Female Feature Friday: Genie Mack of Genie Mack Designs
We are back at it, bringing you another Female Feature Friday. We are so excited to be sharing a new amazing Girl Boss every week. The inspiration behind this series was to highlight the brilliant women running small businesses in an effort to inspire other women to bring their talents to the table. We can do it all, ladies!
Sometimes you meet someone and are just instantly drawn to them. That was Genie Mack. This fellow military wife is killing it in the small business community and her art and jewelry are just like her, unique and wonderful. Enjoy!!
LET’S GET DOWN TO (SMALL) BUSINESS:
Name and Occupation:
Hello! I’m Genie Mack and I am an artist, jewelry designer, and candle maker.
Briefly describe your business:
The majority of my work is custom pet portrait commissions but I like to sell and show my private collection of paintings from my studio. I think my use of color and brushwork is unique to me.
My jewelry design is concentrated in statement earrings and custom pieces for my clients. Also, I started a candle business with my aunt called Genieology.
How did Genie Mack come about and what were you doing before its inception?
I was an art major at TCU, graduated and was working at the Contemporary Art Museum Houston when I was offered a teaching position at a small private school. I taught K-8th grade art during the day and worked on my paintings at night. During my five years of teaching, I realized there was a serious demand for pet portraits in Houston. I started painting them after work. My waiting list started growing until I was working two full-time jobs. As scary as it was, I decided to quit teaching and created Genie Mack Designs in 2015.
Why is small business so important to you?
I think small businesses are what make a gigantic city like Houston feel like a community. Small businesses bring more creativity, problem-solving, innovation, diversity, passion, and flavor to every city. The amount of appreciation for these businesses brings people closer. My business makes me feel more connected than any other job I’ve had.
What was your first real job?
I worked for the Director of Communications and Marketing at the Contemporary Art Museum Houston. It was fun – we hosted a lot of fun parties with celebrities, like Beyoncé! It was right after college and it was the first time I saw my city for its full potential.
What motivates you to keep going on the less than awesome days?
I am proud of how far I’ve come as an artist and it motivates me on days when I feel drained or stuck. I’ve refined my style, I’m being discovered, and I’m reaching new clients. I’ve been able to contribute to some amazing charities and organizations. I have to keep going!
What advice would you give to someone wanting to start their own business?
Ask yourself how are you going to live off this “dream job?” In order to maximize your revenue, you must solve a problem for as many people as possible. For example, I thought, “Who has a pet? Almost everyone. I will paint pets for my bread and butter.” I wanted to follow a dream but needed to produce something that would pay my mortgage.
What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made and what/how did you learn from it?
Starting out, I was fearful that the business world would not see my profession as legitimate. I had to learn how to become a businesswoman and how to value myself, my time, and my work.
An additional complexity was navigating the ins and outs of customer satisfaction. I think one of the biggest mistakes I made was not charging what I was worth and settling for less money than I deserved. I was giving my talent away for free! It is embarrassing to admit that. Now that I price myself differently, I have so much more pride in my work and I have become much more successful.
What has surprised you most about running a small business?
I never expected for the majority of my clients to find me through Instagram. Social media became the strongest builder of my brand. And although I have a smaller amount of followers than a lot of artists I follow on Instagram, my followers are so encouraging, engaging, and extremely supportive. It is wild. In fact, I’m hanging on for dear life and booking up faster than ever. Social media has been amazing for my business. I can barely keep up!
Who have you looked to for advice and mentorship?
I am blessed to have a network of friends that also own small businesses and are always so willing and generous with advice. When I was contacted by Pier 1, I called everyone for advice on contracts, pricing my worth, legal advice, etc. I think other small business owners are so willing to offer guidance…for FREE! Something I admire Sip Dine Design for - that post about “Raising Your Insta Engagement” was right up my alley and so helpful. There are so many brilliant professionals I call, text, and DM for advice and I love that they can rely on me as well.
What does it mean to you to be a woman in small business?
I love cultivating business relationships and friendships with other female business owners. My network of successful female professionals is important for my career and my happiness. Most of my clients are women so I am so grateful for women who support other women!
As a fellow military wife, what was it like to run your own business while also handling transitions while your husband was in active duty?
I think the unpredictability of my husband’s schedule made mine more flexible and very mobile. I could work any hour, any location for that reason. His dedication and service made me more appreciative of our country and made me want to take advantage of every opportunity to operate a small business in the USA. His work ethic was inspiring to me and made me want to be more successful, work harder, and take more risks as a business owner.
What’s next for Genie Mack?
I’m doing more shows than I ever have this Fall and I’m excited to take some time off of custom commissions to paint more pieces for my private collection for sale through my studio. When I take this time off I like to go somewhere really pretty and away from the big city. I’ve been looking forward to it.
LET’S GET THE SKINNY ON HOUSTON:
WHAT BROUGHT YOU TO HOUSTON?
Born n’ raised, baby! My whole family lives here.
BEST TACO IN HOUSTON?
Before 10 pm = Moderno’s Fried Chicken Tacos. After 10 pm = El Rey Taqueria Cubano Taco.
BEST QUESO IN HOUSTON?
If I had to pick one I would say Molina’s original “Jose’s Dip.”
FAVORITE MARG IN HOUSTON?
The Jalapeño Margarita from The Original Ninfa’s on Navigation.
FAVORITE STEAKHOUSE IN HOUSTON?
Pappas Bros Steakhouse is beautiful and delicious.
FAVORITE HAPPY HOUR IN HOUSTON?
The sushi lover in me says Roka Akor but the military wife in me says, “let’s get lit at Chili’s.”
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT BEING A BUSINESS OWNER IN HOUSTON?
Houston is proud of its local scene and loves shopping small!!! This is the best place to start a small business! You can’t help but be inspired by the new businesses popping up all the time. There’s great competition here and it makes you strive to be a better business.
TELL US 3 OF YOUR FAVORITE SMALL BUSINESSES.
So hard to only name 3 but…
Renovate, Mostess, Memorial Veterinary Clinic (all owned by amazing Houstonians/girlfriends/queens)