La Petite Galerie
This is a case study with a difference. There are no sheds, photographers and very little framing. The shed becomes a small, art gallery; the photographer a young mum with an eye for artwork; framing? .. learning the basics to know what works well, but then sub-contracting that out. And all of this is set in Switzerland...a long way from Beaconsfield and DIYframing, you might think.
The idea of selling artwork at affordable prices, was something that had appealed to Sharrin for some time. After leaving South Africa for Scotland in 2001, having 2 children and being a "stay at home mum" for 4 years, she was desperate to try something different. The intention had been to open a gallery in Edinburgh, but after extensive research it was clear that there were a number of issues that needed to be sorted for it to be a risk worth taking. Anyway, within a year the family moved to Switzerland.
Far from that being an end to Sharrin's grand plan, the idea of opening a gallery was firmly rooted. Being in the right place at the right time always helps; for Sharrin it was spotting empty shop windows in a local village that she loved to visit. Talking to the owner revealed that there were no clear plans for the property. After a bit of constant pestering over the next few weeks, he relented and let Sharrin have a 1 year lease as a trial run.
La Petite Galerie is situated in the village of Lutry near to Lusanne. The gallery also offers a service where people can have their photographs turned into oil paintings on canvas. Once that takes off, then will be the time to take the framing service further. In the meantime, the framing equipment is kept simple so that funds can be prioritised and spent on marketing and advertising.
The gallery is aiming to bring affordable artwork to all people: Sharrin recognises that every home and office space have walls that need decorating. By keeping prices down and sourcing decorative pieces there is no reason why anybody can't afford artwork - even in Switzerland. Ideas Sharrin has used to market the gallery so far:
- website (own design, which gives a readily available presence especially for a wider market)
- brochure (also helps with providing French speakers with more information)
- La Petite Galerie ( a shop front to entice the casual passer by)
This is still a new venture so there are a lot more ideas to run with. Quite rightly, Sharrin feels pretty chuffed that she has managed to start her own business and in a country where speaking the language (French) remains her biggest challenge.
Any advice for beginners? One: make sure that if you intend to work abroad, being able to understand what people are saying is helpful. Two: watch out for start-up costs they have a nasty habit of quickly mounting up. Three: get organised but keep it clear and simple. Finally, if you are pestered by, "Cheeky men seeking exotic women", always pretend you don't understand the language. Not that many of us at DIYframing have had the same problem as Sharrin in that last point (although those of you who have met us won't be massively surprised). But Judy says she totally understands!
For the complete article and more photos click: Sharrin Joos. To visit the website click: La Petite Galerie
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