By: Samantha Hopper
Molly Espenan has always been crafty. Take an artistic mind like hers, along with a habit and ability to monetize her hobbies, and you get Wild Iris Crafts.
Wild Iris’s Instagram page is full of vibrant, colorful pour painting pieces, like coasters, trays, wall art and even cutting boards. Espenan creates the dripping effect by using a mixture of fluid art and resin, which she gets from craft stores or other small businesses and Etsy shops.
Espenan is originally from New Orleans and moved to North Carolina for graduate school. She earned her masters degree in psychology from Wake Forest University and now works for UNC as a psychometrist and clinical research coordinator in the neurology department.
Wild Iris’s name comes from Louisiana’s state wildflower: the iris. Espenan adopted this name for her business to keep a piece of her hometown with her.
“I love North Carolina and I have definitely made a home here, but I love that my business is a reminder of my first home,” she said.”
Back in high school, Espenan started her business by painting shoes for classmates and family members. In college, she started painting coolers for Greek life events.
“My time after graduating from college was when I really found my niche in the geode art world,” she said. “I was working a part-time job, and it was the first time I really had time to devote to being creative.”
Espenan found inspiration both from YouTube videos and on Instagram and found her niche in geode-style pieces. And while she both learns through watching other artists on social media, and runs her own page, she does not let herself focus too much on stats.
“I’ve been on social media as a business owner for a few years and I try really hard not to let my engagement, or lack thereof, affect how I feel about my artwork and my validity as a professional artist,” Espenan said.
Despite its downsides, Instagram has connected her to many buyers and she takes custom orders through direct message and via Etsy.
Wild Iris’s most highly requested piece are car coasters inserts.
“One of my returning customers asked if I could make some for her, and at the time I didn’t even know what they were,” Espenan said about the coasters. “Now those are my best selling items.”
Espenan runs her growing business through an extra room in her apartment that she converted into a studio. And while the space has worked, she said she’s ready to expand.
While the studio expansion may come later, Espenan has already started expanding her online presence and her business. She, along with another artist named Alex, started a podcast called “Wild and Spicy.” In each episode, the artists share tips, encouragement and their own stories.
“Selling handmade artwork is a very personal thing that artists put a lot of heart and soul into, and I wanted to provide as much support and advice as possible to other artists because I know just how personal this business is,” Espenan said.
Check out Wild Iris Crafts on Instagram, @WildIrisCrafts, or on Etsy to browse Espenan’s ever-growing collection of geode-style art.