Welcome to my fourth interview in my small business highlight series. If you missed any of the previous interviews and store links be sure to start here. You won’t be disappointed. During this interview series you are going to meet small business owners who had a dream of sharing their creative gifts. I’m honored to interview these gifted and talented creatives. My goal in this series is to highlight small biz owners helping them get seen. I also hope that if you are a small business owner or thinking of becoming one, their advice will come in handy for you. If you’d like to be interviewed, reach out and let me know.
Let’s get started. Today’s small business interview features Montana small business owner Teresa Nygaard.
Carol: Welcome Teresa, I’m so happy to have you join my small business interview series. Let’s start off by learning more about your businesses. You have two correct?
Teresa: I do, Dragonfly Transformations, which is all about furniture artistry, if you will. I am drawn to those pieces that no one seems to want, and I try to transform them with paint, upholstery or by changing their function. I love that they become wanted again and get a whole new life!
Carol: I’ve followed your furniture artistry on Facebook. You really are talented at bringing old pieces of furniture back to life. You do beautiful work!
Dragonfly Photography is my other passion. I love capturing special moments with people or just catching the beauty that surrounds us everyday. Some of my best and favorite photos were not staged, but candid.
Carol: What was the creative spark that gave you the idea to launch your businesses?
Teresa: Well, to tell you the truth, it started because it felt therapeutic. Both the furniture and the photography have a very therapeutic effect on me. Part of it has to do with the happiness it brings me, but experiencing the happiness that they bring to others is equally therapeutic for me.
Carol: Can you share with us one of your favorite pieces you refurbished? Can you share some of the steps you took to completely change the look and feel of this piece?
Teresa: I try to do before and after photos of all of my projects, mainly because some of the transformations are hard to believe. I had a vintage cabinet that was actually gorgeous to begin with but no one bought it so I did. I decided I needed to keep some of the gorgeous wood grain as the focal point of this piece and it even surprised me at the way it turned out. It was so simple, just black and wood grain and it made jaws drop.
As for the photography, I’m not a professional and I don’t put myself out there as one. I’m a work in progress and I’ve gotten some beautiful photos as an amateur. I rarely say no to anyone who asks me to photograph something, and I even offer if someone doesn’t have funds to hire someone or they don’t realize what they might be passing up if they don’t get photos. I think there’s a certain “thing” that some photographers have that gives them an edge. That “thing” is anticipating emotion or responses and being ready for the stuff that happens when you’re not expecting it.
Carol: What country is your business located? Do you ship outside of USA? Is it national or mostly local?
I’m local at this time, here in the USA.
Carol: How has Covid-19 impacted your business?
Teresa: Well, Rona has impacted everyone in different ways, but with both of my businesses the social distance can be an issue. Whether it be going to people’s homes or other indoor venues or picking up a purchase, it just complicates it. This year has also seen fewer sales because people have postponed events, weddings, bday parties, etc. and they are also just spending less overall.
Carol: Where do you see your company in the next two years?
Teresa: Well, my vision is that both businesses will grow over the next two years. I plan to focus more on specific furniture pieces that are trending. I need to consider a balance between transforming pieces in my own artistic vision, knowing that my audience for sales may be limited, and working on pieces and colors that are trending so I do have the sales I need to keep a healthy bottom line. The photography piece will grow as more people come back together and are looking for someone to document life………
Carol: What small business tip would you like to pass on to someone who is at the very beginning stages daydreaming about starting their own business journey?
Teresa: That’s a tough one, since I am still looking for that beginning stage advice myself…… But, I guess I would just say, make sure you’re doing something that brings you some joy or peace because that’s what will make you get up the next day and be excited to continue.
Carol: Who are your business mentors?
Teresa: I’m not sure I have mentors, but definitely people who are willing to share experience, knowledge, etc. on occasion. I have a few artist friends who I can talk business with and some of the best advice I’ve received is about valuing yourself and your craft, whatever it is. Your time and talent are valuable, and that’s very often the two things we undercut. I read a cool sign once that said “my prices are based on my talent, not your budget” and I’ve never forgotten it. That doesn’t mean I’m not flexible in certain situations tho.
Carol: I love your answer Teresa, that’s really good advice.
I’m a big believer in building my life around my business instead of the other way around. How do you balance your life and business?
Teresa: That’s been such a tough place to be over the last 20 years. I had a job that I dearly loved but was basically working 24/7 with no down time. I couldn’t do any of my hobbies, much less turn them into a business. I had to force myself to leave that job I loved in order to re-prioritize everything in my life. The last two years have allowed me to really enjoy time by myself, with myself, doing very therapeutic “creating”. I’m healthier because of it.
Carol: I believe in paying it forward. Please share with us your favorite place to shop online or something fun you’ve bought online recently.
Teresa: Oh my gosh, I love supporting local artists, crafters, businesses… I actually LOVE Great Gray Gifts in Charlo (at Ninepipes Lodge)! I Love to get coffee and other awesome gift items throughout the year there. I also just bought some gifts at a very new business in my area, called Mountain Mud Frog Pottery. Gorgeous pottery!! Our little town is great about promoting small business.
On another note with paying it forward, I created a chair that I donated to the Foundation I work for, for the online auction. I loved doing it and it helped our cause. I have been asked to do another one for a different local charity next year and I’m super excited about that one too!! Feeling like people value what you do is a special experience.
Carol: I love shopping local too. We are surrounded by such cool shops with so many choices.
Is there anything you’d like to add before we wrap up our interview together?
Teresa: I appreciate the opportunity to take part in this business opportunity that you’re providing, and I thank you for supporting the small business community with what you do. If 2020 has shown us anything it’s that we truly are all in this together.
Carol: Thank you Teresa, I agree we are all in this together. I’m so excited to share you with a broader audience.
About Teresa Nygaard.
Teresa has spent a large part of her life supporting local communities and their families through their parenting journeys. She’s reached a new episode in her life where she’s discovered the value in self care and self creativity.
You can learn more about Teresa and be inspired by her artistic talents by visiting her pages on Facebook.
Carol Lawrence resides in the mountains with her hubby of 34 years and three chickens. She is very active in the lives of her two granddaughters. Family is her #1 priority. She is a Best Selling Author and Biz Owner for over 10+ years. Marketing, customer service, business operations, human connection, consulting, writing, helping her clients build their businesses behind the scenes and her heart based coaching is where her passions lie.
Would you like to be highlighted in my Small Business Interview Series? Submit your information here and I’ll follow up on how we can get started.