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Making Art (And Money)

At some point last fall, Jittaun Priest decided it was time to start making money. Not to become a millionaire, but to have the freedom to pursue her passion: teaching others how to paint.

For over 15 years Jittaun made a modest living by creating decorative faux-finishes on the walls of neighborhood coffee shops and in household living rooms.

But it wasn’t until going through training with Sunshine Enterprises that she figured out why, after all that time, her business hadn’t grown.

“I wasn’t keeping records of my sales,” Jittaun explains. “I wasn’t really treating it like a business, but as something to just get by.”

As an artist, she didn’t want to compromise her creativity. But as many struggling artists know, that’s often more of an ideal than reality. Jittaun also has her family to consider, and in order to leave something for her kids she had to start thinking long term.

That’s where Mike Williams steps in.

Mike is the team leader for the Business Affiliate through Partners Worldwide that works with Sunshine. Business Affiliate teams volunteer to walk alongside our Local Community Institution (LCI) partners, like Sunshine, and the businesspeople they work with, like Jittaun, to help them grow and strategically plan for the future.

Sunshine brought Mike and Jittaun together about two years ago, seeing some natural alignments (Mike owns a contracting company and Jittaun is a painter). They’ve spent time discussing marketing and building a customer base, a process beneficial to both as business owners.

Mike points out, “This whole process is 50/50, because when we figure out an idea that could work for Jittaun, it gets me thinking about my own business and it becomes an area in which we can help one another.”

Mike’s also been able to throw some paint jobs Jittaun’s way. While these are the more “boring,” standard jobs, she has continued to pursue more creative work too. All in all, she did a monthly average of nearly $5,000 in sales in 2015, about twice as much as she had ever done before.

I called Jittaun to check in and ask, “what’s the latest?” She told me, “well, I did over $50,000 in revenue this past year.” Of course I said, “That’s incredible! I’m so happy for you. Now, what if next year we can get to $100,000?”

Two years ago, that goal would have seemed out of reach. Now, Jittaun’s ready to start growing a her business and pursuing her passions. She’s got her eye on a studio space about two blocks from her house where she plans to start teaching art classes.

Visit to view some of Jittaun’s work and to learn more about the work Sunshine is doing in Chicago.

This blog is written by our Local Community Institution (LCI) leader forSunshine Gospel Ministries, Ethan Daly. Ethan is the Director of Strategy and Partnerships for Sunshine Enterprises, which is part of Sunshine Gospel Ministries in Chicago, Illinois.