395: How To Make Art A Full-Time Career w/ Reyna Noriega

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395: How To Make Art A Full-Time Career w/ Reyna Noriega

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This week in the guest chair we have Reyna Noriega, a multifaceted visual artist. Being encouraged to pursue her talents by her parents, she was led to become an art teacher. It was there she discovered her true passion for art and a confidence in herself that would lead her to becoming a full-time artist. With her newfound belief in herself, she began manifesting dream projects and securing brand partnerships with big names like Apple, American Express, and Warby Parker.

In this episode she shares:

  • How she determined she can pursue art as a viable career path 
  • How staying consistent and continually reevaluating her skill set allows her to be price herself and her art accordingly 
  • Her ability to fully commit to side hustling and successfully overcoming financial obstacles that come with that path

Highlights include: 

  • 2:45 Figuring out a career path
  • 6:57 Juggling multiple side hustles
  • 14:32 Brand partnerships 
  • 16:40 Trusting your intuition and having confidence 
  • 23:56 leveraging social media
  • 37:56 Handling the costs of entrepreneurship 

Check out episode 395 of Side Hustle Pro podcast out now on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and YouTube

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Nicaila Matthews Okome 0:02

You're listening to side hustle Pro, the podcast that teaches you to build and grow your side hustle from passion project to profitable business. And I'm your host Nicaila Matthews Okome. So let's get started

Hey, friends, Hey, it's Nicaila here back with another interview episode. And today in the guest chair, I have Reyna Noriega. Reyna is a visual artist, designer and author and her work centers women of color, and provides joyful and vibrant representations to instill a sense of hope and pride. Her client list has included brands like Apple American Express Warby Parker, you may have seen her work in some of your favorite brands. So her work has also graced covers such as the New Yorker and Science Magazine, and she has even reimagined artful swimwear, hair accessories, and 1000s of people collect and showcase her art in their homes around the world. In today's episode, we talk about how Reina got started, how she sustains herself, began to do these partnerships with brands, why the first year of entrepreneurship was the hardest year of entrepreneurship for her, and so much more. Let's get right into it.

Hello, Reyna, and welcome to the guest chair.

Reyna Noriega 1:30

Hello, thank you for having me. Of course, it's

Nicaila Matthews Okome 1:33

so nice to have you here. You know, one thing I didn't mention was I think I saw like a YouTube video a tour of your house of like last year or the year before and I was like this. She's amazing. But at the time, I never imagined that we'd be here talking about your journey on the show.

Reyna Noriega 1:50

Oh, that's so awesome. Well, thank you for watching. I'm trying to be consistent,

Nicaila Matthews Okome 1:56

are so dynamic. So tell us how did you get started in the world of visual art? I

Reyna Noriega 2:02

would say there's so many starting and stopping points. I've been interested in art since I was little. My father was an artist, so I got to kind of see it and find it interesting and kind of try it out. In high school, I started to take it more seriously as a means of expression as like a break from all of the rigorous coursework I was doing in my program. And then in college, I had planned to study art and pivoted to psychology post. Yes, yes. Did all my internships in the art field so it made no sense. And then once I graduated, I became a high school art teacher.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 2:43

So interesting. Yeah. So with your dad being an artist, that's so amazing, because you were able to see that, hey, you can make a living and a life being an artist. Did you at any point think I'm not going to do art? Or it's too hard to do art? Or was it always something that seemed exciting? And like a life that you would love?

Reyna Noriega 3:02

Yeah. So like you said, that was very important because my dad was a pro baseball player. And when he got injured and couldn't play, it was our you know, that kind of like kept our family afloat and pretty comfortable. But he was doing more like graphic design embroidery and like things related, sorry, things related to the fields he was interested in. So he was working a lot with like sports teams and all things like that. And as I fell in love with art, I had aspirations to do fine art and like being a gallery. So I feel like I was still somewhat telling myself that what I wanted to do wasn't possible, like getting discovered by gallery, having worldwide success. I feel like that's why I pivoted to psychology because I wasn't really thinking of myself in his shoes at that point. And all of the other ways you can make an income from art. So

Nicaila Matthews Okome 3:57

when you became an art teacher, what was your goal at the time? Where did you see yourself going from there?

Reyna Noriega 4:04

It wasn't it was actually like not expected and not planned. I was supposed to continue, you know, with my master's to continue the psychology field. And that summer I was a substitute teacher throughout college so that summer they called me and they said hey, our art teacher quit like the week before school starts Can you just fill in for a little bit we know you like art, you can just take over the class until we find someone permanent. And it ended up being so good for me for so many reasons like it. It was good for my confidence. It was good for public speaking it was good for my authority, you know issues or imposter issues like I had to show fully show up for those kids to be like they had gone through so much. They had gone through so many teachers so many changes. Like I just wanted to be like a good example and to give them resources and tools. I was In a school that was like a title one school, so low funding a lot of children of migrant parents. And so a lot of them didn't really know about college or didn't have plans to go to college, it was like, they were trying to get their, you know, high school diploma and then go into a trade or go straight to work to support their family. And so I really got inspired to show them that art could be something that, you know, they make a living from, no matter what their interests were. And I started to teach them the things that I had learned from seeing my dad, the things that I had seen other art friends doing, that we're doing it full time, I was bringing in muralists, and photographers and clothing designers. And in the meantime, as the young artsy teacher, I was in charge of, you know, Club T shirts and flyers. And so I started having to take on all of these tasks pretty quickly. And I started to realize that like I can, I can also make money from these things that I'm doing and showing my kids. So little by little, I started to bring up like my freelance commission, part of my business, which is like more like the things that my dad was also doing, like logos and flyers for parties and podcast covers and just different things like that.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 6:18

So What year was this when you were substitute and then taking over as a full time art teacher?

Reyna Noriega 6:23

This was between 2015 and 2018. Okay, okay,

Nicaila Matthews Okome 6:27

so not that long ago. Wow. So much can happen in like six years, right? seven years, eight years. Now, what important work that was being able to show kids that what you're good at is important and it in there is a way to make this happen is so important to me. Because I just feel like in life, these artistic careers are often de emphasized like that, that's, that's a hobby, you can't make money doing that. But you are given that gift and that skill for a reason. Don't count it out. Absolutely.

Talk to us about these side hustles that you started working on like the Commission's where you come in where you getting commissioned to do artwork by fellow teachers or parents, like How did that start?

Reyna Noriega 7:14

I'm mostly friends and friends of friends. I had done, I felt like I had always dabbled, and I had always known that I wanted more. So even within, like my college years, I started off, you know, working at a grocery store, a customer like as a cashier. And then I was working retail selling shoes at Nordstrom. And I realized that like I didn't like, I didn't like being on the clock. I didn't like having to fight for sales. Like I was always the person on the sales floor that was having lengthy conversations with people who were not buying shoes, or they were buying, like one pair of, you know, Toms or something. And my managers would get upset and they'd be like, Look, you have to move around, you're not here to like, you know, hold their hand or whatever. And I was like, well, then I don't want to be like, I don't want to be here headhunting and and so I was doing photography at that time. So I started to realize, okay, like, it takes me how many hours to make 150 at this job, whereas an hour of shooting is about 150. So I would kind of like do that math and try to pick up some of that. So I only had to work my retail jobs like two or three days out of the week. I was like, always on vacation, and not really on vacation, just like not wanting to go in. And then I was also modeling at the time. So you know, it's like a full day of shooting pays this much being at this job pays this much. I need to do more of this. So eventually, when I started to pick up commission jobs, it was kind of that same math of like, okay, like, at first it was just fun money. It was like okay with I can save more money for my teaching job. Because I forgot to mention that to live from subbing I learned that I loved teaching, the kids didn't drain my energy, their excitement to like, learn and experience new things and creativity. It always gave me more energy and no two days were the same. It's kind of self directed, like your boss is not hovering over you, you're, you're in charge of your classroom. So the teaching wasn't a burden. But I was able to kind of like save more money and like have more fun money. Every time I picked up a gig. And so you know, as teaching took a downward spiral for many reasons, the school grade fell policy got like more testing based and they weren't, you know, allowing me to do the activities that I had started that the kids loved and it started to make the kids yeah, it started to make me and the kids miserable. I started to kind of do that math of like, okay, like how, like, how much do I have to do to kind of replace this income? Is it possible is it feasible when and how all of those questions started to pop into my mind.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 10:02

And what did you do next?

Reyna Noriega 10:04

I found, I knew that I wanted to pivot into the art world, I didn't feel 100% Ready. My parents encouraged me actually, they felt like I was ready to have like amazing art business. But I looked into jobs that I could have that were like, full time art position. So the I was modeling at the time with Boxy Charm, I don't know, I don't know if they're still around. Because I know that I know that the founder sold the company, but Boxy Charm was like Ipsy, like a makeup subscription box. Except on like, Ipsy, they were doing full full size products. And so I was one of the monthly models, like, it was really fun every month, they would do like a theme for the box. And then we would do like makeup inspired by the theme do a fun photoshoot, I would get paid for it. And so they were doing a lot of like marketing work and like graphics, because they they wanted the themes to be really, that's back when like social media was like, You You did cool stuff people were gonna follow and jump on. And so. So yeah, so they wanted to hire me basically to be the full time like, graphic designer slash social media person. And I also had an opportunity to be a full time art director for a startup. It was like an app where people could post pictures and requests for an artist to like, draw them. And so, yes,

Nicaila Matthews Okome 11:34

so you were you were interviewing for all these jobs that would allow you to still be your creative self and still strengthen areas that you wanted to strengthen without sacrificing all your time and sounds like exactly,

Reyna Noriega 11:46

exactly, you, you hit the nail on the head,

Nicaila Matthews Okome 11:50

which is very smart side hustlers. So I always we always talk about this on the show, number one rule of side hustling, you got to pick a job that allows you to side hustle. So you can't be double minded. You can't want to like scale, this corporate ladder, and also be a side Hustler, who grows your business. So thank you for illustrating that.

Now, talk to us about when your business really started to take shape,

Reyna Noriega 12:19

I would say that two things happen. One, I mean, I didn't end up choosing, there was a lot of fine print in the boxy charm job. And it just, to me, I felt like they were trying to pay me one salary for like, 10 roles. So I didn't take that I ended up taking,

Nicaila Matthews Okome 12:36

like I was trying to keep up like what your model, your graphic designer.

Reyna Noriega 12:42

Yeah. Okay. And then the startup sounded better. But it ended up being pretty much the same, where I was doing art, directing, animation, email marketing, and all types of other things that I was not really trying to do. So from there, I left that job in a good spot, my lease was ending in my apartment. And so I was able to go back home crashed with my family and kind of like, decide what was next. And so I gave myself a goal of like, I knew I wanted to move to the city, like the center of Miami, I was kind of on the outskirts. And so it was like, okay, to afford rent and eating and living, I need to make this much if I can do this, if I can secure enough clients, that tells me that I can do this, I will move to the city. And then the result will also be more opportunities because I won't have to drive 50 minutes to get to events, I'll be more likely to go and mingle and network. And so I ended up you know, finding clients. I mean, I was using social media, I was on a lot of like, gig websites like Upwork and I forget the other one, not Fiverr I think there was something else back then. I was making sure that like I had portfolios online, like in different places that people could find like Facebook, I was talking about what I was doing. And so I was getting clients, you know, like different, a lot of different things, just people starting lash businesses needed logos, or, you

Nicaila Matthews Okome 14:14

know, it was like word of mouth at this point, or were you doing anything to actively market your business as well.

Reyna Noriega 14:21

Pretty much word of mouth and the use of like I said, these online portfolios and like social media where people can stumble upon me, essentially,

Nicaila Matthews Okome 14:30

and search for that kind of art. So when was your first brand partnership? How did that come about?

Reyna Noriega 14:35

I want to say my first was my first today at Apple session. What's that? So Apple does at their flagship store so like at their biggest stores, they will bring in professional artists and like successful artists to do a talk and tell people about their story and their journey and how they use the Apple products to you know, kind of help on that journey. And so when I got contacted and invited to do one, I felt like it was validation that people were seeing me, you know, like someone, someone in that meeting room, brought up my name and said that I should, you know, I should have my own talk. And it was very early in my career, I had just kind of developed, the style, my style has evolved since then. But that style that people came to know me for the faceless women of color, the vibrant colors, the shapes, and the plants and all of that. I had just started, like gaining traction with that style. And so yeah, that was major, you know, to get that request and that gig, because I had seen other artists, I had looked up to do it. And I was like, oh, one day, I hope someday, you know, they contacted me.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 15:48

So was it like an interview or you were paid to do something with them at that point? It's,

Reyna Noriega 15:54

it's something it's free for, it's like you you as a customer of Apple, you can come to the session to get inspiration. And though I'll talk for a little bit, and then you'll get an iPad, and I'll show you how to draw like me. So it's like a TED Talk slash instruction type of thing where you're like listening to me, and then you get to try it yourself. Yeah. And you get to learn a little bit cool

Nicaila Matthews Okome 16:20

things in store. And so you were that was like a paid gig or just like brand awareness gig.

Reyna Noriega 16:26

Yeah, it's like they do like a stipend and a product type of thing. So yeah,

Nicaila Matthews Okome 16:31

that was a really big brand to land first. And then I understand now you do these partnerships, where you're collaborating, or you're creating artwork for brands. So how do those partnerships start to come about?

Reyna Noriega 16:43

More sharing, so I started to I really believe in like, in the sense of manifestation, showing God the universe, however you want to put it personally, that you are ready for the things that you're asking for. I feel like energetically that is so so important. So when I started to kind of, like, get ideas for First of all, I stopped resisting. So like we talked about earlier, I really wanted to do fine art. It wasn't making sense at the time, it was causing me a lot of stress, trying to like paint and like it just it wasn't flowing the way that it needed to. This was flowing. So I stopped resisting this and I was like, okay, so this is where I am being called to show up right now. So if I wouldn't need

Nicaila Matthews Okome 17:28

this, what's this versus, like, illustration

Reyna Noriega 17:31

and graphic design? Okay, so this is where I'm being called to show up, like, what are brands that are aligned with me? What do I see myself doing? Like where do I want to see my art? And I started to create those projects for my portfolio like self directed like i i made some fake Fenty wrapping paper for the holidays. I was like, Look, if you know, Rihanna wants to send some gift boxes. Look what I designed. I designed like a wine bottle and packaging. I designed like packaging for like women's underwear. And the brand called Gaya I really like still really like. So I was like, Look, if you wanted to do some holiday gift wrap. This is some patterns and illustrations inspired by your brand. And so it didn't land me those brands. But what it did was it showed people what I was capable of. And it helped them to kind of like, imagine how my art could be used in that way.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 18:34

I love that. Let's pause here for a second. Oh, I love that that gave me chills. You talked about showing God that you are ready for what you are desiring. And then also creating that before it even comes. So so many people, let's talk about like a podcast, for example, if you want your own show created, and then the network's can come calling and the people and the guests will come calling to be on the show. But you have to create it first. It's not just gonna plop on your lap. So I love that you did that. And I'm sure brand started coming like you said maybe not the ones that you had created those designs for. But other amazing and big partnerships, right? So you've worked with Apple American Express Warby Parker. Tell us a little bit about the American Express and the Warby Parker partnerships.

Reyna Noriega 19:29

Okay, so my relationship with American Express has been so beautiful. It's started off as Yes, I think I've been very fortunate to because I've heard a lot of, you know, like, everything is what you make it and everything has ups and downs and I've heard a lot of nightmare brand collaboration stories. So I've been very blessed. But for American Express, it started off that I was contacted. I had worked with an agency which is also very powerful because that was something I had some aren't too is like we think of these brands as like these big moving forces. But they're made up of a bunch of people, a bunch of people like you. And I, you know, their marketing directors and their art directors and all these people that I didn't realize, knew about my work, but they were following me and like bringing my name up. So for American Express, I had worked with an agency. And they had me creating, like, animations for this podcast they did for small businesses called built to last. And so yeah, so that was a really good project, a lot of work, because it was like animation, and all of this stuff, but a really rewarding project. And then later on, they contacted me to do this always welcome campaign. I believe this was like, this was like, right after COVID When small businesses were opening back up, and they needed to like welcome people in the community back in. So we did this campaign to like, allow small businesses to download or order these signs, these open closed signs, these decals, the stickers to put on their shops to one let people know that they accept American Express and to to know that they are welcomed with these like beautiful and diverse. These illustrations depicting diverse people from the community. And so that's always really fun, because it came with also like we did a shoot. So they flew me out to New York. And we did a whole shoot day like talking about the campaign and getting like some behind the scenes content. And I feel I don't, I don't know, that wasn't the first time but I think it was the first time that I got like flown out to do a campaign like that. I had done one with with Oprah with the old network in my apartment that you know, they had, they had brought a crew in. Yeah, they brought a crew in and they

Nicaila Matthews Okome 21:58

just gonna gloss over your campaign with Oprah.

Reyna Noriega 22:02

Yeah, yeah. We'll get back to that. But it just, it's always like, I don't know, I feel like you go through different stages. I wouldn't say I deal with impostor syndrome too much. Because I think I'm so rooted in the purpose that I'm doing all this for for other people that I don't really worry about if I feel worthy, just that I'm being called. But there are certain like,

Nicaila Matthews Okome 22:25

remember, for all of us, yeah. Like really, like, push aside those feelings, if they ever pop up and just remember, like, what your call to do is bigger than you?

Reyna Noriega 22:33

Yes. And so you know, just being being fluid out, as they say, and having, you know, hair and makeup on set and having people fuss over you? And are you okay? Are you hungry? And like, the VP came to the shoot day, you know? So it's like the VP of Amex saying like, Oh, my God, I'm such a fan of and I'm like, what, like, your, you know, your your head of one of the biggest financial companies in America. And so those were like little experiences that you start to take yourself more seriously. And you start to kind of have a little bit more confidence in what you're doing. And

Nicaila Matthews Okome 23:11

that's awesome. Yeah, and I love that you said, you have to remember that these companies are made of humans of people, because you're so right. Whenever I've been selected for an opportunity, it's, you know, it's some body, usually a sister over at a company who has had her eye, right, like, we're always looking, we know what's going on. And so shout out, you know, it's everyone, like I shared on Instagram the other day, shout out to whoever is putting my name in rooms that I haven't yet stepped in. And similarly, for, you know, you guys listening, and I hope that what you'll take away are you guys watching on YouTube, is that in order to have a similar experience, you have to first put yourself out there, right? So right now, you wouldn't have been talked about in these rooms, unless people could see on your Instagram on your website and say, look, what she's creating, she would be perfect for this. She's so amazing. So don't be afraid to put out your material, even if I don't know what your experience was with social media. But I'm sure there were times where you're like, Oh, this is not getting a lot of likes, or this one didn't do as well. And you didn't give up right?

Reyna Noriega 24:22

No, I think I'm so grateful that I didn't focus on that because I would have never gotten here. I gained probably like my first 10k followers came from just like me, me like I was, I was fashion blogging. That was like the natural hair journey. I was sharing a lot of natural hair stuff. And so when I pivoted over to art, and it wasn't selfies, I was seeing my likes like plummet, but I knew that I knew that in order to like reset my audience. I was gonna have to go through that ugly phase. It was like starting over like I was gonna have to build awareness with people With the algorithm, and I was gonna have to just keep showing up. And so it didn't, it didn't really bother me because it was like, I had to ask myself, What do you want to do consistently? Do you want to keep posting selfies in order to bring people to your page? For what? Like, what are you selling? That? Like nothing? Or do you want to take a chance at just like being consistent starting over and being grateful of like, even if it's two people sliding in my DM saying, hey, the art that you posted really resonated to me, that's amazing, you know, and just being grateful each person that likes that shows up that comments, instead of comparing yourself to the person who has 300 comments, and all these DMS, because it takes a while also to know how to navigate that and be able to be present and answer people. So a social media like following a community. It's not to be it's not to be taken with vanity. And it's not to be taken lightly. Because you have these people that are going to be asking you for things and advice and help. And I it's you have to be able to like handle it gracefully. Yes.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 26:20

I like that you touched on, you have to create what you want to continue creating, I heard someone else put it this way, one time in relation to like YouTube content. Know that if something goes viral, or is really successful, like your selfies, for example. And you keep posting that, that's what your audience is primed to expect. And if you want to switch from that, you just have to switch from that. Because you can't just keep making something that you're not passionate about, just because it gets those likes, you might be attracting a whole different type of audience. And that's not going to be worth it at the end of the day. So, you know, you you went, you started over. And it was a slow process. You didn't get as much likes as you do when you're just posting your amazing curls and showing people you know, just a vanity image. But it was worth it. Because it's what you want to be doing. Absolutely. So back to the Oprah moment now. So what did you work on with Oprah? And how did that come about?

Reyna Noriega 27:22

So I think this is a good story to about like, about like value and worth. This was for a Shea Moisture project that I worked on early in my career. And the project itself was a good experience because I didn't at that time I was that's when I first started working with brands. So like brands were having me jump on a live to like live draw with them like ASOS, Saks Fifth, and you know, and they would pay me a little bit just to like, show up. And so I was so grateful to be getting gigs like that, and to getting my work out there. When they reached out. And they asked me like, What are your rates for an illustration? I told them my rates for like, a normal illustration that I would tell you like, yeah, definitely, like I had, I had built up my my rates from like, 100 150. And I was more at like, the $500 mark for people and like 1000 for a brand. And so I had Yes, so I had so yes. So thank you to that that team that I told 1000 And they were like, yeah, actually, no, the budget is this much. And you know, because? Because yeah, and I didn't even ask the right questions, because honestly, they paid me more than I had been paid at that time. And I had expected to be paid at that time, probably like two or three months of my teaching salary. So I was I was happy. But at the same time, if I had asked questions like, Where will this be distributed? What is the usage? I didn't even realize it was gonna be on television, like and run as a commercial. But wow. Yeah. But nonetheless, it was, it was fair for where I was at that time. And so that came with some, you know, like storytelling, so different, different people. I think they partnered with the Oprah Winfrey Network. And that's why they were highlighting the different artists and like running a segment, you know, in between, like commercials and things like that. So that was cool, because a couple people caught me on TV. And yeah, it was a nice, it was a nice experience as well.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 29:32

Thank you for sharing the real aspects of growing as an entrepreneur and learning how to price yourself. There is no blueprint for this. It's so nuanced. Another artists might be doing something different, have a completely different process. Like you can't just be like, Oh, here's what I charge you charge this too. So you know, don't feel bad or you know, anyone listening to this don't feel like you're supposed to know it and have it all figured out by now. It takes time to kind of learn that And then also the confidence piece comes in as well, in that you have to work up to that level of confidence to say, No, this is my rate. And it doesn't mean that you're like, have don't have self esteem. It's just it's a process, you guys. So I, thank you for sharing your own experience with that. But yes, questions like, what's your budget, and how will this be used are so important, because you might feel like you're getting an amazing check. But then your work is being used continually or your face is being used continually in perpetuity, and you're like, wait a second, that's far beyond what I was saying, you know, the value that it's given you. So thank you for sharing your experience with that it will all work to do better and be better and ask those questions.

So now, before we jump into the lightning round, I'd love to know a little bit more about the financial aspects of being an entrepreneur, like yourself a creative entrepreneur and artist, someone who works in partners with different brands, first of all, two layers to this. Okay, I want to know, how do you make a living as an artist? So, so far, it seems like these campaigns are kind of unplanned, it's not predictable, right? So how do you make a consistent income as an artist, and then we'll get into profitability.

Reyna Noriega 31:23

I think being consistent, consistently showing up online consistently showing my work, even like consistently being in my community doing things, I feel like the rewards come, because like, I'm staying active and like, you don't give people a chance to forget about you, essentially. Because it's true, I feel like in circumstances, like what I'm in, it's very easy for people to kind of like squeeze the young talent, and then move on to the next thing. But I've worked really hard like internally and solidifying myself as like an artist that makes good work. Not that like, you know, not that I'm trying to be the trend or whatever, but that like I'm consistently trying to grow and evolve, and tell a story and represent my community. Because I feel like those things don't dry up that fast or don't go out of style, or, you know, like, because they have more substance to it. And it's touching a lot more people. And I think brands Excel. respect that. And I also feel like, in the meantime, I'm always trying to build my own revenue sources. So I'm always trying to build up like my product list on my website, or try to offer new things. So that that strain is not there to like, you're like, oh my gosh, like, when is the next project going to come? Because sometimes there can be quiet months. And I always take those months to focus on like a book that I want to finish writing, or some new products that I want to design and offer. And so yeah, just kind of like being prepared to take the seasons as they ebb and as a flow. So

Nicaila Matthews Okome 33:09

what are the revenue streams of your business? So you have products, what kind of products and what other revenue streams

Reyna Noriega 33:15

so on my website, I sell prints, I sell home products like pillows? I sew accessories, like phone cases, nail stickers, I so what else do I sell? I sell journals, and journals. I'm pretty much I think that's it if different accessories, a few things, digital products as well screensavers, things like that for just you know, like a few dollars if people want to support.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 33:44

So then you have brand partnerships, and you're also an author. Yes.

Reyna Noriega 33:48

So then the brand partnerships, obviously the collaborations. Some of them come with royalties, or licensing fees so that it can be like a source of passive income. I license my artwork scaling back on that, but I do licensed my work for Canvas printing with icanvas. I also have some work on buy and like these, this and decennial. So that's like, on the passive income side. I also do classes every once in a while, you know, so it's not, not a lot of money in that I do more for the joy but I'll do like a paint class or something like that and share you know, like ticket ticket revenue with whoever's hosting it. And sometimes, yeah, and I do do like, I feel like there's two levels of the collaboration because there's the art focus centered collaboration, like a Schick collaboration or my goodie collaboration, and then sometimes I get paid just to like show up and talk about something online. That's more of like the influencer side as far as like, maybe my paint collaboration with Vosper like I painted my house and you know, so it's not so aren't focused, it's more so like I built this platform, and people do have an interest in how I style my home or how I wear my clothes. So that allows for like another revenue stream. So

Nicaila Matthews Okome 35:12

it's an influencer revenue stream along with your actual art commissioned or partnerships with brands to do artwork for them.

Reyna Noriega 35:20

Mm hmm.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 35:21

That's awesome. And then tell us a little bit more about your books. What have you written books about? And how many books do you have at this point?

Reyna Noriega 35:29

Yeah, so at this point, I have published three poetry collections, and the poetry collections are pretty much documentation of my journey and my evolution. So as I'm feeling through things, and growing through things, and all the growing pains, I tend to like write notes to myself to kind of like, it helps me process it. And at some point, I had collected so many in like a folder in my notes app in my phone, I was like, this kind of reads like a poem. And this kind of reads like, I could put them together and make a collection of poems. And so many people ask me, like, how did you do this? And how do you do that? And I always feel like, I'm not special. I feel like we are all equipped to do what I do. I think that the only difference that I can see is that I looked at all of my, I look at my journey as information, I look at it as a resource. I look at it as like, room to learn and to be introspective and figure out like, what is it that God is trying to show me by this challenge, and that has turned the lemons into lemonade, so to speak, versus it just being a pattern that I'm like, repeating and repeating, repeating and stuck in the loop like, I'm really, I'm always interested in graduating from whatever is hurting me or like bothering me versus like staying stuck. So whatever it is that I'm learning, I put it in the book, whether it's about boundaries, whatever, whether it's about like self love, whatever the case is, it goes into the book, and then people are able to kind of see where my head was at at these different stages of my life. I

Nicaila Matthews Okome 37:08

love that and in your soul, right? Like our journeys are also here to teach others not only are we meant to go through them, but it can inspire others, which is why I just love sharing different people's stories on this podcast, because you never know what one thing you said, will really just resonate deeply with someone that might for someone that might just, you know, not not hit at all. They might be like, Oh, this one, I didn't really get it. Nicaila. But for someone else, they'll send me an email and they'll say I really needed this one. So it's so important to share everything, even if you think no one else will get this or, you know, this is just something I went through no one will care. Yes, they will.

Reyna Noriega 37:48

Exactly. Now you got it 100%.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 37:55

And then finally, a lot of people lose money in this pathway, right of side hustle and entrepreneurship, what has been your experience as far as profitability, being able to eat as an artist and so much more? It

Reyna Noriega 38:10

is very expensive to run a business. I think in the beginning, a lot of things that I didn't anticipate, like I didn't understand that taxes. I don't understand Texas, and and understand that you could owe the government as much money as I've owed the government. And so and so to the point where I was, I was, I was traumatized.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 38:35

To Yeah, they're coming for it, they want a piece of every check, check. Yes.

Reyna Noriega 38:40

And that first, I was in shock, let me tell you, I didn't speak for days. So that's important. And finding good help, good, reliable help, like as far as like accountants and things like that. Because a lot of people, they want to collect a check, but they're not really looking out for you the way that they should. And you should always look out for yourself too. So yes, have helped. But like I know, a lot of us don't like to talk about money and deal with money, but don't be the person that's like this person does my bookkeeping and my taxes and I don't even look at it, like know what's going on with your honey salutely I try to I, I feel like I've been very conservative with my investments in my business. So that's just that's the way I've always been with everything. Even when I was working with a teacher salary. It was like I was paying my bills, and then everything else was going to savings. And then every once in a while I would treat myself but I was the person that was like 10% Maybe goes to me and I like to know that it's like accumulating so for me it's been the same thing in my business like I will invest in inventory and products but not in a sense where like I'm depleting my bank account, to invest in something and hoping that it makes a return. I'm alone Little bit more conservative. They say no risk, no reward. But I personally like I need to be able to sleep at night and not be overwhelmed with anxiety. So I tend to like spend money and invest in a way that I can sleep at night and have some peace and not be like, yeah, terrified of what happens if this release doesn't go right. So yeah, keep keep your expenses manageable. I like to spend my money on like travel and more inspiration more networking abroad, and like spreading my reach. But also with that, like this be able to budget No, and know what your what you value. And yeah,

Nicaila Matthews Okome 40:41

and when you were starting out, so you had your teacher salary to fund your art business. And at what point were you able to self fund with just the art business, like stop teaching and completely go full time as an artist?

Reyna Noriega 40:56

Well, that's pretty much how it happened. So when I left teaching back in 2015, I had saved back I mean, money went a lot farther back then. You know, because I'm thinking back and like, I think I save $10,000. And I don't, I don't think I would survive two months, with 10,000. And save, like, with no income and 10,000 in savings. I feel like groceries. It's like $300 Every time I breathe. So I'm back then I had saved that. And then I was getting paid that summer. Like I was getting my teacher check that summer, and then the check from the startup company. So although that job only lasted basically like I think three or four months. I was I was like both of those checks. Were going. We're going in my savings, and

Nicaila Matthews Okome 41:49

so smart. It was kind of like you're still working but not. Exactly,

Reyna Noriega 41:53

exactly. So yeah. So then when I quit the startup job, I was basically having to sell fun because that was it. I to be transparent there. I didn't. I didn't thrive that year. It was very stressful. I couldn't travel. Because I was always scared of running out of money. I had to dip into my savings to pay for my loft apartment I wanted in Brickell, I ended up running out of savings to stay in that apartment, I ended up taking part time jobs, I took a part time job at a print shop, which was cool because it taught me a lot about like art printing and stuff. And then I took a weird job with a guy that was like selling male supplements on Amazon and needed like graphics for it. Oh, yeah, like he he was a nice guy, but like his energy was giving like, lots of lots of testosterone and steroid. It was really good. But I was like I learned. I learned from there that like your pride, your pride and your need to like say that you're a full time or it is and that you're self funded, cannot outweigh your basic needs as a human being. Because if you're so mentally stressed and drained about how you're going to eat to create this facade of like, oh, I made it. I'm a full time self funded artist. It's not worth it. Because I can't create under those circumstances. And so yeah, so that that was how it went that that first that first year it wasn't it wasn't all pretty.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 43:27

Right, right. You got to tell the stories. It wasn't it's like yeah, you're an entrepreneur. Yeah, you're full time but money is tight. Money is tight. And and that's that story needs to be shared more and more. So now we're gonna jump into the lightning round. Raina, you just answered the very first thing that comes to mind. Are You Ready? Ready? All right. So number one, what is a resource, not Google that has helped you in your business that you can share with the side hustle pro audience books,

Reyna Noriega 44:02

I try to read a lot on the topics that I'm interested in. I have a Amazon storefront with like some of the books I read that are art related.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 44:10

Do you have a favorite art related book?

Reyna Noriega 44:12

I feel like the War of Art was really like one of the first starting points where I started to take myself and my time seriously because it talks about resistance. And so I started to be like very militant about what was causing distractions in my life, whether it was gossip, whether it was dating, whether it was like going out too much like I started every time I would go do something and then not have the energy or the time to work on my craft and work towards my business. I'd be like, That's resistance. I need to I need to stay away from that. So I feel like a lot of times in these business books, psychology books, self help books, a lot of the topics are very, like common sense. But when you start to like actually apply it you're like yeah, Like I knew this, like, you know, like, you know, gossip is a distraction. But sometimes reading it laid out like that. You're like, Oh, it's a distraction, and it keeps me from my goal. Gotta cut it out. So sometimes you just need something like that to jumpstart you getting serious about yourself.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 45:17

I love that you said it's called The War of Art. Okay, we'll link to that. Alright. Number two, who is a black woman entrepreneur, who you would want to switch places with for a day and why non celebrity by the way?

Reyna Noriega 45:31

Oh, non celebrity. That is interesting. I met a lady not too long ago, black woman from Trinidad art collector. And it was, you know, sitting down with her hearing her story she had started, like, I think the first black like private school, upstate, I think jersey or New York, her and her husband had collected like, billions of dollars worth of artwork. And, you know, he, I think he was in something in the finance field. And it was nice to I mean, we're so in our day and age, everyone that's an entrepreneur, like they gotta shove it in your face. Not that that's a bad guy, be proud. People can't find you if you're not talking about it. But you're so used to like, we have this idea that you can't be successful without followers. And you can't be successful without these partnerships. And this and that, and like just hearing her talk about it coming up. She was she's about in her late 70s. So imagining the time period, she grew up like to meet this affluent black woman that's like, done all of these amazing things. That is not going to be you know, talked about on social media or this and that I feel like that was inspiring, just as a reminder to do the work, and be rooted in your community. And you can make it no matter what, like success. Success is possible.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 46:55

And successes, not Instagram likes. That's such a good reminder. It's not a following. Number three, what is a non negotiable part of your day these days? Trying

Reyna Noriega 47:04

to make it exercise trying to make it sweat, because that's too often the thing that gets skipped. Oh, yes. But yeah, so trying to drink more water and trying to move my body more because you know, you can sit at the computer or drawing all day long. And my bones are not what they used to be. Now. I'm just kidding.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 47:26

And number four, what is a personal trait that has helped you significantly in business?

Reyna Noriega 47:31

I would say my, I don't know if there's a shorter word for it. But I think the fact that I've always believed that if I drempt it, it was for a reason. You know, like, if I'm dreaming about it, if I'm desiring to do something, then I need to self actualize that in this lifetime. I feel like the sense of urgency that I've had. So like, dabble and try all of the things that I love. Like if I was, if I didn't have that trait, I don't feel like the books would be published. I don't feel like the art would be shared. I feel like I would be in the mode of like waiting for someone to tell me to go or overthinking, or whatever the case is, but I feel like those visions of myself like just living a happy, free, travel filled life. I knew I would have to like work hard. And yeah. And so I do. Yeah.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 48:28

And so then, what's your parting advice for fellow women entrepreneurs who want to be their own boss, but are worried about losing that steady paycheck?

Reyna Noriega 48:39

I always tried to direct people inward first. Because what do you need to you need to strengthen your confidence in yourself, your knowledge of yourself, your purpose? There's all of these things because they are the foundation for everything else. If you strengthen that, first of all, your intuition will be stronger. Like when I quit teaching, a lot of people are always like, that's the question they asked me, Well, how do I know if I should quit my job? I didn't know when I should quit teaching. But I knew how I wanted to feel in a position and I knew the dreams that I had. And so I was able to kind of recognize when teaching was no longer giving me the life that had kept me there. I was able to say, Okay, well, it's time to stop putting all my eggs in these baskets and start making some other opportunities so that if push comes to shove, I have another option. And so I didn't like I didn't show up and say like, oh, I'm resigning because I want to be a full time artists. It was more so like, God started to show me signs and things started to happen where I was like, oh, it's now time for me to make a choice. You know, my, my paperwork had mess, like a lot of things happen. But one of the main things was that my paperwork had been filed incorrectly. And So I lost a year of my temporary certificate. And the state would fund your classes to move on to your professionals, if you had a full calendar yet year left in your certificate. So I went to when I went to apply for the program, they were like, we can't fund this, you have to pay out of pocket. That was one of the breaking hit.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 50:20

Are you referring to like your teachings or your

Reyna Noriega 50:22

teaching certificate? Yeah, so I was teaching at a charter school. So they allow you to teach, you got to take certain tests, and have you know, you know, your college, your bachelor's, but you can teach without a professional teaching degree for three years, and they will help you move on to the professional. And so that was my plan the whole time, like I was, I did everything right, you know, I started applying, because I knew that I was supposed to have that extra here. And when I went to apply, they were like, No, your your paperwork shows that you started on this date, which was true. But that whole first year, I was paid and treated as a sub. So I didn't use a temporary certificate that year. So it shouldn't have been dated that way. And so so the decision I had to make was okay, are you going to pay five to $7,000 out of pocket to make Max, maybe $45,000 For the next 15 years of your life? Or do you want to take a chance doing something else, you know, and at that point, with the other job possibilities that were also going to pay me around the same thing I was paying maybe a little tiny bit more, it was like, I can make that money elsewhere and then have more potential for growth. So that is why I'm pivoting because I've given this job all I can and I've seen that I've plateaued, plateaued. No one here is pouring into me more than I'm pouring into them. The experience is now training. Like, those were the decisions that led me to quit not just like, I want to be a full time artist, I'm going to quit. There's nothing wrong with having that audacity and that confidence. I think we can all make away no matter what. But it was more so my intuition telling me like, these are the signs that it's time to go these are the signs that you've given it all you've got. And then like I said that first year was mentally tough, it's stressful because you hope you hope you're gonna get another client you hope you're gonna hit your your goal, you hope you're gonna hit your minimum. But that constant stress of like, in between clients, a client of is someone going to email me today, is there something that's a lot mentally and so. And also, like, Whatever people say, are gonna say like, You should do this, instead of this, this is not certain. Like, there's all of these things that can come and deter you on your journey. Why I say you need to be like really rooted and really like in touch with yourself really confident really know why you're doing it. Imposter syndrome. Like I said, You need to have like a higher reasoning besides the fact that like someone on Instagram said that they made $40,000 this month and so now you want to quit your job and try to do that, like I feel like I had it has to be it has to be bigger than that. deeper

Nicaila Matthews Okome 53:03

than that. Yeah, but you know, here over at side hustle Pro Lead nobody is that shallow, but it that is funny. I think all of you guys, if anything, I encounter people who are just have some amazing ideas. And there's, like you said that inner work that needs to be done to bet on yourself. And I never say Oh, you have to quit, you know, but at least start your, your idea. Work on it. Now

Reyna Noriega 53:29

there's, there's definitely actionable sets, save your money, if you know that you potentially don't want to be where you are forever, say, like, your life is gonna depend on it, and start working towards the thing that you want in your free time. And you know, like I had to do a lot of work to, like, in my off times of teaching summer, Christmas breaks and stuff, I had to really learned the ways that I was wasting my time. And really, you know, kind of like, really buckle down and be like, okay, like, if I'm gonna make this dream work, I'm gonna have to commit to it and my off time the same way I commit to teaching when I'm on the clock.

Nicaila Matthews Okome 54:08

And I think that's the biggest takeaway I'll take from your episode Rayna it was really just a real hard hitting lesson and you got if you want these things, you have to get serious, like what do you really want, okay, then you have to save you have to, you have to treat it like a job you have to commit. So all of these things that you've said I really hope it's really driven home for you guys to who are listening and watching. And if you want to connect with Reina, where can people connect with you after this episode? My

Reyna Noriega 54:36

Instagram I think is the easiest hub because it'll have my website it'll have my email. So it's at Reina Noriega underscore and that's the easiest way to keep up with whatever I'm doing wherever events I'm having, and anything like that. Alright

Nicaila Matthews Okome 54:52

guys, so there you have it, Raymond, thank you so much for being in the guest here. This was a really inspiring episode for for many different reasons, and I really thank you for being here. Thank you for having me. All right, guys. And there you have it. Hey guys, thanks for listening to side hustle Pro. If you like the show, be sure to subscribe rate and review on Apple podcasts. It helps other side hustlers just like you to find the show. And if you want to hear more from me, you can follow me on Instagram at side hustle Pro. Plus sign up for my six bullet Saturday newsletter at side hustle Pro, that CO slash newsletter. When you sign up, you will receive weekly nuggets from me, including what I'm up to personal lessons and my business tip of the week. Again, that side hustle pro.co/newsletter to sign up. Talk to you soon

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

Meet the host:

Nicaila Matthews-Okome

Hi! I’m Nicaila, the Creator and Host of the Side Hustle Pro Podcast. I started Side Hustle Pro when I was a side hustler myself. I was a digital marketer at NPR by day, side hustler by night. Through the powerful stories shared on this show and the courage to launch my own initiatives, I was able to quit my own job and go full time with Side Hustle Pro.

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