Finding the right artwork for any room is no easy task. I like to have original works, unique prints, pieces that have a story. When Matt and I were first married we decided that all the artwork in our home will always be original and have a meaning. So no store-bought pieces can ever be found on these walls.
I recently met up with Nuala Mellett – a New York City mama, artist and entrepreneur. Nuala paints one of a kind pieces to hang in your child’s nursery. I absolutely fell in love with her NYC series and Thomas has loved having these pieces hanging in his room next to his reading nook.
I’s so important to support artists and small businesses, so I thought I would introduce you all to Nuala and her company – Yellow Oak Tree. She’s pretty awesome and can create original commissioned pieces for your child’s room. This way there will be a personal connection to the art work hanging in the galleries of your home. Necessity is the mother of invention. Have you heard that phrase before? And Nuala’s company stemmed from a need for original artwork for her daughter’s room. I had a quick Q&A with this artsy mama and she’s sharing some tips for new entrepreneurs and also a little story about herself.
How did you start the company? What was your ah-ha moment?
I studied history of art in university and then worked in non-profit art organizations and commercial galleries since then, but the big change over to painting full time came after I had my daughter in 2014. I wanted some personal art to hang in her nursery so I painted something for her wall. I was so inspired by my little girl, I couldn’t stop painting different pieces of art for her! And then I started painting for my friend’s kids too and they liked them. I had always loved to paint but never considered doing it as a business venture. I buy lots of gorgeous things on Etsy so I decided to start selling my art through their website, and then I started selling to toy stores and children’s boutiques in the City.
Where do you find inspiration?
My biggest inspiration comes from my daughter. I paint art that I would like to hang in her room and lots of my inspiration comes from my personal experiences. Early on I painted a watercolor painting with the first words I ever said to her and since then I’ve made similar ones for people with a phrase that means a lot to them and their little one. The first custom name painting I painted was for my daughter, and I painted my first Empire State painting as my husband and I went up to their viewing deck to open our baby’s gender reveal envelope when I was pregnant. Since then, my New York paintings have expanded to include the Chrysler building and New York skylines in lots of different colors! Living in the City I’m so inspired by New York; taxis, fire engines, cop cars, they all make it into my art!
The pieces are hand painted. How long did it take you to make one painting?
It depends on the painting. I think the custom name paintings take the longest, but because I have to leave them to dry for a day in-between layers I’ve never actually timed myself over a few days to see how long I spend on each one. It also depends on the painting, as with all handmade things, some just happen really easy and others take much longer to feel happy with.
How do you balance life, work, parenting?
It is a balancing act, for sure! I’m a stay-at-home mom, so I have to be flexible. I try to get some work done while my daughter is napping, or after she goes to bed at night, though I prefer to paint in the daylight. My husband loves to hang out with her on weekends and I get some time then, which is great. But there’s no denying it, some weeks it’s tough to find the time. I’m the same as everyone else, sometimes there’s just a lot going on in my life, that’s why I have a two week window for all orders, usually I’m able to keep well within that time frame but sometimes I’m really glad of it!
Whats your advice for budding entrepreneurs?
The best advice I can probably give an entrepreneur starting out is to make sure you’re following your passion. There will be lots of late nights, awkward deadlines and setbacks and if you don’t genuinely love what you’re trying to set up then it’ll be way harder than it should be! Apart from that, the best advice I could give is to be disciplined. The easiest way for me to do this is to set myself some weekly/monthly goals. They can be small goals, actually it’s probably better if they are small at the start, that way you get a sense of achievement. Setting up some social media presence, getting your first client/sale, getting some wholesale orders, experimenting with search engine optimization, taking great photos of your products, all of these goals are reachable and your success or failure isn’t measured in monetary gains alone.
What’s coming up with you and your business?
There are so many wonderful things coming up. I’m really excited to be working on some interesting wholesale orders that should see my art being available in lots more children’s boutiques around NYC by the end of the summer. I’ll also be expanding my online store with lots of new paintings that will be available soon and I’m developing my range of greeting cards too, which is so fun! So lots of great things coming up, as well as a summer in NYC with my little girl and my husband, which will be amazing!
Nuala Mellett studied history of art at Trinity College Dublin and set up Yellow Oak Tree after her daughter was born in 2014. Inspired to paint personalized art works for her daughter’s nursery she left her career in the contemporary art world and followed her passion to paint art for children’s nurseries, bedrooms and playrooms. Originally from Ireland, she lives in NYC with her husband, Richard, and their daughter, Chloe.
Swing by YELLOW OAK TREE for a peek at Nuala’s great work.