BottleART is an innovative organization that offers sticker decals of fine art crafted by art students. The exposure supports the students, and the proceeds support their art education locally. Plus, the stickers are incredibly colorful, eye-catching and beautiful. If Andy Warhol himself were still around, we could hear him saying, “Why didn’t I think of that?” We are glad that Cecily and her mother Dina Greenberg did! We admired their work at their table at the GGBA Power Lunch’s Expo on March 6, and enjoyed recently learning more about the organization from Cecily, who is still in high school and yet is so accomplished already as a budding businesswoman.
GGBA: Please describe your business and its mission and values.
Cecily Greenberg: BottleART is a business of fine art original pieces of student artists made into sticker decals. We want to offer something more provoking to build your portable profile than memes, logos, or thoughts others had first. Art inspires thinking. This can’t be more important than for high school students, which is where I got the idea, on my high school campus in Napa. Stickers and decals are used all over our stuff; Chromebooks and water bottles, especially. It’s the “visual and portable profile” we carry around and show everyone to say who and what we are all about. BottleART is giving the student artist the opportunity we all dream about—exposure and experience—but also, we donate that student’s sticker decals to their school’s arts program for fund or awareness raising. Right now, we operate from retail on Amazon and eBay; through gifts, donations, and my art work sales; but we hope to get a chain of stores interested for widest exposure and begin wholesale.
GGBA: Why did you decide to create your business?
Cecily Greenberg: I’m a sophomore in high school and belong to the art club. We were discussing a fundraiser project of selling stickers of a certain piece of mine I did of a hand in the “hang loose” sign. I told my mom about the idea. She spoke to the art teacher and the office to make sure we had permission to sell stickers and said she’d invest in the making of the donated stickers because it was a piece of my art and this would be a good college project. So, we made some and donated them to the school’s arts program for various opportunities to sell. At that point my mom was convinced by a business man she knew in retail grocery stores that this idea was sound and to go for it on a larger scale. I love the idea to give more student artists this exposure and experience; it’s been really great. I’ve learned a lot. So, my family invested some of my otherwise known as college money to create ten sticker decals of work as a chronological example of my art in high school so far. Now my mom and I are exploring business opportunities for wholesaling these and reaching out to offer another student artist the chance in the next go round of production.
GGBA: Who are some of your role models, and especially those who helped to influence your business?
Cecily Greenberg: I think I would have to say all of my Waldorf teachers I’ve had since first grade. In Waldorf education you do all the things you learn about. Their belief is using your “head, heart, and hands” in learning. You make all your own books and in the eight years you learn most all the hand working arts from needlepoint to wood crafting, farming to illustrating. You think differently when you have to do something to learn it instead of learning something someone else did or you read about. You learn quickly too that there are many ways to get to the same conclusion. People do things differently because they think differently. I think BottleART is possible because I believe in myself and that largely came from my education and teachers.
GGBA: Why did you decide to join the GGBA, and how long have you been a member?
Cecily Greenberg: My mom’s and my research to understand business and wholesale helped us to decide to start the process of BottleART’s Certification with the NGLCC (National LGBT Chamber of Commerce). To be defined as a “supplier of diversity” is an advantage for buyers who need to and want to be diverse in their selections for fair business. GGBA is my local chapter and our first introduction was this March’s Power Lunch at the W in San Francisco. Dawn Ackerman invited us after our site visit for NGLCC. That is the fanciest hotel I’ve ever been to. The experience was so cool. There was a band, Proud Mary, and everyone was dancing and eating lunch, buying stickers, asking me questions, telling me how they could help me … . Everyone wanted everyone else to succeed. It was awesome. Life is so competitive usually, so this felt so uplifting. I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face. I’ve been an active member for over a month now.
GGBA: How has being a member of GGBA helped your business so far?
Cecily Greenberg: Going for certification and meeting Dawn was the universe guiding my future, I think, because I am for sure going to continue within my GGBA local community to move BottleART forward. I don’t think I could find a more helpful, energetic, positive group with more experience and opportunities to aid me. Just from the Power Lunch, this opportunity to be in the San Francisco Bay Times, and Val Kiniris and Paul Margolis offering to help BottleART at the San Francisco local merchant fairs, we did receive our NGLCC certification with Dawn’s help from GGBA. You may even see me giving out stickers from the GGBA’s float at this year’s Pride Parade—hoping it can happen this year! I have many more opportunities to try and put BottleART out there through GGBA too. I am considering pitching BottleART to GGBA corporate sponsors. GGBA offers coaching for this first, so it may be in my future.
GGBA: Do you go to the GGBA monthly Make Contact networking events? Have they benefited you and your business, and would you recommend them to others?
Cecily Greenberg: Actually, the Power Lunch this March was my first meeting, and it was a doozy. Dawn had set aside a table for me to set up like in a convention and seated us during lunch with a business from our area of the valley. I am planning on attending future meetings, if possible, to maybe firm up some merchant fair possibilities. I am looking forward to more GGBA meetings, I like how I felt after being so supported last time.
GGBA: What other advice would you give to someone who is thinking of starting their own business?
Cecily Greenberg: Take one step at a time and get good advice. Follow your dream, but commit to the education and work. It’s weird to be so young and start a business. I didn’t really know that was what was happening at first. It was just an idea I followed through with and kept going. I never have seen myself working for a big company at a desk somewhere, but I learned that business doesn’t have to mean fancy clothes and 9-to-5. It’s mobile today while in your PJs. I feel proud to have done this and I think others could easily do it, too.
At the Power Lunch, “Perspective” was discussed, and I know how important that is. I choose Inclusivity. That single choice eradicates all of ego’s issues. I think that people who learn to accept and love themselves in diversity have skills earned that can heal the world.
For more information about BottleART: https://bottleart.org/