Trupti Karjinni started dabbling in watercolors to get a sense of calm and release. She created an Instagram account to post a picture of her art each day, and soon found herself with over 10,000 followers and people reaching out to buy her art. She found a community and a long-overdue sense of belonging.
Now, at Thrive with Trupti, she provides aspiring watercolor artists with online training. She offers classes, focuses on colors and pigments, mindset guidance, live Q&As, critiques, insights, prompts, and access to a vibrant group of like-minded creatives.
Today, Trupti joins the podcast to share the story of how she left the world of marketing to become a full-time creative in less than five years, what she did to turn her Instagram following into a thriving membership business, and the beauty of finally finding your calling in life.
- How Trupti built a social media following that gave her the power to quit her job before she launched her membership business.
- The beauty in being grateful to successful people.
- The value in finding the courage to do what you want – not what people tell you to do.
- What happens when you break away from the corporate world to embrace your creativity.
- How Trupti’s business reached six figures in 2020 despite having to shut down her product business.
FREE Guide – Launch & Grow a Profitable Membership Site
Ready to reclaim your time and attract more monthly paying customers? Our step-by-step guide will show you how to build a membership site that turns your passion into recurring profit. Click here to download!
- “Watercolors is this beautiful medium, where it takes the control away from you.” – Trupti Karjinni
TranscriptRead The Transcript
Shelli Varela: Trupti Karjinni, welcome to the It’s a TRIBE Thing podcast. How are you?
Trupti Karjinni: I’m doing good. Thank you for having me on. How are you doing today?
Shelli Varela: I’m amazing. And I’m even better because I get to tell an incredible story with you. I loved our pre-chat. I love what you’re up to in the world, and you are proof positive that literally anything is possible if you dare to dream. So, would you be so kind to start with who you are, what you do, and who you serve?
Trupti Karjinni: Hey, everyone, I am Trupti Karjinni, an artist and creative entrepreneur. And I wear the hats of an artist, paintmaker, and online educator, and I love what I do. In my watercolor membership, Thrive with Trupti, I teach watercolor enthusiasts the skills and mindset they need to create confidently so they can go on to become thriving artists.
Shelli Varela: I love that. I love that because I think the arts are underappreciated. And I love that this is creating opportunities for people to take advantage of what art actually brings. And with that said, art brought something really special to your life, but can you talk about where you were before you were an artist? And where you started, and what that looks for other people? Because what I know is there’s going to be a lot of people out there that relate to a version of your story.
Trupti Karjinni: Yeah, I love telling the story because I feel like this really shows what can happen, what is possible once you start making art, because many people might not know this, I didn’t even paint until four and a half years ago. I’ve never seen it before.
Shelli Varela: I know. That is shocking. Here you are, you’re crushing it with this online, not only art membership, but you’re a paintmaker, and you didn’t paint four years ago.
Trupti Karjinni: Yeah, it’s really surprising because I actually studied engineering. So, I studied industrial and production engineering. And after that, I worked in an IT company, but two years into that company, and I was miserable. I was so miserable, I wanted an out. And so, I took this crazy decision of quitting my job without having any other job or anything else.
And I quit my job to study creative writing, not even arts, because from the age of 12, I was so sure that I was going to be a writer, I was going to be a novelist. And so, I started studying creative writing. And during that process, I also got married to the love of my life. We were dating, and we got married, at the same time, I got offered a job in marketing. So, we’re talking about May 2017. I’m a newlywed. I have a brand-new house, a brand-new job that I’ve just started. Everything is new. And I thought, man, my life is settled right now.
And I was sort of dabbling in watercolors for a couple of months before that. And I thought, since everything is new in my life, I want to dive into my watercolor painting again, because it gives me a sense of calm and I wanted to make it a part of my daily life. And so, purely to keep myself accountable, I started an Instagram account, just so I could post a picture of my art every day, and that would keep me on track to painting every day, and just finding that extra sense of fulfillment, that joy in my daily life.
And fast forward to October, my Instagram account crossed 10,000 followers. I have people reaching out to me to buy my artwork. I have a very engaged following and a beautiful community. And throughout my life, I felt so lost, not being able to connect. And when I started painting, and I was part of the Instagram art community, I finally felt like I found my tribe, I finally felt like I belonged.
Shelli Varela: Wow, so much to unpack here. So, let’s just continue with the story for one minute, and then I want to circle back on a couple really juicy nuggets. So, you started this Instagram page. In five months, you crossed 10,000 followers, and you were just starting it to keep yourself accountable. What happened after starting the Instagram account and realizing like, these people are my people? How did that lead eventually to starting a membership site?
Trupti Karjinni: It first led to me starting to teach online, because the weirdest thing happened. I decided to quit my job with just eight, nine months into my job because my art had taken off. I was getting sales, people were buying my artwork, I had plans to become a paintmaker, I had researched and studied enough, and I was really passionate. It’s so weird, because you go through your whole life thinking you don’t belong anywhere, you’re not passionate about anything. And then you find that one thing that sparks so much passion inside of you, that just makes you feel like you belong. And it’s like, finally finding my calling, my place in the world.
And I decided to quit my job because again, I was miserable in my marketing job, I was not happy. And then, a few weeks after I quit my job, I was invited to teach in something called a Watercolor Summit, where I was invited by the creator of the summit to teach alongside other artists that I had been admiring, before I started my Instagram account. So, these are artists who are in business for at least three to five years. And here I am, who had just started painting consistently for the last eight months. And I’m invited to teach a landscape in this Watercolor Summit in this online course, and I said yes. And that was my first experience of teaching online.
And the sense of fulfillment it brought me to be able to teach what I know, to be able to share my joy for watercolors, and to see people imbibe that in their creative process just started it all for me. So, then, after that, I thought, okay, it went really great. I had no idea I was going to have fun teaching watercolors online. And a lot of other people were also starting to ask me to teach them. So, I started teaching classes on a really popular online learning platform.
Shelli Varela: So, when did you first hear about a membership? And when you did, did you immediately say, Oh, my gosh, this is for me? Or was it more like, man, I wonder if this could work for me? Would people pay me month after month to come and learn? What was your original thought process when you discovered you can actually have recurring revenue doing the thing you love?
Trupti Karjinni: Yeah, the funny thing is, it’s exactly a year ago that I discovered what the membership model is. I discovered Stu for the first time, I discovered the membership model. And I remember reading some of the success stories, and I remember thinking, What am I reading over here? What are these numbers? What is happening? How have I not known about this? And what is this crazy success that people are experiencing with this model?
And I was not new to teaching online, I’ve been doing it for two and a half years on this online learning platform that I spoke about. And I was just blown away, I was like, I can’t believe what I’m reading right now. And I said, this has to happen. There was no question about it, no question at all, because the numbers, somebody else’s success story. So, the thing with me is when I see someone else being successful, I don’t go into a comparison mode. Thank God for that. When I see someone else succeed, what I think is that, oh, my gosh, that could be me one day.
Shelli Varela: It’s possible.
Trupti Karjinni: It is possible, right? And I’m always super grateful to successful people, because they show us what is possible. And it was a no-brainer for me. I just knew that this has to be the next step in my business.
Shelli Varela: So brilliant. I mean, I have a couple things that I want to circle back on here, just because I know that our incredible audience is going to be experiencing or feeling this in one way or another. I wanted to circle back to engineering. What was it originally that led you to engineering? Because as I listened to you unfold your story, and what I want to acknowledge you for is your ability to go nope, not this, nope, not this, but to know what a yes feels like and to go, nope, this isn’t a yes, but many people will start out on their journey doing what they “should do,” what either their parents think they should do, or what they’re good at, but maybe don’t love. What did it look like, you walking into engineering? Like, why did you choose that? And what did it feel like walking out, going, this is a no for me?
Trupti Karjinni: So, something that you need to understand is that I’m the eldest child in my family. And I have young brothers and sisters, and in my Indian family, because I’m from India, and in our culture, I was always propped up as that star kid. And my uncles and aunts used to give me as an example to their children. So, I used to experience this pressure of always performing and doing better and getting good grades from a very young age.
And when I chose engineering, I originally wanted to study journalism, but everybody else around me said that, I think you should do engineering, because it’s a degree that you can fall back on. That’s the mentality.
Shelli Varela: And what was your dad telling you in that moment? When you’re like, yeah, but journalism is a yes for me, and then, you said no to your own yes or your own knowing and did the thing that they thought you should do. What advice would you give people right now who maybe you’re going to end up being the next Trupti? Maybe you are that successful person, inspiring the people coming behind you, what would you say to the people who are standing on the precipice of feeling the pressure to do what they should do, but it’s not their calling?
Trupti Karjinni: I would say that if you have a choice in any manner, in taking your call about where you want to take your life, I think that everyone should find that courage to do it. I mean, even if they don’t find the courage to do it, they should just do it, because they know deep inside that that is what it is for them.
But for me, I was 18 years old, I was just out of high school, and I did not have that gumption in me back then to take a calling and say that this is what I want to do. I did not have access to the internet all the time to research good colleges and that sort of stuff. So, it ended up being like, following the heart, but I also want to say that if that happens to you, something good always comes out of it as well, because I met my husband in the last year of engineering because he was in the same college as me.
And if I hadn’t met him in engineering, I would not have had a success with business today, because he is such a big part of that. He’s always giving me the courage to fly, he is the perfect partner. Now, he’s working with me in my business. So, art has created opportunities, not just for me, but for him as well. He studied engineering, he even did masters in construction management. And now, we’ve both quit our jobs, and we’re handling our multifaceted business.
Shelli Varela: Oh, my gosh, I love it. So, I remember hearing for the first time when you said, I’ve only been painting for four years, and I went, Oh, what? So, can you describe what it felt like when you first started painting? Because you start for a certain reason, maybe for you, it was peaceful, maybe it’s getting in touch with yourself. Maybe it’s just like, almost like a meditation where you just get to sit quietly and just be. What did that feel like for you, because you made a decision that you wanted to do it every day? So, there had to have been something about that, that was like, huh, this is a thing for me, because the reason I asked that question is there’s so many people out there right now listening that need to know what that feels like, because they may be sitting on the edge of their own yes.
Trupti Karjinni: Yeah. I love talking about this because I still remember that first time when I first played with watercolors. And when I felt the color just burst through the water and just spread, I felt a sense of calm that I had never felt before. Because, as I said before, I was pretty high strung, I had a lot of pressure of performing, doing really well, and I became that sort of person, very high strung, had to have everything perfect, had become this perfectionist in my life.
And watercolors is this beautiful medium, where it takes the control away from you. You can’t control it much because you’re working with water. How much control can you exercise on water, it’s going to do its own thing. And I remember seeing the colors just explode in the water and feeling so good about letting go of control in this one thing in my life, because I had to control everything else in my life.
My family was broke at the time, we could barely even fund my wedding. It was such a hard time, it was one of the hardest phases of my life. And to have this one escape where I don’t have to control much, I just have to let the paints and water do their own things and find beauty in it. It was a major life lesson for me, and a big way for me to deal with all the external circumstances happening around me at that time.
Shelli Varela: What a beautiful metaphor for life. I actually wrote down when you were talking, you said you have to let go and let go of control. And just like the juxtaposition of what you just described, when you’re just head down to the grindstone and just like trying to make ends meet and trying to do all the things and trying to be a great example and trying to do what you should, and then the thing that actually frees you in the end is the thing that causes you and allows you to just like let go of control.
Trupti Karjinni: Yeah.
Shelli Varela: You said something else that was super powerful. When you were leaving engineering, when you were leaving marketing, you talked about the feeling that you don’t belong, what has changed for you now that you’ve created a community for maybe other people like you to belong?
Trupti Karjinni: I love this, because I think that this is something a person who goes from corporate to a creative community will deeply, deeply relate to, because in the corporate world, it was rat race, it was competitiveness. The culture over there was in order for you to climb up, you had to drag someone down. And I never felt like I belonged there, neither did I feel like I was supported, but when I joined the creative community, I mean, sometimes I just love scrolling back down on my Instagram and seeing some of my first paintings and seeing the kind of art that I was making. And it wasn’t like really good art, it wasn’t even good art. It was just something that gave me joy, and it was a mess. There was no finesse to it, but I was welcomed by other artists who are doing really well.
And this is what I find is so beautiful about a creative community, because they want you to succeed, they want to lift you up. And this is in such contrast with the corporate world that I had been in, for what, four years. And I felt so supported, so uplifted, even today, I still have friendships with the artists who I met in the very early days of my journey as an artist, and they still celebrate me, they still cheer me on. So, finally, I was so parched for the community, and I finally felt supported, like I belonged. And this community welcomed me with open arms, and they lifted me up on their shoulders. That’s a big part of why I’m successful today.
Shelli Varela: What does it feel like now, being the person that welcomes others and helps them belong, because man, that’s gotta be so rewarding, having known what that feels like and having lived through that, and just the stark contrast of being loved and welcomed and championed and belonging, what does that feel like for you now knowing that you are the person who’s offering that to the people who were you, four years ago?
Trupti Karjinni: This is the reason why I started my membership in the first place. It’s this exact thing that led me to start a membership because in my membership, I don’t just teach artists how to paint with watercolors, because it’s a skill thing. I can teach people anytime, anywhere. It’s really good to have those skills, but I wanted mindset to be a major part of my membership, because I wanted artists to feel like their art matters, even though they have grown up believing that it’s not worth it. You can’t put money in it. You can’t invest any time or effort in it. It’s just something that you do in school and then you just forget about it and then there is no place for you for that in your life.
And I feel like almost all of us as artists have a bunch of these limiting beliefs. And because I know where I come from, I never take this for granted, not even one day. It is so easy for me to stay in a constant state of gratitude and stay humble and stay grounded because I know how it felt to not feel supported. And in contrast to that, I still remember how it felt to be welcomed, how it mattered that other successful artists lifted me up and showed me what is possible. And I just carry that torch now and pass it on to my students in my membership and people in my Instagram community.
Shelli Varela: Incredible, you are an amazing human being. Final question, you said something, when you were talking about being given the opportunity to teach, and what you said was so simple and threw your story. You’ve said this a number of times, but there was something that struck me about when you are articulating, you said, I said yes. For those people right now, who are hearing about a membership and the possibility of it, and I was going to say maybe, but actually probably, feeling like they don’t belong in a lot of places and are hearing your story. And for them, you are the person who is the successful one, showing them that it’s possible.
Given throughout your story, there is like a theme of you tapping into, is this true for me? Does this feel good for me? And then, saying yes, and just like you said yes when you were teaching for that first time. What advice would you give those people who are thinking man, like, maybe I could be like her, what advice would you give them?
Trupti Karjinni: I want to say this, and I really want people, whoever’s listening, I really want them to pay attention to what I’m saying right now, because this is true. If you’re thinking of starting a membership site right now, and if you’re thinking of teaching, whatever it is that you want to teach, whatever service that you want to give to a community, you have no idea of all the good things that are about to come your way, because my growth, not just in my business, in my revenue, how my businesses grow, not just that, but how I’ve grown as a person, after starting my membership, is something that I could not even have conceived of, on the day that I was launching my membership.
Shelli Varela: Wow.
Trupti Karjinni: I had no idea that this sort of mindset growth, this sort of personal development, this sort of abundance in terms of money, in terms of my business reaching six figures in 2020, the year that shut my product business down, because we couldn’t ship anything out of the country, and all the wonderful opportunities that have come my way, all the collaborations, all the beautiful entrepreneurs, hustler entrepreneurs that I have met in this community, I could not have imagined any of this happening on the day that I launched my membership.
So, yes, it’s going to feel scary, it’s going to feel new, but take a bet on yourself, because there are people in your audience who are ready to bet on you, and just say yes, and take that first step and be open and receiving to all the abundance that’s about to come your way. You have to be open and receiving, and you can never guess. So, I would say begin, just begin.
Shelli Varela: Trupti, what a gorgeous, gorgeous story. And I just want to add to that if I may mirror back to you, many people are again, sitting on something that it’s like, man, I would love to teach people how to cake decorate or climb Mount Kilimanjaro, whatever that looks like, and you’re right, like you said it beautifully, it is new, and it might be scary, but say yes, anyways. And the other thing that I wanted to show you is you are just such a beautiful human. People are coming for yes, the thing that you do, but they’re also coming for you.
And so, for those people, like they’re coming for you, too, like they want to be around you, they want your essence, they want the gifts that you have to give, they want your insight, they also want to learn maybe about watercoloring or whatever the membership is about, but they’re also coming for you, and you can’t replace that.
Trupti Karjinni: Yeah.
Shelli Varela: Thank you so much for sharing your story, like, oh, it’s just so beautiful.
Trupti Karjinni: You’re so sweet. Thank you, Shelli.
Shelli Varela: If people are looking for you online, where’s the best place they can find you?
Shelli Varela: Amazing. We love your face. Thank you so much for taking the time.
Trupti Karjinni: Thank you so much for having me on, Shelli.
To learn more and get access to all episodes, visit our podcast page!