Ursula Barton

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Ursula Barton is an American entrepreneur. Ursula started URSULA BARTON in 2012 and is based in Portland.[1]

Ursula Barton, founder of URSULA BARTONUrsula Barton, founder of URSULA BARTON




@anotherursula (2.78K followers)


Early Career

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Ursula started URSULA BARTON in 2012. They detail the beginnings of their company in their Starter Story interview: [1]

Q: How did you get started on URSULA BARTON?

Seven years ago I spilled an entire bottle of really expensive ink onto some really expensive watercolor paper. This was the first step to taking away my perfectionist and controlling tendencies with my work.

This spill opened up a whole new world of unpredictable process. I was a part-time waitress and had spent all my tips on these high-quality materials for an upcoming show at the restaurant I worked at, The Daily Cafe in the Pearl. I had to react and make something out of the mess I had created. So I started making a bigger mess.

I dumped some water onto the ink and pushed it around with a big brush to explore what different textures and values I could get out of the ink. Once I got some ink blobs I was happy with I left all the papers to dry most of the way, and then picked them up quickly to let what was still wet naturally drip down.

Once the blobs were completely dry I went back into them with colored ink and a pen and started drawing from my bike commutes from the northeast where I lived, to the northwest where I worked. This process forced a duologue with my medium instead of trying to bend it to my will. I have learned to love this process, and still use it today.

This work ended up in my show at the cafe, and once it was hung I realized that I was in a rare position. Most customers didn't know it was my work, so I used that opportunity to do some market research. I never lied and said it wasn’t mine, but I didn’t volunteer that information, I just asked a lot of questions. I asked questions about how it made the customers feel, what painting was their favorite and why? I did a lot of eavesdropping when I heard a discussion about art, my art, or any art. I got the rare opportunity to get an honest face to face reaction to my new work, and it was a good reaction, and the show sold out.

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I realized I had created something that was resonating with a lot of different Portlanders, and I should document and reproduce these paintings and test this reaction on a larger audience. This was the start of my greeting cards, postcards, and prints that I sold in about 3-5 consignment shops around town to start. To get into these shops I usually visited the store first to leave a postcard with all my contact information, and then followed up with an email with three work samples and a link to my website.

I quickly became one of the top sellers at some of these shops, and my consignment checks started becoming bigger than my paychecks. This was a pivotal moment where I had just lost my seasonal catering job and qualified for 6 months of unemployment, so I decided to live off of the $800/month in unemployment and reinvest all of my consignment checks back into my new business so I could fully dedicate myself and see how far I could take it.

I learned more about myself and about business in those six months than I learned in four years of college. I put everything I had into developing my product line, creating new work to add to it, and getting new accounts.

Source [1]