I wish I had a fraction of the talent to paint that Sarah Perkin’s has. When I went into her studio to take her photos I was really taken back by her skill and creativity. I could so relate to her in many ways, so I was in no doubt that she had to be one of our Small Business Stories. Here is Sarah to introduce her business.

I’m an artist based at Banks Mill Studios in Derby. I specialise in animal art & pet portraiture. I use acrylics on canvas & have style of painting which is lively & unique. 

I create original artworks for sale & from those original artworks I produce prints, Homewares & greetings cards . Pet portraits are produced on a commission basis, working closely with clients to create an artwork full of character to treasure. 

Q:  What’s your back story? What skills did you develop in previous roles that have helped you to run your own business?

A: I was artistic as a child & when I left school, I attended Leek College of Art to study fashion. I then moved to Derby to continue my education at Uni in fashion & from there I was employed as Designer within the East Midlands for 5 years. I then had a sudden change of direction & became a police officer. I dedicated 21 years of service to the people of Derbyshire, but unfortunately in 2017 I was medically retired to long standing back issues. This resulted in surgery & recuperation. 

Being a police officer was a role which required quick lateral thinking & where organisation was key. It was customer facing & so this gave me confidence in public situations.  These have definitely helped in running my own business. 

Q:  How did you know you were ready to start up on your own?

A:  It was not something I’d thought initially after being retired & it ended up fate playing a hand. I decided to pick up a paintbrush after many years for relaxation. I’d had a couple of friends telling me I should paint for years & so one day I painted a surprise portrait of my friend’s dog for her 50th birthday. I put it on Facebook & was overwhelmed by the positive response I received. I then started to get requests to do commissions & it all went from there. 

Q: You became a business owner but why did you choose to work for yourself?

A: Being a business owner & doing what I do, feels like my soul’s purpose & I’ve created a new chapter in the journey of life. I am using my talent to making a living which feels like a dream. 

Q:  What is the best thing about running your own business?

A: I can work at my own pace around my health & family life. 

Q: What gives you the biggest sense of achievement?

A: When I hand over a portrait & see the recipient’s reaction it’s so rewarding. I usually get tears to be honest. It proves that what I have created reflects the character & the essence of the beloved animal. 

Q: What’s the hardest moment you have faced in your business so far?

A: The first lockdown was extremely challenging. My studios where I create, was closed for a few months & I had to take all my equipment home to my spare room. I also had my children home 24/7 & home schooling to contend with. I was unable to produce art at a pace/quantity i would like & I found it extremely frustrating. It definitely dampened my artistic spirit 

Q: What two things have you learnt whilst running your own business that you would like to tell people that are either running or thinking of setting up a business of their own.

A: For me, social media & networking has played a massive part in my progress. It’s important to invest time in making connections both online & in person.  Also Open a business bank account & keep personal finances separate. It really helped with keeping my records in order 

Q: What is the next thing you are changing/developing about your business?

A: I plan to invest in some quality product photography & also develop a more structured marketing strategy. 

Q: Have you ever felt like quitting? If so, what changed your mind?

A: No – I’m doing what I love. 

Q: Can you give our readers some advice for starting a new business? 

A: In the beginning I was impatient & tried to do too many things. I’d got my products in various shops & My time became filled with admin & running around. I had to consciously slow things down, so that I could focus on the key element to my business which was creating my art. So basically, don’t run before you can walk as much old man would say. 

Q: How do you switch off?

A: Painting actually is my switch off – it’s the bit where I’m totally in the zone. So it certainly adds balance to the business.

Q: What positives have you gained from this difficult year? 

A: My highlight of this year was being commissioned by the household cavalry to create artwork for their charity Christmas card. It’s been an amazing journey & I have had it featured in Horse & hound, been on the radio & newspaper. A National magazine are now doing a feature on me in January.  They have sold 11000 cards & I’m also donating 25% from the sale of prints of the artwork. It’s been so rewarding to know that my creation is supporting veterans. 

I’m also pleased to report that my commissions order book is full for Christmas which I’m very thankful of. 

Sarah Perkins Art