'Long road' to success for artist/entrepreneur

Eric Bourque ebourque@thevanguard.ca
Published on December 16, 2013

By Eric Bourque



Like many people in business, Sheila Landry has experienced the Christmas rush – not that she isn’t usually busy anyway.

A designer of patterns for scroll saw art and decorative painting, Landry is up before dawn and she can be at it well into the night, so she packs a lot into her days.

“They’re full, but I love what I do so it’s never work,” she said. “I feel so fortunate everyday to be able to get up and do what I love.”

Landry runs Sheila Landry Designs out of her apartment in the Clare community of Bangor. Four of the last five months she and her partner, Keith Fenton, have set new records for sales through their business’s website.

“It’s been a long road, though,” Landry said. “It wasn’t instant success.”

Long interested in arts and crafts, Landry recalls getting into scroll sawing, through a friend, about two decades ago. Landry was making mohair teddy bears and began using a scroll saw to make things for the bears.

 Originally from the Chicago area, Landry relocated in 2004 to Digby, where she lived for about five years before moving again, this time to Bangor.

Referring to her decision to come to Nova Scotia, she said, “I took a vacation and came up here and I loved it here and it was a time in my life where I could change things, so I moved here.”

As for the path that led her business to where it is today, she describes it as “a long chain of events.” She cites, as an example, an invitation from the Northeastern Woodworkers Association to speak at the group’s big convention a couple of years ago in Saratoga Springs, New York.

“It was an honour to be asked,” she said. “That was a real boost.”

As far as the business is concerned, it helps that they don’t have much overhead, she says, noting that the apartment is their work area.

“Because it’s scroll sawing, it’s very neat,” Landry said. “It gets a little dusty, but we have a Shop Vac that we just go over (with) when we’re done … If we have a big order or something like that, we just clear off the counters. That’s why we don’t keep a lot of knickknacks and stuff around. People say ‘how can you do woodworking in the kitchen?’ But (with) a scroll saw, you use such a tiny blade … It’s not like routing or a big table saw.”

Various elements – writing, graphics, customer service etc. – go into the business and Landry says she’s fortunate to have a partner in Fenton who’s great with computers.

“Keith’s the IT guy and I’m the PR girl,” she said. “With the two of us working together, it’s a team effort. I could never do this by myself, I don’t think, at this level.”

Landry is a contributing editor to the magazine Creative Woodworks & Crafts – as is Fenton – and she also has an article in the current edition of another publication, Scroll Saw Woodworking & Crafts.

A mother of two adult children, the 52-year-old Landry also likes teaching, sharing her creative knowledge with others. In particular, she says, she likes getting scroll saw artists to try painting and getting painters to try scroll saw art.

Given all the business-related things she does – creating designs, of course, but also other stuff like writing a daily blog and preparing a regular newsletter – Landry says there’s plenty to keep her busy, which is fine with her.

“It’s a lot of work, but it’s fun and I love it,” she said.