Making It: Selling Online Is Too Impersonal For Totally Tangled Creator

Editor’s note: This is part of a series exploring how Northeast Ohio entrepreneurs and small businesses have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic and their plans for moving forward.

Maker: April Couch

Business: Totally Tangled Creations, a shop in Akron featuring Zentangle-inspired artwork 

Describe your feelings as your business first felt the effects of the pandemic.

It's almost like I was paralyzed for a while, probably for the first month. I had no motivation because I kept thinking that I should be doing something for people, that I shouldn't be focused on creating things and promoting things that are not essential for people. I had a huge mental block about my art being essential until some of my customers started saying, ‘Hey, you know, we still have disposable income and we would like to make some purchases, how can we go about doing that?’ But for me, the first month or so I just looked for avenues in which I could be of help to someone else. And that made me feel better.

April Couch works in her studio, located within Summit Artspace in Akron.

With your shop closed, have you been able to shift to online sales?

[Selling online] gives me no joy. And even though I’m packing up items that have sold and are going into good homes, it gives me no joy because I didn't get to talk with the person. I didn't get to hear about their kids or about their families and reconnect with people that I see from time to time. So it's hard for me not to be able to do the point of sale versus online sale. I don't know that it’s something I will keep in my wheelhouse, even though people ask me on a regular basis if I have a website, and every time I attempt to do a website, I always come back to, I don't want to do this because it's so impersonal for me.

April stands behind one of her favorite pieces, a large gourd covered with her creative "doodling."

How do you see the pandemic affecting artists long-term?

People really don't understand the impact that this whole thing is having on artists as a whole. And I see it from two different standpoints. I see it as an artist who has a brick and mortar and also as an artist who does the art shows. And some of my artist friends, they do the art shows year round. So most of them have already lost half of their income for the year. And I don't think people realize that impact. And even when the government came up with the PPP loans and different things, I don't think they realize two months of help for an artist, when shows are starting to cancel into July and August and September, is not really going to help a lot of artists. So there needs to be more communication and more help from that standpoint.

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