Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in fine arts but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Keith VanPelt, co-owner of Deep Space Gallery, located in Jersey City, NJ, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I am the co-owner of an artist-run contemporary art gallery. My partner, Jenna Geiger, and I founded our business in 2016 to serve creatives in our community as well as local and international art enthusiasts. Our customers are first-time and seasoned art collectors from around the world, and we work with artists new to exhibiting and those who are well-established. As artists, we are very much in tune with the struggles that emerging artists face as they navigate the always-in-flux and unpredictable art world. We work very hard to serve as a resource and a launchpad for our network of formally-trained and outsider artists.
Tell us about yourself
I am a formally trained painter and stained glass artist. Before opening the gallery, I curated art shows at nontraditional venues as well as at art galleries in cities from Philadelphia and Raleigh to Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Jersey City. I am passionate about creative culture in general, including visual art, music, comedy, and street fashion. I admire the ambition and grit it takes to be a creator, and I'm committed to supporting their craft however I can. Our gallery is a hub for creatives from all different disciplines. We are honored to serve our creative community in that way.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment as a small business owner is the incredible roster of artists I have the privilege of working with. I am in awe of their talent, perseverance, creative imagination, and hard work.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
One of the hardest things that comes with being a small business owner is work-life balance. Sure it sounds like a cliche, but that's because it's a common problem. I don't ever really hang up my hat for the day or clock out. I really care about what I do, and I'm committed to doing the best job I can at it.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Research other businesses doing something similar to what you envision and define what will be different or the same as what you intend to do.
- Be prepared to be flexible. The only way we have kept our small business going through difficult times is to be adaptable. Be ready to pivot when necessary to make things work. If things aren't going well in one direction, take things in another one.
- Figure out who will be your business allies — regardless of whether you will have any partners in your business, know what fellow small businesses or individuals you can exchange ideas with or go to for advice or support.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
We're really grateful for publications like yours that feature small businesses and those who run them. Through mutual support, small entities like ours can grow!
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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