16 questions with Letters From Bear of Minnesota

1) How and when did you start your business?

Letters From Bear: I launched my business in the spring of 2020. I had been drawing for a long time before that but finally got the courage to list a few prints on Etsy after friends and family encouraged me to try it. That summer I participated in a few art fairs/markets and it grew from there!

2) What inspires you?

LFB: I get a lot of my inspiration from nature and Minnesota's north shore. I also love to draw things that bring me joy which is why so many of my drawings feature cute, happy animals.

3) What was your business’ first best seller?

LFB: My best selling product is my camping mugs. I actually almost didn't do them. Back when I was planning for my first market, I was trying to decide if I wanted to have anything for sale at my booth besides my prints. I had the idea of putting my art on the mugs but was worried people wouldn't be into it and perhaps it wouldn't be worth the investment. I ended up taking the plunge and having some made and it was such a good decision! They became so popular I actually decided to invest in the equipment and learn the process of printing them myself so that I could have more flexibility with my inventory and creative freedom with designs. Now I have a lot of fun thinking of other things to print my art on, but I'm sure the camping mugs will be here to stay.

4) Do you have a favorite product to make?

LFB: I love making Christmas ornaments. I do new designs and ornament styles every year and it's a fun way to be creative around the holidays.

5) Are you a solo operation? How many people do you employ?

LFB: I am a solo operation! I do have one awesome volunteer - my husband. He is so helpful at art events and is always willing to help out during busy seasons. 

6) What is the most recent product you’ve made?

LFB: My most recent product is my stickers. I love how popular the sticker thing has gotten with everyone putting them on laptops, waterbottles, etc. I figured I had to join in!

7) Do you have an online operation? Are you a physical business?

LFB: I operate online via Etsy  (https://www.etsy.com/shop/lettersfrombear) and I do in-person local markets and art fairs. I also wholesale my products at a few shops in the Twin Cities and Duluth areas.

8) What is the most interesting thing about your product or service?

LFB: The most interesting thing about my products is probably the art itself. I use a technique called pointillism which means that my drawings are all made up of tiny ink dots. This is all done by hand with a very fine point pen. The result is a pretty, minimalist art piece that when you look up close is actually very intricate.

9) Do you have any plans for next year?

LFB: Next year I'm planning to release a couple more series' and at least one new product. For now the specifics of those are a secret! I also hope to expand my logo design and custom art service. I have some really fun projects lined up for the new year and would love to add more as the year goes on.

10) Do you have any advice for someone starting an art business?

LFB: My advice to anyone starting an art business is to be confident in your talent and your products. This is easier said than done and imposter syndrome is very real but every artist is unique and there are going to be people out there who love what you create and see value in it. Don't be afraid to own it!

11) What do you attribute your success to?

LFB: I attribute my success to very hard work and a lot of support from other small businesses and people in my community. I have always been very driven and give 110% to things that I am passionate about. I've also been very lucky to have a community of other small business owners around me who lift me up and share and support my work. Whether it's local shops that carry my work or other makers I see regularly at markets, I really appreciate the local small business community and the support we give to each other.

12) If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing?

LFB: If I wasn't doing this, I would probably be doing graphic design full time like I was before starting my business. I used to do website design and branding for small businesses and entrepreneurs. I still take on projects from time to time but my focus is now mostly on Letters From Bear.

13) What hobbies do you do when you aren’t working?

LFB: When I'm not working I love to hike, snowboard, golf (this is a new one), or spend time on the lake. Anything active and outdoors! I'm terrible at sitting still. I also enjoy spending time with my family and my pet bunny, Daisy. :)

14) Do you have a favorite place to vacation?

LFB: My favorite vacation spot is Minnesota's north shore. Pretty much anywhere between Duluth and Grand Marais! It's so beautiful and relaxing there anytime of the year. While the weather can be harsh, I think that winter trips to the north shore are super underrated.

15) What keeps you motivated?

LFB: I have so much gratitude that I get to do what I love for a living and that is what keeps me motivated. My business has never felt like "work" to me. I have so much fun with every aspect of it and I wake up everyday excited to get to work. A lot of love and joy goes into every order I get and every design I draw. 

16) Do you have a favorite quote?

LFB: "Everything that is real was imagined first." - The Velveteen Rabbit
Find out more on Letters From Bear's website or follow on Facebook and Instagram.
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