We had the good fortune of connecting with Allie Harrelson Smith and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Allie, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
When I was little, my grandparents watched me after pre-school while my parents were still at work. My grandma had a room filled with natural light where she sat and painted beautiful pictures using watercolors. I was always mesmerized with her natural talent and love for her hobby. Fast forward many years later and I needed a hobby to keep my anxiety at ease during the start of the COVID-19 quarantine in the summer of 2020. I went online and bought canvas paper, permanent markers, brushes, and a watercolor set. I started painting flowers and adding detail with a permanent marker. Then life went somewhat back to normal for me that fall and I did not keep up with my hobby because I was so busy. Months passed and I started painting again when my anxiety reached an all time high at the start of 2021. Using the same techniques of florals and additional detail, I started creating pieces for friends to help improve my mental health and make others smile. I personalized the pieces with bible verses, quotes, or images of something I knew they would love. In February a few people started reaching out to me to purchase a piece for themselves or a loved one. I was surprised, yet satisfied with the level of interest people had in buying my work. So that is when I officially took a leap of faith and created Joan + James Watercolors. The childhood memory of grandma that later in life turned into an anxiety hobby is now a growing small business that I am extremely proud to have created.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Believe it or not, creating for Joan + James Watercolors is one of two career passions that I have. Every day, I feel incredibly blessed to be in a classroom full of second graders. As an elementary school teacher, each day is fun, exciting, and new. I love teaching my students not only about math and science but also how to be kind humans. My passion for creating art through Joan + James has taught me that I can achieve anything that I put my mind to. I am most proud of all of the hard work that I have put in to grow this business. It has at times been challenging to manage my time, but it is a challenge that I truly love. I want others to know that Joan + James Watercolors pieces are handmade with love, and created with the intent to make you smile.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Our adventure would start in Old Downtown Carrollton. First, we would browse The Vintage House and say “Hi!” to Nan working at the front counter. There we would shop for anything and everything a girl could possibly need. We would walk throughout the picturesque town square and continue to shop in all the unique stores until we drop. Depending on the time of the day, we would either stop for a delicious iced vanilla latte and almond croissant at Lemma Coffee Roasters, or grab a craft brew in the biergarten at 3 Nations Brewery. To continue on our adventure we would grab dinner on the patio at J. Macklin’s Grill just up the street in Coppell, either consuming a one of a kind grilled cheese or the fresh and tasty super goat salad. To end the night, because I am mostly a homebody, we would relax at my home and cuddle with my cats Barry and Arthur.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I am so fortunate to say that I have so many people in my life that offer me support, love, and encouragement on a daily (sometimes hour by hour) basis. First, I want to thank my husband, Alex, for being by human spell check and my shoulder to lean on always. I do not think I would have started Joan + James Watercolors without the inspiration derived from my Grandma, Loretta Schraufnagel. She makes me laugh and keeps me very humble. My family has always motivated me to be my best self and work hard every day and for that I am incredibly thankful. Lastly, to Joan and James Harrelson whom this is all named after…thank you for being my angels and watching over me daily.
Other: Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Tik Tok: @joanjameswatercolors
Image Credits to my good friend Sara McCord.