Several months ago, ok, maybe a year ago, I was inspired to start a blog series called "Boss Lady". The mission behind Boss Lady is to inspire young women (and men) to follow their instinct/talent/passion and become entrepreneurs. 
My team and I are reaching out to all the woman owned businesses that inspire and amaze us on a daily basis. We will start with a brief background, then dive in to the nitty gritty of running a business, what keeps them inspired, and everything else in between. 
Dani and I met back in 2014 at The Little Craft Show in Fayetteville, AR. I immediately fell in love with her work and purchased my first piece (a bunny). We continued to see each other at the same Art/Craft Shows and quickly became friends. We've even hosted Dani at the Bella Vita Shop. I am always in awe of her beautiful instagram feed and will often share it with people. I find Dani's work aesthetically pleasing as well as comforting. All those cute animals!!! Dani is a great example of a Boss Lady that set out on one path but found her true calling doing something else. 
If you are a local reader, you can see Dani's work in person at Historic Arkansas Museum in Downtown Little Rock until August 6th.

Hey, I'm Dani Ives, and I'm an artist. Currently, I live in Fayetteville, AR.  I'm an Arkansas native (born in Mountain Home), but I feel like a newbie to the state because my husband and I have only moved back to Arkansas from Springfield, MO back in 2015. I got a Bachelor's degree in Biology at Missouri State University and wanted to work with animals and that's exactly what I did! I worked as a Conservation Educator at the Dickerson Park Zoo for 10 years, and even got a Master's degree in Nonprofit Management and Conservation Education during that time.  I loved my job, but during that time I craved some artistic fulfillment, so I started taking pottery classes and then began exploring the craft world. I discovered needle felting through a conversation with a coworker, I ordered some supplies to try it out and I. Was. Hooked.  I've developed my own style since my early days of needle felting, going from creating cute figurines to "painting with wool."  Once I discovered I could make money by making art, I became an entrepreneur.  I never thought being a self-employed artist was where I'd be in my early thirties, but I can't imagine doing anything else! 

  1. Give us your elevator pitch.  I’m a fiber artist specializing in animal portraits and botanicals. I use nontraditional materials like wool fibers and needles to mimic traditional painting techniques.
  2. What is your business? Good Natured Art - I create fiber art pieces for commissions and also for galleries and exhibitions.  I also teach workshops and create e-courses and coordinating kits.
  3. When did you start your business?  I started Good Natured Art back in 2011 as a side hustle.  I’ve been working as a full-time artist since 2015.  When I started, I was needle felting cute animal figurines, jewelry and pin cushions. But about three years ago, I really found my stride as an artist.  Now the pieces I create feed my artistic soul.

  4. What inspired you to make the leap?  My husband and I were ready for a change of pace.  When it was clear that there was a demand for commissions and my business was sustainable, we left our jobs and moved to a family farm in Arkansas.
  5. What helps you get started each morning? My wonderful husband makes me coffee every morning.  He’s a bit of a connoisseur and roasts his own, so I’m pretty sure he’s spoiling me with an amazing brew each day.  I love the ritual and sweet gesture, but caffeine doesn’t really have much effect on me.  I would rather sleep in and stay up late working—that’s more my style.
  6. Tell us about a day in the life of running your business.  Along with that coffee, I usually start off with a quick review of emails and social media.  I respond to anything of urgency, and then tackle the rest throughout the day. Some days I’m able to spend quite a few hours felting and creating.  Some days I’m packaging and shipping. Some days I’m prepping for and teaching workshops.  I love the variety that I get to experience within any given week or month.

  7. What is your greatest strength/super power? I’m pretty damn good at problem solving and brainstorming new ideas.
  8. Facebook, Instagram, or Snapchat? Instagram a million times over.
  9. What do you do in your free time? (ha! What is free time?!) Apparently, I like to paint! Squeezing in time for playing with new mediums is important for my artistic growth.  I also love to hit the trails and hike.  Traveling and experiencing new places, countries and cultures is also VERY important for my sanity.  
  10. If an investor gave you 1 million dollars to use toward your business, how would you spend it?  I would develop more workshops, e-courses and kits.  I would likely find a beautiful studio space to use.  I would also take some time away from commissions to create some very large pieces and work on dream projects and collaborations.

  11. Name something you hate doing but have to do for the good of your business. How do you make it tolerable?  Haha, all the admin work.  Accounting and taxes suck, but they have to be done. But, it IS fun to compare my business growth from year to year.
  12. Do you have a favorite, inspiring quote? My friend Jessica Blackburn once lettered a quote by Steve Martin that I’ve never been able to shake: “Be so good, they can’t ignore you.” Every time I’m reminded of this quote or when I see her lettered artwork on my wall, I get excited butterflies and start daydreaming of great things.
  13. What’s the best advice you have for other women wanting to be entrepreneurs? My advice is to always keep learning and reach out when you need to.  Most other people are willing to help in some way, so learn how to ask for it.


Find Dani online:
Good Natured ArtInstagram - Facebook

Product Photos by Dani
Photos of Dani by: Janae Hardy
June 07, 2017 — Brandy McNair

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