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A $20,000 Watch That Tells More Than Time After struggling for years, an entrepreneur finally splurged -- and it pushed her to work harder.

By Stephanie Schomer

This story appears in the May 2018 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Courtesy of Rolex & Panerai

Ashley Longshore is very familiar with the meaning of starving artist. "I have price-shopped for tortilla chips at Walmart, OK?" says the New Orleans-­based pop artist. Today Longshore's work -- think Abe Lincoln with a sparkly turquoise beard and a bedazzled blazer -- is beloved by the art world and celebrities alike. (She counts Salma Hayek, Blake Lively and Eli Manning as clients.) But it took her a long time to get here.

Related: 8 Proven Habits for Ultimate Success

"I've been doing this for 24 years, and in my 20s, I was broke as hell," she says. "I hated [selling paintings through] galleries. Giving up 50 percent of a sale sucked." So instead, she started networking, hustling to make connections through friends and professional contacts, slowly building a clientele that purchased directly through her. "A great friend in Antwerp offered to have a show for me, so I started building this network of art-buying people all over the world. The pieces started coming together."

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