Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in arts but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Palmyre Gilles, Co-Owner of Cuivres d'Art Albert Gilles Inc., located in Chateau Richer, QC, Canada.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
95 years of creative art! Our family has been creating works of art in embossed or enameled copper since 1927. A know-how and savoir-faire perpetuated by 5 women of the Gilles family since the death of its founder in 1979. We are an Art Studio, a boutique, and a museum, all combined to present the millennial art of Repoussé, our unique creations, and our rich history. Bringing this noble metal to life, we have decorated churches across North America. Today we shape decorative pieces for homes, design unique jewelry, create personalized promotional gifts and achieve special orders for cities and companies.
Tell us about yourself
I fell into the entrepreneurial & touristic pot at a very young age. From age 10, I helped my family in the shop to serve customers and give change but also pack and sweep because everything was not glamorous ...... Family business obliges. But it was from 1979, at the death of my father, Albert Gilles, and especially in 1981, that I actively participated in the company's daily life. I finished high school and came to help my mother to continue the family tradition. I learned everything on the job: accounting, marketing, public relations, and human resources; no prestigious degree or university degree.
However, a childhood with parents and a unique, non-traditional family that enriched it. Travel, culture, and openness to the world were a very early part of my life. I tamed all facets of the company and introduced it to its operation and administration: From production and creation to the sales network. For 40 years, I have been actively engaged in marketing, managing the company, and its involvement in the tourism industry. Participating in trade shows and marketplaces, solicitation trips to Europe, the United States, Mexico, and Canada.
My leadership has led to renewal and innovation in the company's offer, diversification of its target markets, and increased traffic. The company is now 95 years old, and I am proud to have contributed to its growth and expansion and proud of the projects and achievements accomplished since my father's death. Passion and heart still define how I feel about what I do for my family and my family business.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
To have innovated in tradition! Our main achievement for my family and me is to still exist for 95 years and live from our art! For me personally, my main achievement is the continuous increase in our traffic: from 30,000 visitors in the 80s to today nearly 100,000 per year. To have ensured the knowledge of our art, Le Repoussé, innovatively and originally with our customers, especially with school groups with our interactive Copper Art Workshop. More than 20,000 young people participate each year.
And the realization of our two permanent exhibitions on copper and our family history lead our public to better understand and share our passion for our art and achievements through time. They bring a more intimate and detailed perspective on our work and our evolution.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
It's not a 9 to 5 job! You bring home your worries and troubles. It is hard to disconnect,....even on holidays!
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Believe in your project.
- Be persistent and tenacious.
- Don't try to do everything yourself; surround yourself with the right people that complement your skills.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
Keep in mind that the growth of a company is not always a beautiful ascent straight line!
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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