Even at University (back in 2007-2010) I knew I wanted to have my own space, be it a gallery or a shop. Thoughout my degree I knew I'd probably end up going in to the gallery/sales/commercial side of the art world so I took an interest in that side all the way through my course. When I volunteered and worked in galleries I found it hard that new talent was often ignored. Lots of galleries only work with artists who have big reputations but I kept coming across graduates and new artists that weren't getting a chance to show their work. That is when the penny dropped that I wanted to make my 'gallery' about giving makers their first chance and showing the public what's happening in studios all over the country.
How did you go about the process?
I started writing my business plan after Uni (I got a first class honours in Fine Art Painting) alongside working on the front desk of a gallery in London. To set up my company, I was using money I had saved over the years (I could never cope with a business loan as the pressure would kill me), so I went to a few mentoring sessions with a government business advise service (that unfortunately doesn't exist anymore) to make sure I was on the right track. I had some help with my business plan and a few legal things I had no idea about. I must admit I am mostly self taught on the business side of Yellowstone. I'm a designer and an artist but always put an academic, business spin on things as it comes quite naturally to me. I already had the name and premise of Yellowstone, along with a business plan, so I started to contact makers and see if they'd get onboard. The response was amazing and added fuel to the fire, so I started viewing commercial property, had a meeting with The Trentham Estate, and Yellowstone was born!
What did you learn from this experience?
That people will tell you you can't do it. You're too young, you don't have enough experience, most businesses fail in the first two years blah blah blah... So many business advisors told me how incredibly difficult setting up would be and I'd never make a living from selling craft and handmade.
Yes it was really hard, and I didn't earn any money for a few years, and I made a tonne of mistakes but
I DID IT! And proving people wrong is one of my favourite things to do.
Did you have any doubts?
I didn't really think past the first year to be honest. I knew that people would get on board with buying from British artists and buying something unique that isn't mass produced so I was very confident in the business. I think you have to believe in what you're doing more than anything, because if you don't then you can't expect customers too.
Looking back I'm so glad we are going strong 6 years later. Turns out I was on to something.
How did you make your boutique successful?
This is a tricky one- I don't know the magic formula for success! Success means a different thing to everyone but for me, it's being happy and being able to pay all the bills and staff on time. I earn less than most people my age but I have a good quality of life and I love my job. I'm passionate about Yellowstone and put 100% in to everything I do. That often equals success.
I hope you found those Q&A's interesting. Do you have anything you'd like to ask me? Leave me a comment and I'll do a second instalment next week!