Introducing FRĒDA Woman: Andrea Coish
What inspired you to start a business?
I was an independent, adventuresome young woman, happiest when my creativity was ignited! I received a television production degree with a studio art minor from the University of New Hampshire. When I graduated, to my mother’s chagrin, financial success and job security was not my priority. I moved to Hawaii with my sister, became a substitute teacher/waitress and learned, wide-eyed, about the spirit of Aloha. Wanting to see more I set off for Indonesia and the Gili Trawangan Islands. After that experience I went to Alaska for a few years fishing knee deep in salmon and working nights in a Native Alaskan Art Gallery. I then moved to Miami’s South Beach for a couple of years where I picked up Spanish in my neighborhood Cuban Coffee Café and trained in metalsmith/jewelry making. From there I jumped to Costa Rica and learned to surf and lived the PURA VIDA. The funny thing is, I didn’t realize how fantastic those years were. My peers were on a road to “success” but my road looked quite different and I worried if I would ever find my “career” or my “success.”
In my late 20’s, it was time to commit . . . so I bought a dresser. I settled in Florida where my business as an Artist and Decorative Painter came into fruition. It began organically with a friend, Cheryl Kirkland. She had a successful decorative arts business and took me on as an assistant. Naturally mastering this art form, I began exploring a career for myself in this direction. Early work included large-scale scenic painting at Universal Studios, restaurant and hotel murals. This line of work honed my skills, provided the practice and experience I needed to take charge of my path. A few years later I moved to the SF Bay Area for more expansive opportunities like painting promotional posters for Tower Records, backdrops for Dali Lama and The Grateful Dead, Scenic Painting for the SFOPERA and movie/television sets. I now successfully create fine art and run my own decorative art business.
Taking time for myself after college was essential in revealing my true passions. What I didn’t realize about those early years were the value of my experiences and the impact those experiences would have on who I am today.
Describe your business.
My business has two components; Fine Art and Decorative Art/Painting.
In the decorative aspect I work with construction project managers, interior designers and homeowners helping them define and then achieve their ultimate vision through; design interpretation, fine and faux finishes, murals, glazes and gilding.
Navigating these job sites takes confidence, which comes from trusting your skill set and experience.
When I'm not working on locations, I’m quick to spend time in my studio where ideas flourish. I take no outside direction, creating whatever the day brings based on my own impulses. My studio pieces are sold on the internet or in a few curated artisan shops in Sausalito and around the Bay Area.
I’ve created a career in which I look forward to my day, working my own program and bringing my creativity to light and to others.
What keeps you motivated?
We all have the choice to wait for the perfect job or take charge and set in motion a strategy for success.
As a woman entering the workforce my advice would be to know your skill set. I believe this begins with mindset. When you know you're good and can walk into a setting comfortably and confidently nothing can hold you back. Make your quantifiable pluses known to yourself and then to those around you. Position yourself as an expert and a solution rather than a contender. Being confident your work will speak for itself takes down barriers and opens your playing field.
At 50+ I do what I can to stay healthy in mind and body. Being older and a woman can be a double whammy as far as being seen as fit for a job. Adjust your mindset by seeing your traits in a positive light. See your experience and wisdom as beneficial in the workplace. If you are a working mother as I am, you know the invaluable skill of balancing a range of functions, such as household upkeep, family and friend time and a teen’s schedule. Finding the value in your skills is key to a proactive mindset. It is also easy to procrastinate setting the ball in motion especially when the goal is too out of reach. Make attainable daily tasks that are not overwhelming but will move you towards your ultimate vision. Be the captain of your ship! Owning your strategy and embracing your value gives your journey momentum and will fill you with satisfaction.
This is my story and my personal experiences worked for me, any other way was not an option. I had to wander directly after school before I could possibly know what my passions were or who I could become. Allowing myself the adventures this world is full of was essential to my success. I would advise anyone to do a bit of the same. They most likely will not regret it!