This post is part of an ongoing series called "The Aspiration Project". If you missed the first post with the explanation, you can read about it here. This series also runs in the Rhode Island Small Business Journal each issue. If you are a woman in the Rhode Island or surrounding area and want to get involved, email matt at blueflashphotography dot com and we'll get you the info. Enjoy!
Introducing Mel Rainsberger:
What is your passion?
Animation and video.
What got you into it?
Originally I was going to be a furniture designer, but I realized I was a little bit accident prone and went into the video and animation program at RISD instead. Filmmaking allows me to use all the parts of my brain, just like in making a piece of furniture, but without all the power tools. I conceive, plan, measure, and create a complex piece.
What quote inspires you?
"Animation is not a genre. It is a method of storytelling." - Brad Bird
What is your business?
My business is They're Using Tools! www.theyreusingtools.com. I make video, animation and illustrations. Most of my work is for the web, for companies that want to create a small piece to target a specific demographic and entice them to take interest in their product. Most of my work is handmade in some way, to create a warm, intriguing piece of art.
What spurred the conversion from hobby to business?
Animation was never quite a hobby, but I love planning and that has always been something I do 'just for fun.' Whether it was planning a dinner for friends, or a group outing, or a classroom lesson--I like figuring out how to have fun with a large group of people. I started making it a bigger part of my business when I realized it was a skill that other people in my field lacked, but appreciated.
What are some challenges you faced and how did you overcome them?
Mostly, there's not enough hours in the day. Part of it was leaving my night time teaching job, but 'doing everything' is still a constant challenge.
How long have you been in business for?
What's your ultimate goal/where would you like to be in five years?
In five years, I'd like to have at least 1-3 full time employees, to have a small agency that churns out even more interesting commercial projects and has fun doing it.
What's the best advice you can give someone contemplating turning their love into their livelihood?
Don't be afraid of being professional and taking the time to get it right. Contracts and all that seem scary, or seem like they get in the way of what you love. But, it's like making sure you have all ingredients before starting to cook. Really, you just want to eat, but if you don't have any food to cook, you're not going to enjoy eating.
Do you have any other thoughts you'd like to share?
My favorite show is Futurama, one of the characters is a 180-something scientist called Professor Farnsworth (named after the creator of the television). I love that he describes flying through space as "It's a little home business I started to fund my research."
What's your contact info?
Twitter - @theyusetools