Katie Anderson & Christy Marsh
By Jon Bell
You won’t find thousands of followers at The Blissful Willow’s Instagram account – not yet anyway – or images of gorgeous flower arrangements from weddings and parties and farm-to-table dinners.
What you will find, however, are Katie Anderson’s lush, textured paintings of pink peonies and white Magnolias, as well as the occasional shaggy Highland cow or pink flamingo. You’ll also see that The Blissful Willow, which is run by Katie and her sister, Christy Marsh, who, according to their site, has “found bliss in exquisite penmanship” – is followed largely by local folks who like what the duo is up to.
“I have met so many people through local hashtags and networking that has come from Instagram,” Katie says. “I think people often get caught up in quantity of their followers rather than the quality. With art especially, I have found that the local card gives me value. People are looking to support their community, and Instagram is a great way to connect with people in your own backyard.”
WHO The Blissful Willow: a collaboration from artistic sisters Katie Anderson and Christy Marsh located in Greensboro, N.C.
WHY WE LIKE IT Unlike our usual Instagrammers, who are usually floral designers, Katie and her sisters are different kinds of visual artists, and Katie’s floral paintings are simply too amazing not to notice.
WHY INSTAGRAM “I use Instagram as a front window for my shop. Often I will have followers engaging on posts for several months before they commit to buy a piece, but through the interaction I learn what they like, and often I can predict who will want a piece for his/her home. Sometimes I message a preview to a follower before I’m finished to let him/her know it’s coming. Nine times out of 10, this results in a sale.”
THE LOCAL FOCUS Rather than focus on rounding up big numbers of followers, Katie says the goal of The Blissful Willow on Instagram is to connect with people locally as much as possible. “Because of my focus on local growth, we haven’t spent a lot of time trying to grow our followers. Over the past two years, we have grown slowly through local pop-ups and festivals and through visitors to our brick-and-mortar store. Instagram still plays an important part in participation in local events.”
MAKING IT HUMAN Every now and then, Katie sneaks in a picture of her home life or her kids, just to keep it real. “I try to be open and honest in my posts, occasionally being transparent about real life outside of the art issues. I know that my role as a mother often influences my work, and I like sharing that with my followers.”
POWER POSTS “Honestly, the best posts are typically my best work. When I push myself to go the extra mile with a piece, it always pays off. This is when I tend to book more commissions. Great work always results in more work.”
TIP TO TRY This one’s easy for Katie – local hashtags. “I cannot stress enough the importance of them,” she says. In addition, Katie also suggests reaching out to Instagram influencers, which can lead to something great. “Understand who your influencers might be, and ask them to collaborate with you. It really never hurts to ask, and if they say yes, it could mean big things for your business. If they say no, you really haven’t lost anything – so take the risk!”
SEE FOR YOURSELF @theblissfulwillow