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Small words turn into big business

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Kim Tate Wheeler up up a paintbrush five years ago and hasn’t looked back since. She owns and operates Small Words, personalized artwork for nurseries.

Kim Tate Wheeler feels weird abut calling herself an artist. Five years ago she had never even picked up a paintbrush. She definitely couldn’t paint.

But when she wanted some personalized and unique artwork for her son Hudson’s room she couldn’t find what she was looking for and decided to do it herself.

Wheeler set out and bought the cheapest paintbrush she could find, a canvas and three paint colors. She didn’t know it then, but she was on the road to starting her small business Small Words.

She said her first attempt at creating a piece of art with her son’s name on it didn’t go so well, but she kept at it and before long friends were wanting her to make paintings for their children’s rooms.

“Practice makes perfect really worked.”

Wheeler said if she knew that before there are many things that she wouldn’t have given up on.

Within six months of painting her first piece, she had friends pestering her to making art for their children’s rooms.

Wheeler has created several pieces for Jennifer Carroll, of Atlanta, Ga. She has known Wheeler for about 10 years. When Carroll found out about Wheeler’s creativity she had to have Wheeler create pieces for her daughters’ rooms.

Carroll gave her creative free range.

“It was like she was in my head,” she said. “She is amazing.

“It is truly a God-given talent for her,” Carroll continued. “I think she takes a lot of pride in what she does. She puts her heart and soul into each piece.

Natalie Brock, of Tampa, Fla., said similar words about Wheeler.

“I love her uniqueness and that no piece is like any other. Everything I have has a touch that no one else would think of.”

Given the pieces are personalized and the time put into the work, Brock said Wheeler’s paintings are nothing you can find in the mass market.

“You are definitely getting a one-of-a-kind piece.”

Wheeler didn’t realize she has any artistic inclination before she started creating cute personalized art out of whimsical colors for her children.

She has a business degree and worked as an office manager for a local dentist’s office before deciding to stay home with her children full time.

Wheeler and her supportive husband Lonnie had four children in 35 months: Hudson, 5, twins Carson and Lawson, 4, and Emsley 2 ½.

Two of her children have developmental delays. They haven’t been diagnosed, but they are being treated as if they have Asperger’s Syndrome.

When asked how she handles it all, Wheeler says the busiest days actually work better for her. She lives by a strict schedule.

She gets painting done when her husband can take the kids for the day or before the children get up in the morning or after they go to bed at night.

“I get very little sleep,” Wheeler said. She often gets up at 3 a.m. and goes to bed well after the children do.

That’s more than enough for anyone to handle not to mention starting a business, but it all sort of came naturally.

Friends were demanding Wheeler create personal paintings for them and for gifts. Soon she started blogging and created her own website.

Wheeler grew a large following online rather quickly, and other bloggers began to share pictures of her work.

“It took off a lot faster than I expected that is for sure,” she said. “It has really been surreal.”

Wheeler is her own worst critic so she didn’t really know if she would ever be satisfied with what she created, but now she looks at pictures of what she has painted and she can’t believe she actually made them.

“I like the feeling of being impressed with my own work,” Wheeler said.

What has made her feel the best, though, is receiving amazing feedback from clients.

The pinnacle is when children’s artist Kelly B. Rightsell, whose artwork hangs in her house, friend requested her on Facebook.“I was blown away.”

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Art, Business, Kim Tate Wheeler, Small Words
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