Episode 121 - Staying True to Your Art AND Building a Successful Business with Janna Willoughby-Lohr
How can you stay true to the why behind your art and grow your business at the same time? Janna Willoughby-Lohr chats with us about how she’s done both.
Artists need to eat.
While we create paper flowers because we love our art and touching people’s lives in a unique way, we also have bills to pay.
Can you do both? Yes!
In our latest episode of Paper Talk, we talked with Janna Willoughby-Lohr of Papercraft Miracles. Starting back in her college days, she set the rules for being an artist and building a successful business at the same time. As she put it, “I wanted to be an artist, and I didn’t want to be a starving artist, because that’s terrible.”
Janna made the right choices at the right time so that she could take advantage of opportunities that stayed true to her why and made financial sense. Listen now to get a shot of confidence for how you can do the same thing.
Here’s what you’ll learn when you listen to our conversation:
► Jenna’s paper flower journey and the why that’s fueled it.
► Why being open to new opportunities is critical for building a business.
► How Jenna made her appearance on a discovery+ TV show.
► Her advice for where to start when trying to grow your business.
► How Janna became a meme.
If you can’t listen right away, here are three things we discussed on the episode to get you started.
Be Open to Opportunities
One way that Janna has helped her business grow is by being open to new kinds of opportunities.
She has received many requests over the years for things that were outside of her norm. That’s how she discovered paper flowers! A client asked if she could make them, and she said yes knowing that she’d have to learn something new. That led her to discover yet another medium that she now loves.
You can listen to the episode to hear many more examples, from being on a discovery+ show, to fulfilling an order for half a million seed bombs for Lowe’s. Each time she pushed the boundaries of what she did, and doing so paid off in big ways in the end.
Focus on What Will Work
When a potential client comes to Janna with a crazy request, rather than thinking about all the ways it won’t work, she focuses on what might work.
Maybe she’ll try something that fails. Then it’s just back to the drawing board. Maybe she’ll try something that ends up being fantastic and leads her somewhere even better.
“I really try not to be that person who thinks of all the reasons it’s not going to work.” -Janna
With a positive attitude and a problem solving mindset, you’ll face more challenges—which means you’ll overcome more challenges! Your skill set will grow, and your business will grow.
Give Your Business Time
No business is built in a day. That’s especially true when you’re forging a new path, which many of us in the paper art world are doing.
On the episode, Janna told us that she didn’t pay herself until very recently. Every penny of profit she made went back into building up her business. She avoided debt and was able to invest in things that helped her paper business grow in the long term.
You might not be in the right financial situation to do that, and it simply might not be the right choice for you. However, being patient is definitely the right path for all of us. Even if you were somehow able to work on your paper flower business 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, it would still take time to grow into what you envision.
Listen to the podcast now to hear even more about how Janna has focused on her why all along her journey, and how her business is all the better for it.
Also, here's the PDF format for THE WHY WORKSHEET that you can download for free.
ABOUT Janna Willoughby-Lohr:
Janna Willoughby-Lohr is an artist, poet, musician and entrepreneur from Buffalo, NY. Her company, Papercraft Miracles, specializes in handcrafted paper art that brings meaning to people's lives. She was awarded a $25,000 Ignite Buffalo Grant in 2018 and was named 40-Under-40 from Stationery Trends Magazine in 2019. She’s worked with large brands such as Twitter and Capital One. In 2021, her team created 500,000 plantable seed bombs for Lowe’s Spring Garden Giveaway event. Janna was also a contestant on Meet Your Makers Showdown, a new crafting competition TV show that is streaming now on discovery+.
She is the host of Reach the Stars Podcast—which features inspiring stories of persistence, passion and purpose. Janna leads the membership committee for the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO’s) Buffalo/Niagara Chapter and is a founding member of their Diversity & Inclusion Task Force. She has also served two terms on their board of directors.
Janna's home and studio are in an old department store in Buffalo where she lives with her husband and three little kiddos. She likes bright colors, giggling, and things that are small.
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