Home > Blog > April 2020 > Totally Tangled Creations: Q&A with April Nicholson-Couch

Totally Tangled Creations: Q&A with April Nicholson-Couch

Thursday, April 23, 2020 by [email protected]

What is the background story of your business Totally Tangled Creations? How was it created? 
I have always been a creative. I used to doodle in church because it helped me focus and stay awake. My background is in banking. I was a financial analyst and a commercial real estate lender before I quit my career to be a stay-at-home mom. Through the kids being home, my business really started as a hobby. I realized I had 25 years of built-up creativity. Before I knew it, my business started and flourished into something full-time.
How has your business experienced growth? 
I always thought it’d be very difficult for me to make a living as an artist, but people really started to be interested. I took the art to different levels including 3D objects and I also scaled it down to make it accessible to everyone. My background in business really helped me realize I needed shirts, buttons, and smaller items with my art on them to make my art within reach for everyone.
At my first art show, I made more money in 2 days than I had in my whole life. In 2014, I was lucky to open my own shop in Canton. Then in 2016, I moved it back to Akron into Summit Art Space. I started in a 300-square foot studio, then moved to a 400-square foot space within the next year. In 2017, we knocked down the wall in my studio making it 900+ square feet.
Where does the Totally Tangled Creations name come from?
Zentangle is the type of art I create. I started with this method of doodles and drawings and developed my own style. I become ‘totally tangled’ in it. The ‘Creations’ part of the name represents me creating all kinds of objects with the art style, not just drawings.
What got you into art?
I have always been a doodler. My teachers recognized and encouraged this. I drew the covers for my grade school and middle school yearbooks. Upon graduation, I had a full scholarship to go to school for art. As a first-generation college student, people around me discouraged me from doing that and told me I would not be able to make a living as an artist, so I decided to take a different path.
My daughter is an artist as well. She has been told many times that she is too smart to be an artist and to let it just be her hobby or a backup plan. I told her to forget the backup plan, and instead work the plan you have in front of you. If you have a backup plan with whatever you’re doing in life, you’re not 100% into plan A and you won’t be fully committed to either. I encourage her every day to find a way to make it work for her and pursue her dreams to the fullest.
What struggles have you faced in the scale-up of your company? 
The biggest struggle I face is jurors in the art community not taking me seriously. Many times when I apply for an art show, I’m told, “I’ve never seen anything like this” or “I don’t know what category to put you in” or “You don’t fit into a fine-art category.” This has been a big barrier for me.
How do you define growth? What quantifiable growth have you seen in the last year?
My growth has always been self-funded. My business started as a hobby, and I’ve put everything I made right back into it. I’ve been fortunate enough to never have had to take out a loan.
I personally define growth in four parts:
  1. Increasing the number of people that my art/products are accessible to.
  2. Income growth has been very consistent over the years.
  3. Size: growth of my studio from 100 to 900 square feet.
  4. Growth in product:  furniture, dinnerware, wall hangings, etc., diversifying to include not just drawings.
How are you getting through this pandemic?
I feel that what I have to offer is non-essential. So, I haven’t been pushing sales. January to June is usually the time I work on my pieces for the rest of the year to sell in my store and at art shows. I’m not overly concerned about my business. I do not have a lot of overhead; I already have the supplies and a plan for what I am working on this year. I’m hopeful the shows will open back up at some point this year.
How has the Greater Akron region played a role in the evolution of your company/career? 
Akron has been amazing in the evolution of my company. I feel that I could not have entered the art scene at a better time; it is really growing. If you look around, there is a spirit of art in Akron. There are murals and curated storefronts—all things that were not happening even 5 years ago. Hardesty Park is one of the biggest shows in Akron and the people here have really embraced it and have been supportive. What also helps is that people are willing to support art and want to see small businesses grow here and stay here in Akron— this makes a huge difference.
Posted: Thursday, April 23, 2020 by [email protected] | with 131 comments
Filed under: #ChooseGrowth

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