Jessica: I am here with Saskia Saunders for The Artist Success Interview Series.
And if you haven't been following along the point of this series is to help you believe that is possible not only possible, but completely possible to make money selling your art wearing yourself to a frazzle. And Saskia is a great example of that, about balancing her time and energy and making sure she has plenty of space for her children and her mental health and everything.
So I'm excited to bring her here today. She is a weaver. She does these beautiful... you can see behind her... elegant, so simplistic, minimalist weavings. I actually, I was thinking about how to introduce her and I noticed that on my desk I have these beautiful little cards. You can could see like some of her work here and here and here and here.
It's gorgeous. If you are not following her on Instagram already, you should be. And I'll give you that handle at the end. Actually, let's just throw it in right now because we're here. It's at Saskia_Saunders.
There we go.
Jessica: Hi, how are you?
Saskia: Thank you for having me today.
It's fantastic to speak to you.
Jessica: I'm so glad you are. I want to thank you on behalf of everyone who always emails me after I put these things out and says that was so useful. That is all going to you. So just go ahead and accept that energy pre-release.
What is possible?
Jessica: So Saskia I asked before we got on the phone if you were willing to talk about some numbers and you said yes. So I'm going to let you just do that in your own way, shape or form. However you want to do that. We'll start there. And then I will ask you three questions about, what you have done to be able to get to where you are and then we'll wrap up.
Saskia: Great. Thank you. Yeah I guess I'd just like to, talk about my work and that I work with. High-end clients who are looking for really bespoke, elegant and peaceful pieces of work. I'm looking to make quality pieces over quantity, and that for my way of working as a weaver, because it's quite a time-consuming process, but also suits my attention to detail and wanting to make really quality pieces and just suits my lifestyle as well to get, as you've already mentioned, to get balanced around the fact that I have a young family.
I don't want to be burning the candle at ten million ends. I want to also have a lot of energy to bring to my work. I don't want to be presenting it for taking all my time and space up. I want to feel like this lovely sense of balance. The last piece I sold was a currently a small piece in my range.
And that was for about 4,700 pounds. That's if, then moving up to my medium and large scale pieces for commissions at the minute, which are in the range of seven and a half to 12 and a half thousand pounds. So to put that in perspective about 18 months ago, I was selling for a 10th of that price.
I've been able to massively jump start and grow my business and it has just incredibly freed up that energy in that space I've had to then create, because I'm not frantically running around trying to sell 10 pieces of work when I can sell them.
Jessica: I didn't remember that, that you had made such a big jump in price so recently. That makes me feel, I knew you had gone up, but I didn't know it was such a good jump.
Saskia: It's 10 times different in that space of time. Yeah.
Jessica: And I remember we had talked about at one point long ago, you were selling on Etsy and you're feeling frazzled and selling quite well. But when we went back and looked at the numbers, it wasn't nearly worth it compared to just being able to sell that one piece for a higher price point. Is that a good summary of what we discussed?
Saskia: Absolutely. I, at one point I went ahead a little confidence step recently. I remembered when I used to sell really frequently weavings on Etsy and I used to do it without a lot of marketing. I didn't have a website or anything at that point. And so I felt like I wasn't putting anything energy in and yet people were finding me.
But when you challenged me to actually, and I thought, am I doing the right things at the minute? Or should I perhaps go back to that model of working? But when you challenged me to go back and look up what I was selling, how often and how many you want price? I couldn't believe the kind of small numbers that I was selling my work for.
Obviously it served a time and a purpose and what I was doing then, and it was just a creative exploration, but I was selling pieces for anything from 35 pounds up. And now, as I said, I don't sell work less than the thousands now so it's a ridiculously big leap and it's, it's been totally worth it.
So Yeah, it's just, it's been a huge shift from working in the terms of the model that I had before with Etsy, obviously it was great for a certain time, but there was no sense of connection there. It was selling small pieces left, right and center constantly running to the post office not knowing what was happening, kind of new direction to now deep and really personal connections with clients, slowing that pace down, making really high quality work. I don't worry. I used to send work off and panic that when it got to them that they would be disappointed because I just didn't know if I put the quality and I didn't know it would just get there and just be a let down and see now, I did not ever doubt that.
I know that the work has had all that time and effort going into it. The price reflects that and so in terms of kind of an energy exchange, the client gets something amazing. And I get an amazing experience of making it and sending it to them. So it's just a huge shift. Not only times the money, like the money is a part of it, but it's just a whole different ball game of the way of working.
Jessica: I love that so much. You're making me cry. What is up with me? I didn't get much sleep, so just. Don't worry about that.
No, it, it is, it is a great thing sometimes.
What was your biggest mindset shift to go from selling art for thirty five pounds to twelve thousand pounds?
Jessica: And, I think that that leads very beautifully into the next question, which is what was the single biggest mindset shift that it took you to be able to go from selling those pieces for thirty five pounds to selling pieces for five to twelve thousand pounds. Cause I know that there's a big mindset shift there.
Saskia: Absolutely. I was thinking about it earlier and I realized for me personally, that I think probably the biggest mindset shift has been that there's no magic secrets of success. It's all been about believing in myself and my work. Knowing that I am worthy of it, and my clients are worthy of that.
And my art is worthy of the experience. So I think when I first came to you and started working with you, I was looking for an answer. I was looking for you to tell me if I ticked X, Y, and Z boxes, I would be a great artist and I'd get there. And, that was just my personality type, but I just realized I have to trust in myself.
I have to. I have to genuinely feel that it's all worth it. So that for me has been the biggest shift.
Jessica: I have recently started trying to figure out how to say this well, but I have decided that I'm more of a personal growth coach and I wrap it up in the guise of teaching you to sell art, which has that same side effect.
But it's more about. Getting you to the place where you can believe in yourself to be able to do that. And it takes a lot of work. I mean going from thinking, I am only worthy of selling here to selling here. It takes a lot of bravery. It takes a lot of steps. It takes a lot of putting trust in yourself and you have obviously done that. So I'm very proud of you.
Saskia: Thank you. And I think you're right. Like it's the steps, isn't it? It's not like if you do one thing, I think that leads into another point where, sounds only for other questions, but it is, it's all that process and it's the lovely thing is that it, it radiates out.
So, as you say, it's a personal growth thing, so yeah. And then it's had an impact on my life, not just my art, like this is a lifestyle thing. This is a, I've had benefits that I've seen in my personal life, as well as my art. And it all connects because I'm not just an artist on one hand and a mummy and a wife and a friend on the other, like everything has to interlink.
Everything has to give each other the energy and feeling more... got to feel worthy in all of those places, and you've got to that all comes together. So it's all had a positive impact in that way.
Jessica: And I love what you just said about how the energy has to feed each other, because when you can put together, I am Saskia wife, mother, a friend, all of these things together with I am an artist.
It makes this so much more powerful than I am just an artist because no one is just one thing. Everyone is, a mix, a wrap and your thoughts and your beliefs and your values and everything all comes in to that bigger picture. And when you can be a more whole, that all starts to work better.
Saturday mornings morning. Too much.
What was your biggest action step to create more income and space in your life?
Jessica: Okay. So next question, Saskia. What is the single biggest action step that has allowed you to, grow to this place of more spaciousness, more confidence, more higher income, whatever you want to address, let you I'll leave it open for you. I think for me, the biggest action step is almost an un-action step. I don't know how to describe is For me, it's been releasing expectations on any action I take because previously I would think, okay, if I wrote this post, a piece might sell.
If I contact this person, they might commission me. If I do X, Y, and Z such and such will happen. And the problem with that is that it placed all this enormous pressure on everything I did all the time. And it meant I was stuck in my head. And to be honest, it drove me to not do things because I procrastinate and I think, oh, they won't buy it so there's no point in emailing them or that client is too high above me or they won't pay that price. So I'm not going to try it because I'm too... yeah. Or what would they say? And they're going to reject me. Um, once I really picked the practice to just do the things, to take the steps and maybe things will happen and maybe they won't like something, you always say like something will happen.
And if you're putting good actions, if you're doing good actions and they're coming from the right place, and they're in the right energy and positive and genuine, and that they're just true to you then something good is going to happen from it. So it was all my attention and my energy was out there wondering what all these people were thinking and saying it's going to do because of me and actually had to draw it all back in and go "I'm doing this, I make this art.
I love it. I'm excited by it. If I put it out there and put it in front of the right people, things will happen eventually." And they do. That's to move all that pressure out of my head. It's all that's why I have to constantly remind myself to do this. This isn't, oh, I've done it and I've magically fixed it, but I know that's there now. And perhaps I knew that's my tendency, but then I know when I'm getting caught up there, that's something I have to release and step back and go, "are you thinking about that?" So that's been my biggest. Yeah. In terms of one specific thing.
Can I say one other thing, please? The macro was working with you. As It's working with you! It's changed everything. Like it's jumped me years ahead of where I don't know if I could have ever been like.
It is like that, but it just genuinely, everything is just, as I said, at the beginning, I came to you looking for an answer and I didn't know that you almost turn it back on me to trust and guide myself. So working with you means that's how I've got where I am. I dunno, ya. just been amazing.
Now I'm speechless. My favorite thing about what you said was you just took all that energy that you had given to all of those other people and you claimed it back.
And I don't think I've ever said it in those words. And that was beautiful. And I love that so much. I'm going to steal that. Thank you. Yes.
Saskia: I've stolen it from someone else, I'm sure.
Jessica: I read something similar somewhere, but I hadn't thought about it in this context. So I, yes, that's so perfect because I have told my other group, my Create Art Sales group multiple times recently, the number one thing that's going to keep you stuck is wondering what they're going to think when you do that step. Because if you are concentrating on what they're going to think, it just goes, zoom, zoom, zoom, into a million different directions, and it just leaves you paralyzed. But when you can think about, I am coming from this place where I am excited, I'm genuine.
I am kind, I am loving. I am whatever I am. And I am just going to show you who I am. It makes all the difference.
Do you have any advice for someone who's not sure they're ready or can do it?
Jessica: My last question, is there anything that you would like to share apart from what you've already shared about how you have been able to claim your energy back?
Saskia: Absolutely. It's like a million things, but I think, when you phrased it to me before it was about, is there anything you would say to somebody, that if they weren't sure how they weren't sure they could do it. Yeah. And what I was going to say is... it doesn't matter if you don't know whether you're ready to take that step or to yeah.
To grow. It doesn't matter if like you're never gonna feel ready. It matters if you want to. So even if it's like a tiny little niggling feeling of just, there's more for me out there, or I just feel like my, whatever it is, like my art should be seen in better or more places, or I want to connect, or I just want to sell because I don't want it all for my studio. Whatever it is, or just, I want you to have a bigger income because it will support my family or that I can then be more generous of my time or my money and myself, but it doesn't matter what it is.
It's just, if you've got that feeling inside you, that's the biggest indicator that you can make it work. It's that one thing to do it. And even if that's the norm, I still feel like I have to go for a whole journey with that, because I had that feeling of wanting to, but I still, as I said at the beginning, I still wanted an answer that would tell me, and then if you do this, then you'll be fine.
And it wasn't that like. It took years and lots more digging and lots more unraveling all the kind of beliefs and things that I got stuck in before. I still want to, and I've never ever given up and I've had some really good periods and I'm really lame periods, and really like confidence dips and then ups and this, and it's a real roller coaster.
I've never stopped wanting it. And I've never stopped wanting this life to be real, to think that I can make art and that can be my business. And that can be how I grow for the rest of my life. That's incredible. That's, to me is like the ultimate freedom that genuinely my job is to go out and walk in the Woodlands around me, get inspired by what I see, bring that back to my studio, translate it into incredible weavings and then connect to people that love it.
And they buy my work and then I can make more of it and go more there's different things. And I have time for my children. I have time for my family. Just every like every layer that like I just grow a little bit more, a little bit more, it just makes me want more and more of that. So, it doesn't matter where you start.
It will just keep expanding that out.
Jessica: That sounds like the best job in the world besides mine. Mine's the best job but can have, the second best job. Yes, you have to want it and you have to really truly deeply want it. Not want it because someone else told you that you need to want it, or you should want it or that's what you should do: you should sell your art. If there is a should in there, it's not strong enough. There has to be deeper and all these things that you were talking about.
Yeah. Money was in there, but it wasn't so much about the money. It was about what the money afforded you to be able to do - walking around in the woods, making more of that art spending more time with your family. And those values are going to really help you anchor into that want and desire. Then when you have to take some little scary, uncomfortable, "what are they going to think?" type steps, you can go... "it's worth it."
Saskia: Absolutely. Yeah. Every time.
Jessica: I, I'm there with my business as well. Like mine is, I want spaciousness in my life. I want to be supported. I want to be loved. And by me being able to make money for my family so I could spend time with them. So I can have all those beautiful little moments of walking through a field or whatever it is.
That's what it's really about. And if that's the feeling you've got... Time to start. It doesn't have to be with me. It can be with someone else. It can be by yourself, but just get started because there, the longer you wait, the longer it's going to be until you start to get those results in. And the results help with the confidence to do some more like Saskia was saying earlier, it's not something that just goes away.
It gets easier. And you're able to notice it more. But if you start now, think how much further you'll be in five, six months, then you would be, if you wait five or six months and then start. Just go for I'll cheer you on.
Saskia: Yeah. And I think that's when I remember when I first started working with you that you were the first person that was...
You don't have to do X, Y, and Z to make a successful business that you can be any type of person and you can have any type of business and that you can sell any kind of art. And you can do anything because you could shape that. And that trying to explain it in some way, but there was just no specific format that my business had to be.
Just because I had young children doesn't mean I couldn't make it work. If my young children date personally sleep in the evenings and I have to be with like, that's okay as well. Like I can figure out ways that I can build it and make my work patterns work around them. Or I don't know. I don't say anything like you, when I first came to you, you were the first person that was saying that I could build a business that worked for me in the way that I wanted my life to be. That being more successful wasn't necessarily working more. That it wasn't I had to do all the things that I would actually spend all my time, marketing and business and admin, and never making any art, which was one model that seemed to be proposed that I needed to work all the evenings, all the mornings, get up 10 hours before my children wake up to do all the stuff.
It was about what have I got, what can I focus on? What can I prioritize? Like how can I create that lifestyle? And that was what I wanted. That's what I needed somebody to say is that actually we can work with whatever personally you want to do, and personally you want and need. And that again, then that's where that kind of thought about I do want this.
And previously, prior to that I'd, I thought I want something more, but I didn't want what was being shown to me. I didn't want that 24 hours a day, always working, always crazy, always doing all this and oh, then you have to do this and this to be successful. I felt like I wanted something and I wanted my art and I wanted this and I felt that I could grow and I felt it was worth me and more and something, but you were the kind of person to open that door to go, "okay, what do you want it to be like? And then how can we make it work like that?" So that's where I feel like that's where anybody can have that kind of, if you've got that feeling, don't feel like you don't because you don't fit into a format that you've seen before it's not possible. Its possible because you've got that feeling and you've got that feeling that you want to do it and that energy, and you're gonna, you're gonna make it work in your way.
Jessica: It's all about, problem-solving just looking at what is the problem and how can it, how can I figure it out? There's always an answer.
Saskia. I love you. Thank you so much for coming. I really truly appreciate everything that you've shared and said, and being vulnerable and talking numbers and telling what it's really like behind the scenes. Everyone just sees these pretty pictures of everyone's successful but me and that's not real. And everyone's confident but me and everyone has it together. And everyone's... even the people who are doing great work, still have this stuff going on and that needs to be shared. So I really appreciate you being willing to do that. Thank you so much.
If you want to learn more about Saskia, you can go to her website. I'm looking at her card. Www that Saskia Saunders Again, I'll spell it. S A S K I A S A U N D E R S.com or same at Instagram with an underscore between first and last name. And you have actually, you have a couple of really cool opt-ins don't you? There's... are those on your website still?
Saskia: They are.
So I have a newsletter that goes out, I believe, but it also, there's a couple of free guides on my website. One is free affirmations guides to how to make your own really positive affirmation. So that's kind of something that you say to yourself when you are getting yourself into a really good headspace and bringing that energy in.
And I have one, the idea is like a meditation. I've done it almost every day now. And it's just, opened up so many good things for me. So I have a guide on how to write your own one and it's incredible. So yeah, it's amazing. I just it's like magic because magic, it just accesses something that is like getting into your true self.
It's amazing. Yeah, so there's a guide on how to write your own one and how to do it and then how to practice it and how to use that. If that's interesting to somebody then definitely download it, it's useful.
And the second one is a guide to arranging art in your house. It's about all the kind of things to think about, from your walls, to how pieces fit together, how to think about light and arrangements. All of these things say whether an artist or an art collector or probably most people are both, it's quite a useful guide to have a look at it and you can download that for free as well.
Jessica: I actually am going to go get that when I hang up, because I am moving into a new house in three days and I've been thinking, "What am I going to do with all my art?!" Oh, we'll take that happily. All right, Saskia I appreciate you coming. Thank you again so much.
Saskia: Thank you for having me and thank you for everything.
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