Did you ever notice that politicians often have “three things” to say.
“Three things” we campaign on, like– 1) economic reform and public banking; 2) equality and paycheck fairness; and 3) targeting opiates with anti-drug efforts.
And often “three things” to describe ourselves, like– 1) public health advocate, 2) small business owner and 3) communicator.
This blog post focuses on my experience as a small business owner.
Small Business Owner
PQA was my communication consulting business. I was a freelance writer, photographer, and graphic designer from 1987-93 with many quality clients like the Arizona Cancer Center, the University of Arizona Foundation, Tucson Mall, Jones Intercable, TUSD, Great American Bank in Arizona and California, Tucson Lifestyle Magazine, and others. My niche was annual reports, and I won Silver Quill awards for annual reports, for writing, and for photography. I had clients who hired me because I could do everything related to producing a publication– writing, photography, design and print production management– and clients who just wanted one service– particularly photography.
When I told the Cancer Center that I was looking for a job because my husband was being threatened with lay-off at Hughes Aircraft Company, they offered me a job– at first part-time. When I transitioned to full-time in the Cancer Center’s Communication Office, I closed up PQA. I loved the freedom and variety of freelancing and often missed it during the 14 years that I worked at the University of Arizona. I still go to places around town– particularly schools– and say, “I’ve been here. I photographed this place in the ’80s.” When I saw Tucson news icon Bud Foster at Labor Day in September, I reminded him of when I took his photo for Tucson Lifestyle Magazine. I did a photo story about people from different walks of life, what they have in their refrigerators, and how that reflects their lives. Foster was one of the people I interviewed and photographed with his open refrigerator. Foster said, “That was you?! I have that photo hanging on my wall.”
Wind Dancer Design was my jewelry and clay business. I’ve been making decorative hand-built clay wall hangings and shrines since the early 1990s and originally sold them to local shops through my ex-husband’s small business, Garden Gate Studio. In the mid-1990s, a friend of mine turned me on to beading and the Gem Show and changed my life by teaching me the basics of beading and jewelry-making. (Silly me. I thought the Gem Show was all fossils and rocks!)
When I started Wind Dancer Design, I sold jewelry, “wind dancers” (beaded hangings), and clay. I later moved into making my own mosaic tiles, home decor with mosaic, and mosaic shrines. I sold my work through local shops and galleries and events like the TPAC Open Studio Tour, The Glow, and the Cascabel Holiday Fair. I was the featured artist at Tohono Chul Park Gallery in 2010 and a member of Saguaro Artisans and later the Central Arts Gallery for several years (before all of the Congress Street galleries were converted to restaurants and bars.)
Wind Dancer Design was a lucrative side business until 9/11. Sales dropped dramatically after President George Bush became president and plummeted after the September 11, 2001 attacks. The Wall Street crash of 2008-09 decimated the Tucson economy and crashed many local businesses– including Bohemia, one of my main outlets for my artwork. Sales were just not the same after Wall Street crashed the world economy. (Duh.) I did my last TPAC Studio Tour in 2013 and produced some of my best work, much of which I still have in my studio. After that I decided Tucsonans just didn’t have enough money to buy non-essentials, and I closed up Wind Dancer Design– although it still lives on the Internet and on Facebook.
On the campaign trail, I often talk about Tucson artists, designers, and musicians as local treasures who are being ignored when politicians talk about economic development. Tucson’s creative class gives our community its funky uniqueness, but we do nothing to bolster this important part of our economy. Where would Tucson’s arts scene be today, if someone had offered Bohemia– a gift shop that featured the work of 200+ local artists (not imports)– a low-cost bridge loan through a public bank to help her weather the Great Recession?
My Republican opponent claims to be a small business owner, but her business is not on the Internet. What business is not on the Internet in 2016? Hmmm…