I was raised in a very creative environment. Both my parents had day jobs, but also made things by hand constantly. My mother is an avid sewer, my dad is a woodworker, candle maker and tile setter among other things. And they have always been friends with various artists, musicians, poets and other creative types. So I have consistently gotten encouragement and inspiration from my community. I got my BFA in sculpture from the Myers School of art in Akron, OH in 2003. My mentor there was Donna Webb, a noted tile maker who told me that if she wasn't a professor, she knew she could make a living from her tile work. I was intrigued by the idea, but starting my own business seemed intimidating. Fortunately, my former roommate and dear friend started a business for her senior project, which made the process of establishing a business seem less scary to me.
I got married at age 22 to a man who fiercely believes in my artistic vision, and has always seen the potential to generate real income from my work. Over the course of our relationship, he has become a professional web developer in part by using our website, EmuTile.com, as a place to hone his craft. I can not overstate what an advantage it has been for me to have a husband who believes in my work and has devoted many, many hours to creating a professional online presence for the business.
If anyone out there is thinking about starting a business, don't expect it to happen overnight. You really have to love what you do, because it takes a lot of time and effort to establish yourself before you can expect to generate a real income. In my case, the business grew along with me. I make many more tiles in a month now than I did the whole first year. It takes time to build up your production and distribution capacity. But if you keep moving forward everyday, little by little it is possible to make a job you love for yourself. It never gets easy, but for me it has been worth it!
Emily M. Ulm