In this episode of The Art Biz, I talk with Ali Manning about the responsibilities she feels as the person in charge of her business, including the responsibilities she has to team members. We discuss her membership-based business model, the dynamics between team members, how she hires, when and why she hires employees instead of contractors, and how she keeps team members happy. We also get into the hiring mistakes that both of us have made in the past—freely admitting that it was our fault, not the employees.
The ah-ha moment in Ali’s art journey. (2:45)
How does Ali make money in her art business? (6:25)
Running a business with 1,500 members requires the help of several assistants. (10:15)
The key difference between employees and contracted help. (12:27)
Bringing your team together regularly starts with a weekly meeting and the right technology. (15:09)
You might be surprised at where you can find the right help. (19:07)
Hiring mistakes and how to correct them quickly. (24:15)
Tests and onboarding processes that can smooth out the new hire process. (28:56)
Clearly defined business processes and procedures will help your team members succeed. (31:35)
Your assistant can’t actually read your mind, but taking these steps can help them out. (34:06)
Keeping your employees—and keeping them happy. (38:46)
A peek at Ali’s upcoming launch. (42:41)
“From a business standpoint, I want to be able to offer my help a secure job. It’s important to me that they’re invested.” — Ali Manning
“With as many moving parts as I keep in my brain, it’s no wonder that I needed some help with this stuff.” — Ali Manning
“It’s important to slow down, take a step back and really think about what you want and how you would like your assistant to do it.” — Ali Manning
Ali Manning creates bindings that showcase the stitching and the handcrafted nature of books. Her mixed media books are inspired by the forests of New England and the gardens of her home country England.
Working from her studio in a converted textile mill in Massachusetts, Ali has taught thousands of students via her blog, Vintage Page Designs, in person and with her latest online adventure, The Handmade Book Club. Teaching others to express their creativity through handmade books is her greatest joy. She believes that anyone can create a handmade book and it shouldn’t require expensive tools or equipment. Ali's work has been featured in Somerset Studio, Take Ten, Paper Crafts Magazine and Cloth, Paper, Scissors.