Category Archives: business

Tools & Resources to Grow Your Creative Business


I know many of you’re an artist/maker yourself and trying to grow your creative business.

I appreciate it when I learn new resources and tools to grow my business, so I wanted to share some of the resources I’ve found helpful.

This is kind of a random list, but I hope you find some of these helpful 😀

If you’re considering wholesaling your arts/crafts to retail shops:

  • Megan Auman’s “How to Sell Your Products to Retailers” online class on CreativeLive  an artist friend of mine recommended this class to me, and WOW was she right. This is solid gold and worth every single penny. It’s quite extensive and detailed and packed with actionable steps to make your wholesale business successful. At the time I’m writing this blog post, I’ve probably only watched 50% of the contents (it’s very long), but I’ve already made a return on my investment by implementing one thing I learned in the class. You need to watch this if you’re curious about wholesale!
  • Etsy Wholesale – As a small creative business owner, I rely so much on Etsy to sell my products online. I know it’s not perfect (my biggest pet-peeves being you have to compete with so many people who sell similar products at a really low price.) and I’d like to have my own online shop someday, but for now it’s working. Etsy also offers a platform to wholesale to retailers, which I’m considering applying for. I also learned a lot about wholesale policies and pricing from just reading their Wholesale Guide.

If you’re struggling with copy-writing:

  •  Laura Belgray’s website, Talking Shrimp – I first discovered Laura on a webinar she did on copy-writing. She’s so hilarious and her materials offer lots of real-life stories and examples that will make you cry with laughter. When you sign up for her newsletter on her homepage, you’ll get a free cheatsheet for writing your tagline. I look forward to her newsletter, too, because it always makes me laugh 😀 and I need laughter in my life more often!

If you get distracted by too many blog articles and online resources when you should be getting other work done:

  • Pocket app – Pocket is awesome for saving articles and online classes to watch later. I often get sucked into the interweb’s rabbit hole when I’m supposed to be getting my other work done.It usually starts out when I’m checking my email in the morning.I’d open one newsletter from a creative business blogger I like and starts reading the post. And I find a link to another article that sounds intriguing like “5 signs you need to redesign your website immediately!” I click on that and start reading another article…and another… Before you know it, you’re overwhelmed with more marketing strategies to implement and worksheets to fill out… Wait, what was I supposed to do today? 😀
    With one click of a button, you can save the articles and webpages on your Pocket app! I usually try to set aside a couple of hours a week to read and learn new things, and having everything in one place is really helpful. I can pick and choose what I want to learn depending on what mood I’m in and how much time I can spend.

If you use Instagram for reaching your audience and want to up your game: 

  • Meighan O’Toole’s blog – Meighan is an online creative business strategist and offers lots of free and paid resources for creative business owners. She doesn’t just talk about Instagram, but I read this blog article “9 Tips to Create a Cohesive, Branded Instagram Feed” and learned a bunch!
  • Link In Profile – It lets you add links to your Instagram images and send your followers to where you want them to go. I’ve just ended my 30-day free trial, but it’s seriously saving me time and I enjoy not stressing about updating the clickable links on my Instagram profile every day! I just signed up for a personal plan (it’s $9.99 per month after the trial period.) It’s a little difficult to explain in writing how it works – you can view my Instagram profile to try it out yourself 🙂
  • Alex Tooby‘s free Instagram tips & e-course – Alex offers free and paid services to increase your engagement and profits on Instagram. Her free offerings include Must-Know Insta Tips eBook, 7 Day e-Course, and IG Supremacy Checklist. I took her 7 Day e-Course and learned a few new tricks on using hashtags!
  • Later‘s blog – Later is an app/service that lets you schedule and manage your Instagram posts. OK, full disclosure, I’ve had Later account for a long time but haven’t used it as a scheduling tool (yet). BUT I learn so much from their blog posts! Just this morning, I got this post 9 New Instagram Features You Probably Missed in my email inbox. Totally useful information for someone who uses Instagram for their business (like me!) The Ultimate Guide to Using Instagram Hashtags was also pretty awesome and I recommend it to my friends all the time!

Ok, that’s it for today! Do you use any of these? What other tools, articles, classes do you find helpful? Please share in the comment below!

Thank you ❤

p.s. I’m gonna be on my sabbatical week off this coming week! My good friend is visiting me from Japan, and I’m super excited to hang out with her 🙂 You’ll probably see a couple of blog posts from me, though, about my winter holiday collection release (yay!) but won’t see my regular post until the following Sunday, November 13th. Just FYI!

xo Yuko

Yuko Miki Honeyberry Studios Headshot


I quit my day job one year ago!!

July 31st was my one year anniversary of quitting the regular day job! Whoa!

Happy first birthday to an-independent-artist/entrepreneur-me 🙂 I’m still here, alive and kickin’!

cupcake_watercolor and pen drawing

I honestly can’t believe it’s been a year, and I just feel so grateful and privileged to be able to pursue my passion every day.

When I left my day job, I gave up a steady paycheck and good benefits. And in return, I gained the freedom to create work from my passion and decide how I’m going to achieve my goals.

And, I love being my own boss. For the most part anyway.

But one of the hardest part of being my own boss is – well, not having a boss.

What does a boss do? They give you a guidance, direction, support and a feedback. Well, at least they should, and I’ve been fortunate enough to have bosses who did all those things 🙂

And it can be extremely difficult to do that for myself sometimes.

Especially when you work so hard and don’t see the results right away, not getting that constant validation and encouragement that your’e doing a good job can be tough.


I’d imagine many entrepreneurs feel this way. Or if your’e a parent or a boss’s boss. It gets lonely up here!

You know another thing I miss about the day job? An annual performance review!

Is that weird? I always felt so refreshed after my review. It’s a wonderful opportunity to sit and reflect on all the things you’ve accomplished and set an intention for where you want to go next.

So I wanted to review my last 12 months and share with you what I’ve learned.

What I’m proud of:

  • Started taking mini sabbaticals every 7 week. I believe self-care is super important and wanted to put a regular self-care practice in place to prevent burn-out.
  • Did 5 art shows
  • Ran the Creative Coaching 4-week email course and a pilot program
  • Have been meeting with 2-3 accountability partners regularly to stay focused and motivated on my goals
  • Consistently writing & posting blogs and newsletters
  • Launched my first art collection, Eat a Rainbow, this summer
  • Started teaching Introduction to Block Printing workshops locally
  • My revenue grew almost 5x from the same time frame between 2014-2015
  • My work was featured in Seattle Magazine and Uppercase newsletter (and a couple more in the works! Yay!)
  • Created my first video tutorial and taught in an e-course, the Journey Within
  • Partnered with Sakura of America to produce 5 tutorial videos (launch dates TBD)
  • Participated in 10 arts & craft shows
  • Made 4 times more sales on my Etsy store alone
  • Grew my social media followers by 200%
  • Joined the gym and consistently working out
  • Went to a 10-day silent meditation retreat and continuing my daily meditation practice
  • Started selling my products at 5 retail store locations

What I could do more or better:

  • Create sustainable cashflow strategies & implement it!
  • Create a better, more streamlined system for marketing
  • Explore new social media platform (e.g. Snapchat etc.) so I can interact  with my followers more deeply
  • Continue prioritizing my health and wellness and take regular sabbaticals
  • Allow time for reflection and long-term strategies (every quarter or 6 months?) even if everyday busyness seems more urgent.
  • Narrow down my focus
  • Become more comfortable with taking a risk, don’t be afraid to make a mistake, and if I make a mistake, don’t dwell on the negatives. Learn the lessons, and move on!
  • Prepare better financially for slow times (e.g. In-person teaching is super slow during summer so maybe do more shows to create a better cash flow).
  • Expand my wholesale capacity and partner with more retail shops
  • Expand my teaching offerings both in-person & online

What I want to learn:

  • Research and learn more about product business/manufacturers/wholesale, to make my biz more profitable
  • Effective social media marketing strategies & apps
  • How to make better videos and shoot photos
  • Sewing and more fun creative projects for myself!

Next Step:

  • I’ve made an appointment with myself later this week to sit down and do a planning session for the next 6 months. I’m going to figure out timelines for my goals, break down my goals into baby steps, and make a plan of attack!

I was surprised that it didn’t take very much time to make a list of my accomplishments. It’s so nice to remind myself that I am moving forward even if the progress seems slow.

If you don’t have a boss to give you a performance review, I highly recommend you do this with yourself at least once a year. I bet you’ll feel inspired and motivated by how far you’ve come, too!

xo Yuko

Yuko Miki Honeyberry Studios Headshot


3 advices my business mentor gave me so I won’t go out of business

banana-split_watercolor illustration

I met with a SCORE mentor the other day and got a few helpful business advice. (And no, it has nothing to do with banana split… :D)

SCORE ( is a non-profit association that provides free or low-cost resources for small business owners, including free one-on-one mentorship from an experienced business owner.

I’ve known about them for many years but never used their services before. I just recently decided to take advantage of their offerings after reading a very informative newsletter from Meighan O’Toole and her positive experience working with the SCORE mentors.

I’ve been feeling a bit lost in my creative business lately and thought talking with an objective business mentor would be a good thing!

So I contacted them through their website and made an appointment to meet with a volunteer business mentor, Bernard, at their downtown Seattle office.

Bernard has been a mentor for 13 years and has built a very successful real estate business. I was a little surprised to be matched up with someone whose experience is in a totally different area. But he’s helped his wife grow her art business and has lots of artists in his family, so he was familiar with many of the struggles I’ve been experiencing as a new-ish creative business owner.

You might remember in January I spoke with a business coach and decided to focus on increasing the sales of my art products this year. (I talked about my process in this post if you’re interested.)

Though I still prefer making and selling art to be my main income source, I quickly realized running a product-based business is very expensive!

It requires certain up-front cost to have an inventory of products to sell, and it could take a long time before you actually start making a profit.

My sales have been increasing gradually over the last year (yay!), but I’ve been constantly running out of money to restock my products on the shelf (boo!)

It feels like I have an expensive hobby rather than a thriving and profitable business. Yikes. 

I knew I needed to shift my focus and try to meet my short-term financial goals so I’m not actively going out of business!!

I shared my thoughts and feelings with Bernard, and he validated what I was going through. And that validation right there helped ease my anxiety quite a bit. I tend to think and analyze things very deeply in my head, and it gets overwhelming! Even one small external validation helped take the pressure off my overworked brain and offered me a sense of clarity.

After hearing my pain points, he gave me 3 pieces of advice:

Advice #1. Expand teaching to increase the cash flow.

Doing more client work is one option to fix the cash flow problem. You do the work, get paid, and move on, right? It’s a lot more straightforward than building a successful product-based business for sure…

But I hate client work.

OK, hate is a strong word… it’s just not my favorite. I talked about my high sensitivity and the struggles I have with conflict and rejection in this post, but making art that needs to align with someone else’s vision is very stressful for me.

I love working on a commission where the client trusts my process 100% and gives me a total creative freedom. It happens, but it can be a lot of work to build that kind of relationship with a client, and I sometimes wonder if it’s worth all the stress…

Teaching can also be a good source of income for an artist. 

And teaching is definitely a better fit for me. It gives me an outlet for creativity and also satisfies my need to help people 🙂 As an independent teacher, I have a lot of freedom to decide what/when/how to teach, and I can experiment to improve my students’ learning experience as I see fit.

[My Follow-up Action] I’ve reached out to a few more art schools and art supply stores to inquire about teaching opportunities. My block printing workshop has been my bread and butter lately, and I have more ideas of what I could be teaching in the future. Helping people realize their creative potential is so rewarding!

Advice #2. Have my greeting cards and art prints available at more retail shops. 

Bernard suggested I identify retailers who serve my target audience and pitch them my products to provide more buying opportunities to my potential customers. It turns out his wife is a jewelry maker, and he’s done in-person marketing and promotion going to galleries and shops door to door to sell her work.

Making cold calls/visits give me an anxiety – you know, I’m an introvert and am NOT comfortable with that kind of marketing! 

I’d toyed with the idea of wholesaling my goods before but never took any action to move it forward. I just didn’t feel ready. I felt overwhelmed thinking up all the “what-ifs” – what if a major retailer wants to order thousands of my cards?? I can’t afford to fill that big of an order! And what if nobody wants to sell my products?? Sad face… 😦

While it’s fine to be cautious, I realized neither scenario was likely… 😀 I realized I had to start somewhere. I can start small, which has been my motto since I started my art business.

[My Follow-up Action] I’ve made contact with 5 retailers (galleries, gift shops, art museum etc.), introduced myself, and dropped off samples or emailed them my product info. And I already got 2 wholesale and 1 consignment accounts that want to carry my cards and prints! YAY!

It felt awkward to walk in to someone’s space and pitch my work at first, but really, you’re just asking a question. AND if your products are a good match, you’re actually helping to make their customers happy, which is what the retailers want! So it’s a win-win 🙂

I reached out to retailers that I’ve been admiring a lot – they carry beautifully designed, unique, and high quality products for home and gifts. And when they tell me they like what I create and want to carry them, I feel like I’m walking in the clouds 🙂 Such a nice validation and a confidence booster!

Advice #3. Lower the cost of production to increase the profit margin.

This is like  – duh, but something I’ve been putting off tackling because it’s overwhelming to think about.

Since I don’t have a ton of cash to invest in up front, I end up just ordering small quantities of my products from the printers and keep ordering more as I sell more. I also want my products to be high quality, so the cost of production tends to be higher. Naturally, my profit margins are pretty slim especially when I do wholesale or consignment where I usually get 50% of the retail price.

I don’t want to compromise the quality of my products and can’t afford to have a huge inventory right now.

If I could order my products in thousands at a time, it will save on the cost per unit… It’s a conundrum, and I don’t know what to do about at it… :p

[My Follow-Up Action] Well, I haven’t really done anything with this except to casually think about it and then forget about it… I know it’s important for me to figure out the solution, though. If I keep doing what I’m doing, I won’t be able to effectively scale up, or worse, I’ll definitely drive myself out of business!!

I need to sit down and do more research on manufacturers and some serious number crunching. Two things I’m not excited about…but it’s not an option if I want my business to thrive! And if I work on my advice #1 to increase my cash flow, it will naturally help.

Our meeting was short and sweet but very helpful. I left their office feeling motivated and energized! 

Support from family and friends are great – I couldn’t do this without them! No doubt.

But often when I get an unsolicited advice from people I know, I get annoyed and defensive. It’s not that their advice isn’t helpful – it’s more that I’m not ready to hear it. I get vulnerable and insecure. My focus isn’t on what they’re saying or how valid they are. I instead start wondering why they’re giving me the advice when I’m not asking for it. Uh oh, do they think I’m doing a bad job?? Do I need saving??

That’s why I find it so valuable to get an advice from someone who is not emotionally invested in your success.

First of all, I’m less defensive and more willing to listen when I’m actually seeking for an advice. And it’s easier for me to not react emotionally to their feedback when there is a clear expectation of our roles (i.e. a mentor and a mentee). I can accept their input as an objective observation and nothing more. It’s very refreshing!

SCORE has 320+ chapters throughout the US, and you can find your nearest SCORE location here. You can meet with your mentor multiple times, and if your first mentor is not a good fit, you could request to meet with someone else too. They’re there to help!

I’d definitely go back and use their services in the future when I’m faced with new challenges or need a sounding board outside of my regular circle of people again.

Here is to our growth!!

xo Yuko

Yuko Miki Honeyberry Studios Headshot



My blog is going back to being weekly and here is why


I enjoy blogging a lot.

It gives me a creative outlet that allows me to share and connect with you in a different way than my visual arts do.

Writing used to be a chore, and I avoided it at all cost. After all, I’m a visual artist and why do I need to write anyway, right?

I changed my mind about it and started being more intentional about writing after I listened to this podcast episode of Sean McCabe. Writing bridges the gap between your work and your audience.

So I started writing every day. It was the first thing I did every morning after I left my day job last summer. And as I wrote more, I was able to find my voice and have become more comfortable with writing. It’s just something I do nowadays.

When my friends ask me if I’m making art all the time, sadly my answer is “no.”

I’m writing all the time. Or at least I feel like I’m writing all the time.

Back in January, I set a goal to publish at least 3 blog posts per week. With the new focus on creating more products this year, I felt like publishing an article once a week just wasn’t enough to share my creative process and inspirations, on top of the more self-helpy contents I’d been writing.

I’m a big believer of having multiple blog posts in a queue (in fact that’s my number 1 advice to people who want to start blogging consistently. You can read my other advices here.)

But lately, I’ve been struggling to keep up.

I mentioned in my last post that I had some health challenge, and I also had a cold that put me out of commission for several days. Getting older sucks sometimes…

Coupled with the unexpected health issues, I’ve also been teaching more, and planning, designing, creating, and launching my new product line took up a lot of time and energy during the last few months!!

I write every day, but I’m also writing for different purposes with an increased output for multiple platforms.

For instance, with my new teaching opportunities, I’m writing specific marketing contents for my e-newsletter, web, and social media, including blog posts. And for my product launch, my marketing effort on all the different platforms had to multiply, too!! And it doesn’t just end when it launches, either. (surprise!) It just keeps going… 😀

It’s to say, I’ve been a little behind on my blog writing and ran out of my reserve.

And you know me – I do better with structure and organization, and not having back-ups is very stressful. It takes up a lot of mental space because I’m constantly thinking I need to write my next post, and by the time I write one, it’s published right away, and I’m back to having zero post in my queue.

It’s also given me a pause to ask myself, “How is my blog helping me to reach my bigger goals?”

I know my blog has helped me to build a supportive community of artists and makers, which I appreciate SO much. I just need to take some time to figure out how else my blog is helping me to achieve my bigger goals and also build up enough reserves in the queue.

I also need to find a balance where I can spend enough time and energy to create useful and effective contents for each platform I write on and consistently create a strong body of artwork at the same time.

With that being said, I still want to keep providing you with creative inspirations through my blog!

For now, I’m going back to posting an article once a week.

I might do extra posts here and there depending on what’s going on and if I have a time-sensitive news I want you to know about. I’ll keep you posted on what the future of my blog will be!

Thank you for your understanding and support! I’ll see you soon 🙂

xo Yuko

Yuko Miki Honeyberry Studios Headshot