Meet Mia Sweeney who is on our Future Startup Founder Now programme who talks us through her journey in starting her company Sweeney Studios.
I’m not sure how to start… I’ve never written a blog before, so I guess I’ll introduce myself?
Hi, I’m Mia a 22 year old artist born and bred from London. When I say artist, I mean I do the arty stuff like draw, paint and a new one I’ve added to the list is tattoo!
From as young as I can remember I always envisioned myself being a part of the creative scene. The vision is when someone asks me what is my job? and I could reply with
“oh me? I am an artist.”
Then just show off… literally whip out my prints and show you all the things I can do when it comes to art.
To this day I keep an open mind and use my imagination to create my next best design whether it’s for a personal project or when working with someone. The environment I surround myself in develops my thinking to experiment within my abilities.
I don’t know about you but everything that appears to my eye I turn into a design. Just the other day there was a bleach stain on a towel and of course my mind flipped it and turned the stain to a face of a bear. Crazy? You tell me.
I am no good with words, I’ve always said this. Grammar, the use of long words just doesn’t sit right with me. When writing an Instagram caption, I need someone to proofread just so it makes sense.
It has always been a struggle with me, especially through secondary school, exams I never took seriously just because I didn’t get the point of them or I would try my hardest and still get a D.
Learning English through school was boring. Maths, boring! Science such an interesting subject but yup you guessed it… BORING! I can’t lie the only lessons I was excited about was art not only was my teacher cool, but I actually got to express myself and no one could judge me because this is my art.
Art is objective! I actually had power to do what I wanted and perform the best I could. Oh and of course I didn’t have to revise when it came to the art exam which was a bonus.
That’s why I turn to illustrations when trying to explain something such as emotions, a statement. Oh boy pass me my iPad, get the music playing, open up Procreate and I’ll just zone out and let my hands work like magic.
Since 16 I’ve always been in and out of retail jobs, I was scared of change but thanks to rude customers they pushed me out of the retail life… I had enough! That’s when I started to apply for art jobs, I thought it was going to be easy. I thought my portfolio was strong. It wasn’t. I just kept on receiving the “unfortunately” emails.
Art comes with status you literally start from the bottom and you kind of have to prove to others why they should take you on, if you’re lucky enough it’s who you know to get a head start. I didn’t really have connects like that.
Whilst being traumatised from declines by art companies, to relieve stress I would paint on my old trainers, I thought I might as well update my wardrobe.
First pair I painted was on my converse, I painted a lovely Scorpio (best star sign FYI.) I really enjoyed it and got great feedback from pals so I researched more about customs and that’s when a light bulb appeared on top of my head. I’m gonna paint creps!
In just under a year what used to be a hobby and stress reliever of mine I have grown it into an enjoyable business venture. Showcasing what I’ve done on my footwear through Instagram and Twitter brought attraction. People would DM asking if I was able to do this and that.
When I got my first paid commission for customs, the thrill! I got to paint fresh out the box AF1s. I was so excited, I had no idea how much to charge I definitely charged less what I do now just because I wanted to do them. I was even asked if I do custom clothing – jeans. Never thought about that but erm YES! I didn’t just stop there, I was also self-teaching myself how to tattoo. Through trial and error, I learnt how to use tattoo equipment on to customs it’s like a Sweeney Studio secret!
I would say as a woman as well, I found it frustrating shopping for trainers they were all the same, brands love to ruin women’s footwear adding bright feminine colours or flowers when really I want the same access to men’s footwear! Vice versa, have you seen men’s trainers have bright pink colours? Who’s to say a man can’t rock that.
Where my customs stand out is when it becomes personal to the individual for example as gifts for birthdays, events, styling content and video shoots.
Recent customs I got to play around and paint their favourite yoghurt with a cat. I love to see the transformation of a shoe anyone can buy and making it into a unique piece of art that can be incorporated into individual’s style.
A friend of my tweeted about Create jobs, complimenting how it would be a great opportunity for creatives and that’s when I found out about The Future Startup Now course I am currently on.
I was lucky the course application was postponed so I had a couple of hours to apply. Best move 2021. Not only did I need to gain more confidence in what I do but to network with people just like me.
I recently found out that you need to tweak your CV every time you apply for a job. Here’s me sending the same one to about 10 companies… no wonder I haven’t heard back from some.
I’m learning more about me whilst being on this course. I have the tendencies of giving up and walking away when things get hard. Especially when the anxiety creeps in. No lie, this course has been very overwhelming, people questioning your business and you having to actually explain sounds negative but it’s what I needed to push further with myself. Stepping out my comfort zone and proving why me and my business will work.
There’s still so much I need to learn not only with my creativity but how I turn my creativeness into a business. How to make me a brand, to be an entrepreneur. Can I say I’m in the creative scenes now?