Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Elena Nahum Leroy, owner of RUSART, located in Gatineau, Quebec, Canada.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
RUSART is a small art supplies business, family-owned and operated in Canada. We're not a franchise company with millions of dollars of investments, but we share and contribute much more than any other art studio. We support programs for children in need with our art materials, children with neurodiversity, and art student groups.
And with our professional art supplies, we sponsor professional art associations, art events, and educational programs. Our concept of including art supplies in our shop is different. We're focused on small business support and "fair trade", so we're purchasing art materials from vendors that may not be well-known in Canada. But have a good reputation on local markets and better quality at a price.
As we're sure that painting should be non-toxic, we're working on our own RUSART NATURALS product line - paints and mediums for professionals, free from harsh chemicals and fillers. In this product line, we're implementing new standards of quality, where a full list of ingredients is disclosed. Our customers are professional and emerging artists and art students who appreciate quality art supplies and are open to trying brands beyond overpriced popular brands.
Tell us about yourself
I was born and spent most of my life in St. Petersburg, Russia - a city of artists, beautiful architecture, ballet, music, and other forms of arts. My family was practical, so I had no chance to be exposed to painting or piano, as I really desired, till my 20's. Instead, I got a Master's Degree in finances and built a successful career in the investment area. However, in 2004 I started learning academic drawing and painting, and my life turned into MY way.
So, in 2009, when I moved to Canada and settled in Vancouver, I decided to quit finances and devote myself to the arts. That's how I opened my art studio. It's never enough when you're in arts, so I tried and learned almost all mediums in 2D arts, explored jewelry-making, fresco, restoration, hot enameling in jewelry, and many other things. My interests in chemistry and science brought me to a stage when I started formulating my own art supplies.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I made a business that I dreamed about: arts with the flexibility to be a mom and spend time with family. This fine balance is the most important part of life, and thanks to my business, it’s achieved.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
I think that’s as for most online small businesses - shipping costs. Buyers expect you to be Amazon and ship for free, even a tiny thing, but in fact, every parcel, ever the smallest one, costs us more than $10 to send (the cheapest option with Canada Post). So, lower shipping rates for small packages would be a great thing to have.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
Before starting, make a good study, especially legal questions. You can’t change them, but they change your business. Be consistent. Only COVID and wars change the world instantly. Everything constructive needs time. Everything is changing, and your business will so never stop learning.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
A lot of people will try to stop you from doing business simply because you’re different. You’ll get huge support from your friends if you decide to take a $50K loan to buy a car but may get zero support if you decide to take a $10K loan to develop your business. So, be brave and follow your own path.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solopreneur that you'd like to share, then email firstname.lastname@example.org; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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