Early business years

My older brother won a window painting contest when I was 14. He was awarded the princely sum of $15.00    I was too young to enter. But his win made me realise that business people would PAY to have their windows painted. Christmas was only a couple of months away. I had no time to lose. I borrowed the Christmas cards my mom saved each year and used them as inspriation to draw up a book of ideas for Christmas and seasonal greetings. Then I hitchhiked into town (I was much too young to drive) and went from store to store selling and scheduling windows. The base price for a window was $15.00 and as my confidence grew so too did my prices. A week or so later I did my first paying job as an artist.


In the next two weeks, after school, I made the lofty sum of $700.00 - an amazing amount of money back then for the minimum wage (Which most of my buddies would have LOVED) was only $1.00 per hour. I also learned some valuable busines lessons that first year. I remember one large window that I painted in particular. I had agreed with the store owner to paint his storefront for $50.00. I did the job in about two hours... then went to collect my money. The business owner was surprised to see me so soon. He loved the job I had done but suddenly didn't care for the price we had previously agreed to. He asked who was the owner of my business. I told him I was. He asked me my age and I told him. Then he refused to pay a fourteen year old kid THAT kind of money and offered me $25 instead. I calmly asked him for a rag. I dipped it in my bucket of water and leaned it to the window. I told him I would take off half of my water based Christmas painting and then he could pay me half of our agreed fee. It was a standoff and it was a very tense moment that seemed to last a very long time. I didn't blink. He then smiled and reached into the cash drawer. I got the whole amount. It was a valuable lesson I've never forgotten.

-grampa dan

Dan Sawatzky1 Comment