Bare walls, beware! Liz Lidgett, the girl boss behind online art advisory service Adore Your Walls, knows just how to score that just-right, personalized piece for your favorite space.
What's the story behind your business?
AdoreYourWalls.com is an online art advisory service. We help people find the perfect piece of art for their space -- any style, room, or budget. Everyone can live with great artwork in their home.
A living room wall is sad and bare. Help! Walk us through your process.
I like to think of myself as a crusader against blank walls -- so you have come to the right place! Whether I am meeting with someone in person or they have purchased an art advisory package through my site, I start by asking the same questions. I ask my clients everything from "What do you like to do on Saturday afternoon?" to "What would you love/hate to see on your walls?" Armed with the answers to these 15-20 questions and the photos and dimensions of their space, I begin to look for the perfect piece of artwork for their wall and budget. I ask all of those questions because I want to make sure that the artwork is aesthetically pleasing but also personally meaningful to each client. After I send clients art options, I help them order the pieces and give them direction about installation. It's a really easy, cohesive process for a problem so many people have!
What's the best piece of advice you've ever received?
Fake it till you make it. To me, this bit of advice is more about not letting fear get in the way than accepting jobs you have no business in doing. When working on new endeavors, I get nervous like anyone else, but I have the confidence in myself and my skills that I will succeed. Don't second-guess yourself because if you project that confidence and do the work, others will follow suit and believe in you, too. And here's the big secret -- we all feel like we are just winging it as we go along but those who are successful say "yes" to new opportunities because they are confident they'll be able to figure it out.
Describe the most-prized piece of art in your own collection (and where you found it!).
Artwork not only makes your home beautiful but also can be, and should be, personal. I have art from our travels around the world, art by artist friends, and art that have been wonderful gifts, and they all mean a lot to me. One in particular was a commission I had made by an Iowa artist Jimmy Navarro. He painted a pair of white Converse low-tops on a huge canvas for us. My husband and I met when we were 17 years old, and he almost exclusively wore Chuck Taylors. Every time I see that painting I think of the 17-year-old boy I fell for in his Converse shoes, and it makes me smile.
Art is so personal. When working with, say, a couple, what strategies do you use to appeal to both parties?
When I meet with a new clients, I always start with the same 15-20 questions. These include questions about what do they like to do on Saturday afternoons, where do they like to travel, and what they would love/hate to see on their walls. With all of this information, I help them pick pieces they will love in their space and that fit their pocketbook. What are you passionate about? What are your hobbies? What gets you out of bed in the morning? Think about these things and most importantly buy a piece that you love. Don't worry about impressing others. Also consider collecting around a guiding theme. Perhaps your artwork could all represent favorite places to travel or family, or even all local artists.
You've purchased art from all over the world. Have you ever met up with any vendors in person later? What's that like?
Absolutely. No matter the business, I truly believe it's essential to success to build relationships. It's funny -- I have artists I order from who I've only e-mailed with or talked on the phone but who I feel like I truly do know. But meeting them in person helps me to better get to know them and their work. I can tell a lot from a photograph of a piece of art but there's nothing like the real thing. Purchasing artwork is one of my favorite things about my job. I love making that phone call and letting an artist know a client would love a piece from their collection. It's incredibly gratifying.
Coffee or tea?
Option C. Diet Coke!
Who is your entrepreneur hero/heroine?
While I have never met her, I've always been inspired by Emily Henderson. Of course I love her work, but I'm also inspired by her authenticity in her everything she does. She's expanded her company and her influence by working with Target, which makes great design affordable and accessible. It's something that I am also personally passionate about -- I believe that great style whether it's clothing, interior design, or artwork should be affordable and accessible.
The app you couldn't live without is ___
Instagram has become such a source of inspiration. There are incredible designers, photographers, and artists sharing their work through the platform. If I ever feel stuck, I know a few minutes scrolling through my feed will spark something to get me back on track. You can follow me at @LizLidgett. Some of my favorite artists on Instagram include @thejealouscurator, @drawbertson, @chadwys, and @theaestate.
What do you now know that you wish you knew when you first launched your business?
Oh, this could take all day. But truly, I think it boils down to doing only what only you can do. I'm still learning how to delegate and to be selective with my time and talent. When you start as a solopreneur, you become accustomed to doing everything. You're the CEO and you're the janitor. As your business grows, you need to learn to hire wisely, then delegate what others can do so you can focus on your passions and growing the business.
What's your go-to spot for inspiration?
Nothing fires me up like travel. I truly see it as a necessity for my job to see new and exciting places. Inspiration and creativity come to me from a change in pace and point of view. Going to museums, eating at great restaurants, staying in interesting hotels, seeing new places in the world all make me want to hit the ground running when I return to work.
Who was your mentor?
My parents are also entrepreneurs. I grew up seeing and understanding both the hard work but the great reward that can come from owning your own business. While our industries are wildly different, there are issues that we all face, and I'm beyond lucky to be able to call them up for advice. Outside of them, I also work with a few mentors through a local business accelerator. It's been a valuable relationship for me to be able to speak to business owners who have been in my shoes before.
What's next for you?
The Art Hunter has been an exciting project recently and a way to combine a few passions of mine. I want to continue to work on a national level through print or video to make art accessible. I recently read a study that showed people are more intimidated to buy a piece of artwork than they are to buy a car. The art world doesn't need to be a scary or intimidating place, and I want to bring great art to the masses. Although the auction prices in the millions of dollars are the numbers that are in the news, you don't have to be wealthy to own original artwork.
When did you first realize your business would be a success?
I was working a desk job and began to see that there was a hole in the market to help people find great artwork. I believe in talking about your goals, and I began telling anyone who would listen about my idea. Potential clients could see my passion, knew my experience, and were excited about the idea, too. I landed my first two corporate clients in the first week and I never looked back.
Any tips for turning a passion project into a full-time gig?
You can spend your life building someone else's dreams or you can build your own. Begin to create goals and a deadline to make your idea work. For me, I took a look at my monthly budget and knew things would be tight at first but I could make it work if I made X amount from my business. I still have that number in my head every day when I am building the business. When turning your passion project into a full-time gig, look not only at what you are willing to do to make it work, but also at what you are willing to give up. Be ready to make the sacrifices in the beginning, but I hope you will find as I do, that there are few better things than making money doing what you truly love.