Elyse Kluber of Saltwater Scripts Talks Art & Business
Through creativity, so much happiness can be brought to people and that is exactly what is being achieved by Saltwater Scripts, a local business specializing in custom art. From its beginnings creating hand-crafted quotes and doodles, this unique practice has evolved and dipped its feet into many fields, such as custom pieces for special events including weddings and birthdays. What began as a simple hobby, soon transformed into a strong and independent business that continues to shine by making people feel happy and elated through creativity. Last week, I sat down with Elyse Kluber, the owner and sole creator behind Saltwater Scripts.
As a devoted teacher, she found herself always using her crafting skills to create meaningful pieces for the classroom and her students. After being given the idea to create an Instagram page for her art, it grew a mind of its own and spoke for itself through its beauty. Because of this, more opportunities arose for her, including the chance to create custom menus for a private event. From then, Saltwater Scripts was born and has been growing in terms of the range of events, as well as its overall platform.
What inspired you or moved you to start your business?
EK: I love answering this question because it involves a few of my favorite people and things! While teaching at a Middle School in East Harlem, I fell in love with designing a beautiful space for my students to enjoy. Most of the time, I found myself creating and recreating bulletin boards and anchor charts over and over again. I wanted my students to have the best experience while in my classroom and I couldn’t help but unleash my creativity and customize the space they’d spend most of their days. A close teacher friend of mine recognized all the effort I put into my classroom and suggested that I try making an Instagram profile to showcase my work. I have to say, at first I wasn’t really sure of it. How would people react? What would I post? Would people even like my work? I wasn’t sure about it, but I tried anyway.
Whatever I created, I wanted it to represent me and be something that I’d want in my home or space. So, I began writing down quotes, which morphed into doodles, card-making for friends, which then turned into canvas art and a bit more. An old college friend was cooking for a private event in East Hampton and she hired me to create custom menus. They were a hit and from there, I started commissioning pieces for weddings, birthdays, engagements, and more. All of this eventually became Saltwater Scripts—custom art that’s a little salty and sweet.
Do you have an inspiration or someone you look up to?
EK: Yes! Can I be cliche and say, my mom and dad? Other than those two, I’m truly blessed to be surrounded by the strongest women out there. They’re incredible moms, successful in their careers, have run marathons, failed and picked themselves up, and own businesses. Their love, advice, and support has shaped me into the woman I am today and a lot of that goes into my artwork. Everything I create comes from love and I think that’s important. Also, I grew up on Eastern Long Island so most of my artwork is inspired by the colors of the ocean and the feelings of summer.
What made you settle in Hoboken, NJ?
EK: I absolutely adore Hoboken. I commute to NYC for work, so I wanted something close, but with a little more space than my apartments in Manhattan and Brooklyn. I swore up and down that a Long Island girl like me would never cross the river into New Jersey, but I did, and I don’t regret it one bit. Manhattan and Brooklyn were both incredible places to live, but Hoboken truly feels like home. The community is so supportive of local artists and I love that small-town feel. The real reason I stay in Hoboken? The tater tots from Finnegans.
What are the pros and cons you have discovered when starting your own business?
EK: Pros: It’s so much fun! It’s truly wild to look back at where you were, where you are, and where you’re going. I think that’s my favorite part of all of this–just continuing to grow and get better. I get to challenge myself to create things that I never knew I could, and when I look at the finished product, I’m so proud. There’s nothing like giving your art to someone and watching their reaction because you’ve made their vision come to life. It’s an incredible feeling.
Cons: It takes patience and grit. There are times when it’s really tough. I have a full-time job and I’m a one-woman show (in hopes that this will one day be my full-time job), so the hours can be really long. I also was really hard on myself in the beginning and listened to too many outside voices, but I’ve learned to grant myself grace and understanding. Not everyone is going to like your work or support your ideas, and that’s okay. All that matters is that you like what you do and it brings you happiness.
Can you share the most memorable moment in your career?
EK: I think the most memorable moment was when I created watercolor invitations and menus for a women’s luncheon hosted by Candice Miller of Mama & Tata. It was the first time I was hired for a high profile event, and I was so proud of the work that I created. I mean, at the time, I didn’t even know how to Photoshop my scanned image. I was in way over my head, but when I saw the photos of celebrities holding my menus and my business name being printed in articles by Goop and The Chalkboard, I realized that the limit does not exist (I love “Mean Girls”) and I’m actually good at this.
What is your favorite project you’ve worked on and who was it for?
EK: Oh, I have so many! I always love working with my friend, Meg Huylo! She’s an incredible chef and she always gives me free rein over the designs and creation. Together, we dreamt up some whimsical watercolor menus for The End of Summer Dinner Party hosted by Rebecca Hassel Cohen of LoveShackFancy in Bridgehampton, which was one of my favorites. More recently, my favorite projects are my nautical-inspired pieces. I’ve created hand-painted dishes, bowls, mugs, etc. that would look perfect in any beach house or home for summer. I also love the Sea Critters watercolor paintings I’ve made. They bring me so much joy and remind me of home.
Do you have any advice for people who want to break into the industry?
EK: I think the best advice I’ve ever gotten is that there’s room for everyone at the table. It’s incredibly easy to compare yourself and your work to others in your field and think that you’re not good enough. You are good enough though; I promise that. Stay true to your art, product, or whatever it is that you do and you’ll be fine. Try not to get so caught up in what everyone else is doing and stick to your gut. Also, seek help. Growing a business is not easy and like raising a child, it takes a village. Use your resources, introduce yourself to people, and show up.
Check out more of our favorite Hudson County artists.