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Meet Ryan Doolittle, Elizabeth Hyman, and Shelley Moon: Co-founders of Clover + Maven

Ryan Doolittle, Elizabeth Hyman, and Shelley Moon are the co-founders of Clover + Maven.

The ladies of the artist collective Clover + Maven
The ladies of the artist collective Clover + Maven. Photo Courtesy of Clover + Maven
The ladies of the artist collective Clover + Maven. Photo Courtesy of Clover + Maven

Ryan Doolittle, Elizabeth Hyman, and Shelley Moon are the co-founders of the Austin-based artist collective Clover + Maven.

They discussed their inaugural experience at the Austin City Limits (ACL) Festival and being a part of the digital age. They shared what inspires them as artists and creatives, and furnished their advice for hopefuls that wish to go into the arts.

Background on Clover + Maven

Clover + Maven was created by three women small business owners-turned friends-turned business partners.

Each with their own businesses, Shelley Moon (Shelley Moon Designs), Ryan Doolittle (Ryan Doolittle Glass), and Elizabeth Hyman (The Gardeners Wife) all saw a need for more of a support system within the artisan community.

What was it like to be a part of the 2023 Austin City Limits (ACL) Festival?

Elizabeth Hyman: It was a memorable experience in so many ways. In the 15 years that I’ve lived in Austin, I’ve never been to ACL, so I was thrilled to be able to bring our brand new store to their Marketplace as an official ACL Market vendor for both weekends. 

ACL tested us in ways we hadn’t been before, like assembling a miniature store in 12 hours. Overall, though, to be able to represent not only our store and our individual brands, but also all of our artists at such an iconic festival, was such an honor. 

We learned so much, even from Weekend 1 to Weekend 2, that I look forward to participating in it next year, making it even better than it already was. Blood, sweat and (happy) tears went into this and brought us that much closer.

Ryan Doolittle: In a couple words, epic and thrilling! Not only was it most of our first times attending ACL, it was also the first time we took Clover + Maven as a collective to a pop up market production.

Building a baby boutique representing half of our makers took a full day to set up and was reminiscent of how quickly we put our store together last May. 

When you have three talented women full of purpose, creativity and sheer stubbornness, the results will speak for themselves! We loved having many of our makers and artists come out to ACL with us throughout both weekends and help us at the booth. It was heartwarming and fun to be able to hang out with them at such a quintessential Austin festival.

Shelley Moon: I lived in Austin for the last 13 years and this was my first ACL experience. During the festival, there were so many precious shared moments with my Mavens, with our new and old clients and friends. Friends who came out to support us and cheer us on would say, “You guys are at ACL! This is a big deal!” 

I, too, was amazed and wondered, “How did we get here?” I have to say, the gathering of the crowd was intense, physically hard on our bodies working 12 hours for four days straight.

This music festival was definitely testing all of our endurance and patience. I think it’s safe to say we are all still in recovery mode, but we got to check something off our bucket list and I would do it again. 100 percent.

I wouldn’t change a thing because we did it together and learned so much from it. We are blessed to have what we have, and we intend to keep moving forward spreading love, kindness, grace, understanding, compassion, empathy, and peace doing what we love to do. 

What inspires you each day as artists and creatives?

Ryan Doolittle: I’m inspired by my surroundings, seasonal changes, patterns, and textures all around me and the energy of people and nature. As a glass artist I’m always considering form and functionality and how to meld my aesthetics with good design.

As a collective, I’m inspired by each of our artists and makers and seeing what they invent and create.

Elizabeth Hyman: Other artists! It’s sort of how I ended up making flower arrangements. I saw other floral artisans doing it, and I thought “that looks fun, I want to do it.”

I’ve always had creativity running through my veins and have a very “let me try it” sense of adventure when it comes to creating. I never limit myself to just one medium, but that can also just be my nature. 

Shelley Moon: In 2006, I started my jewelry-making journey by crafting wedding gifts for my seven bridesmaids; however, I took a break from this hobby for several years. It wasn’t until my spiritual awakening in 2019 that I felt a renewed inspiration and decided to pick it up again.

Now, my creativity is fueled by the amazing people in my life and the valuable lessons I learn on a daily basis with them or from them. They serve as constant sources of inspiration for my jewelry designs. 

How does it feel to be a part of the digital age? (Now with streaming, technology, and social media being so prevalent)

Ryan Doolittle: It can sometimes take me what feels like hours to create a reel or a post that sometimes doesn’t get very much traction. The platforms available to us are so varied and it’s difficult to ever feel like you’re doing enough to promote yourself.

It’s a huge benefit to be able to use social media to reach folks who most likely would never have come upon you but it can also be so time consuming.

Elizabeth Hyman: Technology is a double-edged sword. As a small business, it’s a benefit to us because it acts as our point-of-sale (POS) system and with apps like Shopify and Square, it’s always accessible to us.

We use Shopify, and I think each of us have notifications turned on so we know when the store makes a sale, and that’s when exiting, and it connects us to our business wherever we are. 

At the same time, though, it connects us to our business wherever we are… and that’s not always great for taking a day off. So, it definitely can be a burden in that respect, and I think that’s a longer discussion. 

As far as social media goes, I have so many artists tell me that I’m really good at it, and that I seem so “natural” when I pop into my stories.

The truth is, I hate being on camera and hearing the sound of my voice, but I know social media is so crucial to a business’s success and growth, and the personal aspect is what separates us from large box stores and the like.

I’ve grown to embrace it and try to stay as on top of it as I can, but as I get older, I find it becomes more of a struggle, if I’m honest. People’s attention spans have become so short with so much available at their fingertips.

As it stands, our average reel watch time is stuck around 6 seconds…that’s a challenge to get a message out in that short of a time, but we won’t stop trying.   

Shelley Moon: It’s a love and hate relationship for me for sure. I’m so happy Elizabeth & Ryan both like to do social media! It’s a necessary evil. Once we are more profitable, I hope to hire someone to take over all of that, so we can focus more on what we all love to do even more. 

How do you use technology in your daily routine?

Well, we use it for everything. From our POS that connects to our website that connects to our shipping app, it’s integral for our day-to-day needs. Using it for social media to stay connected to our artists and makers and the community that supports us is vital to our operations. 

What is your advice for hopefuls who wish to go into the arts?

Ryan Doolittle: In my early days, I used to be a tour guide for my art school at VCUarts, where I would be faced with frantic parents telling me their children should probably just go into graphic design so they could be creative but have a real job.

I always told them that as long as their children were happiest when creating, the best thing possible would be to let them explore and learn the widest variety of techniques to be able to express themselves.

It is 100 percent going to be a roller coaster ride of sorts, with highs and lows, but thrilling and satisfying to be doing what you love and be appreciated for it. 

Also, take a business or marketing class! Selling your work is the most important and difficult part of being a creator. 

Find a mentor or a cute collective that can help you understand how to best sell your work, like us! We love to pool our resources and help our makers; we help each other and that is a founding principle and benefit of being part of our community.

Shelley Moon: First – Just start! You don’t have to have everything figured out. It’s the “fun” and “learning” part of the journey that makes it all worth it. It’s your own story, so write your own story by going for it and having that blind faith, you’ll get something out of it. Don’t let someone else tell you what’s right for you. 

Find and build your tribe, your community around you to support you in your endeavors. Even when you’re faking it to “make it”, it’s these tribes of people that will carry you on through the tough times that you have to endure.

Don’t waste time being dubious about everything. Once you go for it, keep yourself so busy that you don’t have time to doubt yourself! 

Last, but not least – self-care. Whatever that might look for you. We all have our own ideas about self-care. Don’t lose yourself! 

Elizabeth Hyman: Don’t let anyone tell you what is and isn’t art. If you’re being creative and exercising that creativity, I believe you are an artist. Through the decades of advancements in literally everything, art has emerged from the most unexpected places. 

Don’t limit your creativity just because someone else doesn’t think it’s art. Lastly, I’ll echo what Ryan said, take a business or accounting class if you want to get into selling your art.

Just knowing the basics will get you where you need to be. The maker community here in Austin is so supportive, I was blown away by everyone’s kindness and generosity of information when I first started doing pop-ups. So, lean into it. 

What does the word “success” mean to you?

Ryan Doolittle: Success is such a personal definition for people. For me, it’s always been having a career where I get to do what I love and be appreciated for my contributions, whether as a maker or as someone involved in my artistic community.

I’ve never been one to chase a six-figure salary or label myself a successful artist, though I pay the bills and get by okay.

Shelley Moon: I love Ryan’s attitude and outlook on life. She reminds me that we are all so blessed to be where we are, doing what we love, and abundance is all around us. We just have to stop and appreciate life as it comes. 

I was that person who was chasing money and success in my 20’s and 30’s. I think most of us have figured out that that’s not what really brings you joy or peace. We live in such a fast-paced world and have so many expectations of others that we are constantly looking to fulfill. 

But what about our own desires, satisfaction, happiness and success? In my 40s, I am chasing joy and the money is constantly flowing in and out…and that’s the way I like it. Success is whatever you choose it to be. 

Heck, I woke up today, the weather was beautiful, and I got to spend quality time with my loving family in the Bay Area. That’s what I call success.

Elizabeth Hyman: Success takes many forms. By definition, success is an “accomplishment of an aim or purpose,” so to me, success is as simple as that.

Though for many years I wanted to be seen as successful in my industry, having a title was success to me. I never graduated college, so I always felt some form of “failure” in life. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I realized success isn’t one thing, it’s many. 

Sometimes success is getting out of bed in the morning and going for a run! If you asked me if I saw myself as successful, I’d say yes, but it’s not because I own two businesses or have a brick-and-mortar business, it’s because I’m doing what I want to do. And by definition, I am accomplishing my purpose every single day.

Markos Papadatos
Written By

Markos Papadatos is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for Music News. Papadatos is a Greek-American journalist and educator that has authored over 21,000 original articles over the past 18 years. He has interviewed some of the biggest names in music, entertainment, lifestyle, magic, and sports. He is a 16-time "Best of Long Island" winner, where for three consecutive years (2020, 2021, and 2022), he was honored as the "Best Long Island Personality" in Arts & Entertainment, an honor that has gone to Billy Joel six times.

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