We had the good fortune of connecting with Molly Box (McCarty) and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Molly, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
When I first began in my career field of design and marketing, I noticed a trend in the places I worked…The work for an individual company was often feast or famine. I would typically start, enjoy the process of rebranding, building a new website, designing a new logo, writing a marketing plan, etc. Then things would often slow down dramatically. I also started volunteering with a local dog rescue, and realized how much nonprofits and small businesses were in need of professional help with design and marketing (especially social media!), but did not have the budget to hire an employee or an expensive agency. They were relying on volunteers or staff that often didn’t have experience, or had to put their projects on the back burner. That needed to change!
I started filling that gap, by affordably providing high level à la carte design services and workshops. I began freelancing in my spare time, and then working part-time, and then was able to launch into my business full-time. Now, I love the autonomy and challenges of owning a business, and I am successfully filling a previously unserved niche. I also have the time and ability to treat my contemporary wildlife artwork as a facet of my business, as well.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I started by getting a minor in Drawing at the University of Wyoming. Art and design tie in very closely together, and I was able to apply a lot of the same principles to both. As Prairie Sage Creative grew, so did Molly Box Artwork (mollyboxart.com).
I feel like I approached my contemporary wildlife art career with the same dogged persistence as freelance design, and both have grown on an upwards trajectory. It has never been easy, but I have learned to accept rejection, celebrate the victories, and keep pushing forward. I think everyone in creative fields has days where they feel like they aren’t good enough or where they want to be yet. However, the biggest lesson I learned was to treat it like a business and not wait for inspiration. Go in and work everyday. Try new techniques and media. Learn from others and listen to their critiques. Unabashedly market yourself.
Not to say I have it all figured out, but I currently have a studio at 3 Square Art in Fort Collins, and have work in many local businesses and galleries. My art sales have matched (and even over taken!) my freelance profits over the last couple years.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
This is easy because I LOVE living in Colorado.
First, I would take them to the place where ‘everybody knows our names,’ Soul Squared Brewing in Wellington. My family and I live within walking distance, so we pop in on a regular basis. (They also display and sell my artwork!) They have great food and stellar local beer. There are often fun events happening in Centennial Park, like the Wellington Brewfest, or the Hoppy Go Lucky 5K. Downtown has a great 4th of July parade, and trick or treating at Halloween. Wellington is becoming a fun, fast-growing town with some great business people.
Next, I would take them for a hike at Red Mountain Open Space. It is managed by the City of Fort Collins, but is so far out of the way that the beautiful canyon hike is almost always empty. Then, we would swing by Sparge Brewing for a post-hike beer on our way into Fort Collins for lunch. Otto Pint is a great place for pizza (and more beer!) Our favorite things in Fort Collins are the Old Town Splash Pad, Museum of Discovery, and just shopping around Old Town. My daughter insists on going to The Clothes Pony every time, but I prefer the boutiques and The Cupboard.
If we did a morning or day trip, we would go to My Nature Lab in Louisville followed by Lucky Pie pizza and Sweet Cow ice cream, or The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs, or a visit to the Arcade in Manitou Springs.
To finish up, we would go by 3 Square Art in Fort Collins. They have rotating temporary art shows, local artist studios, and frequent events and receptions. After that, we would hit one of the many nature walks that wind through and around the town, like the Poudre River Trail. My husband and I might even toss some flies to see if we could catch a fish.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My husband, Nat, and daughter, Ivy, are my biggest fans and supporters. They have been there with me through difficult days, and they always listen to all my crazy ideas. I don’t know what I would do without them. I also want to give a shout out to my dad, CJ Box, and Britney Tennant.
CJ is a #1 New York Time Bestselling author himself, and has always given me advise and mentorship on working in a creative industry. He has helped me understand the ups and downs in working for and trusting yourself. He has also trusted me with running his website and social media over many years.
Britney is now the CEO of the Cheyenne Animal Shelter. Besides being a friend, business associate, and a client for over ten years, she is the person I call when I have a big, looming decision. Her advice has steered me in the right direction many times.