Meet Mary Engelbreit

Meet Mary Engelbreit

We caught up with the brilliant and insightful Mary Engelbreit a few weeks ago and have shared our conversation below.

Mary, thanks for taking the time to share your stories with us today We’d love to hear about when you first realized that you wanted to pursue a creative path professionally.

I was 11 when someone asked that classic question—what did I want to do when I grew up. Since the questioner was my favorite aunt and I knew she really wanted to know, I told her very passionately that I wanted to be an artist. I never wavered from that goal, and I think that was because all of the adults around me took me very seriously and always supported me.

Mary, love having you share your insights with us. Before we ask you more questions, maybe you can take a moment to introduce yourself to our readers who might have missed our earlier conversations?

It never occurred to me to find out what was trendy or popular. I just drew what I wanted and hoped other people would like it as well. Luckily, there was nothing out there in the marketplace that looked anything like what I was doing, and manufacturers and consumers both jumped on it! I learned as I went along— about licensing, agents, how to deal with other companies, etc. at first it was just me and my husband, Phil Delano, with my sister, Alexa Anderson acting as secretary and gatekeeper. The business grew fast and soon we hired an art director, Stephanie Barken, who helped with drawing and dealing with licenses. The business grew quickly ,but we were careful about hiring new people— it was very important to us to have a good group of fun and capable people around us, to keep the small family business feel of the company going, no matter how big we got.
Of course, things did not always go smoothly. I have many stories of near disaster, most of which happened after we got a business partner😱 but that is a whole other tale. The main thing is my company is and always has been based on whatever I choose to draw— I never really had to deal with clients, per we. People came to us for whatever I was drawing, so I’ve been very lucky in that way.
One of the things I’m most proud of is the group of people that have worked at the studio over the years and made everything possible. They still all come around for reunions we have periodically and I hope they know how grateful I am to all of them.

Read the rest of the interview here

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