Join us in the latest episode as Natalie Hume, the Owner and Manager of Quick Draw Caricatures, takes us on a captivating journey of entrepreneurship. From the inception of her business in 2017 to becoming a sought-after caricature artist, Natalie shares insights into the challenges and triumphs of running a caricature booth. Discover how she and her team hit the road, traveling across the continent to leave a mark at county and state fairs. Learn about the artistry, the hustle, and the joy of bringing smiles to countless faces through her unique talent. Tune in for a colorful exploration of Natalie’s entrepreneurial adventure in the world of caricatures and fairs.
You can learn more about Natalie and Quick Draw Caricatures at www.qdcaricatures.com
Welcome to Small Business Marketing Then and Now a conversation with small business owners on how they marketed the launch of their business the evolution since then and how they have pivoted during this COVID-19. Brought to you by profit master business solutions more leads more sales and more revenue for your smaller medium sized business click find newrevenue.com to learn more now here’s your host Howard Wolpoff welcome back to small business marketing then and now I’m Howard Wolpoff your host again this is brought to you by prophet master business solutions and for today’s conversation we are going to get into discussion about arts about connecting with people about having great times and situations with friends and family and people you’re close with and just being out and having an adventure and at all wrapped up in a business that we’re going to discuss that’s it’s not a brick and mortar but actually travels around the country and even throughout Canada in working at state fairs big huge events and interacting with people through the art of caricature now you may have had a caricature done I think you all know what it is and have seen lots of them but it really is an amazing opportunity for an artist to take someone’s form and expand on it and create personality to this wonderful drawing that they can keep as a keepsake and leave with and sure many hang on their wall and look at for years to come so I’m very excited for this conversation today with Natalie Hume from quick draw caricatures and it it’s not just about building a business but it’s really building a life of adventure touring around the continent so Natalie welcome to our conversation today thank you I am very excited about this it’s been a long time since I’ve had a character done but I see so many of them and I’ve seen your work and it’s really incredible of how you really are capturing the not just the image but the essence of someone in a very brief moment of interacting with them and then immediately putting it down onto paper yeah it’s exactly that it’s more media stranger and kind of figuring out their personality in 5 minutes or less and drawing it as quick as you can and it’s amazing the results that turn out from that so let me let me start by asking you how did you get involved in the world of caricatures there was a company that came to my high school when I was 16 and they were looking for artists they could hey almost nothing and teach them how to draw caricatures and basically like you get paid you learn caricature and then you draw them all summer so I really was intrigued by this because they did a demonstration in my class and I thought it was phenomenal so I applied and they hired me and with some training but mostly I would say 90% was practiced and application and I worked for them for 10 years obviously they liked what they saw in your talents and gave you that opportunity and really enjoyed you growing with them as you took this as a skill and really created as your own talent and art form I didn’t even go to art school because I kept working for them every year and I was like I don’t need art school I can just draw caricatures and get good at something and get paid instead of paying school so I moved up in their leadership supervisor assistant manager and eventually I was getting paid year round and I was working seasonally so it was great but eventually you grow out of positions so eventually I left and I think that experience gave you the opportunity to see how to run the business part of the characters not just the drawing part of the characters and that really led you to start your own business and lead you to where you are today exactly I mean not only did I with that job that I basically got you know art classes and working with all these different illustrators who draw caricatures it was like preschool and then also when they made me a manager they taught me all of this incredible knowledge about how to run a business and how to create relationships with other businesses because we were contractors so it was just like wow I’ve I felt like I had gone to college and earned 2° but I got paid gone to college gone to art school gone to Business School it was quite in a on the job experience that that you received so tell us a little bit more about how you actually then started your own business I met uh my husband um and he was also a character artist but he was working in fairs I was working in theme parks which are very different atmospheres to work in theme parks are way more structured you pay a flat rent you have to have you know you know there’s actual employees involved where you have to have people you know people hired and there’s you know hourly wages and benefits and healthcare and things like that where fares work more of a freelance contractor 1099 setup where it’s more like Wild West because everyone’s an adult everyone’s working professional who are trying to make a cash on the quick cash and better money actually and fares because when the fair comes to town uh is there for two weeks or less and then it’s gone and then it goes to the next city so it takes excitement with it so I met him and I was so jealous of the kind of money he was making in Paris because I was making a straight salary struggling as a young adult and I was like the money you make is so amazing just drawing characters and he didn’t have to do anything else just draw but he knew that I was already running a business for someone and that I had a lot of experience and management and people management so he asked me if I would run our own caricature outfit that does fares picking my experience at theme parks and his experience of working fairs and knowing what they’re like and kind of bringing them together because he had zero management skills and I had 0 fair skills we kind of needed each other well it’s good we can make partnerships like that that take off obviously took off in different ways more than just the business part so you formulate the business you’re getting yourself sent how is it that you were able to get your first placements out of Fair so yeah he came to me and said so funny it’s like somebody told me that you can set up and be a marketplace vendor in Salem MA during Halloween I was like I don’t know if there is a fair he’s like Nah somebody told me it’s really good OK so it took just that small conversation and then hours of research finding what was he talking about and he said if you can figure this out we should do this and lots of phone calls lots of Google searches I only found a Facebook group that was a marketplace of New England and I messaged like 3 different people on that Facebook group asking how can you vend in Salem finally I just talked to the right person and they set me up with some paperwork and I felt like that took so long defined this because it wasn’t like a well-known thing it wasn’t like you could just find the website to become a marketplace vendor in Salem mass so we actually got there to Salem and it was the absolute worst fed up you could imagine like we were in an alleyway with tons of other vendors but no one was coming down there and I had just quit my job I was freaking out so I go to the street over where there’s other vendors in the marketplace and it is like bustling full of people and I’m like why aren’t we over there how can I get over the like one street over instead of this alley so I talked to this guy who’s selling T-shirts and he’s like I’m actually in charge of this setup I said hey how can I get where you guys are he’s like just be here at 6:00 AM tomorrow and first come first serve for a spot you just have to pay X amount dollars more to be over here and I was like I gave them the cash and I was like I’ll be here in the morning so I hustled we hustled our way to get the first spot there in the morning the best spot and it was just like unbelievable the lines we had we had a line for 8 hours and that is the line a mob of people that’s outstanding yeah and what a great learning experience in your first experimental opportunity to be a part of a fair but also what a great results in coming to that afterwards as well weird because I had just let go of security you know a constant paycheck every other week I just let it go and I was like I can’t not make money here so I was talking to whoever I could to make it better no and that’s one of the best things because you there are so many people who you come across on a regular basis that have their own experiences that have their own business strategies that you’re able to gain from their knowledge just by sparking up a conversation and creating a bond in a relationship yeah it was so helpful to do that because then we stayed in touch another year with the vendor and we were able to come back again and do it and have a great location there and we still do this today you know it’s six years later we’re still doing this like hustling thing where we just sort of like we don’t like this spot let’s talk to somebody I look communication relationships go a very long way in a relationship situation like you have with these fares and also seniority the more you come the more people know you the more you are showing the strength of what you can accomplish the better opportunity there is for you ohm absolutely it we even learned that if we’re in a certain state the same people who run the County Fair also work for the state board who runs the State Fair so that has also helped us getting to know those people and just being friendly with them and they remember you when it came time to the State Fair application because they’re like we know quick draw they’re great this their setups good and that that has helped us before as well that’s it’s obviously been a fantastic part of your growth and going back to this event in Salem this was really the first of many what was your next steps at that point to then try to grow this business and get you some more opportunities well for me personally I wanted to come into this business as a 5050 partner because I wasn’t married to my husband yet I wanted to protect myself so I was like so focused on finding events that we could do the next weekend and the next weekend and the next weekend or if there was fairs so I was with all my computer for hours just researching calling people messaging people on I would find their Facebooks if I had does the try to get in as soon as I could so I could make money so I could start growing the business get better tents better displays pay for the events because you have to pay for them ahead of time so it’s like I wanted to be in it 5050 so I just started filling our calendar with whatever I can find like garlic festivals and weekend fireman’s Saint Patrick’s Day parade just whatever I mean to keep us working to keep us drawing to build a revenue stream because we had you know just what we had made previous show so a lot of being on the road is hustling and creating those relationships and making those calls and trying to just book anything and everything onto your calendar are there are there events that stand out more than the others for whether it’s a positive or negative experience um uh yes uh I will start with a positive there is an event that we still do six years later it was one of the 1st events we did in Florida in North Florida and we still do it today because it’s at the like county fairgrounds and it is a Scottish it’s the Scottish games and it’s one day from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM but we’ve been going there for so long now we have so many return customers it’s just amazing and we are so busy I like we can’t telling ourselves you know if it ever kind of slows down well we can stop doing this it’s only gotten better like and we still do it because we have a great rapport there we know where our spot is every time we know all the other vendors and people come out there it’s a big event for one day and we absolutely love it it’s we get to dress up and we get to watch the Scottish games and completely slammed the whole time I absolutely love that event excellent and I’m so happy I’m we’ve never given it up because it’s compared to our other big name fares we do it seems so small and so little you know like not pro but I can’t I can’t give it up now because I’m just like attached to it it’s very personal you do have that relationship within bond with it yeah how about on the other side um so we were at an event in South Florida and we were approached by an event coordinator and they said I’ve got an arts and craft show coming up in December um if you guys would like to be a part of it and where we’re like yeah I could see December is a slow time for us this was maybe our second year ever of doing events and they said it’s only you know $250 to then for the weekend it’s and they’ll probably be 10,000 people there like I was pretty good you know for just a couple days and such a small fee and we just gave it a shot it was in South Florida and we sign up and attend and there was nobody there the advertisements were horrible there were these tiny little yard signs on the street like the like 8 1/2 by 11 signs so tiny and we’re like dude this is not going to be good we set up there and all the other vendors are so green you can tell they’re green you know um and you can tell um they’re so green and they’re so eager to be a part of this event and we were like we knew better you just think this wasn’t going anywhere and we didn’t I think we made $15.00 that whole weekend that that that would definitely be on the on the negative side for sure that’s for a lot of effort and traveling in and housing and all that it’s there’s a lot of expense that goes into these events and not have any type of return is definitely disappointing ohm yeah I think we act up and left halfway through the day second day yes cut your losses get back on the road get this yeah next time they even said you know next weekend we have an event we can let you bend there for free um I’d rather be at home doing nothing yeah that makes sense so you’ve obviously though found places that you do much better than that events and really grown it’s to a full calendar traveling around the country throughout the year now you also figured out a way to uh to do business in Canada how did that get started all my husbands I always tell people that this business is all his idea and I’m just the person he looks at me like I want to do this can you help me so he gets ideas all the time so he’s had been talking about Canada I don’t know he’s like It’s like where’s the one place people aren’t working I don’t know the Canada I was like you’re right no one works in Canada because it’s another country ohm in 2020 when no one was doing anything we were applying to all the largest fares in Canada we could find and we got in to one of them which was the biggest in Canada and it took a lot of research and I lefty lawyer fee the first time to process work visas because one I like to sleep at night and two crossing the border with a lot of equipment umm they like to ask a lot of questions there was no way I was going to cross the border as a port rest and work so getting work visas was a huge learning process and I still have to pay a lawyer for assistance but not for them to fully do it but I still pay lawyer fees but mainly it’s because they’re experts in this field and I am just an artist um and so it calms me down to be able to say hey I need you to look over all of this paperwork and give me the green so I feel confident well it obviously has worked out well for you because you you’re in a number of different places in Canada over the course of the year yes we are now in five Canadian events and two of them we have doubled our staff because we are so popular there um and it’s just overwhelming because I don’t know what I’ve heard is there’s not a company like us in Canada where we bring multiple artists with us there might be 1 caricature artist set up but one caricature artist cannot possibly serve the lines that we get where it’s 20 people deep for hours you just physically can’t so we provide this service where we bring six or more of our bodies with us who we’ve known for years and who are all great at this we bring a whole gang of character artists up to Canada and we can serve you know hundreds of people a night or more I mean gosh Steven hundred 800 people a night or more and we can do that because we bring the amount of artists we do with us and I can only see it getting better there because in the United states you can go to any fair and be like ohh let’s go to the caricature artist you know it’s very common here to see those around where in Canada they might have seen one at a fair back in the day or a couple years ago but to see it consistently and consistently now has only benefited us because we have such we’re getting such a loyalty in those Canadian shows which makes the expenses worth it because it is very expensive to go over the border as a business um but it’s worth it 100% so it definitely adds to the adventure that you’re on having these great experiences in Canada and growing what you have throughout the United states what do you see as the direction of your company over the next couple of years I definitely see us more leveling out because for the last few years we have been growing and growing and growing and growing and growing and it’s amazing one it’s so cool to see loyalty from the affairs loyalty from the customers the excitement and the caricature artist community about us because people ask to work for us all the time I get messages multiple times a week saying hey I’d love to work with you however I think having to tell people have to put you on a wait list to work with me because we just don’t possibly have the room to hire all of these artists because we don’t like to pack our tents full of artists like where you a tent is meant for six we will not act more than that in there because it’s uncomfortable for the guests and it’s crowded so I really CSS leveling out more because it’s been a lot on me and my husband to have our business grow so fast so quickly and you got to like keep up with all the new all the paperwork all the new tax things you have to do buying new equipment and buying more trucks to drive around the country seeing anything like that but we just want to level out a little more for sure where we just stop growing for a while and kind of ride this out and make changes so we don’t have to spend as much maybe on broken equipment or replacing things or buying new displays I also see us uh maybe even trimming some of the fat as well so there’s some events we do where you know maybe that profit margin isn’t as great as it really is because of maybe sales versus cost or the maybe it’s not long enough of this there to really get the return we need on it or is it kind of far away from the main route that’s something we’re talking about too is we go all over the country so things kind of have to make sense we can’t be in New York when week and then all the way in Portland OR then that’s just impossible so we need to kind of figure out a more fluid way to get to these events where we’re not killing ourselves driving 16 hours to make it there the next day which we both do one once a year it’s crazy I also see as a as beneficial drawing caricatures as to me in a few years I also see myself unavailable to draw full time like I do one thing my husband tells me is he’s like you do 3 jobs your character artist you’re a bookkeeper and you’re the manager of everything else it’s like yeah so I also see myself taking more on the business owner role and unfortunately less of the hands on artist role even though that’s where I get most of my happiness is drawing but it doesn’t have to be like if I’m at an event I will be out there every day drawing every day if I in the loud and by saying I’m allowed but I’ve been told take a day off all the time so I think some changes are going to be happening in the next few years where I myself am not drawing as much but more taking on things like at a regular pace instead of the cram it all into one night pace because you got to get this done like I do every year with 1099 I get these done in 24 hours which UM it’s looking like I’ll do be doing it again this year well it looks like every day is an experience with what you do in in obviously at least three different ways and it’s really incredible what you’ve built overall but let me ask this just in general what makes a good caricature likeness it has to look like the person and also it has to be fun in some way and by that it can be funny it can be cute it can be um extreme but if it doesn’t look like them then all of that effort is for nothing because that’s what they want the bottom line they want it to look like then like the worst thing I could hear is it doesn’t look like me hate because that’s my goal it’s like I want you to be like hey that’s Howard you know you don’t want to say that’s Howard’s wife and some guy like you don’t want to hear that so I want to if it doesn’t look like them all your efforts of making it exaggerated or funny or cute or worthless well it really does sum up a really unique and interesting business that you are in and one that people get joy from but may not even realize the concept of this it’s a business it’s not just someone putting a drawing on a piece of paper it really wanted an art form and 2:00 to be able to travel around the country the continents to do this really takes a lot of management and implementation and it’s it is pretty clear that your business is on the rise and continue will continue to rise and then have a lot more successes in the future so Natalie thank you so much for joining us and sharing your story and your journey with us thank you thank you so much for taking the time today too and thank you all for joining us as well I hope you’ve had a character done if not I suggest the next time you go to a fair you do so and specifically if quick draw is there to do it because it really is a lot of fun it really adds to the event and lets you take the event home with you in one way but really take a different level of your spirit home with you as well and it’s just great to see these types of businesses all over the place you can come up with any type of idea and create a business and be successful at it if you know how to hustle and if you know how to really keep building and taking advantage of opportunities which quick draw seems to have done very well so go out have a great rest of today and we will see you next time this has been small business marketing then and now brought to you by profit master business solutions marketing strategy for the small business owner to learn more click findnewrevenue.com