In the midst of a successful corporate design career, Burlington artist Bethany Andrews-Nichols began to imagine her next adventure. With the spark of an idea, she traveled to Jaipur, India in 2017 to learn about the ancient art of block printing. This technicolored journey inspired Bethany to forge ahead with her love of design, pattern, and block printing, launching her business in 2018. What to call it? Bethany recounts a co-worker complimenting her infectious laugh. “You’re like a ‘beenanza,’” her colleague exclaimed. Bethany vowed that if she ever started her own business, that would be the name.
Since then, Bethany says that her work has become the full expression of herself as a person. “In 2021 I decided to no longer take on clients as a designer, but to create partnerships with the businesses that I respect and align with. There is grey area between the design world and the art world – I like to think Beenanza is somewhere in between.”
Four years into the business, Mieko Ozeki of Vermont Womenpreneurs introduced Bethany (who was co-founder of Vermont Womenpreneurs with Mieko) to the Vermont Small Business Development Center’s (VtSBDC) Business Advisor Sarah Kearns.
“Immediately after meeting Sarah, it was clear that we needed to work together. I knew opportunities like this were available, but I never before thought I was the right candidate. Now I have so much more clarity about my goals and the steps I need to take to reach them.”
Bethany’s intentions to build partnerships have since come to fruition via recent collaborations with Cabot Creamery and Queen City Footwear. Uniquely patterned, artful merchandise adds elements of fun, and provides these brands with memorable impact. Bethany’s newest product release, Beenanza Cover-All, is a “block-print everywhere kit” that lets do-it-yourselfers select from a variety of patterns to express their creativity on walls, fabrics, furniture, and more with tips from an upbeat video series Bethany has produced exclusively for Cover-All customers.
As someone who works solo 99 percent of the time, working with VtSBDC has enabled Bethany to give voice to her ideas, and to get helpful feedback when she needs it.
“During our lively and inspiring advising sessions, Sarah and VtSBDC’s marketing advisor Phyllis Ershowsky introduced many aspects of small business support,” Bethany explains. “For example, understanding how to execute a public relations plan, and learning copyright law from their contacts at Vermont Law and Graduate School. Before, I sometimes felt like I was throwing spaghetti at the wall seeing what stuck. Now, in part thanks to my work with VtSBDC, I feel like I am ready to add the sauce!”
Beenanza is located in The Soda Plant in Burlington where Bethany innovates new designs, sells Cover-All kits, hosts block printing workshops, and shares her infectious laugh with all of those who enter.
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