Meet Your Maker-Critterosity

This week on MYM we have Eva from Critterosity! Eva is a wonderful cartoonist and event planner/show runner. I love her amazing artwork and she has a wide variety of items you can get her artwork on. From pins to cards to home decor to notebooks I am sure you find something that tickles your fancy!

Introduce yourself and your business.

Hi there! My name is Eva Lacy and I am a cartoonist and show runner! I am better known as Critterosity with my artwork and I am the founder of the Annual Ground Zero Animation Expo & Isle of Magic Marketplace.

How did you launch your business & what made you want to start a small business?

I have always had entrepreneur blood running through my veins. I watched my dad run his own business growing up as a dental technician and always felt I could be my own boss one day. I did my part in working "typical" jobs from 14-28 years old. If I wasn't holding one job, it was 2. I didn't care much for the idea of college, I wanted to go and have hands on life experiences. On top of regular ol' work, at 21 years old I started a face painting & caricature business for weekend events to earn more money.

At 28 I joined forces with another creative and we opened a brick and mortar which stayed afloat for 2 years, then we decided to part ways so we both could launch our own stores. I then opened fan*alley in 2015, a shop selling for artists and creatives on consignment.
After 1 year of having my own store, I felt unfulfilled as I was stuck behind 4 walls everyday and not creating. I wasn't just making my own decisions, I had to always wait for my vendors in the shop to make decisions to see what they wanted & every month was doing accounts payable, restocking, chasing vendors, etc. I closed and have never looked back! I learned from mistakes some vendors were making in my shop such as, no online presence, not creating more often, missing out on pop up opportunities/signings and more. It was time to stop preaching and start living the artist life!

I started Ground Zero Animation Expo, GZAEXPO,  in Feb. 2015, a show catered to educating those trying to break into Animation, Illustration, Comics and more. My vendors consisted of professionals from the industry who wanted to share through panels and workshops, and up and coming vendors who were ready to be discovered.
I had the best professionals because I had so many sell in my shop and they got to know me.

In just 5 years I have had GZAEXPO maintain a presence, started a new show that pops up 2 times a year called The Isle of Magic Marketplace, and continue to run Critterosity!

What are some struggles you had starting your business and how did you over come them?

Like most artists, finding worth in myself and my work. Imposter syndrome is no joke & it's something we each have to overcome ourselves. I decided to not focus on what others thought of my work. If it made me happy, then somewhere out there, it would make someone else happy too. I learned that family & friends will more than likely be your best supporters and first customers. I would change my prices each year to match my skill level and how much time I put in.

Regarding the shows I host, I knew from day one, it wasn't about the flashy location and all the bells and whistles. I couldn't afford hotel or convention venues, so I would explain to vendors, the price for our attendees should be affordable and fair, if not free, and that meant a low overhead for everyone. 4 walls don't matter, it's whats inside that matters. The quality of the vendors & their art/merchandise, them sharing the event and creating an experience is more important. Low overhead doesn't always mean "cheap", it means vendors can ACTUALLY afford a table at $50-$60 or under for the day or 2 days & may ACTUALLY profit without selling all their merchandise just to cover their costs. Attendees will spend more on vendors if the cost for entrance is lower, and we as show runners will have less debt for location and what we put into the show.

Where do you draw inspiration from?

I absolutely LOVE Instagram. I call my bookmarks "Instagram Pintrest". I get to bookmark all the posts I love, and when I am feeling uninspired, I just look back at them and BOOM! I am ready to create. It also helps to surround yourself with those you look up to and also share positivity and encourage growth. Too much negative is not healthy, so I tend to find my people when they are on the same wavelength and we push each other to do better. I love when my true friends now what makes me happy and aren't offended that I'd rather be in my studio creating then "hang out". I love them dearly, but making art is everything to me.

What motivates you as a maker?

My supporters, my Patrons, and myself. I have my daily affirmations, I continue to consult myself as a "boss" and an "artist". I wear 2 hats and have to be smart about how I run my business and use my time. It's always a struggle when you work from home, so I make sure to create my studio space filled with things I love to be surrounded by so I "clock in" every day. Workspace is so important for mental health as an artist and I consider my studio my "Artistic Wonderland".
I am so thankful for those who not only shop from me, but those that get so excited and even share my work through Instagram stories or posts. It isn't always about the sales. I get the excitement to keep moving forward!

What is a goal you set for yourself as a maker/artist and how did you achieve it?

I told myself I had to reach 10K on Instagram by the end of 2018 and I surpassed it! The "swipe up" feature in stories is SO beneficial to small businesses. It allows our followers to do less searching and get straight to where you aim them. I was beyond excited to grow so quickly and I did it without selling my soul, haha! I "don't care" if I have 100 followers or 50K followers, I care about a dedicated/genuine following. I care about growing my business and changing the world with what I do organically. Business tools are extremely helpful and I saw IG making it a point to grow to 10K before having the feature. I do care that 10K found me worthy and I do care about them, it wasn't just a ploy, but I wanted ACTUAL true followers and feel I captured them with genuine posts, lives and being who I am.

What is your favorite part of being a maker?

Making decisions for myself. I love that my supporters trust my judgement when working on commissions and creating new product. I want the best for them, the best for me, and I will always call myself out if I am in the wrong. I love customer service and being able to treat my customers with the respect they deserve. I enjoy growing through trial and error. We all make mistakes, but forgiving each other and ourselves is how we grow.

Do you have any tips for new makers/ small business owners?

GET OUT THERE! I hate to be "that person", but no one is looking for you. You have to MAKE THEM LOOK! Don't lose who you are, don't try to be what someone else is or wants you to be. You can only do that for so long before you burn out and there's already someone else out there doing it. Be unique and stay true to who you are as an individual and an artist/creator. Grow slowly. Don't compare yourself to others. Every day have a small goal and try to exceed it, don't beat yourself up if you don't reach it. Want to start a Patreon? Do it! Want to try a live stream on a social media platform? Try it! Your audience is broader than you think and are already wanting more from you. You are being selfish keeping your talent to yourself, it's time to share your SUPER POWER with the world. As a child of the 80s and 90s, you have NO IDEA how easy it is to be discovered with all the amazing platforms you have at your fingertips.

What are some hobbies or interests you have outside of your small business?

I love collecting vintage toys either from my childhood or before that. I enjoy finding treasures at garage/estate sales that need new homes. I "talk" to those who have passed away when I enter their home and let them know their items will be cherished when I purchase them.
I love hanging out with my pets and watching my favorite animation shows/movies, going on bike rides, looking at old vintage signs & architecture. Visiting Palm Springs is my favorite staycation!

Share a fun fact about yourself.

I moved to Los Angeles without a job at 18 years old, slept on a couch for 3 months, all in the name of acting. I was selected by the most talent scouts in the history of my small "acting school" for dance and acting. When I got to LA from a small town in Northern California, I realized quickly after a Christina Aguilera audition that I did not want anything to do with that world and jumped into teaching cartooning and dance at after school programs.

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