Art of Hope: Where Dreams Come True in Wallace, NC

Art of Hope galleries and framing shops in Wallace and Clinton, NC are evidence of an impossible dream that came true for artist, Hope G. Smith. In the art business for 18 years, Hope has over 1000 paintings, two Art of Hope galleries, and work on display around the world. 

Hope grew up as an artist in a family of creatives and entrepreneurs. Though they have been helpful for her development as an artist and businesswoman, Hope was not encouraged to see art as a viable career early on. She pursued teaching for a more steady income but found herself writing her own business plan after just three years of teaching. In January 2004, she opened a studio out of her home and began the journey of entrepreneurship. “I taught private lessons, made my own art, and did custom framing,” Hope says. “I took on any job possible, and it just grew from there.” In the beginning, Hope went to shows, expos, and all sorts of events to get her work seen. She also kept expenses low by working from home. “Until you get on your feet,” she says, “working from home cuts the overhead.” 

With no formal business training of her own, Hope surrounded herself with a strong support system.

You need to know who you can trust to surround you. It should be a partnership where you help each other out–not just one benefitting from the other.

Hope G. Smith on business partnerships

Hope’s most important partnership is with her husband. He did the hard work of researching the business side of what she needed to do to make her dreams come true.

Two really are better than one if you let it be, but you have to work at it. It isn’t easy; it’s hard work.

Hope G. Smith about marriage

Hope’s artistic style has been described as whimsical, colorful, and loose. She tries to capture “the soul of the moment, not a photo-realistic portrayal of it”. Her art also incorporates Bible verses as an intentional attempt to be a positive light. “If we can be a light in whatever work we find ourselves in (mine is art), we should be one!”

Prints from selected originals are available for purchase within Art of Hope galleries and online. Some originals can be purchased as well as custom framing jobs at either location. Hope is also available for hire to do custom commissions and live wedding painting. 

Hope G. Smith is a founding member of the Downtown Wallace Merchant Association, and she is a strong advocate for the value of a healthy Chamber of Commerce.

The Chamber is what visitors look at when they come to a new area. When a Chamber is healthy, it goes to businesses and supports them, it sends customers to them, and it shops locally for its own needs before it looks elsewhere. Good leadership is a partnership with business, and we support each other.

Hope G. Smith on the importance of a Chamber of Commerce

The Downtown Merchant Association works with the Chamber of Commerce to support downtown businesses and bring activities there like the semi-annual Shop Hop in April. This ticketed event includes lunch, coffee, free merchandise, and discounts at 15-20 downtown shops in Wallace, NC. Downtown Wallace is a thriving place with businesses that have been in operation there for many years. When asked about why small-town America is thriving with culture today, Hope’s answer was sincere. “People are hungry for a small-town community. Covid has taught us all that we need each other; we need community.” 

Hope doesn’t take for granted that she has been blessed to be in business as an artist for 18 years. “The art business isn’t easy. Sometimes you overwork and have to be willing to put in the hours that nobody sees. When you are doing what God has called you to do,” she says, “you are doing that thing that fills your soul. The money will follow after that. It is much harder to do something you don’t love, so pursue your passion and don’t feel guilty for doing something you love. We need to be able to embrace people for what they are, not necessarily the 9-5 boxes we want to put them in.”

A lot of people, over the years, have told Hope that they are not creative, but Hope looks at creativity much different. “Creativity breeds creativity,” she says. “People do it all the time and don’t realize it. Creativity is an important part of how we nurture humanity. It is when we aren’t nurturing others that problems arise in society.”

When she is not out painting in the community, Hope G. Smith can be found in one of her two galleries: Art of Hope in Wallace or Clinton, NC. She is also available online at hopegsmith.com.

Two Are Better Than One: How Partnerships Make The Dream Work

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. 

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

As a small business, I hear a lot about partnerships between organizations. This business partners with that one to facilitate this service and now both entites had a point of impact in the community. In fact, greater impact is accomplished because of their partnership than could have been even imagined if they stuck to doing it all alone.

The principles of partnership are as ancient as the Garden of Eden. When God created Adam and looked down on him, he didn’t say, “good job, son, you are killin’ it on your own!” No, on the contrary, he said it is not good for man to be alone, let me make him a helper. Why? Because God designed us to live and work as teams–not individuals.

Business

If you look at the needs of your organization–your specific business plan–you should see a target demographic that you want to reach. To truly accomplish that goal, you can’t do it by yourself, you need to bring in other people who can agree with your vision and have the passion for it that you do.

No organization grows from idea to thriving business with just one person. If you want to be successful, you have to have vision for the future and a plan to mentor others into your seat on the company because eventually you will retire or pass away and you don’t want to build something that just ceases to exist in 10-20 years.

Entrepreneur

It might sound silly to list this separate than business, but the truth is that they are not the same. Though every small business needs to have vision and growth, many are franchisees of bigger businesses. An entrepreneur is someone who is a one-off business: they came up with an idea and pursued it based on their own creativity, vision, and willpower.

Entrepreneurs are the invisible demographic in a community. They are the people like Amy Brogden who look at a town, see a vacancy, and believe they can do something to meet that need. God bless them! We need more people like that everywhere. Small towns are dying without them.

Entrepreneurs work hard to make their vision prosper. They live with the daily reality that the economy can change in a minute and they can be out of a job, so they are always on pivot to stay relevant. The bigger they grow, the more people they carry under them, and the more burden they feel to be successful; no one wants to work as hard as we do to build a business that dies in a couple years.

Relationships

Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the Lord.

Proverbs 18:22 KJV

From the beginning, God set us up to work together in partnership. He took a rib out of Adam to make Eve because he wanted her to be something standing beside him and working with him not ruling over him or trampled by him.

Women of God, you have such an amazing Creator! He saw your worth and recognized you long before Susan B. Anthony or any of those other folks even existed. Get to know Him and praise Him because our Lord Jesus really is a good God to serve.

–Rebecca J. Whitman

It is tempting to live life single–especially if you have faced any heartache in relationships–but I really don’t think that was God’s design for the majority of us. There are far more verses in the Bible about love and marriage and filling the Earth with children than there are about the blessings of singleness. We all must be single for a season, but we are also responsible for being able to see when that season has ended.

Mixing Love and Business

If you are an entrepreneur, it can be really hard to be in a relationship. Sometimes the demands of work make it hard to have room to share your life with anyone else. It is easier to say a relationship will hinder your productivity than it is to say it will help it.

Still, I have seen too many married couples thriving in business to say that single mindedness is really the truth we should hold to—and I am not the only one. According to this article from Entrepreneur.com, research shows that growth in business is tied to a strong and thriving marriage.

Truth Hits Home

When my maternal grandparents came home from their honeymoon, they came home to a box full of baby chicks, and my grandma cried. We were never told why she cried, but I have always believed it was because she knew how much work was ahead of them and the weight of it was frightening. Entrepreneurship is an often scary adventure.

From then on, the adventure was non-stop for them. From chicken farming to dairy farming to firewood to restaurants and everything in between, my grandparents were successful entrepreneurs in Colorado. They were married over 50 years and now rest buried together.

I never saw that entrepreneural life buy them a fancy house or lots of things, but we lacked for nothing at grandma’s house. Their faith and love poured into everyone they knew: friends, family, and strangers. It was a level of kindness and generosity so great, in fact, that it took multiple funerals to celebrate them when they died—and we still talk about them years later today. That kind of legacy doesn’t happen when you live life alone.

This godly heritage reminds me every day that true love and business success are possible. The wedding rings that honored that marriage wait to honor my own now. I like to think my grandparents would be tickled pink to know I will wear grandma’s rings someday. I like to think they would be proud to see me in business now much like them—living day to day on my faith in Jesus.

There is nothing easy about being in business for yourself. Some days you want to curl up and cry or just go back to working for someone else so you can sleep at night.

But all those fears are just growing pains. In time, the business you are building will establish itself if you don’t give up and if you make strategic partnerships that will propel you forward.

Don’t be afraid to risk failure for love. When you find someone worth giving your heart to, be bold enough to speak your truth even if that means writing it down in a letter. Pray for them. Invest in them. Make them a priority and trust me in this: the ROI will be worth the effort.

The Freelance Life: Editing Services with Andrea Barilla

In Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in the mid-1980s, a young Andrea Barilla with brown wavy hair and wide eyes sits at a kitchen table nibbling on cookies and drinking Coke. In a nearby room, she watches her daddy talk to his clients about their life insurance. He’s one of the top salesmen in the company, and it’s not because he has charisma, it’s because he knows his clients’ kids. He knows their birthdays. He values them as individuals. The young girl smiles from the other room; she doesn’t even know yet that this moment is teaching her the secret that would later make her business.

Today, Andrea Barilla starts her coffee, grabs her planner, and steps outside in a pair of her favorite LuLaRoe leggings. “The best investment I made,” she says, “was my outside table because we so often have trouble getting outside in this line of work, and you need things to force you to get outside.”

Andrea Barilla is an established freelance editor and writer. She holds an MFA in Creative Nonfiction from UNC Wilmington and a BA in English from Westminster College in Pennsylvania. She is a member of several editing groups including the American Copy Editors Society, Editorial Freelancers Association, and Publishers Marketplace.

She has edited 300 health articles for Healthline.com, over 100 courses for Savanah College of Art and Design (SCAD), and served on the staff of three literary magazines, including Ecotone (now a national publication) and the trilingual El Protagonista in Puerto Rico. But if you ask her what she loves the most…it is the books.

Helping someone bring their book to life is like bringing a child into the world. It takes time and gentle nurturing care; it’s not something you want to rush through. It takes attention to detail like the ability to see how a punctuation mark can be misinterpreted in print.

I love working on books. I love critiquing projects, or discussing the big-picture issues of plot, characters, setting, etc. I love fixing things with copy edits—which can be very meditative and fulfilling too.

Andrea has edited book manuscripts (of various genres and types, including textbooks) for Stackpole Books; Paradigm Publishing (a division of EMC Publishing, LLC); Dorrance Publishing Co., Inc.; and individuals. One of the books she worked on, A Girl Named Nina, went on to win Best Young Adult Fiction Book in English at the 2014 International Latino Book Awards. Andrea attended the 2016 Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writing Conference and was a guest panelist at the 2017 Professional Networking Symposium at Westminster College. Andrea also loves to help clients create query letters and book proposals to pitch to agents. She keeps her finger on the pulse of the publishing world and helps her clients take their writing to the next level.

On Life As A Freelancer

Andrea starts her day the night before with coffee grounds ready to brew in the pot and her planner set up with her next day’s schedule.

“The beauty of freelancing,” she says, “is that you have your own routine and the freedom to do what works for you. Nothing is wrong as long as it makes you productive.”

For Andrea, that is a task-oriented schedule and whatever clothing makes her as comfy as possible. Outside with her coffee and planner, she centers her day around the tasks she needs to complete that day.

“Over time, I’ve learned how many pages I can edit in an hour and how long different types of editing take me. That’s a really great thing to learn because it helps you know how many projects you can take on and how to break them down to make them manageable.” When Andrea looks at her schedule, she sees the manageable chunks of the projects she is working on. She can decide which work needs her time the most and structure her day around the goals she has to complete.

“I try to balance my schedule with critiques and copy edits. They use different parts of the brain and require different levels of energy.”

Business Coaches

One of the things that really helped Andrea early on was working with business coaches, particularly those with SCORE, a nationwide free and low-cost nonprofit supported by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). She worked with these coaches to create processes and systems to streamline the things she does over and over again in the business.

“I used to panic when I got an email,” she says, “now I don’t have to panic because having these systems, these templates, makes it easier and keeps my responses professional and pretty much the same for everyone, save a tweak or two. I’ve had people thank me for being so professional because of them.”

With potential clients, Andrea starts with a paid sample edit. She likes to show the clients what they will be getting with her services and the quality of the care and work she will give their project. She treats the clients and their work as gingerly as if it were her own; that is a lesson she learned from her father, and it is the lesson that keeps clients coming back to her for repeat business.

Determining Worth

It took time for Andrea to learn how to determine her worth. “I can’t believe I am an editor,” Andrea says. “In grad school, I was surrounded by amazing authors and didn’t always give them my critiques in workshops because I didn’t feel I was worthy of giving them my opinion. It’s crazy to see where I am now versus then.”

When Andrea started her freelancing career, she thought she wanted to be a freelance writer. She would send out queries and pitches and wait anxiously for responses. Sometimes editors would take her ideas and give them to their own staff writers. It was very stressful. She had to try a lot of things to figure out what she was good at. One day she got a chance to take on a large editing job for Healthline.com. She wasn’t sure she could handle it, so she called me. I encouraged her to try because I knew she was capable of doing the work.

“I really thought I would fail,” Andrea says looking back, “but then I realized I could really do it and I enjoyed it. My whole career shifted to editing and it all hinged on one job I thought I couldn’t do until I tried it.”

On Bridge Jobs

“You’re going to have some failures,” Andrea advises, “that’s just a part of being an entrepreneur.” Nevertheless, she wishes that she would have kept a part-time job in the beginning when she was still trying to build up clientele. “There is nothing wrong with working another job while you are freelancing,” she says, “and many freelancers maintain part-time jobs for the consistent steady paychecks.”

On Rates

Andrea has an hourly rate, but she didn’t charge much and even did a few jobs for free when she first started editing. “I wanted to put feelers out there and build up my confidence and portfolio,” she says. Confidence and time can help you learn how much to charge, but there are also reference guides to know where your prices should fall. The Editorial Freelancers Association website and the Writer’s Market yearly guidebook both have respected information about industry standard rates. Andrea used both of these to help create a list of rates and services that she offers. They also give her professional leverage when she is negotiating her worth with potential clients.

Making the Budget

Being your own boss can be exciting when you control your own freedom, but there is also a huge responsibility to acquire new clients to be able to keep the bills paid. Andrea keeps a spreadsheet to see exactly how much money she has coming in and how much she needs to make to stay ahead. She knows how much each current and potential project is worth, and the spreadsheet can help her determine what kinds of projects she should pursue. “It is not good to depend all on one project,” she advises, “you need to have a couple of projects going at all times.”

A key component of Andrea’s business is repeat business with clients she refers to as her “bread and butter” clients.

Andrea says, “you want consistent work from a few bread and butter clients coming in every month. That gives you a consistent revenue to work with and room to be a little more choosy about the projects you take on with the rest of your time.”

Building Clientele

Though the field of editing can be competitive, Andrea’s organic approach is dependent on the fact that the quality of her work will create repeat business. “Try to build relationships with people who could become bread and butter clients. Try to build repeat business and, in that way, it isn’t about competition at all but about creating a product people want to come back for.”

Trust God

Andrea does not worry about where the next source of income will come from; her faith directs her business. Andrea has been amazed by the way clients always show up when she needs them, and she credits this timing to her faith.

“I have a faith in Jesus Christ. I tithe and try to put Him first in my life. I don’t stress,” she says. “I know God will provide; He always does. Still, it’s up to me to do my part, and that means sowing seeds.”

Andrea advises that you should “constantly be sowing seeds” when it comes to your business. She is constantly making connections and networking with people who can become future clients. She also keeps a list of potential clients whom she can reach out to—for example, people who are working on books, people she has worked with before, and people she has met at functions. She always tries to get testimonials from happy clients that she can put on her website and point potential clients to.

Job Boards

In the world of freelancing, a lot of jobs are posted on job boards in organizations where freelancers maintain memberships. Jobs vary widely and are filled quickly from the boards. Many scammers also fill the boards with fake or low paying ads. Nevertheless, when you are just starting out, you try anything, and you take any job you can get.

There are safe ways to navigate through job boards now. Some of the advocates for their use recommend verifying the posters are verified accounts. Others avoid foreign posters entirely.

Specialization

Andrea advocates trying as many things as you can, but she also advocates specializing in particular fields and learning what you do not want to work with. Specialization doesn’t mean you work in one area of interest only–sometimes you have to work outside your specialty. It does, however, bring you unsolicited business.

“Creating a reputation in an area is huge in this business,” Andrea says. “You become the go-to person for that area based on your reputation. Clients know to come to you.

Determining Projects

Experience has taught Andrea a lot in this business. She has learned what kinds of projects she will enjoy and what kinds of clients will be difficult to work with. She avoids the problem clients and the projects too-far outside her comfort zone, such as poetry. She navigates to books that she feels will make a difference in the world–especially memoirs, business and education titles, Christian living and inspiration, and literary fiction. She is able to sift through potential clients by the level of their commitment. “The people who are serious,” she says, “will be willing to pay the price and sign the agreements.”

Contracts

Andrea has learned the hard way the value of having clients sign contracts. Without them, she experienced some clients disappearing mid-project and “ghosting” her on payment. “It is important to have contracts to avoid getting caught with people who will ghost you,” Andrea says.

Making Room To Write

Because Andrea is also a writer, one of the things she had to learn the hard way was not to take on work that is too similar to her own. In one particular project, she realized that it was “pulling energy away” from her own work.

Editing is usually relaxing for Andrea; it helps her maintain some mental space and energy for her own work. “I want to conserve energy for my own writing projects,” Andrea says, “and editing helps me do that.” If a project is too close to her own work, Andrea will now tell a client up front that she is not the best editor for their project. In the first few years of the job, Andrea didn’t have any time or energy to write her own stuff. Now, over eight years into her business, Andrea tries to keep one day in the week free to pursue her own creative work. She had a very popular relationship blog, and now she is working on a new Nonfiction project.

Social Life

“It is really easy to let freelancing take over your life,” Andrea says. “It helps if you have some involvements that force you to get out and have a life away from work.”

Andrea maintains active involvements with social groups in her church and community. She also has a lot of friends who pull her away from her work when she needs it. She claims that the breaks help her avoid burnout, isolation, and loneliness that are often side effects of her job.

The Benefits of Freelancing

In 2013, Andrea’s aunt states away was diagnosed with terminal cancer. However, Andrea was able to go home and spend the last month of her aunt’s life with her. She was able to be with her family and go through the grieving process with them while she worked. She was never so thankful for her job than in that moment.

Andrea also loves the fact that she is learning something new in her job every day. “I get to work on fascinating things and I’m constantly learning and meeting really cool people from diverse walks of life,” she says. “I love that I’m always learning and that people are trusting me with their stories.”

Connect

If you would like to know more about Andrea Barilla and her editing business, you can check out her services at: http://www.andreabarilla.com/