Alissa Murnane - Average to Art
Talking with Alissa Murnane, you can get the impression she has been in business for many years. Surprisingly, she is still in her 20’s, and her successful business – Average to Art in Huntsville, Alabama – is just 4 years old.
Better yet, Alissa has no hesitation in sharing what she has learned with others. She saw a need for local artists to share their knowledge and founded the Decorative Artists’ Exchange in Huntsville.
“I am still trying to find my niche in the business,” Alissa says, noting “I have to be patient -- people in my generation want everything right now.”
After extensive travel from New York, Washington, New Mexico and throughout the United States, Alissa went to Okinawa, where she met her future husband Austin, stationed there with the United States Marine Corps. Alissa lived in Okinawa for two years before moving back to the US.
Her decision to move to Huntsville and open Average to Art came after the tragedy of September 11. Alissa said that the tragedy “had a profound impact on me, on all of us” and she realized very quickly that “life is too short – you have to live your dreams.”
The first business challenge Alissa encountered had nothing to do with her ability as a self-taught artisan. She laughs and says “I was a Yankee in the South when we moved here. I talked too fast, I didn’t make small talk – I was 23 and looked 19 – people would ask what High School I attended.”
She overcame those difficulties, but still was not quite so confident in her abilities. Alissa believes that an artisan should never compromise on quality, and when Alissa started out, she would put in the time to paint a client’s entire mural on a wall in her own house. “By the time I got to the client’s house, my work looked very professional,” she notes.
Where many business owners would find competition daunting, Alissa says “Hire your competitors." She says that to make it work, you have to “check your ego at the door” but that it benefits everyone. The goal she has for Average to Art is that no matter what specialty a client wants, Average to Art can make it happen.
About her own talent, Alissa says, “I just completed an update class with Kathy Carroll, and I feel like I know a lot -- right now.” She also notes that no matter how accomplished a decorative painter may be, it takes practice to optimize the painter's talent.
In business, credibility is often hard-won. Alissa has just signed a contract with the CBS affiliate WHNT in Huntsville to provide website and broadcast information on the painting and design industry.
Alissa encourages other decorative painters to brand their business, creating a logo and an image. She passes on one of her best pieces of advice: “Operate your business by the numbers, not by your emotions.”
Average to Art's team of artisans includes Alissa’s husband Austin Ramsay, who will graduate with a Bachelors Degree in Business Administration in August 2007. She notes, “He fixes my perspective in art and in life.”
Contact Alissa Murnane at Average to Art at 256-658-0657 or at www.averagetoart.com.