In 2003 Rin Carroll Jackson formed the, woman-owned, RCJ Art Endeavors, LLC. Early in 2004, she moved from her home studio into the commercial space at 3561 SE Division St. Her initial approach included the wide arching STUDIO/DESIGN OFFICE/GALLERY combination. After building her business, founding the SE Area ARTWalk, completing the 720 sq ft “Creating Community” mural along-side 40 community members of all ages, and having served on the Board of the D/CBA Rin feels very rooted in her neighborhood. In December 2011, she returned back to a home-based space in SE Portland the Sleeping Bee Studio. Complete with rain barrels, on-site design work and home to Sleeping Bee Batiks.
The Wife/Husband team creates sustainable, beautiful items using the ancient technique of batik. They combine their skills and use beeswax resist on fabric to offer many designs on clothing and housewares.
What is your company?
RCJ Art Endeavors, LLC -and- Sleeping Bee Studio
How did you come up with the idea?
I turned my freelance business into a full-time art and design business. We now house Sleeping Bee Batiks and use our new facility as a studio and production space.
Where did you find your first customer?
My very first design job was in college doing t-shirt designs for on-campus organizations and groups. I also did poster design for surrounding college theatrical productions. That was back when everything was done by hand and you had to paste things up.
How did you determine your target market?
Living and working in a neighborhood/commercial district has a built in market in a way. I started to network, attend meetings, get involved and learn who needs what we provide. I have a wide variety of services, merchandise and skills which open up options for making sales and gaining customers.
What are you currently doing to reach them?
I have recently had to focus on the web with various online avenues. My retail business was affected by a change in the neighborhood business district which caused us to have to relocate to a more affordable situation. I have an e-mail campaign, Facebook and WordPress blog. Back in 2003, I also created a yearly event which brings focus to a group of artists in the SE Portland area each March. Although I volunteer my time to organize and publicize the event with other community members, the exposure and publicity each year pays off.
How much did you start up with?
Minimal start-up that my Grandfather provided for me with a basic business plan I wrote up for him. I have gone the non-loan route and can determine the pace and scope of the work I take on.
Did you bring on investors, get loans, or grow naturally?
I am continually growing naturally.
What’s the best advice someone has given you?
Don’t always accept a job if it does not seem like a fit.
There is always another opportunity around the corner.
What are your keys to staying productive?
Self-discipline to move forward in the various aspects of running a business is vital. I try to stay organized, motivated, and open to trying new things to drum up business. Learning and failing are part of becoming better at things and sometimes the failure can inspire new avenues and further determination. Always be preparing for the next move.
When you started, what was one thing you wish you knew?
That, what you think you want, is not always what you benefit from. Careful what you ask for.
What resources or books do you refer to regularly?
I do much research for specific topics as work comes along. I search out books, texts and images to get various ideas. I really like the tangible act of flipping real pages as opposed to online, but in this age I tend to rely on the web as a starting point for research. I enjoy looking at older images, paintings and drawings that I can incorporate aspects or features into designs. With the onset of web and design tools for the masses I seek out more traditional looking, “hand-done” images. One of my favorite books is “The Zen of Seeing” by Frederick Franck.
Has your company experienced any close calls or lucky moments?
The achievement of painting a large-scale community mural (“Creating Community”) that involved over 40 volunteers felt like a lucky moment. Experiencing many wonderful connections and stories involved in the process is a highlight in my career.
What does success mean to you?
Success is delivering a good or service on time and within budget that makes a customer or client happy. Making money to sustain our business is also an important factor to feeling and being successful. As an entrepreneur, one faces peaks and valleys and it is important to maintain a balance of work and play to reach success and stay healthy.
Where would you like to see your business 5 years from now?
We would like to enhance our client base to create more custom items for organizations, events and groups. In addition, adding 2 more yearly events would round out our current vending participation during July, March, and October.
What do you need help with?
As production grows, we could use people to do certain prep work and process work on items for the batik process. There are many steps that we could train young people to do and provide some work for them.
How can people find you online?