Editor’s note: Made in Tarrant is an occasional Q&A series on small businesses started in Tarrant County. Submit your business here.
Who? Megan Najera is the creative mind behind MLNart.
When? Najera started doing art commissions in 2012.
Where? At this time, MLNart does not have a brick-and-mortar store but Najera hopes to open a plant shop in the near future.
What? Najera is accepting art commissions, from canvas to murals and everything in between, focusing on nature, Botanics and flowers. Her work has been commissioned across the Dallas-Fort Worth region.
Artist Megan Najera is the founder of MLNart. She shared her business story with the Fort Worth Report’s Sandra Sadek.
Sadek: When did you start working as an artist and what drew you to this path?
Najera: I have been drawing since I can remember. I was the kid in elementary school during art that everybody wanted my help with during the project. I’ve always been really creative. Throughout school, I always did art, I took AP Art in high school and did the award shows and things like that.
I had my son when I was really young, I was 18, in 2012. I think that’s when I started taking everything really seriously just because I wanted to be able to be at home with him. And I knew that doing art would give me that but I also knew I didn’t want to do anything else. So in 2012, I started doing commissions for people. People would come to me with an idea, sort of a collage-style type thing that they would give to friends that was really meaningful to them. And so that’s kind of where the whole thing really started – it was doing these “collagey” commissions. I started doing those out of my house when I was living with my mom at the time, and I think that I just realized at that point that this was something that I could continue to do and grow if I put the work into it.
There just really wasn’t anything else that I really cared about doing. When people started commissioning for paintings — the thing that I love to do — I was like, “OK, this is it. This is my only option. This is what I have to do” and I just never really stopped. So I continued doing those and I started putting work in art shows and painting every day and practicing. And so that’s kind of where all of that took off. I didn’t really start doing murals until about a year and a half ago. But those commissions are really what started everything for me and gave me the perspective to give me the life that I wanted to ultimately have with my kid.
Sadek: What would you say was the hardest part of getting started as a creative?
Najera: It was a little bit different for me just because everyone already knew me as the artist. I was always in other people’s minds when ideas or jobs or paintings would come up that they wanted to get.
I think the hardest part was just being a young single mom and knowing that I needed to work and I couldn’t go live on a beach somewhere and paint. The hardest part of my journey is just having a little kid when I was young and knowing I still needed to work on top of it and I couldn’t fully put everything into it just yet.
Sadek: What projects are you most proud of or well-known for here in Fort Worth?
Najera: My best mural that I’ve done at the moment is the leaf design over at Lazy Daisy Coffee. I’ve gotten a lot of feedback from that. The other thing that I’m really getting to be well-known for is the flower heads that I paint.
(Lazy Daisy) was actually one of their first commission murals I got so I’m really grateful for that.
Sadek: What do you enjoy most about painting murals?
Najera: It’s really important to me that people know that I just enjoy doing murals for the interactive and community that it kind of all brings together. It gives people something to talk about and see when they’re driving around. It gives them that little burst of happiness.
Sadek: Do you have any tips or advice for people who are looking to start their own business, especially in the art field?
Najera: This might sound kind of silly, but just be shameless in promoting your work. If you’re good and you’re confident with what you do and you know that you practice and work really hard every day, then don’t be afraid to tell people about it. Don’t be afraid to post about it.
I’m constantly talking to these DFW Facebook groups and mom groups and plant groups and telling them about my work. If you want to be successful and have the business then you can’t be afraid to talk about what you do. Just make sure that you don’t get too wrapped up in what other people are asking of you. Make sure that you stay in line with what you’re passionate about, actually painting and creating.
It’s hard when people post about their artwork, and they’re just like, “well, I don’t think it’s very good but I wanted to show you guys.” It’s like, no, you worked hard to get to where you’re at with this type of artwork. Don’t be down on yourself about it.
Sandra Sadek is a Report for America corps member, covering growth for the Fort Worth Report. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter at @ssadek19.
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