Do you have a business disaster recovery plan?
Florida Keys-based ceramicist and painter Sally Binard’s home and livelihood were destroyed by Hurricane Irma in September 2017. With her studio and home in ruins, Sally had to start rebuilding her creative business.
Her experiences reveal how creative people can get ready for the worst…and rebuild after it’s over.
In this interview, we cover:
- How advice from Jack White changed Binard’s art
- Why creative entrepreneurs can achieve more with less
- How to prepare a business disaster recovery plan (Read more in my Forbes article here)
- The differences in her creative process compared to writers
- How she balances running a business with the creative process
And lots more.
Binard is also a former marine biologist. So I started by asking her why she decided to move away from that career and start a creative business in the first place.
Masterclass is one of the best places to learn from creative writers and entrepreneurs today, including the likes of Neil Gaiman and David Lynch. If you want to claim a free book from a Masterclass instructor, read this Masterclass review.
Bryan Collins: Perhaps if you could start by giving me a bit of background about your business and how it changed in 2017.
Sally Binard: I moved to the Keys as a biologist. I’ve always been involved in art, but I came down here as a Marine scientist and then at some point I ended up running a construction company, or an owner and running it. All the while continuing with my painting. And I opened my first Etsy shop in 2012 as a means of generating a little bit of income, seeing what my work, who it responded to. So that’s how I first got involved. And then around 2004 one night changed I directions a little bit and went into some pottery. In 2015 it took off by accident, kind of happened organically with a hobby and I started making succulents pots, very small pots. And it just grew through social media and the platform of Etsy.
Sally Binard: And so that was about 2014, 2015. At one point this little pottery business turned into 30% of my income. So I started taking it a lot more seriously at that point. And then 2017 was hurricane Irma and it wiped out my studio. In the Keys, a lot of the houses are built on stilts, so you’ve got a downstairs level and then the home actually starts above the first layer. So most of my heavy equipment was downstairs, my kiln, all of my clay. We were hit by a category four hurricane, 4 ft of water. I mean it just swept the entire downstairs studio away. The studio that was in the house was basically overtaken by mold and that part of the house was uninhabitable, couldn’t go back in.
Sally Binard: So I basically spent about six months not being able to create work on a business that was growing and thriving, and I had built by accident from scratch. I was applying business, like a business-minded attitude towards it. In the beginning. But since it happened organically, I was increasing my attitude, my business attitude as it was growing. And then when the hurricane came, it was just stopped. Done. And then I got the grant. I always joke that the hurricane, it’s a really good way to clean house and that’s a really good way to start from scratch and see what is important in your life. Because literally everything…
Sally Binard: I also totaled my car was, I got hit and my car was totaled. So I mean it was like one thing after another. A hurricane, a car, putting two animals down. It was like, “What is going on?” And I got the, I think it was on Instagram, I saw Etsy and CERF+ were advertising for this grant and it literally took me 15 minutes to apply for it. And several months later I got this email saying that we’re granting you $1,000. And although I had taken the business seriously because it was growing at such a nice pace and it was making me money, there was something about getting that money that legitimized what I was doing. To have an organization like Etsy and CERF+ say, “Hey, we value what you do and we want to help you rebuild it.” It gave me a boost when I needed it. So that’s where you know where things happened.
Bryan Collins: How have you changed your business since you relaunched this using the grant?
Sally Binard: How have I changed it? Well, the first aspect that I’ve changed is an evacuation plan. I will not let this happen again. I mean, I understand that things can happen in life and I can’t prepare for everything. But I think as artists, we don’t often plan for being shut down. You take for granted that you’re always going to have this, you know. So I prepare a lot more and I think of this is my livelihood. I do everything. I’m freelance, everything. I’m also a bookkee