Who are you and what is your company?
Hi! I’m Rachel Whitehurst, owner and artist at shopRWD.com. shopRWD is the name under which I create original artwork, home décor, and personal gifts.
How did you get started?
I’ve always been a creative person, and I got my start online in 2010 creating online videos and blogging about makeup. I was a full-time Youtuber (and a podcast co-host starting in 2015) until 2016 when I decided to make a change. I was really unhappy with the platform and started to lose the motivation to create there. During this time, I had turned to watercolor and sculpting as a way to manage my PTSD. I developed such a passion for art during this period, and it helped me so much with my mental health. Looking at that change, I decided to take a big risk! I left my job of six years, and opened my online shop in June of 2017. I could not have been more shocked by the support for my art. As it currently stands two years later, I have made over 6,000 sales!
How important is social media to your business?
As someone who worked in social media for 6+ years, I was wise to how important it was from a marketing standpoint. I knew that I would need to have a strong and consistent online presence to grow shopRWD. The direct connection I have with my customers through social media is so important to me and the growth of my business. They get to have this super transparent look at how I create my art, and sometimes their feedback helps me with the final product! Everything from voting on colors, names, and finishes, to telling me directly what they’d like to see me create in my art style, we are in constant communication, which I think is key to creating sales that are consistent. I know from my own personal experience, I tend to buy from other makers and artists who have a similar level of online presence. Seeing the way things come together and learning about their personal lives makes me want to invest in their brands too! Social media is also an incredibly powerful tool to expand your reach and gain customers from all over the world!
What kind of art do you make?
My art is primarily based in watercolor and polymer clay, but I won’t ever limit myself to those as I’m always trying new things. I love to learn new skills, so I’m constantly adding new products to my shop! I love to make original paintings in watercolor and digitize those works into prints, downloadable wallpapers, and patterns or cut them into paper bookmarks. Sculpting is another huge passion of mine. I’m super inspired by food, miniatures, and unique color palettes. I make a lot of tiny sculptures, magnets, ornaments, and keychains. With the release of my Pride 2019 collection, I’ll also be introducing our very first stickers! Learning how to print and cut them at home has been such a fun and inspiring process.
What inspires your work?
My work is inspired by my home in the PNW, foods and textures, nature, and color palettes that speak to me.
You’re our LGBTQ+ Pride Month feature; what does Pride Month mean to you?
As a queer artist, I think it’s so important to highlight the LGBTQ+ community in my work, especially during Pride Month. Last year, my pride collection was comprised of digital downloads where 100% of the proceeds were donated to The Trevor Project. This year, I’m taking it a step further by offering some physical items as well! Along with the total proceeds from our downloadable wallpapers, our keychains and stickers will also have a portion of sales donated to The Trevor Project. We’ve all seen “Rainbow Capitalism” growing in popularity each year, where brands slap rainbow imagery on their products in June as an attempt to market to a large marginalized group without donating any of the proceeds to organizations that help our LGBTQ+ community! I believe it’s important to shop directly from brands that are donating to these organizations that help the LGBTQ+ community during pride month, especially if the founders or artists are queer themselves!
Besides selling your art, what is the message you are trying to get across to your customers?
I just want to hammer home that you should always follow the path that fulfills you most when it’s possible! I started this business in my late twenties, wracked with the guilt of quitting a job I had put six years of my life into. I was terrified to make such a drastic turn in my career this late in the game, but I have been so overwhelmed by the joy and support it has given me. You’re never too late to learn a new skill, to start a new side hustle, or to follow any passion you might have. I cannot even put into words how much happiness working on my art for shopRWD brings me each day. It’s a lot of work to run this business full time alone, but it has been so worth it. I can’t wait to see where it will be even two years from now!
Where can I find you and your art?