Boss Lady - Kim Doughty-McCannon

 

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. 

Hi, I'm Kim! I grew up in Benton, AR and graduated from Arkansas Tech University with a Biology degree in 2008. After graduating college, I moved to Little Rock, AR and worked as a microbiologist at the Arkansas Department of Health Public Health Laboratory for 6 years. I enjoyed my time working at the Laboratory but I was looking for a job that I was more passionate about. I missed being outside and using my creativity! I started volunteering at Little Rock Urban Farming soon after moving to the Hillcrest neighborhood in Little Rock and eventually quit my job in order to take an apprenticeship there. I loved working at LRUF and the community of people it connected me with. Around the same time I quit my job I also started doing more artwork and picking up graphic design jobs here and there. After working with LRUF I took an Arkansas GardenCorps service position at an educational community garden in Conway called the Faulkner County Urban Farm Project. While I was there I got the chance to take care of the garden while creating educational programing for the community. I finished my service term at the Urban Farm Project last fall and am now focusing all my attention on illustration, graphic design and farming. I finally feel like I have found my niche! I love how easy farming and art go together! I am always finding inspiration for my artwork while working outside in the garden and I can concentrate more on art in the winter, when gardening slows down.

I live in Conway, Arkansas with my husband Zack, our two cats and small flock of backyard chickens. We are expecting our first child in April!

Eggs

 

  1. Give us your elevator pitch. Still working on this one but it depends on who I am talking to and what we are talking about. My go to job description is that I am an “artist-farmer”.

  2. What is your business? And how long have you been at it? I guess I kind of have two different businesses! My graphic design/illustration business is called Azul Home and my farm is Bell Urban Farm. I developed Azul Home in 2013 and officially went full time with it in the fall of 2016. My husband had the idea for Bell Urban Farm a few years ago but it wasn’t until this year - Spring 2017 that it has become my full time job. Both art and gardening are things I have been doing since I was young, so I guess you could say I have been at them for a long time, but it wasn’t until now that they are my real jobs!

  3. What inspired you to make the leap? Art and growing food are things that make me happy and I enjoy doing… so I felt that I had to at least give them a try. I didn’t like the thought of looking back on my life and asking “what if…?” If you are going to spend your life working, why not do something you enjoy?

  4. What helps you get started each morning? Coffee, diet coke, 10 mile jog, meditation?? I love my morning coffee! I don’t drink a lot, but I really look forward to at least 1 cup of good coffee in the morning. Hot coffee in the winter and iced coffee all summer! I think exercise is important and I used to run every morning, but working in the garden is often all I need now. I like to do hot yoga, especially in the winter months when the farm work slows down.


  5. Tell us about a day in the life of running your business. It really depends on the season!! In the spring through fall I focus mainly on the farm, so I will be outside working all day. I like to get my coffee in the morning and take a walk around the garden and make notes about what needs to be done each day. Seed starting, planting, weeding, watering, taking care of chickens, collecting eggs, harvesting, washing, packaging and delivering orders are all things that happen during a typical farm day. This year we are selling our produce, flowers and eggs through an online market called Conway Locally Grown and next year we hope to sell at the Farmers Market in Conway as well. In the late fall and the winter, I focus more on my illustration and art projects, so I will begin and end most days at my desk, designing, sketching and painting. I design and illustrate new calendars each year, so winter is my busy season for Azul Home. I attend at least 3-4 art shows/sales per year, sell online and in a couple local shops during the holiday season.

  6. What keeps you motivated? New ideas and projects keep me motivated. Seeing people enjoy my artwork or the produce that we grow on our farm also keeps me motivated. Bell Urban Farm is on a busy road in Conway and people often stop by to see what is going on…I love this because part of our mission is to create community through the growing and sharing of food. Just talking to the people who stop by is super motivating!

  7. Describe your dream day. My dream day is a sunny and warm Saturday where I get to sleep in (hard for me!) and then I have a nice cup of coffee and walk to the farmers market or spend the morning reading. I spend the day working out in the garden with my husband and then we complete the day by cooking dinner, listening to music and eating outside around a fire with friends (and beers)!



  8. What is your greatest strength/super power? I work well with others but also enjoy working alone. I love to do all the graphic design, branding and marketing work for my businesses (which is nice so I don’t have to hire someone else to do it)!

  9. Facebook, Instagram, or Snapchat? Facebook and Instagram. I like instagram the best. I know I should be on snapchat too but I feel like I have all the social media I can handle right now…also I feel like I am too old for snapchat!

  10. What do you do in your free time? (ha! What is free time?!) I like reading, camping, hiking and traveling!



  11. If an investor gave you 1 million dollars to use toward your business, how would you spend it? Wow! I would probably invest more money in our farm and finally start the restaurant that my husband and I always talk about. We would like to start a restaurant in Conway in an old farmhouse that serves all locally produced food. This restaurant would also have a coffee shop with locally roasted coffee and a bar serving local beer and wine plus cocktails using ingredients grown at Bell Urban Farm. The restaurant would also have an old timey general store and a space for workshops and events!

  12. What’s the biggest risk you ever took; how did it go? Probably the biggest risk I ever took was quitting my 9 to 5 job. It provided me with health benefits and financial stability so it was a pretty big risk to quit to pursue art and farming…neither of which are high paying or stable jobs! How did it go? I have never been happier in my life! I am not saying that it isn’t hard and I am working more now than I have ever worked in my life but I wouldn’t trade it for anything! Having a supportive family, husband and friends has made all the difference!



  13. Name something you hate doing but have to do for the good of your business. How do you make it tolerable? I hate accounting and budget stuff. My husband helps with the financial parts so that makes it more tolerable for me, but as we grow I fully intend to hire someone to help with our accounting and taxes.

  14. How do you handle discouragement?  I try to stay positive about things and surround myself with positive people. When I get discouraged about something, I try to remind myself that every failure is a learning opportunity (easier said than done). Farming involves a lot of things that are out of your control…like the weather or pest problems. At some point you just have to accept that things are going to happen every year that you have no control over.

  15. Which iconic person inspires you? As a farmer I am inspired by the writings of Wendell Berry and as an artist, female illustrators like Julia Rothman, Susie Ghahremani and Geninne Zlatkis are really inspiring!



  16. Any secrets on how you balance the ins and outs of running a small business? I am still learning all the time since my businesses are still so young! Sometimes it is hard to juggle the two of them at the same time. Right now I am just trying to get as much done as possible before the baby gets here because after that I know I am going to need some downtime. I treat my businesses like I would any other job. When you own your own business, you have the ability to make your schedule (which is the cool part)…but I still try to get in a full day’s work at the “office” every day even though the office that I am working at is my home. It really helps me to have a daily planner and write down what I need to do each day.

  17. What’s the best advice you have for other women wanting to be entrepreneurs? Surround yourself with supportive people and just give it a chance! Women are awesome business owners and the world needs more of them! Start small and then grow! Be prepared to work hard!

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