We had the good fortune of connecting with Julie Bedard and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Julie, any advice for those thinking about whether to keep going or to give up?
This question comes up often for me, and I think this is one of the hardest parts of being a small business owner. I came from a very comfortable background in corporate retail, with a steady salary. Everything was very predictable and stable in terms of my job security and income, until it wasn’t. Being a new, solo, small business that started during the pandemic, there is nothing consistent besides the fear of failure, and the looming dread of rent due on the first of the month. However, there are two main things that keep me going. 1. My friends, family, customers and community. From the beginning, I have received so many encouraging messages, and a constant rally from those closest to me. People will reach out to tell me how proud they are of me, and how they love what I’ve created, and how happy they are for me that I’ve turned lemons into lemonade. Knowing that I am inspiring others, and bringing others joy, not just through the products that I’ve created, but by the way that I’ve sort of risen above the ashes of a very difficult time, is what keeps me going. I feel like I have an obligation to the people who have supported me and cheered me on to keep going, and to never give up. 2. My own stubborn will. Even on the really tough days where I feel like I don’t know what I’m doing, and lose sight of my purpose and mission, I still have a stubbornness and determination to MAKE it work by any means necessary. Something that has always steered me is my creativity. I constantly come up with new creative ideas for products, a new promotion, or piece of content. Being the captain of my own ship allows me to take whatever creative direction that I choose, and that feeling and ability is truly liberating.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Creativity and art has always been a part of me. I’ve dabbled in so many types of arts and crafting. I went to school to become a hairstylist, took every arts and ceramics class ever available in school, I’ve taught myself to sew, to crochet, macrame, you name it, I’ve probably tried it. These were all fun hobbies, but I had always dreamt of having a creative side project that I could actually make money from. It wasn’t until the pandemic that for the first time ever, I was selling my handmade items, which were face masks! I was recently unemployed, and had more than enough free time on my hands. In about a 2 month period, I made and sold over 500 masks! But Once face masks became more easily accessible, I decided to focus on what people wanted during this time, not just what they needed. People were looking for creative ways to connect with their friends and family from a distance, and things they could do from within their own homes, which led me to my first official Artie Party Product- Cactus Clay. It was, and still is, a craft kit that came with all of the supplies to make your own adorable cactus out of clay. After it dried, you would then paint it, seal it, and top it off with an air plant. I started advertising it to my friends and followers on Instagram, and I sold about 100 kits in less than 24 hours. My mind was blown! During that time, one of the main things I needed to source was my air plants. If you’re not familiar, an air plant is a plant variety that in a nutshell, doesn’t require soil, which makes them extremely versatile! So after a little digging around, no pun intended, I met my growers. The first time I saw their air plant only nursery my mind was seriously blown. I immediately left there and started designing products to hold and display these incredible plants. Air plants come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes and come from various climates mainly throughout North, Central, and South America. One thing they share in common is that they like to be in open air, so when I was designing, I was thinking of all the ways they could be displayed in a way that was not only aesthetically pleasing, but also beneficial to their well being. Moral of the story, is all of my products and designs are inspired by the plants and their unique beauty. I love being able to share these plants with others by offering a curated selection of the plants, natural materials to display them in like Cholla Cactus skeletons, and fruit barren grapevine trunks, and my handmade products like the hand sewn and hand painted air plant hammocks, the golden tassel-trimmed air plant thrones, and my personal favorite, the hand-painted and strung air plant bell cups. The creativity and artistry for me is the easy part. The figuring out how to get it seen by the people who it will resonate with, is the hard part! I’ve learned to share my story, and what inspires me. I’ve learned to educate people on what makes the plants so special and how to care for them. It gives people an appreciation of their uniqueness and beauty. I want people to know that The Artie Party was built upon a desire to connect people, and it really has! It’s connected people through a shared appreciation of the plants, of the creativity, and of the fun and joyful feeling that I try to create through my products and brand.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Oooo! This is a fun one! My best friend did come to visit from the Bay Area (pre-pandemic) and I took her to go see Little Mermaid live at the Hollywood Bowl- hands down one of my all time favorite music/live performance venues! I Love visiting the vintage markets at the Rose Bowl, and in Long Beach- I could spend hours! The original Barney’s Beanery in West Hollywood would definitely be a must- I love games and arcades! Also, we’d go everywhere by train! I love taking the Surfliner from grand central station in LA, all the way to old town San Diego. I would probably do the coastal drive from Ventura to Santa Monica, and find a dive-y bar along the way for a pit stop. To be honest, I lived in Orange County the entire time I’ve lived here, so I’m much more familiar with that area- In which case we’d spend a lot of time at the beach in Newport, go shopping in downtown Laguna, and probably eat at all my favorite spots in Costa Mesa like Tabu Shabu, and probably end the night with drinks at my favorite bar/live music venue, The Wayfarer. The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Without sounding like a pageant contestant, I feel like I have so many people to thank and shoutout. When you look back in your life, there are so many pivotal moments that lead to how you’ve been shaped and who you’ve become. But, I think I can narrow it down to two main individuals. 1. My former boss, and founder of Drybar, Alli Webb. I started working for Drybar in February 2012. I came on as an eager and ambitious hair stylist with plans to grow within the company. I was first introduced to Alli on my 3rd day of work when I was giving her a blowout, and I’d like to say, we just hit it off! Over the course of 8 years, I had the opportunity to work very close to her, and I learned SO much from just observing and listening and watching her grow alongside the company. There were so many amazing nuggets of gold that I gained from her. She has an impeccable eye for detail, she will always tell it like it is, and in my eyes, she is one of the most humble, kind, successful, badass women that I’ve ever met. It made me, as an employee, treat the company like it was my own, because I had so much love and respect for her and I was invested in contributing to her dream. Now, as a small business owner myself, I’m still so inspired by her success, her hustle and her badassery. Even if The Artie Party turns into a baby fraction of the success of Alli’s empire, I will have made it! 2. My Husband, Mike Bedard. As we all know, the face we put on for the public, and those outside your inner circle is often quite different than the reality of what’s going on behind the scenes. Mike gets the rawest, realest version of me as his wife and as a small business owner struggling to make it all work. There are days he has to literally wipe tears off my face from worry and fear of not ‘making it’ or feeling like I don’t know what I’m doing, and somehow helps me see through all that to get me back on track. AND, he’s there to wipe the tears of joy when I’ve hit a goal, or feel like I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be and reminds me to root myself in that feeling of elation to help me through the tougher times, like a little happiness reserve. His love, support and endless contribution keeps me going every single day. Together I feel like we make one helluva team, and I’m proud to look up to him and have him as my North Star.