On February 16th, the Pine City Chamber of Commerce and Entrepreneurs Club at Pine Technical College is hosting a PANEL discussion called the Art of the Start: Conversations about Entrepreneurism. The PANEL is open to the public and will take place at Pine Tech, Room 50 at 11:30am. In advance of this discussion we are profiling some of the participants and their perspectives on starting, growing and thriving small enterprises.
“Beaded Wire Tree Sculpture” by Angie Filler
Name: Angie Filler
Business Name: M.I.F.G.A.P Gallery (which stands for Mural art, Illustration, Fine Art, Graphic Design, Advertising & Photography)
Industry: Art, Sculpture, Printing & Design
Year Started: 2010
What was your path to entrepreneur-dom?
I had lots of people in my life that encouraged me to pursue my passion for art. My dad really encouraged me and was always telling everyone what I was working on. Early on, I made various pieces for teachers, friends and family and I realized that this is what I wanted to do for a living.
What is an entrepreneur?
An entrepreneur is a risk taker that has ideas that they want to share with others
Can entrepreneurship be taught?
Parts of being an entrepreneur can be taught but you have to have it inside of you. The money aspects and basic fundamentals can be learned but the risk taking has to be within you. Some people cant stand the idea of risking it all like entrepreneurs do.
Are entrepreneurs control freaks?
I wouldn’t call entrepreneurs control freaks but do need to have things their way because it is their future. To others it may appear that you are a control freak but I think it will be easier to be less controlling over time.
Do entrepreneurs have balance in their life?
I believe that it is difficult to have balance as a relatively new entrepreneur. You put all your time into making your business succeed. For now, I have to balance different aspects of my business life like making money, being creative, connecting with customers and vendors so, for now, that’s my balance.
What do you notice about other entrepreneurs?
Its challenging to group them all together because I do meet so many other entrepreneurs and they come from different places in their lives. Some are struggling, some are excited by their choices, like I am. But its difficult to group them all together because they are all so different.
What skills would you advise an entrepreneur to acquire?
#1 would be listening and communication. If you cant effectively listen to your customers, especially, then you can push them away. #2 would be networking because I definitely know that I need others to succeed.
How do you “keep score” in your business–what kinds of things do you pay attention to measure growth and keep you going?
As a creative person in a creative business, I keep score by new creative pursuits. I sold my first watercolor today and that wasn’t something that anyone had taught me how to do. I just did it and someone purchased it. My business is great because it allows me to do things like this. It keeps me going especially with all the bumps I have experienced along the way like not having money or knowing specifically what path I would take to realizing my dream.
What does success mean to you?
Success to me is being able to provide for my family. It means that I can wake up and enjoy what I do. Success is my ability to be happy.
Who are your best partners?
To this point my best partners are those people that have encouraged me along this path. When I was 10 or 11, I received a lot of encouragement from my bus driver, Lenny from Bus #606. He found some of my art on the bus one day and from then on, really encouraged me to pursue my gifts. I also have a great mentor in Steve Stegner who helps me work through issues with creativity, business development and growth, both personally and professionally.
Angie Filler is the owner and artist at MIFGAP Gallery. Her work is available for viewing and purchase at Java Joes Bistro in Pine City, Wacky Yacky’s in Hinckley and Cabin Coffees in Pine City. On March 1st, MIFGAP Gallery will open in Pine City, across from Pizza Pub. She can also be reached at email@example.com or by phone at (218) 380.2270.