I had the pleasure to interview Heidi Luerra. Heidi’s creative and entrepreneurial journey started long before creating RAW Artists in 2009. Upon graduating high school, Heidi moved to Los Angeles, to modest accommodations to pursue her fashion dreams. In Summer 2004, Heidi found herself inventing a junior line of basics called EveryWear Clothing. As a lover of all things creative, Heidi founded and directed her first multi-faceted arts showcase in 2005. In 2009, Heidi launched RAW:natural born artists. RAW:natural born artists launched with its first showcase in downtown Los Angeles. Soon after, it expanded to surrounding Southern California cities, before reaching more than 17 cities nationwide in 2011. Heidi and her team began to launch internationally in 2012. With more than 200,000 artists in its network, RAW hosts showcases in over 70 cities around the globe, including the US, Australia, Canada AND Mexico. To-date RAW has hosted more than 1,700 showcase events. As RAW’s Founder & CEO, Heidi leads a team of 65 employees from RAW’s headquarters in downtown Los Angeles. Together they work full-time to ensure that RAW is fulfilling its mission by providing tools, resources, education, and exposure to independent artists. The RAW artist community grows daily. Because of RAW, independent filmmakers, designers, musicians, visual artists and performing artists are seen and heard. Heidi’s new book The Work of Art: A No-Nonsense Field Guide for Creative Entrepreneurs is now available on Amazon.com, BarnesandNobel.com and other online book retailers.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you share a story about what brought you to this particular career path?
For the past decade I’ve been running my company, RAW Artists. I started as a young designer struggling to showcase and sell my clothing line. When I found that there was virtually no approachable entity to go direct to consumers, I started my own platform for creatives in 2005. Through a winding road and several different turns of events (including laying my line to rest), I launched RAW officially in 2009.
I’ve worked with creatives and artists for almost twenty years. I’ve often seen artists make small mistakes that if only slightly tweaked could change the trajectory of their careers, therefore I decided to write a book to help on their entrepreneurial journey. The book is titled, The Work of Art: A No-Nonsense Field Guide for Creative Entrepreneurs.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I’ve made a ton of mistakes throughout my career. Most mistakes due to simply not knowing any better. I think naïveté is almost necessary when beginning a creative business (or any business for that matter). You can read about the juiciest mistakes in my book.
What is the one habit you believe contributed the most to you becoming a great writer? (i.e. perseverance, discipline, play, craft study) Can you share a story or example?
I don’t know that I can consider myself a “great” writer. But what I have learned through the process of writing a book is that writing takes a lot of discipline, passion and constant re-writing.
Can you share the most interesting story that you shared in your book?
In the book, I discuss personal stories/lessons I’ve learned that parallel with tactical and very specific advice for creative entrepreneurs. There is a lot of little anecdotes in the book, and I don’t want to give any spoilers away, so I’ll just say I’m perhaps over-sharing at times. I talk about the highs, the lows and the very low lows.
What is the main empowering lesson you want your readers to take away after finishing your book?
I want creative entrepreneurs to realize that they have an immense power. That the work they create has the ability to alter and impact society, and if they truly want to live a life made up of their creative dreams they can do so — but, they will have to work hard for it!
What was the biggest challenge you faced in your journey to becoming an author? How did you overcome it? Can you share a story about that that other aspiring writers can learn from?
I think the biggest challenge while writing this book has been the fact that I’d never done it before. I had a lot to say and I set aside the time to do it, but I learned (after it was 85% finished) that there is a formula to these things and a certain way that readers like to read. These were all things I learned on the fly! I had to re-arrange, add, subtract and re-read over and over again. It was certainly a process, but I learned so much!
Which literature do you draw inspiration from? Why?
I mostly read business books and biographies. I like to read to learn. Funny enough, I chose not to read any books during the production of this book over the past two years. I didn’t want to accidentally take notes or subconsciously copy messages. I wanted The Work of Art to be my thoughts and philosophies without any outside influence.
How do you think your writing makes an impact in the world?
As an art form, I think writing is wonderful, I feel like it’s a medium that can reach far and wide and it has a longevity that other forms of art don’t always have an opportunity to capture. Therefore, I feel writing can surely make a big impression on the fabric of our culture.
What advice would you give to someone considering becoming an author like you?
Get a great editor! And understand that it’s a process. Take your time and prepare for a 2 years+ journey.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
1. Get a great editor! My editor Maria Gagliano was instrumental to the process. She’s a veteran in the publishing field, and though I was self-publishing she put a ton in perspective for me throughout the project.
2. Don’t forget who you’re writing it for — I wrote the book that I would have liked to have and read when I was starting my creative business. I think you have to remember who you’re writing it for (your readers) and keep reminding yourself that as you go.
3. It will take longer than you think! I thought this might have been a year project. It was double that!
4. You will doubt yourself the whole time! You’re going to feel like it sucks and then you’re going to feel like it’s great and then that you want to light the whole thing on fire. I think this is part of the process, and I think it makes you a better writer.
5. You will ask yourself why you’ve done this. My book includes really personal stories. Some days I’ve woken up in a cold sweat asking myself “What have I done?”, and other days I’m fine with it. I hear this is normal when you’re putting yourself out into the world at this scale.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I’m still workin’ on that now…
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Thank you so much for this. This was very inspiring!