Team Players

Picture of the artist Isa Catto and two studio employees posing while on a snowshoe hike

The studio team is officially on vacation and I’m the last one standing. Isa Catto Studio definitely earned a break after a surprisingly busy season with online sales and growing wholesale accounts. When I started this business a little over a year ago, I was flying blind. For more than two decades, I worked for myself and answered to myself except when I worked with galleries or clients. It’s simple when you work alone, but it can get lonely and cloistered. I didn’t expect the business to grow the way it did, and I now have two full-time employees and three part-timers. All thanks to you, my loyal clients. I love working as a team and am grateful to my “youngsters” for their enthusiasm and work ethic.

I have read a great deal about running a small business, but personal experience has been my most valuable guide. My first job was a miserable one. I could do nothing right and my boss picked on me daily. My earrings were too flirty (I like big earrings). I didn’t stuff envelopes well. My telephone voice was off. I dressed like a bohemian. I got caught dancing to a good song in the kitchenette when I thought no one was looking. When I said good morning to a client, I was dressed down and told to be silent. I was inarticulate (she made me so nervous that I went mute.) I wasn’t professional (um I think the dancing did me in). She blamed a computer crash on me when I wasn’t even in the office -- I was out running personal errands for her. The harassment was steady and petty. I quit before I was fired but she gave me a significant gift.

Negative experiences are great teachers if you let them be and I was determined not to carry that experience forward. I later learned that my problematic boss was struggling with illness and divorce and the attendant depression that came with them, and was barely coping. I was green, young, and an easy scapegoat. Patience and kindness should be part of every business mission. I never went to business or managerial school but I do know it's vital to acknowledge that you cannot build a business alone and that each team member is a valuable part of the machine. So thank you Jennifer, Ted, Caroline, Hannah, Vivian and our models Fiona, Lindsey, Allie, Tigist, Ariana, Maria, Shyla and Nadia! Our customers are part of our team as well, and though there are too many to mention, you know who you are, and we are so grateful to you!

And if you are wondering what we’re doing, we took our Christmas party outside on snowshoes and goofed off like kids and had a ball.

Have a wonderful holiday season and remember to dance in the kitchen as much as possible.

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