SMITH RAY DESIGN
Smith Ray Design specializes in murals, faux finishing, and fine arts for residential and commercial spaces. The owner has successfully created a niche for herself, in that her work is recognizable for its festive color, attention to detail, and often whimsical children's subjects.
- EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
- COMPANY SUMMARY
- INDUSTRY ANALYSIS
- MARKETING PLAN
- HUMAN RESOURCES
- FINANCIAL HISTORY & PLAN
My name is Janine Smith Ray. I began Smith Ray Design mid-year of 2000 specializing in murals, faux finishing, and fine arts for residential and commercial spaces. I have successfully created a niche for myself, in that my work is recognizable for its festive color, attention to detail, and often whimsical children's subjects.
I am a graduate of the Cincinnati Museum of Art, where I received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. I painted theater sets after graduation, simulating many styles of architecture, stone, landscape, and portraiture.
"Art for All"—I believe that every home is a haven and should reflect the passions of its inhabitants; In this cookie-cutter society, I can help a home become a unique expression of its owners.
Businesses strive to distinguish themselves from the herd, and I believe I can help them make a unique and creative setting for their workplace and a memorable experience for their clients.
Industry, Market & Competition
The greater Cincinnati area supports approximately a dozen companies that offer some or all of what I offer. Approximately six of them are in direct competition with me.
There is a target audience of over 50,000 enthusiasts who subscribe to Cincinnati Bright Interiors, a glossy lifestyle magazine that features many services for home design and remodeling, and lists professional resources regionally available.
The area supports several hundred licensed interior designers, most of whom would find my skills and services useful to their client base.
- I offer free, in-home design consultation, portfolio review, and initial sketches.
- I custom-design murals or hand-painted subjects in a variety of styles, most often painted directly on a client's walls, ceilings, furniture, and also as framed fine art.
- I custom design faux finishes, which are painting techniques that imply stone, aging or pattern, while maintaining hand-painted, custom color mixing and matching, as opposed to wallpaper or commercially mixed and applied pattern and color.
Marketing & Sales Strategy
I have produced a professionally printed full-color brochure for distribution to a mailing list of over 300, and an e-mail list of over 200, including former clients, art exhibit patrons, and interior designers. I have designed and placed two, full-color, one-third page ads in Cincinnati Bright Interiors in 2001, and have been featured in Cincinnati Magazine, Southern Ohio Live, Cincinnati Times, the nationally produced and distributed Artists' Magazine, and on HGTV's "Room by Room," where I was interviewed while painting a large-scale mural for Cincinnati's American Cancer Society Designer Show House.
I plan to target future advertisement to these publications as well as arts programs for the Cincinnati Orchestra, Playhouse Square, and other performing arts venues, to focus on the arts patron demographic, who tend to spend disposable income on multiple arts events.
Smith Ray Design is owned and operated by me, with financial advising by my husband, John Ray, a professional painter who owned and operated his own painting business from 1996 to 2000.
I subcontract the financial assistance of Abe Farnsworth, CPA, in Hamilton, Ohio. I have had start-up legal work done by an attorney who specializes in intellectual property and copyright law, Seymour Florelli, with the firm of Janes, Brightmoore & Falcon, in downtown Cincinnati.
I am currently searching for database entry and phone sales/office assistance.
Status of Operations
Smith Ray Design is in its third year of operation, with future plans of incorporation as the budget increases.
- In my first complete year of 2001, Smith Ray Design's Gross Income was just over $18,000 with Net Profit (before taxes) of over $6,000 (see Financial History & Plan for specific numbers).
- In 2002 Gross Income was just over $17,000, Total Expenses were over $18,000 with a Net Loss of about $1,000.
- My 2003 year-to-date Gross Income is $23,806, Total Expenses $15,550, Net Profit (before taxes) is $8,256.
- I project an estimated need of $20,000 over the next year in seed capital to properly approach marketing, staffing, and to update needed equipment.
My vividly colorful paintings and drawings are inspired by a multicultural view of life, having grown up in a diverse neighborhood in Fairfield, Ohio, and attending diverse primary and secondary schools. My experiences traveling to India, after graduation from Cincinnati Museum of Art, energized my world view and color palette.
My early experience working in theater set painting led me to desire a more long-term venue for my large paintings—personal and custom murals in people's homes and businesses—right on their walls!
After graduating from the Cincinnati Museum of Art with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, and upon returning from India, I freelanced with a custom art company in downtown Cincinnati's City Hall from 1988 to 1991.
I won top prize from the Cincinnati Museum of Art's "Parade the Circle" Poster and T-shirt Design Competition in 1993, and was featured in an article by Florence Meininger titled "Painting to a Creative Beat" on the front page of the Living/Arts section, in June 1993.
I attended University of Cincinnati from 1991 to 1993 in Art Education, and I attended Cincinnati Community College in Ceramics from 2000 to 2002.
I worked for over six years, from 1994 to mid-2000, with a Fairfield mural and faux finishing company, as a Senior Design Associate, where I designed and painted hundreds of murals, and was featured in Southern Ohio Live, in a special pull-out Interiors section in March 2000.
In the latter half of the year 2000, I began my own mural and custom faux finishing company and have successfully created a niche for myself, in that my work is recognizable for its festive color, attention to detail, and often whimsical children's subjects.
Major works or exhibits at the following venues:
- Uptown Club, downtown Cincinnati, 2002
- First Presbyterian, downtown Cincinnati, 1999
- Cincinnati Public Theater, 1995
- Cincinnati Botanical Garden, downtown Cincinnati, 1994
- Michaels Gallery of the Cincinnati Museum of Natural History, 1993
- Cincinnati Center for Contemporary Art, 1993
- Strong Center, Sharonville, Ohio 1993
- Rhythm Shoes Dance Company, Cincinnati, 1991
- Cincinnati Orchestra, 1985
- Cincinnati Hall, 1982 to 1984
Featured in the following media:
- Cincinnati Bright Interiors, Autumn 2002 issue, where one of my murals was featured on page 25.
- Cincinnati Magazine "Best of..." issue, October 2001, on page 114—where I was included in their "Home & Garden Guide."
- Artists' Magazine, a nationally distributed, full-color, glossy publication, in which one of my pieces was included in an article, in August 1995, page 28.
- CIN TV (a Cincinnati CBS Cable Affiliate) "Interior Elements," an interior design program, where I appeared as their first guest artist on the premiere episode, in a ten-minute segment, displaying selections from my portfolio and demonstrating a faux finish technique.
- I received national media exposure on HGTV's program "Room by Room," an interior design program, where I was interviewed while painting a mural for the American Cancer Society's Designer Show House in 1998, which is currently on rotation in re-runs.
I created a studio in the basement of my home and share a second floor office with my husband.
My motto, "Art for All," expresses my desire to make available the arts to those who are intrigued by creativity, but may not think they are able to afford art or are creative enough to express themselves through art. I not only target a wealthy demographic, but also try to make my work available for modest income families and businesses, and have done "pro bono" work for a select group of lower-income residents and businesses.
I believe that every home is a haven and should reflect the passions of its inhabitants; in this cookie cutter society, I can help a home to be a unique expression of its owners.
Businesses strive to distinguish themselves from the rest, and I believe I can help them make a unique and creative setting for their workplace and a memorable experience for their clients.
I have set the following objectives for 2004:
- Achieve sales of $50,000 (Net Profit of $30,000, before taxes)
- Achieve distribution of promotional materials to 100 area interior designers
- Achieve distribution of promotional materials to 100 area builders
- Achieve media recognition for at least one major mural project
Keys to Success
- Press releases to promote my major projects via media documentation
- Promotional mailings to interior designers and builders
- Telephone contact for appointments and sales with mailing recipients
The Local View
There are a handful of small companies in the greater Cincinnati area that offer custom murals and faux finishing. They all have a particular field of expertise, and there seems to be a large enough market in the region to provide a sustainable living for all.
The Regional/National View
I have been hired to design and paint murals from California to Maine, and am excited with the prospect of travel for interesting projects. While there are qualified artists in each city, I have a distinctive style and welcome the opportunity to lend my particular vision to a project, regardless of location. The availability of digital scanning and access to e-mailed images keeps costs low and protects original documents during the design process, as well.
- Local and regional interior designers and builders
- Recipients of interior design publications
- Patrons of fine arts performances and events
- Private children's care facilities and retail businesses
- Selected art galleries
Market Size & Trends
I have noticed that in the financial climate of recovery from the recession, many home and business owners are rehabilitating present locations as opposed to relocating or investing in new constructions.
The trend I have observed is that of families and businesses sprucing up their existing spaces, where I am brought in to help nurture their ideas.
Often a client approaches me through three channels:
- Interior designers
- Referrals from contacts that have purchased or have seen my work
- Individuals who have seen my advertisements, brochures, or media
I allow for a commission for interior designers, and often reward individual clients with a referral fee as an incentive to sell my work to their contacts.
Currently, there are about six companies in my region that are in direct competition, but it seems that all of us have a specific area of expertise.
There are a limited amount of projects a small team can paint at a time, and it's not unheard of for one company to recommend one or two of the better companies to bid a project that they are unable to fit into a busy schedule (if a client can't wait).
My experience is that if I feel that another artist can tackle a subject that I am uncomfortable with, I will refer the client, with either a finder's fee required, or expressly stated return referrals expected back. Other artists may have projects they are not as adept at, which may fit into my area of expertise. All of which can engender goodwill and more work in a competitive market.
SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) Analysis
My education, technical skill, and over twenty years of experience include:
- Elegant line quality
- Complex composition
- Layered and energetic use of color
- Meticulous attention to detail
- Whimsical and unique children's subjects
- Wide range of expertise in creative techniques and historical references
- Strong graphic design background for promotional opportunities
I foster a good reputation for my professional attention in regards to:
- Punctuality and promptness in appointments and contact
- Clean and reliable job site maintenance
- Honesty and consistency in quotes and billing
- Dedication to delivering more than the client expects, facilitating excitement with their creative experience, resulting in enthusiastic referrals
- Due to my location, I have very low overhead, and do not foresee the need for an off-site studio in the future
Company Weaknesses/Barriers to Entry
- Lack of time to pursue new contacts
- Inexperienced in website maintenance resulting in lag time for updates
- Inexperienced at phone sales cold contact
Unmet/Incompletely Met Needs
- Marketing capital for magazine advertising
- Capital for staffing to accomplish mailings and phone contact
- Capital for exclusive use of a larger, reliable vehicle to transport equipment safely
- Capital for a DSL (a dedicated line for a modem) for e-transmission of larger scanned files in a more timely manner
- Capital for larger format full-color scanner and printer
- A national organization called the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) that I have yet to approach, where I could join as a professional resource member. This would give me access to all licensed interior designers in my region, and possible advertising in their quarterly publications.
- I also have access to a regional retail furniture chain and a regional retail paint outlet chain that may allow me to hold painting demonstrations and workshops in return for distribution of my promotional materials and referrals to their customers.
- Very few artists' mural companies have the resources or interest to advertise, and if they have, the design and layout has been unimpressive, in my opinion. I have the motivation to be recognizable as a high quality resource in the regional media, budget permitting.
- I have yet to explore the market of home improvement due to property damage, in which insurance awards would pay for renovations.
- The economy has curtailed business and home improvement spending by 50 percent in my experience and observation over the last year. As a new business, I rely on a good economy for disposable income to support the luxury of home improvement.
- There is a small, slow upturn in the economy, but layoffs have affected about a third of my clients' ability to follow through with scheduled projects which have been delayed until the climate improves.
- The newly available resources of home improvement cable television and workshops at outlets such as Home Depot, have slightly altered my client base, as people are more emboldened to try faux finishes and stenciling patterns on their own. Lately I am more often approached to fix their attempts, and improve on them.
I am skilled in and offer the following services:
- Free, in-home portfolio design consultation with initial sketches
- Mural styles ranging from classical to whimsical—drawn and painted samples
- A wide variety of faux finish techniques—samples available
- Custom color matching—samples available for project options
- Maintenance and touch-up services
- Custom portrait painting and drawing
- Portable works on canvas or paper, for exhibit and purchase
- Workshops in skills and technique
- Group and private fine arts instruction
- Flexible hours and calendar
- I have been repeatedly told by clients and designers that I offer a wider variety of styles than many of my competitors.
- I have researched the fact that I am moderately priced in comparison to my competitors, and have been told this by designers and clients alike.
- I have noticed that when my clients have received quotes from other companies, they choose my company due to my rapport with them and my willingness to utilize their ideas and vision, as well as my professional and flexible approach to their design needs and schedule.
- Clyde's, paint supply, Montgomery, Ohio, where I receive a discount on my account
- Wynan's, art supply, Hamilton, Ohio, where I receive 50% discounts
- Home Depot, Greenhills, Ohio, where I receive skilled instruction and advice
- Xacto Printing, Cincinnati, Ohio, for full-color offset printing
- Gerard's Design Shop, Cincinnati, Ohio, graphic design of stationary and first brochure
- #1 Photo Labs, Sharonville, Ohio, for inexpensive, high quality prints
- Southern Insured Group, Business Liability Insurance, Forestville, Ohio
- Abe Farnsworth, Certified Public Accountant, Hamilton, Ohio
- Seymour Florelli, Attorney, Janes, Brightmoore & Falcon, Cincinnati, Ohio
- Michael Bailey, Cincinnati, Ohio, website designer
I am a member of the following:
- Art Beat, Old Cincinnati, Ohio, Self-Employed Artists Network
- Arts District, Cincinnati, founding member, Steering Committee
- Northwestern Development Corporation, Cincinnati, visual art consultant
- Cincinnati Museum of Art, general member and volunteer
I have contacts at:
- Cincinnati Museum of Art
- University of Cincinnati, art department
- Cincinnati Community College, art and interior design departments
These provide a pool of qualified artists for part-time employment.
I currently exhibit my work at:
- Design House, Loveland, Ohio
- Zeke's Restaurant, Forestville, Ohio
- Winding Road Books & Art, downtown Cincinnati
- Ginetti Gallery, Cincinnati
These promote my business through referrals, sales, and brochure distribution.
I am actively represented by 5 local interior designers and am on file at more than 20 establishments for referral purposes. I also have donated time/work to numerous businesses for promotional purposes, including Cincinnati Museum of Art; Cincinnati Zoo; Cincinnati Botanical Gardens; and Cincinnati chapters of Habitat for Humanity, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, and the American Cancer Society.
These raise my visibility to my key demographic with little or no expense.
Plant and Facilities
- Basement studio is used for painting and drying samples. Lighting has been increased by 75% in 2001.
- Expansion of lighting, storage, and restroom facilities is planned as capital increases.
- The upstairs office is utilized for computer access, mailing preparation, phone sales, and follow-up contact.
- Improved storage of records in the office is scheduled for 2004.
Equipment & Technology
- Primary Use Of An Imac (2000 Model) Equipped With Quicken Financial Software, Quark Graphic Design And Dreamweaver Html Software For Website Design
- Shared Use Of A Lexmark Z23 Color Printer
- Shared Use Of One Land Telephone Line
- Shared Use Of A Sharp Ux P1000 Fax Machine
- Shared Use Of An Hp Scanjet 4400C Color Scanner
- Sole Access To A Verizon Cell Phone
- Shared Use Of Two Vcrs To Duplicate Footage For Use In Initial Contact Of New Interior Designers
- Approximately 30 Gallons Of Latex Paint, In A Variety Of Colors
- Approximately 100 Paintbrushes, In A Variety Of Sizes And Quality
- Approximately 200 Pounds Of Mat Board For Painted Samples
- Three Photo Albums Of Portfolio History
- Approximately 200 Prismacolor Pencils In A Variety Of Colors
- Approximately 100 Pounds Of Heavy, White Drawing Paper
- Two Large Portfolio Cases For Full-Sized Samples
- 5' X 4' X 5' Wood Flat File For Storage
- Four-Foot Aluminum Ladder
- Four-Foot Fiberglass Ladder
- Six-Foot Aluminum Ladder
- 18-Foot Aluminum Extension Ladder
- 16-Foot Multimatic Aluminum Folding Ladder
- Shared Use Of A Leased 2000 Subaru Forrester (A Small Suv)
- After receipt of a design fee deposit, I schedule time to create painted samples or black and white/color drawn samples, according to the agreed and received fee.
- Using previously prepared cut heavy mat board, I paint at least two faux finish samples for each project. The client retains the one they choose to proceed with and I either recycle the extra board or use it in my portfolio.
- I then contact the client for an appointment to review samples within a couple of weeks, and repeat the design process (for the original fee) until the client is happy and agrees to a sample.
- I present a quote and contract for signature—copy for client, copy for me, and schedule a begin date, with half of the quote due as deposit and calendar commitment.
- At the completion of the project, I photograph the work for promotional use, and receive the remaining half of the fee.
- I give the client a handful of brochures for promotional use, and discuss referral fee incentive opportunities.
- I utilize the best of the painted samples in a large portfolio case for interviews with new designers and clients, and constantly update smaller photograph portfolios to display a large variety of styles available, to spark ideas if the client is unsure of the desired work.
- I update my website with the best of the scanned photos and send copies of enlargements to the media for press releases.
- I use the best of the scanned photos in advertisements and brochures.
Order Fulfillment and Customer Service
- At the in-home consultation, I take notes and do some sketches, free of charge, then send a quote by mail on letterhead. After a week I call and determine willingness to move forward, or negotiate their concerns.
- If they agree to continue with the design process, I try to honestly assess my schedule and hold to my estimated time frame for creation of samples, appointments and projects, but am flexible to client needs, and can delay or hasten projects accordingly, with phone contact in either event.
- Within six months after a project is completed, I call a client to see if they need any touch-up or are concerned with anything.
- I include clients in promotional mailings for upcoming exhibit events or bi-annual promotional mailings for updates on my latest work.
- I call a year after their completed project to remind clients that I am available for their next project.
- I pride myself in helping my clients realize their creative vision for their home or business, and work to accomplish it in reality. I will go the extra mile, even at no extra fee, to create samples until they are excited about the project.
- I retain reproduction copyrights to all of my work, signed, dated, and photographed for my portfolio use.
- I require any changes to the work be done with permission, since my designs are unique and artists usually don't allow others to add to or change their work.
A rough estimate for an average eight-foot by ten-foot mural on a smooth, prepared wall would range from:
- $1,000 to $1,200, depending on subject and complexity.
- Two walls $2,000 to $2,200, depending on subject and complexity.
- All four walls would range from $3,000 to $4,000, depending on subject and complexity.
- A smooth ceiling would range from $1,000 to $2,000 depending on size, subject, and complexity.
- $100 design fee covers an 8 1/2" x 11" color drawing that the client would keep, even if they decided not to continue with the project.
Estimates include materials and a variety of touch-up paints.
Faux finishing estimates begin at:
- $500 for a small eight-foot by ten-foot room—four smooth walls, depending on complexity of technique, can rise to $2,000 or more taking into account scaffold and/or daily breakdown needs for high traffic areas.
- $100 design fee will cover two color faux samples.
Upon receipt of the first half payment to begin the project, the remaining half is due upon completion. I usually give a range for the quote in the event of unforeseen difficulty, and most of the time, come in under budget for goodwill, but in the event of great difficulty, I will not exceed the high end of the quote.
I'm often asked to add details later, or touch-up if work is damaged. After the project is completed, I make touch-up appointments at the rate of $50 per hour (includes drive time if in excess of 30 minutes).
- I provide an average of a dozen brochures to each client, more if they entertain often, or if their project is included in the newer printings of brochures.
- I place my brochures in stand-up boxes in the galleries where I exhibit, or they display them as they wish.
- I have placed brochures in private schools and daycare centers where my work appears, libraries that allow promotional display, as well as health food stores and coffee shops in mid- to high-income neighborhoods that allow display.
- I have utilized the graphic design software Quark to create a professionally printed, glossy, full-color brochure, and have updated them each year since I launched my business—three to date; 3,000 copies each printing for mailing and distribution.
- I have a two-color professionally designed and printed business card, letterhead, and envelopes, and can generate color stickers of the same for special mailing or packaging needs.
- I have a professionally designed website, with multiple pages and sections for indepth display of the variety of work offered, and maintain it as I continue to learn the Dreamweaver HTML software.
- In 2002, I designed and placed two, one-third page, full-color ads in Cincinnati Bright Interiors, a quarterly, glossy, regional interior design magazine with a 50,000 plus subscription target audience. The package cost $1,400, and included extra full-color photo coverage. This directly resulted in new representation by two interior designers, resulting in six major projects. I foresee the need to repeat this package each year.
- I have permission to reproduce the video footage from CTN's Design Elements in which I appear, for distribution to new interior designer contacts.
- Projected need to place an ad package in the Cincinnati Orchestra, Museum, and Opera program guide books to target the arts patron audience.
- Projected need to be installed onto a few web search engines, as budget increases.
- Projected need to join the American Society of Interior Designers as a professional resource member.
- Projected need to create and submit slides for an Ohio Arts Council Individual Artist Grant, and submit a full array of slides to their Resource Slide Library.
- HGTV's "Room by Room" is locally based—I intend to present a proposal for an appearance as a featured guest for a major project in 2004 or 2005.
Promotional Products Distributors
- As my budget increases, I will actively recruit new interior designers for promotion for our mutual profit.
- I plan to create new print ads for promotion as budget increases.
Educators, Catalog Merchants, Retail Stores
- I plan to target children's educational resources and retail for promotional events and mailings, as budget and staffing allows.
- I will target interior design outlets, upscale furniture outlets and showrooms, through display as well as offering workshops to the public.
- I am the primary designer and on-site artist. My husband, John Ray—a professionally trained painter, is skilled in small plaster repair, base-coat work, and faux-finishing—assists me when the schedule allows (as a nationally touring musician/performer he's not always available).
- I have six part-time, skilled assistants for large on-site projects, available in rotation as scheduling allows. Hourly pay starts at $10/hour for simple faux work and increases to $15/hour for more complex work. These subcontractors sign an agreement for clarity in requirements and expectations, and are responsible for their own taxes and liability insurance.
- I am currently looking for office assistance in creating a database for new designer/builder contacts through web search, mailing, phone inquiry, and sales.
FINANCIAL HISTORY & PLAN
|1.||2001 Gross Income||$18,364|
|Net Profit, Before Taxes||$6,713|
|2.||2002 Gross Income||$17,613|
|Net Profit, Before Taxes||$8,256|
|Net Profit, Before Taxes||$15,000|
- I project an estimated need of $20,000 in seed capital for 2004, to properly approach marketing, staffing, and updating equipment.
- 2004—Achieve Sales of $50,000, Net Profit of $30,000, before taxes
- 2005—Achieve Sales of $75,000, Net Profit of $50,000, before taxes
- 2006—Achieve Sales of $100,000, Net Profit of $75,000, before taxes