Friday, March 23, 2012

Finding the Next Generation of Art Buyers and Collectors--Online

Jen Bekman at work:  credit: Paul Costello
          In 2003, when Jen Bekman opened an art gallery near the Bowery in Manhattan, she admits she had never bought art, though she always wanted to.  But once she started living with art, she really enjoyed it. Soon  her mission  grew to something more than decorating her own walls. In short, she wanted “to democratize art. My business arose out of frustration. I realized that the reason I had never bought art was that no one had ever tried to sell it to me.”  But one of Jen’s early observations about customers is that they “came with a lot of baggage about buying art. They saw it as an intimidating experience. They had the means because I saw them in my gallery with expensive clothes and accessories; they just felt at a loss about how to make an art purchase. I wanted everyone to enjoy art, but I couldn’t’ reach everyone just with  my gallery.”

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Goat Farms, Wool and Making a Business Of What You Love

Laura Zander Amidst Her Yarns
It’s getting easier to make a living doing what you really enjoy. Especially since there seem to be enough customers who can afford to indulge their taste for artisanal or handcrafted products. Jimmy Beans Wool was founded in 2002 by  software engineer  Laura Zander who, afraid of losing work during the slump in Silicon Valley, decided to move to Truckee, California, near  Lake Tahoe. Spending a lot of time in the car on weekend ski trips Laura had become obsessed with knitting. When she took a part time job building a website for a graphics designer, she sold an ad to a local hand- dyed Yarn Company, which sparked the idea for what has become Jimmy Beans Wool. A shop built around her knitting hobby seemed like a good idea, and with their tech backgrounds, Laura, with her husband Doug, figured in time they could extend their reach with an internet business.  They invested $30,000 of their own money in a 500-square foot retail store  offering coffee to the knitters too.  And customers came and loved the yarns and the service.