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Woman-Owned: a Conversation with Allison Luci, Founder of Allison Luci Art

This week's women-owned business spotlight is Allison Luci, the founder of Allison Luci Art. Allison Luci has been an artist since painting on her own bedroom walls as a teenager. Allison combined her love for art and her entrepreneurial mindset when she started a mural painting business at age 17. As you know, life has a way of twisting and turning but art was always a predominant passion in her life. After a cancer diagnosis, Allison realized what was most important: creating art and helping animals. She found a way to do both.

Thanks for sitting down with Confidence Daily! Tell us about what you do.

"As a lifelong animal lover and artist, I combined my two passions to raise money for animal sanctuaries, raising more than $30,000 in just two years. At a difficult time in my life, I met and hugged a rescued cow who showed me his resilience. That started a quest to use my life in a way that helps make a difference in the world. And I chose to do so through my art.

I paint animals and either raffle or auction them off to raise money for sanctuaries. I also sell merchandise and donate portions of the proceeds to sanctuaries.

My work also includes a lot of flowers and nature. I use bright and bold colors in all of my paintings. I love to bring joy and happiness to the viewer and a new way to look at everyday objects. My goal is to surprise the viewer to see more than just a pig or a sunflower. Through the use of color, I can show the spirit behind these soulful living beings."

What does being a woman-owned business mean to you?

"I'm honored and proud to be woman-owned business. Throughout my journey, I've met so many intelligent, strong and compassionate women, some of whom are my mentors today. I think the best part of being in this unofficial "club" is that the women I know do not see each other as competition, yet we all lift each other up with encouragement, sharing our knowledge and positive energy. To me, this is a gift that I always pay forward to other women entrepreneurs."

Tell us your business origin story.

"I've always created and sold my art in person, on eBay and Etsy as a side hustle. In 2016, after a cancer recurrence, I visited an animal sanctuary in Tennessee. I met and hugged a rescued cow who had a prosthetic foot. He was so happy to run and play, despite his hardship. He taught me resilience, especially during this emotional time in my life. When I left, I vowed to serve others, particularly animals in need, using my art. I didn't know how at the time but after a few years of healing and rebuilding, I started painting animals. And Allie for the Soul was born.

I used social media to reach out to sanctuaries that I was following. One of whom, Odd Man Inn Animal Refuge, asked if they can include my painting in their annual art fundraiser. I was thrilled and that opened the door for me to do that again and again. I started to paint more and more and not only sell my originals but also print reproductions. That led to me selling my art on merchandise and even wholesale orders, selling my work in stores throughout the country, including a Hallmark store."

Okay, coming up with a great idea and actually taking the steps to become an entrepreneur and launch your company are two very different things. How did you know it was time to start?

"It took some time to make the switch from a side hustle to an actual business. I used social media at first to grow my art and to meet people. I found an amazing community of other people who love art and animals, many of whom are now my friends. I took time growing my inventory, my following and my confidence! I took workshops for art techniques as well as art business. I decided to create my own website and start selling my work myself. It's a mix of practice and preparation combined with faith and eternal optimism!"

Becoming an entrepreneur is no easy feat. What are some of the lessons you learned along the way?

"Lots of trial and error! I made (and continue to make) many mistakes. But I do think that is part of the learning process. Some examples include shipping calculation errors, pricing issues, and time management.

I am constantly learning! I listen to audiobooks and podcasts while I paint. I listen to other artist entrepreneurs who are succeeding, to learn from them. I ask questions. I research. By far, I haven't perfected everything, but I am also learning that there comes a time when we need to enlist the help of experts in areas that we aren't the strongest."

If you had to list three traits or attributes that have been pivotal for your success, what would they be?

  1. As already mentioned, I'm a continual student. I'm always open-minded and eager to learn from others.

  2. Another trait can be a positive or negative, but I am willing to put in the time to grow my business. Some days that means 16-17 hour work days and I'm always doing something to work on my business 7 days a week. Again, I don't know if that is a positive! But my goal is to build up to a point that the time spent now will pay off in the future, with more free time to do the other things I love!

  3. Lastly, empathy and compassion. Those aren't usual traits for a successful business person but I believe they are important to building relationships with my clients. And that's what life is really all about...the relationships we create!

How is your company making a difference?

"I found a way to serve using my art by raffling or auctioning off paintings to raise money for animal sanctuaries. Along the way, I made amazing friends and became part of a community of kind and compassionate people. And as an unexpected effect, this inspired others to also use their creations to raise money for animals. The kindness spreads!"

I know you probably have many, but what’s your proudest moment as a founder?

"Building and launching my website! It seems silly but I spent many years thinking about my website but not trying to make one. When I finally committed to creating it, and then it actually came out well...knowing I did it even though it was a struggle for me, made me feel proud!"

What's one myth you'd like to debunk about your line of work?

Oh that's easy, "the starving artist" myth. It's infuriating but people have this belief that art is not a business. Today, especially with the power of social media, we are proving that you can be successful having a career as an artist.