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money talks with Ren Allen

Ren Allen Money TalksWelcome back to our twice-monthly Money Talks column. If you’ve been following along, you know that in our columns we get to hear from artists/entrepreneurs who “bare all” in terms of beliefs about money + tricks/tips/tools to earning a living while living a creative life.

Today we get to hear from Ren Allen. What I love so much about Ren is her no-holds-barred responses. Like, “It’s crap!” Or “Do the work.” And this one, “You better get your relationship with money worked out.” Read on to find out what in the heck she’s referring to with those strong comments.

The other thing I don’t want you to miss about Ren’s responses is when she talks about wanting her business to thrive so she can move even more deeply into the life she imagines for herself. I love that she’s brought in this conversation of the future — that making a living isn’t just about getting by right now, but creating a sustainable life for ourselves.

Whatcha think? Please post in the comments below after you read Ren’s thoughts. We’d love to hear yours, as well!

Ren Allen bioRen Allen
Makeup Artist/Bodypainter
Johnson City, TN

Ren Allen is an admitted Tea-aholic, lover of birds, digger of dirt, student of life, mother of many, and companion to one. She runs a full-time makeup and bodypainting studio, alongside her husband’s photography business in the Appalachian mountains of Eastern TN. Faces by Ren and Tea with Ren

1. Are you earning what you’re worth?  If you ask people in big cities, I’m not charging enough. If you ask people locally, I’m expensive. If you ask me, I’m really happy with my pricing for the time being. I live in a small town, I get to travel a lot, and I’m supporting a rather large family. I don’t know if it’s “what I’m worth” but I feel very much in alignment with my prices and that they are fair for the client — and also sustainable for me— at this time.

Worth and value are something I think about a lot. Pricing needs to reflect an alignment with the value received and your offerings. I want to be generous with my clients, and generous with myself. Generosity breeds growth and loyalty. The kind that is based on actual value, not just growth for the sake of growth.


2. What does the expression “starving artist” bring up for you? I have a few choice words on this topic, but I don’t want to cuss here. 😉

It’s crap. It’s a line we’ve been fed (no pun intended) and it’s utter crap. I realize that society doesn’t always value art. But ultimately it’s up to us, as artists, to value our own work and what we bring to the table before we are ever going to find our “tribe” who values us as well.

The starving artists I meet tend to believe that myth and perpetuate it. They don’t treat their art as a business.

I want to make clear that there is nothing wrong with having a hobby, or an outreach, if that is your direction. But if you are going to start a business, run a damn business. It requires marketing, plans, organization, focus, and determination. You can learn those things. If your art is your business, then you are going to have to learn skills beyond your art form.

I don’t intend to ever be a “starving artist” again and I will constantly encourage people to put that tired mantra down. We need a world of thriving artists instead.


3. Do you have any childhood money stories that have to do with making a living from work you love? Oh yeah. I was the kid who loved selling things. I would gather the stacks of comic books my Mum purchased for us and set up a table at the end of our driveway, selling them all day on the weekends.

Lemonade stands, Popsicles, comic books — anything my young self could get a hold of to make a buck.

I loved that feeling of empowerment. I poured my heart and soul into creating a booth that would appeal to passersby. I loved earning my own money. It was satisfying doing it myself.

I remember my Dad teaching me that selling the Popsicle for 10 cents was not a great idea if my overhead was more than that. He got me thinking about operating costs and proper pricing at eight years old.

4. What’s your biggest money story currently?  Moving deeper into thriving means not only having money to support my family, and re-invest in my business but creating financial stability for the future. I’m at an age where I need to think about how to care for our needs as we move into “the golden years.”

I’m proud of what I’ve created with this business. How it nurtures and encourages others, as well as how the money flow is allowing me to do more in my community and support activism I’m passionate about.

I want to move deeper into that place of abundance and thriving so that I can do more in those arenas.


5. Do you think the expression, “Do what you love and the money will follow” is accurate? (Would you add anything to it?)  I don’t care for that saying actually. It’s misleading.

Doing what you love has it’s own benefits, that might not have anything to do with money. If you want the money to follow your passion, you better get your relationship with money worked out.

You better think about how you’re going to thrive, and grow your business. How you’re going to have enough to re-invest. Too many entrepreneurs are being shortsighted in thinking that doing what you love will somehow magically make money at some point.

It can be as simple as using what you have to it’s fullest potential.

But thinking that money just happens, without effort at your end will lead to a lot of disappointment. The money follows if you know how to work with money. If you charge appropriately, make enough to really run a sustainable business (one that takes care of your needs, as well as the needs of the business), and aren’t afraid to talk about money.

If you’re uncomfortable asking for money, that’s going to trip you up endlessly.

Develop a brilliant skill set. Do your research. Fumble around with refining your business model (lots of this is learned as you go of course) and VALUE what you bring to the table.

Doing what you love doesn’t need to be the way you earn a living. Some people enjoy the thing they love more, if it’s not their vocation. But if those two things are going to work together, don’t assume the money will follow. Do the work.


Money Talks with Sherry Belul appears here on the Mabel blog every 2nd and 4th Friday of the the month, meet us here!

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