Q&A with Angela Johnson

Name: Angela Johnson

Title: Owner/Founder

Company: BB Designs / Utica Love

How long have you worked there/been in business:
I opened BB Designs about 4 years ago out of my house. After about a year working from home, I decided to move to my studio in New Hartford Shopping Center.

You made a pretty big switch from a corporate job to becoming a small business owner. Tell us about that transition.
My journey to become a creative entrepreneur was definitely an interesting one. I had been through the gamut of sales roles for most of my life from retail jewelry sales, new business development, account manager in industrial sales, to corporate sales trainer. I loved the people, relationships, financial stability, and travel in those roles but was missing something in my life. That is when I started creating out of my house and selling paintings via Facebook and other social media platforms. I had always had a passion for creating since I was small a child and once I started to paint again all of that love for art came rushing back in my life. There was no turning back, with every order I had more determination to take the leap, and I slowly started teaching classes, painting murals, and creating a business base so that I could take my company full time.

Tell us about your art education:
I started my art education Oneida County BOCES through the advertising design program my junior/senior year of high school. It was one of my favorite times exploring all my school choices. During my senior year I took a tour of Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute and I fell in love.  I completed my associates degree in Fine Art through the MWPAI/ MVCC program and then went on to pursue my bachelor’s degree in Fine Art at Ringling School of Art and Design in Sarasota, FL. I was only at Ringling for a year, when I got pregnant with my son, Jacob. That is when I geared my life away from Fine Arts and into business to provide for my family. I went on to Utica College graduating with my Bachelors in Business Management/Marketing. I continued my education and received my Masters Degree in Business Administration from Kaplan University and started my Doctorate in International Business.

What does BB Designs and Utica Love do?
BB Designs focuses on dreaming big, creating with others, and inspiring people through making art. We started out making custom paintings and converse sneakers. We then expanded in to kids’ classes and now offer painting sessions for people of all ages from toddlers to adults. You can also see us all over the greater Utica area teaching the popular paint and sip nights at multiple venues. We have also been commissioned for multiple murals both commercial and residential bringing our clients vision to life or providing the creative ideas to make their spaces beautiful. BB Designs has a strong sense of community, we are lucky enough to partner with many local businesses to develop art programs, we work with organizations such as the Kelberman Center, The House of the Good Shepherd, and UNHS Homeownership Center. We have launched creative consulting which encompasses everything from creating an unforgettable experience at your event to bringing your team together through the arts with Creative team building. We love bringing the best out of our community in a creative way.

In an effort to strengthen our artistic community, Utica Love was born. This is the philanthropic side of BB Designs that brings art to our local community through pop up art shows, art experiences, and creative projects. We have been able to give back to our community through the sale of tickets to events and through collaborative projects such as the Utica Love adult coloring book. This book was able to raise thousands of dollars to support the Empowerment Center on James Street, bringing art to underprivileged children. We look forward to continuing to show off our city and all the talented artists that live here in efforts to give back and grow our community.

What does your day-to-day schedule look like?
As a small business owner, you wear many hats. Even though I own an artistic business there are still meetings, marketing, social media, administrative duties, scheduling events, and much more. You will also find me painting, drawing, and sketching regularly, there is a balance that needs to happen in a business where you are the creator but also handling business aspects.

What is one tool that you use that keeps you organized throughout your work day?
I am a big fan of paper planners, I write everything I need to get done in my massive planner. I love opening it up and seeing my day/week/month laid out. I am old fashioned in that way it helps me get grounded and has room for notes to make sure all my to do lists get completed.

What is the MOST organized area of your life?
The most organized area of my life would be my website and events. I have worked hard over the past year making sure my website reflects my business and the event registration process is smooth for our clients.

What is the LEAST organized area?
My supply closet and inventory order process. With our quick growth between new staff and class offerings it can be challenging at times to make room for all the different supplies we need. The same goes for inventory with different artists going in and out of my space sometimes inventory replenishment can be difficult.

If we walked into your office/studio right now, what would we say?
WOW! Most people that walk into BB Designs for the first-time smile and look around at the splatter paint walls, bright colors, and paintings. I want people to feel freedom and creatively get outside their comfort zone.

Why would you recommend art as an outlet for busy people?
Art is an outlet that allows people to express themselves in a different way. In a time of technology and jam-packed schedules art allows you to slow down, get grounded, and breathe. Sometimes there are no words for what you may be feeling and putting a brush to canvas might be the perfect form of expression. That is why we love exploring with novice artists to try something new and find their inner artist. People are usually pleasantly surprised with the feeling of calm and joy they feel once they try a class for the first time.

Latest projects/events you have going on:
We have fun new class offerings including trendy paint classes such as paint pouring, illustration, paint your pet, art and yoga, plant and paint, DIY project classes and kids’ specialty events. We just finished up One World Flower Fest which was a large festival downtown in the Oneida Square Arts District focused on creative placemaking, art, music, and dance. We will have more Utica Love events coming this year as well as some surprise announcements in the next month!

How can people connect with you?
You can find us on Facebook under BB Designs and Utica Love Art. Community. & Color also on Instagram @bbrushdesigns or @uticalove1. In addition, you can stop by our location in New Hartford Shopping center (Center Court) or contact us via our website www.bbdesignsutica.com.