In Part I of this JAR Interview, we explored Tierra Hunter's extraordinary world of pet caricatures, her collaboration with her mother, Linda, and their success at festivals and online with their T.SimoneDesign business. We delved into the themes of the human-pet bond, live interaction, collaborative growth, and continuous expansion in the pet artistry business.
Now, in Part II, we continue our Zoom interview with Tierra and Linda, as they share more about their partnership, the dynamics of working together, their day-to-day challenges, and their thoughts on expanding into educational ventures. The conversation has been edited for length and clarity. If you missed Part I, you can read it here.
Let's dive into this inspiring mother-daughter duo's creative journey and their thoughts on what makes their art and business so special!
A Supportive Partnership: The unbreakable bond between Tierra and Linda, as mother and daughter, exemplifies the importance of trust and synergy in a successful business partnership.
Engagement and Positivity: They value and prioritize community engagement, both in-person and online, offering not just art but connection, positivity, and a genuine passion for what they do.
Advice for Collaborative Ventures: Their insights and reflections provide valuable advice for other family duos considering joint ventures, emphasizing communication, respect, willingness to accept ideas, and the courage to take the plunge.
Amy: Hello everyone, I'm Amy Shaw from Just Add Rover, and I'm thrilled to welcome you to our latest Jar Interview. Today we're delving into the enchanting world of pet caricatures with Tierra and her mom Linda, who have brought smiles to countless pet owners with their T.SimoneDesign custom pet portraits. From craft fairs to festivals, they've transformed their love for animals into a thriving business that uniquely captures the essence of our furry friends.
Previously, we explored Tierra's artistic journey, their participation in dog-friendly events, and how they connect with the broader pet community. Now we're excited to uncover more about the joy, creativity, and personal connections that their venture fosters.
So, grab a cozy spot with your four-legged companion and join us for a heartwarming conversation that celebrates the special bond between humans and their pets.
Thank you both for joining us, Tierra and Linda, and welcome!
Tierra and Linda: Thank you! Thanks for having us.
Amy: You're welcome. Let's start with something timely: The Pup Days of Summer Fest on August 13th, one of many events you'll be attending through the end of the year. Earlier, you mentioned challenges in preparing for a festival, including deciding the best layout for each show and practicing it ahead of time. How do you practice for an event?
Tierra: We like to gather the materials that we do have and set them up in our living room to find the best angles and examples, depending on the event. For this one, it's a dog event, so we have examples for that.
Amy: I wasn't sure if you go to the event place ahead of time or if they assign you a booth. Can you pick out where your booth will be?
Linda: Most of the time, the event coordinators set up the map and layout, so when you get there, they'll be able to direct you to where you're going to be set up. Sometimes, we've vended in an area before, so you have a little familiarity with it. But it's always best to practice the setup so you can be comfortable when you get there.
Tierra: The sooner we set up, the sooner we can meet the people that come by.
Amy: Do you recognize any people from other events with booths there?
Tierra and Linda: Yes!
Tierra: We call them vending neighbors because we tend to be next to them. Stopping by their stuff to see what new things they have is really cool.
Linda: It becomes like a community, something I look forward to.
Amy: It's almost like a family of sorts. I like how you prepare; it makes things go much more smoothly.... On a different note, I found the dynamic of a mother-daughter business fascinating, especially in the pet friendly space. I recently interviewed Marla and her mom, Susan, of Barkin' Bakery in Toronto, and they run a food truck exclusively for dogs. Given that you work together in the pet portrait business, I'm curious how your mother-daughter relationship influences your work. Can you share a bit about your dynamic and collaboration?
Linda: For me, it's a joy to work with my daughter. She's the artist. So, I get a chance to watch her develop all these beautiful portraits. While she's doing artwork, I engage with potential customers so she can focus on the work. And I don't mind chatting and getting people hopefully excited about it. I'm in awe of her work, and it's a great experience for me. I'll let her answer on that...
Tierra: It's the best experience because she's always there for the shows and whenever I need feedback like, what do you think could be improved on this piece? Or this piece? And she's always there to tell me, maybe this or that, and I need that to keep growing.
Linda: And I'm happy to be there to support her.
Amy: You seem to be a wonderful support for Tierra, engaging with customers while she's creating the caricature art. How did the idea of starting this business come about? Was it spontaneous or well planned? What made you decide to work together in the first place?
Tierra: Ever since the very first show when we gathered all the materials, my mom was by my side. I knew I couldn't do it alone if I tried. She's been there for the setup, and just thinking of new ideas and products to bring to the business. It wouldn't be the same without her.
Linda: I just didn't want her to go out there alone, especially because it was such a new idea and experience. And you don't exactly know how people are going to react out in the world, so I wanted to be a little cushion just in case things didn't go as planned. Having more life experience, I wanted to be there as a mother figure and support. But it's worked out; I've enjoyed it just as much as she has.
Amy: Sounds like a good journey, a nice adventure. How do you balance running the booth, interacting with customers, and creating the art live?
Tierra: It's practice. I still want to engage with customers too, but it's about finding the perfect balance to still be able to get things done by the time they come back and see their pictures. Sometimes we'll have a group of people in the booth, and it's a good balance to still get things done and focus on everyone.
Linda: Basically, you don't want anyone to feel ignored. If they're trying to talk to Tierra while she's drawing, I try to redirect just a little bit so that she can move on to the next piece because hopefully you want to have it completed by the time the customer comes back. And sometimes it happens and sometimes it doesn't. As long as they're happy in the end.
Tierra: And I always make an effort to say a greeting - just a good morning or a hello - as they walk by. Just enough to bring that communication.
Amy: That's good. I noticed on Facebook you're very good at communicating too, sharing a lot of positive content.
Tierra: My mom finds all this stuff.
Linda: I try to share ideas that might be useful to our followers. When I see something interesting, I like to share it.
Amy: That's wonderful. Have you ever thought about doing pet caricature workshops or live demonstrations to share your process?
Tierra: I haven't, but I'm open to educating if someone's interested. I'd definitely be willing to offer a class or something like that.
Linda: I might have to be the first student. She tells me I could do it, but I'm not sure.
Tierra: I think you have the capabilities!
Amy: What advice would you give to other mother-daughter duos considering a joint venture?
Tierra: Always be there for one another and take in suggestions because sometimes you might blank out and think, what's the next thing? Where are we going with this? And take in the ideas. And try to find balance with each other's lives, too. You know, you've got to have enough time to dedicate to a business and when it's more than one person, you have to balance both people's lives and be respectful of what other responsibilities they might have too. My mom and I... we pretty much have the same kind of schedule.
Linda: That's true, so that makes it a little easier. But also know that you're not always going to agree on things, but you can work together. Sometimes you just have to go for it. I never would have thought about this a few years back.
Tierra: It's been almost two years now and--
Amy: Two years! Is this full time, or something on the side?
Tierra: I'd say it's pretty half and half. We're caregivers, too, so when we're not caregiving my grandparents, we're working on stuff for the next show.
Amy: That's a lot of responsibility.
Linda: Yes, sometimes it would be nice to split ourselves! Well, actually, we do split ourselves in a sense between the business and caregiving, the family, and all the other responsibilities, but so far, it's working. The goal is to have it full time because she loves the art and I love looking at what she produces.
Amy: It's so evident in the way you talk about it, you sound like a wonderful mom being so supportive. Tierra and Linda, it's been a pleasure speaking with you. Your passion for art, animals, and working together is inspiring. Our readers and viewers will find joy in your unique pet caricatures and wonderful stories. I want to thank you for joining us and wish you success both at festivals and online, including your Etsy store. Be sure to check out Tierra and Linda at their upcoming events and visit justaddrover.com for more interviews.
Tierra and Linda: Thank you for having us.
Amy: Thank you.