We had the good fortune of connecting with Carley Baker and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Carley, what role has risk played in your life or career?
I think my view on risk taking has changed a lot in the past 5 years. I used to play it pretty safe. Always doing what I though I was “supposed” to do. It wasn’t until we had the opportunity to move to Hawaii (through my husbands former job) that I saw risks as opportunities and not these scary things out to get me. Moving was a risk. We were half a world away from our family. Trying to figure out a new city/state. New cultural norms. New foods. What if we hated it there? It was very cool to figure out the world on our own. I think all the risks we encountered helped us grow up and grow into our own people. It also made our marriage stronger. We really only had each other to lean on. We have taken quite a few risks since then. Some have worked out amazingly for us, and there have definitely been a few that kicked our asses. However, I wouldn’t change it. They either work out or you learn from them and build on those lessons. I’m definitely not saying that I’m a risk seeker or that every risk is a good idea, but not intimidated by them anymore. I think very rarely opportunities come without risk. So you just have to try to do your best to make the right decision for yourself, family, business. Obviously, starting your own business doesn’t come without risk. The risks that I have faced have taught me a lot about myself. They have helped me realize that I CAN run my own business.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
My paintings are inspired by life experiences mostly. So many of the paintings I have completed are from photos I’ve snapped, or they are portraits of musicians I love because I grew up listening to their music. I LOVE music. I am also inspired by where I have lived and things I love to do. I tend to use bright colors because I love portraying a happy feeling around the painting I am creating. I love drawing inspiration from the colors in the photograph I’m working from but then giving it a little extra pop. I also love making it a little more abstract or imperfect. There is something really beautiful to me in the imperfect/unexpected.
I have always been really into painting and anything creative. However, I never saw myself pursuing art as a career… not until we were living far from “home” in Hawaii. I started painting and making little baby mobiles for some friends, family, and myself. I started thinking maybe I can do this? Then we had our daughter, and thinking about how she would see me and look up to me. I knew I couldn’t tell her to pursue her dreams fearlessly and whole heartedly if I wasn’t doing the same thing. Everything has kind of evolved organically from there. I knew I wanted to sell my art, but I didn’t want to be limited to just my original paintings. I started by just selling paintings. Then from there I decided to offer some Christmas ornaments that I made from old paint pallets. Those sold really well and sparked the urge to mess with more than just paintings on canvas. From there I realized not everyone wants or needs a painting or a print to hang on the wall. Some people might want a shirt. Or a hand painted tote. I remember one time I had a good friend of mine tell me I how this Santa painting I did would look great on a pillow. Yes, Great idea! So then I realized I need to offer more merchandise! And here we are. Wailana Art Collective. Paintings, Home Decor, and Apparel.
It’s not been easy, but definitely worth it! Work/life balance is a real challenge. Especially as a mom. And, working from home. The lines are very blurred for me at the movement. I have a love/hate relationship with that. I have a three year old daughter. I love that my daughter can be involved and see me working. She REALLY enjoys painting/creating with me. I really can’t explain how happy that makes me. However, it is tough sometimes to get anything done. I think since I have started scheduling my time it has been easier to manage. It seems like society teaches us that we really need to put a huge emphasis on the work part of the balance. I was guilty of letting work get in the way of life when I was younger and working my “real” job. Now I try to be very cognizant of that. I have a three year old and want to make every moment with her count. Life feels like it is just racing by so I try to do my best to be present with her, my husband, friends, and family. I know I am very fortunate to be able to place more of an emphasis on the life part of that balance, and I am not going to take it for granite. With that being said though, if I did not have my “work” I think I would feel lost.
Throughout this whole journey I’ve learned to just to keep rolling. Not every idea you have is going to be gold. There might be something you come up with that you think is going to sell like crazy, but instead it flops. Then you could come up with another idea/painting you aren’t to crazy about and it sells out in hours. I have to remind myself NOT to get discouraged when it doesn’t go as planned. It rarely does! However, I have noticed if I just keep moving and pushing forward I will continue to see slow steady gains and improvements. Just ride the wave, don’t let the wave ride you.
One thing I get asked a lot is why I named my brand Wailana Art Collective. I decided on Wailana because we lived in a building in Hawaii called The Wailana. We only lived there for a short time, but that little condo had so much meaning to me. We completely renovated it (at the end of my pregnancy) with the intent on making it home for a while. So a lot of love went into it. This condo was where we brought our daughter home for the first time, where we made countless memories as a new family of three, and it is where I made the decision to pursue starting my own art brand. Wailana is a beautiful Hawaiian name meaning calm waters. It felt perfect that “calm water” is kind of the feel I have when I’m painting. I then settled on Art Collective because I wanted to offer more than just original paintings… even though at first I wasn’t sure what that really looked like or how I would get there. Looking back on how far I have come really makes me proud of this business. I can’t wait to see what the future holds.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
We actually just relocated back to Oklahoma City. I know most people think of Oklahoma as a boring fly over state, but I will say in the past five years that we have been gone the city has changed drastically. It has come so far. There are some really great local restaurants, bars, and places to stay. Our number one restaurant here has been Barrios! Even when we didn’t live here. If we came to visit Barrios was definitely a must. They have THE best margaritas in town. You have to get the guava habanero or avocado margarita. So GOOD! Another restaurant that’s new on the scene here is Made With Love in the Plaza. They have one of my paintings up for sale, so you can check that out, too! 🙂 I am also a big fan of anything in the Paseo district or Plaza. There are some amazing art galleries, small shops, and restaurants in both.
As far as an itinerary I would probably say…
1. Breakfast at Harvey Bakery – lavender latte with oat milk please!
2. Little day trip to Udander Spa! – I am a big fan of steam saunas and facials
3. Grab a smoothie bowl from Organic Squeeze for lunch and the shop around Classen Curve, then down the the Paseo, and ending in the Plaza District . – gotta stop by DNA Galleries, Bad Grannies, and
4. Dinner at Made with Love or The Pritchard
5. If you’re really wanting some country vibes and you aren’t tired yet then you have to head out to Cowboys Ranch for a night of two stepping and live bull riding.
6. Crash at the very cute boutique hotel- Bradford House or 21c hotel if you’d like a little pool time with a cocktail or two.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My Husband, Stony. He has been amazingly supportive and helpful through out my career and all aspects of life really. Not only is he a great husband, he is a great cheerleader, sounding board, marketer, and critic just to name a few things. I probably wouldn’t have started this career if it wasn’t for him constantly pushing me to go for it. I will forever be grateful for him. My family and friends have been pretty awesome too! They are always sharing my instagram posts, telling other people about my business, and even purchasing a few things for themselves. Having a great support system has been so helpful!
I would also love to shout out all the other artist/creatives/small business owners that I have met through out this journey. I have learned a lot from these people and been very motivated by them. I think it has been very important for me to have a group of people that are going through similar things or who have already been down the road. It is so helpful to be able to reach out and ask for advice, or just to be able to relate!