that I kind of got into Instagram at the time that I did, because I know now it's significantly harder to gain reach. And even just growing my own platform has been slower these days than it was back then to reach new people, which is not groundbreaking. I feel like everybody kind of says the same thing, but it's just always been really fun for me. I love to not only paint and create products, but taking beautiful photos has always been a huge passion of mine. And so finding creative ways to set my brand apart through lifestyle photo shoots has been just almost as fun as creating the actual products themselves. And I feel like it's a way that kind of sets my brand apart is showing how to use the products in your own home in a natural way, and how they can really truly make your day just a little bit brighter and elevate your home, but in an approachable way, not this unattainable way.
So it's been a really fun way to grow my connection with my customers, but also do social media marketing. And then I had been blogging a lot more at the beginning. I feel like I took a little bit of a hiatus, but when I first started, I was blogging multiple times a week. And it's something that my sister and I have been focusing on more over the past year and a half, because some of the traffic, if I look at the analytics, it still comes from blog posts I've written years ago. And so I know that Instagram is great for those instant connections, but blogging and Pinterest are really helpful for long game traffic and customers. So it's something that we're working on prioritizing more now. But I would say, I'm trying to remember when I started really focusing on my newsletter, but that is the biggest driver of sales for us now is my newsletter.
So trying to really focus on not only using it for sales and promotions and new collections, but as a way to connect with customers in between new collection launches has been great as well in doing, I had said earlier, our annual survey, sending out fun ways for them to be a part of the brand through the newsletter has been great. So I feel like Instagram has been a good way to connect with people and foster relationships, and the blog is a great way to have more evergreen content. But the newsletter is the way that I feel like makes the biggest impact on our bottom line. And then my sister and my shop assistant, who are both wonderful and a little bit younger than me, will be figuring out how to start a TikTok for us because I have the app downloaded and that's about it. So I know that it's been great for some of my other shop owner friends who use it. And in the annual survey, I think it was about 80% of people say that Instagram is their favorite platform to use to connect with us or just their favorite platform to scroll. I think it was only it two or 5% of people said TikTok, but we realized that that means there's a huge opportunity to connect with new customers and new people that we haven't reached yet, even if it's not our current customers. TikTok is
Shanna Skidmore (27:36):
Favorite platform, right? Yeah. Yeah. That's interesting. So you're so smart, Jessica, you're so smart. Thanks. Your brain. It's like when, okay. And when did you decide wedding planning was out and you were going full in on the shop and creating an artwork?
Jessica Peddicord (27:56):
So it was under two years after I started my business. So I started the shop in the summer of 2013, and then I want to say it was February a year and a half later maybe that I had gone full-time, taken my shop, and it was probably a little bit earlier than I needed to or could have. I know everyone talks about having X amount of dollars saved up, and there's a really strategic way of going about it. But mine kind of happened more just with life circumstances. And I had just gotten engaged in January of that year, and Zach was actually living in Knoxville. I was in Nashville for maybe about a half a year. So we were what I call semi long distance because it's not really long distance between those two cities, but I knew I wanted to move to Knoxville to be closer to him so that we could be together and do wedding planning and life together and all of that stuff.
And I kind of at that point made the decision about, do I want to find another part-time job with a wedding planner locally, or do I want to just take it out of myself and go? And thankfully that ended up working out, but it was more, I loved wedding planning, and at that season of life, I was still pretty young for kind of still fresh out of college and had the energy to do wedding planning, and I loved being able to be a part of people's lives in that way and loved working with Amber. She was such a great boss, but it was just more circumstantial than anything really.
Shanna Skidmore (29:33):
Yeah. Yeah. Okay. So you're in the business, you're engaged, you're here in Knoxville, and you mentioned the money side. I would love just to hear what did you learn? Let's talk about the money, what came naturally for you? Were there any hard kind of bumps in the road with business that you had to learn financially? I would just love to hear how the next few years went as you're going, and this is your only source of income.
Jessica Peddicord (29:59):
Yes, it is. Yeah. So I kind of touched on it earlier, but I was still, especially at that point going, trying to think back, I took notes of what my business looked like every year. And that year I do vividly remember I had been doing not only just the shop products, but also doing wedding invitations. I had kind of the flow of things started out with the hand painted canvases in the shop with the monograms and then pivoted into some small kind of more manageable products like greeting cards that you could order them in a small quantity. And then year two of my business, I debuted my first calendar, which has been a constant in my shop ever since then and continues to be one of our top selling product categories. But that year is when I started also offering custom paintings, like wedding portraits, fashion portraits, and then I started dabbling in social stationary, like baby showers and even brand design.
I feel like I was just kind of dipping my toes in a bunch of different things. And then year three, so year two to three, that would've been the kind of timeframe when I went full-time. Year three is when I started to teach calligraphy workshops. So I introduced education, and that was also the year I designed my first sweating invitations and created a semi-custom invitation collection to attract potential clients. And that I would say was a big lesson learned. I thought it would be this fabulous asset to have to be able to have readymade, just semi-custom invitation suites to offer clients. And I did not sell a single one of them. Oh.
Which was challenging because I did spend so much time pouring my heart and soul into the artwork and designing them, and I hired a photographer to photograph the collection and did a lot of marketing of them. And even though they didn't sell, it was a good portfolio to showcase to attract people who were interested in custom wedding invitations. So I feel like it wasn't the worst thing in the world, but that was definitely it. Stung. Yeah. And I never sold one, so that I feel like was, I don't know, a pretty big lesson learned in terms of pricing or not pricing, but it did kind of go hand in hand with, okay, what do I want my business to look like? And then throughout the years after that, I continued to offer custom products and then eventually got pretty burnt out about it. I feel like when I attended Blueprint Summit for the first time was in that season of trying to figure out, I have so many different offerings, what financially makes the most sense for the time I'm spending?
So I think that's one of the things that I had struggled a lot with was in addition to how to actually set pricing, especially for the custom work that I was doing, and I had mentioned earlier, not having as clear cut before taking blueprint of a structure of how to price something that seemed ambiguous to me, like my artwork. I also just had this, I don't know, struggle with if I can offer it, if I can, yes, paint this for somebody, if I can offer these wedding vows or a custom pet portrait or something that someone is asking me that they really would love me to create for them, and I can do it, why do I say no? Yeah. But you had said you really do have to set boundaries in so many different facets of your business, and one of those being figuring out what products and services are the ones that you should hone in on and really focus in to grow your overall brand instead of just being a one-stop shop for anything someone comes to you for. Yeah. And then I feel like that's when things start to become a little bit easier is when you can find that sweet spot of what do you love to focus on offering? What do your customers really truly love coming to you for? And if there's something that strikes a chord between the two of those, then I feel like you've found your golden point.
Shanna Skidmore (34:15):
Yeah, I love that you said that because I think in the beginning in all businesses, we have to put stuff out there, figure it out, see what sticks. Was there anything you specifically did that helped you figure out, okay, this is a keeper. This isn't a keeper. I want to focus in on this, or I don't, and also, do you ever feel caged in the whole niche down to scale up as an artist? Does that make you be like, well, that's no fun, <laugh>,
Jessica Peddicord (34:42):
Right. Yeah. I think I went to a mastermind retreat with, it was just a small group of our friends, so I know Ashlyn Carter was there. I think it was us, Lauren Carns, Laura Foot, and Callie, Lindsay and Callie had invited me to go, and it was a weekend getaway in Savannah, and that was just such a good weekend to be able to bounce ideas around, because it was in that season where I was offering way too much and trying to figure out how to get my head above water. And I, at that point, was still doing wedding invitations, and I had started offering custom wedding crests as a standalone design offering at that point, but it was before I kind of pivoted into what I do now, which is called the Sjm Crest bar, which I'll explain more in a second. But everything was from scratch custom painted for each client at that point in time.
And I was still doing education, and I had my shop, but it wasn't really a big focus at that point. It was still primarily custom, and I just felt like I was spending so much time and I couldn't see a way to scale it. And so I was talking to the girls and just kind of going through everything that I was offering and how exhausted I was feeling, and I was a newly would at that point. I think it was the first year of our marriage was when this mastermind retreat was, and just feeling like I wasn't being a good wife because I was working so many hours. And I think Lauren was the one who, she just planted a seed in my mind, and she was like, okay, so for your custom work, specifically the crests, a lot of your clients are asking you to paint the same types of flowers, the same handful of icons.
What if you just saved some of your favorites of those and created a library that you could use to still offer Crest for your clients without having to from scratch paint those custom icons over and over and over and over again, because that would be a way to still offer that heirloom service while scaling it. I was like, you're so smart. So that was kind of the catalyst that started me thinking about what is now our crest bar, which is in the simplest way to explain it, it's basically semi custom crest. So we have a library of over 200 icons that I still did originally hand paint, but they're ready to be put together within florals that I've hand painted and monograms that I've hand painted to create your own unique watercolor crest without me having to spend countless hours custom painting each crest from scratch.
So we're able to serve so many more couples and families and in individuals without sacrificing time for money, if that makes sense. So that was a really big turning point, and I can't even remember if that answers your question. Yeah, no, but that's so helpful. But doing that then also allowed me to have more time to grow my shop, which I think that was the part of your second question about feeling kind of caged in. And I honestly feel the opposite. I have so many ideas for the shop. I have this long list of different designs and products that I would love to offer, and I feel like one of my problems is offering too many things. So I feel like I have so many different ideas for shop products, and I have to rely on my team to reign me in and be like, okay, let's do this for this collection.
Let's save this idea for next year or something, because what's the rush? You don't have to offer it all of your ideas all at once. So I think it's honestly the opposite, being able to have, my sister, actually, I hired her a couple years ago, and she works and she handles designing all of Cress for our clients. Now. I still can't paint any new icons, but she is the one who does the design work to put them together, which allows me to have more time to paint and design products for the shop. So I feel like it's been a really wonderful balance.
Shanna Skidmore (38:48):
Yeah. Would you say, Jessica, from what you've shared, and I think this is, so a lot of entrepreneurs have this where just figuring out how to design what you want or make what you want was always something you had to weigh against the time that you had. I mean, how did you figure out how to do it all and manage your time? Yeah,
Jessica Peddicord (39:10):
<laugh> definitely one of the hardest parts, especially because I see some of these artists on Instagram, and you never know how long something actually takes somebody, but it seems like they are just constantly cranking out so much artwork all the time. And I am a very slow painter, and so I feel like it does take me quite a while to work through figuring out to design idea and conceptualizing it and making sure that it's different from what else is being currently offered on the market, and then actually sketching it and painting it and digitizing it, and then designing the shot products with it. So it's a pretty long process. So it does frustrate me sometimes that I can't just crank out all of the ideas that are in my head, growing our city collection of New City artwork. It's been a huge request from our customers, which I would love to do, but I'm always so frustrated being like, Ugh, I wish I could paint all of these cities for you right now, but it would take me years to get through this long list of cities that were nominated. So it's definitely frustrating kind of balancing that. And I do feel like I have a very analytical mind for an artist. And so I think something else that I think is an asset, but I can struggle internally with sometimes is balancing which of these ideas are fun? Which of these ideas do I want to pursue? Which ones are requested from our customers? And then how do you find that balance of what will actually sell the best? Yeah. If that makes sense. Yeah.
Shanna Skidmore (40:39):
Yeah. Oh yeah, that's so helpful. I do want to ask, as you prepare for maternity leave, and it sounds like you've been building up your team already, I know your sister works with you, which is so much fun. How are you with a type of work that is so detailed, and I know you have a lot more offers now, so that it's not just your time consuming custom work, which I'm sure was a strategic move on your part. It
Jessica Peddicord (41:04):
Shanna Skidmore (41:05):
How are you preparing now with the baby coming and how you want to spend your time moving forward? What do you see this future as much as you can plan for it without really knowing? Yeah,
Jessica Peddicord (41:17):
Right. Oh, I know.
Shanna Skidmore (41:19):
How are you planning for it?
Jessica Peddicord (41:20):
So we actually are going to have a team meeting later this week to kind of walk through what that looks like. We had an annual planning meeting last week to think through different collections, looked at all the data from our annual survey and kind of made a game plan of, okay, what artwork do we focus on for which collections? So I feel a lot more at ease kind of having at least a general guideline of what will spring, summer, fall, and winter look like in terms of artwork for the shop. And I, over the past few months, have already been painting the artwork for the spring and summer collections. That way I can design products and have inventory ordered within the next month before baby girl arrives pending if she decides to make her debut early or not. But I'm trying to have as much prepped as humanly possible before I take time off.
That way my studio assistant can pack and ship orders for the spring collection that will launch while I'm on maternity leave and will be doing a Mother's Day collection, which I'm very excited about since I'll be able to have my first Mother's day and use some of the mama products, which will be brand new to our shop, haven't, I've always loved the idea of introducing new products that are a part of the season of life that I'm in, so I kind of wanted to wait to offer any products that are specifically for moms and little ones until I had a kid of my own and kind of realized what moms might want. So we're going to debut just a small collection at first and then expand upon that eventually. But having those products designed and kind of ready for them to take care of customer orders while I have time off is going to be really reassuring.
And my sister will be doing all of the newsletter prep, and the two of them will work together to coordinate social media and answer in customer emails, and hopefully things will run as smoothly as possible. The thing that I think I'm still trying to figure out balance wise is how to be a good boss and be there for them while also taking time off. So I don't know if you or any of the listeners have any advice. I am all ears, but I think what we've talked about is having a couple of times dedicated each week for me to check in with them where they can make a list of questions and then I can address them all at once. Instead of feeling like every single day I need to be available for them. That way I can mentally check out, physically check out and try to enjoy maternity leave as much as I humanly can, and then ease back into it within a couple months after I'm still not sure exactly what hard date I'll return to work, but giving myself the grace to ease back into starting to paint and working through collections and hopefully, honestly working less than I do now, and letting them have more control over some of the things that they were doing while I was on maternity leave to continue delegating to them as best as I can.
Shanna Skidmore (44:27):
Will say, Jessica, as someone who's taken many, many sabbaticals in my business that I love your idea, and that's something I do is once a week have all the questions kind of collected and then it's really efficient instead of popcorning them throughout the week unless it's urgent. And it's funny, I have found that when you empower your team, they will need you a lot less than you think.
Jessica Peddicord (44:53):
Oh, I'm sure.
Shanna Skidmore (44:53):
Yeah. Wait, is everything ok?
Jessica Peddicord (44:56):
Shanna Skidmore (44:57):
And it's such a gift. It's
Jessica Peddicord (44:58):
Funny. It really is. And there are certain things that I feel like I was holding so close to my chest for the longest time that I really didn't need to be continuing to do myself that either Julia, my sister, or Mary Claire, my studio assistant, could do designing. We have personalized stationary sets in our shop that customers can customize with their name or their monogram, and it's truly not that challenging to edit the design file. It's just popping in a copying, pasting a name, essentially. And for whatever reason, I thought it was going to be such a hard training process to teach my assistant how to design and order the stationary, and she picked it up within a day. So like, okay, I've passed this off a while ago. But it's nice to be able to start to slowly get rid of all the control that I feel like I was holding onto.
One other practical thing that I think will be helpful too, just based on experience of friends who have shops that have teams is I have this app that is a digital to-do list, basically, and there's a to-do list for me, a to-do list for both of my assistants. And so being able to just have that on my phone, and if an idea pops into my mind at three in the morning while I'm breastfeeding or something, I think it'll be helpful to be able to have that to add to their to-do list so that when they start work at a normal hour the next day, they can just immediately see that instead of me having to remember to communicate that to them. So I think that's another,
Shanna Skidmore (46:28):
What is that app that you are using?
Jessica Peddicord (46:31):
Myelo note? M I L A N O T E. I think it works pretty similarly to Asana or Trello. Yeah. But it's just one that has worked for
Shanna Skidmore (46:40):
Us. Yeah. I love that. Okay. One last money question or goals question, I would say. Yeah. And then let's go into a quick fire round. So Sure. I always like to ask, what's the best thing you learned about money? So I'm going to do two questions, but I'm wondering for you, Jessica, as a planner, do you set revenue goals? Do you set launch goals? Probably both. What gives you peace of mind? Or do you feel like your numbers in a way that allows you to like, okay, I know how much we need to pay the bills and keep this going. Is that been a part of your planning process as you prep for maternity leave?
Jessica Peddicord (47:18):
Yeah, that's a great question. That was one of the things that I had to really consider since it's not just me. If it was just me and I didn't have a team, I feel like potentially I say this, but I probably wouldn't potentially consider just taking a break from the shop and relying on my husband's income to sustain us during maternity leave and take time off. But since I do have two girls who are full-time, I do need to continue to make sales during time off. So the way my brain works is I do have goals for each collection, and I know that we have a certain amount of collections that we launch every year. So I guess it cumulatively combines to an annual sales goal. And I love looking at the data and numbers and comparing year over year how we're performing. But I do have sales goals for each collection, and I kind of look back at what that collection launch looked like the year before in terms of sales, as well as what the collection from the same year right before the one we're about to launch looked like, if that made sense.
So for fall, comparing it to summer or for summer, comparing it to spring, and there are certain seasons that just inevitably outperform others for shops. And it's one of the things that kind of drives me crazy. One of the things that is on my list to talk about with my team is to dig into why holiday sales are just astronomically better than any other time of year. Is it because I usually introduce Nutcracker themed artwork, and people just have such a strong connection to the Nutcracker Ballet, and they love that and they love shopping that. Is it because it's a time of year when everyone's shopping for gifts? Is it because there's bigger Black Friday sales? Is it because influencers are sharing more? Is it because we're featured in more gift guides? How can we capitalize on that for other collections? But yeah, it's always really interesting to me.
So I definitely set collection goals for the year, and that's mostly for retail and wholesale. So those are the bulk of the business. Retail sales make up about 65% of our annual sales, wholesale about 12%, and then the Crest bar is 14%, and my educational offerings are about 10%. So if that kind of helps break down good revenue stream breakdown. Yes. Yeah. Yeah, I love it. So that's why I feel like whenever I talk about the business, I tend to focus mostly on talking about the shop because it is kind of the bulk of where we're getting our sales from. And I always do find it interesting since I feel like when other artists dive into education, they see that as a like, oh, this is such a not easy way to make money, but comparatively to artwork where there's product costs associated with it and everything. I feel like a lot of people tend to scale the education side of their business, but I've always found that, I don't know, I love teaching, and I think there's nothing that is more fulfilling than empowering somebody else to start and grow their shop. But I also want to be a good educator and showcase that I can still have a successful product shop of my own, so that I'm basically practicing what I'm preaching.
Shanna Skidmore (50:46):
Jessica Peddicord (50:46):
Love that. And I know you asked a second part of that question,
Shanna Skidmore (50:50):
The best thing you've learned about money.
Jessica Peddicord (50:52):
Yes. So I would say that the best thing I've learned about money, which probably won't come as a shock since I've been talking a lot about analyzing things, but is to really look at it and analyze it and learn from it instead of ignoring it or being afraid of it. I feel like in those early years, I just would not even check my bank account because I was nervous to see what it would say. But now I feel like I have very frequent kind of money. I know you do this all the time. I think you call it money dates or something like that. But really looking at the numbers, both what you have made from a collection or year over year, but also kind of breaking it down as kind of small scale as possible in terms of, okay, are there certain products that just did not perform well this year? Why did they not perform well? Is it something that it's just time to let go of? Is it something where I might need to just make a small tweak to the product design or the way we're marketing it, or did I not share about it enough? What is making this not sell as well as some of the other things that we're focusing on that are selling well and kind of using it as a strategic tool? And that's been something that's been really helpful for us as a business.
Shanna Skidmore (52:17):
Yeah. Oh, I love that. Okay, Jessica, this has been so good. You have given so much good information. Thank you for sharing your story and growth, and I love hearing that your shop is just dominating.
Jessica Peddicord (52:29):
Well, thank you.
Shanna Skidmore (52:31):
<laugh>. Go into a quick fire round as we Okay. Just wrap things up. So have a few questions for you. The first, yeah, what is one thing you would be embarrassed if people knew
Jessica Peddicord (52:42):
<laugh>? I would say, and I sort of touched on it before, but just how incredibly long I overthink things, whether it's just how long it takes me to work through an idea for a painting. For example, the pattern that I did for our nursery wallpaper, I started it at the beginning of January and I just wrapped it up last week. So it took me about an entire month. And it's because I feel like, I don't know, I compare myself a lot to other artists in terms of how long it takes me to get things done. But I do have that analytical mindset of like, okay, this, I feel like I just put so much pressure on myself. I'm like, okay, this has to sell. Well, yeah, because I'm doing this for a product that is going to providing for me, my family and two team members.
So I feel like I put just a lot of pressure on myself, and I tend to overthink things in terms of actually painting, but also in terms of just how personally I can take customer requests and emails. Like last year, our holiday collection, I did a blue and white ballerina and Nutcracker theme, and I loved it, and it sold really well. But we had a handful of people who were like, oh, this is beautiful. I would totally buy it if you did it in pink. I was like, oh, <laugh>. Okay, well, if only you knew from the back end of a business how I can't afford to offer these dozens products both in pink and blue, because that's a lot of money to put in it to inventory, and I don't have this space for it either. So I tend to take things a little more personally than I probably should. But thankfully, my sister is the polar opposite kind of personality wise. She's very just no nonsense cut and dry, and she kind of reigns me in and brings me back down to earth. So it's good to have that balance.
Shanna Skidmore (54:29):
Yes, for sure. On a team. That's Kyle for me. He's like, it's fine. Let's go.
Jessica Peddicord (54:33):
Yeah. I'm like,
Shanna Skidmore (54:34):
Honey butt. Okay. That's good. Yeah. Thanks for sharing that. All right. Yeah. Any regrets or wish you could do over moments?
Jessica Peddicord (54:41):
I think that I just tend to get really excited and invested in fun projects. And so this isn't a one specific thing, but just a personality trait that I'm working on where I say yes to a project that I know will add too much time to my plate and will either make me feel rushed with other big plans I have for that timeframe or make me work too many after hours, which I've been trying so hard over the past few years to avoid doing. And so it's a pattern that I've needed to break for a while. So for example, one year I had taught a business training workshop the summer before. I should have been focusing on finalizing my own holiday line. I was teaching others how to prepare their shops for the holidays, <laugh> when I should have been spending that time to create my holiday collection so that I was not having to feel rushed because we had a really wonderful family beach vacation that I think it was September or October, and I ended up having to work on editing and designing and ordering my calendar and holiday line on vacation because I was not a good steward of my time leading up to it.
So that would be a regret.
Shanna Skidmore (55:54):
Those are such hard lessons to learn with time management and saying yes, and I've been right there with you. Oh
Jessica Peddicord (56:02):
Yeah. Thankfully. I think with more and more, I honestly like maternity leave and having a baby I think is going to help me a lot with that, especially with the annual planning meeting we had and just having people to keep be in check, which I know not everybody has, but even if you just have other creative friends or family members you could rely on to help you not go down that path. Yeah, that'd be
Shanna Skidmore (56:23):
Great. Yeah. Okay. Last quick fire question. Tell me about a big win or pinch me moment.
Jessica Peddicord (56:29):
I would say that Big Win in general was hiring my sister. I think it's just such a surreal thing that I get to work with her every day and see her flourish in her own way. She studied PR in college and she's just so smart and such an asset to the business and has been able to do incredible things for us, getting us featured in Veranda. And in that same sense, we were featured in Southern Living last year and one of the Christmas Gift Guys, and that's one of my favorite magazines. And it was just such a, it's surreal moment to see our products on their website. So that was really fun. And then collaborating with Lauren Haskell of Low Home on a Ginger Jar line this past year was just another really incredible pinch me moment to see my artwork on a ginger jar since it's something that I have so many of hers throughout our house and love collecting, and a lot of the artwork in my shop has ginger jars in it with florals, so it was really cool to have a 3D actual ginger jar featuring my watercolor
Shanna Skidmore (57:37):
Designs. Yeah. Oh, that's so fun. Okay, TECA, this has been awesome. Let's send it off with, if you could go back and tell yourself 10 years ago, <laugh>, when you were first getting started. Yes. What would you tell yourself on day one?
Jessica Peddicord (57:51):
I would say that you probably will not have a clear path for where you're going to end up with your business starting out. There's going to be a lot of trial and error of products and services that you'll offer, but I do feel like those are important to work through to figure out what you love and what your ideal clients and customers want so that you can find that point that is your sweet spot, and then lean into it higher help so that you can grow and you're not shouldering the weight of it all yourself. And then have fun building your unique business. Because there is this art print that I actually still have framed in our studio, Shanna, that you gave out at the Blueprint Summit, and it was a Dolly Parton quote and it says, never get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life. And it's just something that I have to continuously remind myself of. So kind of going back and telling myself day one that it is going to be a lot of hard work at first, but to not let go of why you're doing this, that your whole life is not about your work, but it's a beautiful part of your
Shanna Skidmore (59:00):
Life. Yeah. That's so beautiful, Jessica. And that they'll let you know me some Dolly. That's my favorite quotes, my business motto. And I have heard, I feel like this should have maybe been my word of the year or my phrase of the year. I cannot tell you, I think five people in the last two weeks have used that analogy of your sweet spot, and I think that that is so true of finding this place of like, you love your work, I love being an entrepreneur. It's so, so fun. And then also letting it be a piece of your life and not the whole thing. So that's so beautiful. Jessica, thank you for your time and sharing your story. Of course. And I can't wait to meet that sweet baby girl. Yeah.
Jessica Peddicord (59:42):
I can't wait for her and Madeline to be little friends, little
Shanna Skidmore (59:46):
Buddies. I know we'll have little, we'll have play dates.
Jessica Peddicord (59:49):
Yes, for sure. I'm so excited.
Shanna Skidmore (59:52):
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 Jessica. One final thought for today from Ralph Waldo Emerson. To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment. As always, thank you for listening. I'll see you next time.