Artist Interview: April Bowles-Olin

I first heard about April Bowles-Olin's work from a good friend who attended the Etsy Success Symposium in NYC last year.  My friend said that April's talk was amazing, and that I should watch it online.  I did, and I was seriously impressed and inspired by what April had to say about handmade businesses.  (You can view April's talk by following this link and scrolling down to her name.)  Ever since I watched her talk, I have followed April's blog and watched a ton of her videos on Vimeo.  Check out her website, The Blacksburg Belle, to learn more about her and to gain some new ideas about how to run your creative business.  I think you will love reading what April has to say in the interview below!

Please tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do.
Sure. My name is April Bowles-Olin, and I work with creative entrepreneurs to help them build businesses around their dream lifestyles. I’m twenty-nine years old, I have three lab-mixes, I’m allergic to gluten, and I’m happily married to a man who’s over a foot taller than me.

What did you do before you started working for yourself?

I got my master’s degree from NYU in social work, and practiced individual, family, and group therapy.

What are some of the ways that you express yourself creatively?

The better question is how don’t I express myself creatively. I write, cook, scrapbook, make jewelry, knit, take photos, paint, and sew. I have a lot of creative hobbies which sometimes drives my husband
a little crazy.

A beautiful piece of jewelry made by April.
What inspires you?

I get inspired all the time by books, movies, magazines, conversations with friends and family, walking down the aisles of craft and fabric stores, and listening to music.

What completed project (business or creative) are you most proud of in your life so far?

ARTrepreneur. It’s a membership site for creative entrepreneurs who want to get all the information they need to build a successful business in one place.

You mention about the book, The Renaissance Soul, by Margaret Lobenstine, in one of your videos. How do you personally deal with possessing a “Renaissance Soul” and having so many interests? How do you divide your time between them?

I narrow my focus to about four things at a time. That doesn’t mean that I only focus on those four things forever, but I focus on them for a while. For instance, right now I’m focused on my business, writing, photography, and knitting. In a couple months, I might switch out knitting for painting.

I’ve come to realize that I can do all the things I’m interested in, but I can’t turn them all into a business which is what I used to want to do. There’s my business and everything else falls into the hobby category. I spend the majority of my time on my business, but I always leave time for other things I’m interested in. I’ve also figured out ways to incorporate other things into my business. For example, I use my own photography in my blog posts most of the time.

Staying on the topic of books, if you could recommend just one book that really gets you motivated (whether creatively or business-wise), what would it be and why?

Just one?!?! You’re killing me. Okay, I guess I would pick Switch by Chip and Dan Heath. It’s an amazing book for people looking to make changes in their lives. It’s informative, entertaining, and actionable.

How do you stay motivated and productive, even when sales are down? What do you do to keep your momentum going?

I’m all about marketing all the time. At this point in my business, I feel really blessed because I don’t have a lot of down-time. If I do, it’s usually planned. I got to this point by constantly marketing. I probably spend about one to two hours on marketing each day.

What are your plans for the future as far as your business goes?

I just started a new round of ARTrepreneur which lasts six months, so that’s what I’ll be focused on for the next six months. I haven’t really planned past that time. When I get excited about a new business idea, I have to put it into action as soon as possible, so I usually don’t plan products/services more than six months in advance.

Name a few creative individuals you admire and explain why.

I admire Marie Forleo, because she’s honest, funny, creative, and a really good dancer. She also gives out amazing business advice that rocks my world.

I admire Mayi Carles, because she seems like she can do it all. This lady can draw, paint, make the cutest hair accessories, teach, give out awesome business advice, and more.

And, I also admire Kris Carr, because she turned a life-threatening disease into something positive. She’s started a health revolution, and her book, Crazy Sexy Diet, honestly changed my life.

What are some of your current obsessions? (Art, craft, musical, or completely random.)

Dystopian young adult fiction. After reading The Hunger Games series this past summer, I can’t get enough of these types of books. Some others that I’ve read and loved are Birthmarked, Divergent, Legend, Matched, The Maze Runner, and Delirium.

Do you collect anything?

Do books count? I don’t know if you’d say that I collect them, but we have an entire wall that’s a bookshelf and it still isn’t enough room to house all my books.

Do you have any advice you could offer to someone who wants to start a creative business but doesn't know where to begin?

Do what you love. If you start with something that you want to build your life around and you’re super passionate about it, you can make it work.

If you’re selling products, you probably want to start by setting up an online shop. I suggest using Etsy as your first selling platform.

And purely for fun…

What were you like when you were in high school?

I was a little rebellious—nothing too crazy—I got good grades, but I definitely have some of those moments where I think to myself, “Oh my gosh. If my teenage daughter did that, I’d be sooooo mad.”

How did you and Mr. Blacksburg Belle meet?

One of my college roommates was dating one of his really good friends. The funny thing is that my roommate was trying to set up Kris {Mr. Blacksburg Belle} with our other roommate. We all met up at a bar, and Kris and I ended up talking all night. The rest is history.

How do you get ideas for all of your great video backgrounds?

I get a lot of my ideas from Anthropologie window displays, pinterest, and magazines.

What is your very favorite Gilmore Girls episode?

It would have to be the one where Rory calls Logan a buttface miscreant after he barges into her classroom with Colin and Finn while she’s hosting a prospective Yale student.

I want to leave you with April's latest Wednesday Wisdom Video, where she explains the positive things about having a day job, and she shares ways you can prepare to leave your day job to work for yourself.  She is so inspiring!

A huge thanks to April for such a great interview!


  1. Thank you so much for hosting this interview! I had so much fun answering the questions.

  2. I'm so glad you liked answering my questions!! Thanks a million for agreeing to let me interview you. :)

  3. Huzzah! Glad you've been as keen on April as I have. Love the interview. This is a gentle reminder that I've fallen behind on watching her most recent videos. Thanks for posting!


  4. Great interview! April and ARTrepreneur offers small business owners great information, tips, and encouragement.

    Artful Rising

  5. Thanks so much for commenting! I'm glad you enjoyed the interview. It was great to work with April - she's the best! :)


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