Mumpreneur Profile: Deborah of Wychwood ArtGordon Dotwise
Your name and age: Deborah Allan / 38
Tell us about your family: My husband and I have two children aged 2 and 5 years old. We moved out to the countryside in Oxfordshire after having lived in London when our first child was born.
What did you do before coming up with your business idea and how was it making the transition?
I have worked in the international art world for over 15 years, firstly at Christie’s for 11 years as Director of Impressionist, Modern Art, and subsequently at Bonhams for 4 years as European Director of Impressionist and Modern Art which gave invaluable knowledge of the art market. Selling art as an auctioneer to important art collectors has given me great insight into why people buy art and what makes a good work of art.
The transition to set up and start my own business has been fine as I have not really had any spare time to think about the enormity of what I have taken on.
When did you launch? I launched in June 2014
How did you get started?
I have always wanted to run my own business and back in 2000 I almost set up a similar business however I do not think it would have worked at that time as I would not have knowledge of art and business like I do now. After selling art masters such as Picasso, Matisse and Van Gogh I wanted to find original art for people but for it to be affordable art for everyone and with prices starting at £25. Each artist and art work is carefully selected by me and several of the artists we represent have been selected for the final round of the Royal Academy summer exhibition this year. I started Wychwood Art with an online art gallery website and physical art gallery launch in June 2014.
What’s your favourite thing about running your own business?
The independence and the flexibility it gives me to work around the children. Meeting and working with wonderful inspirational artists that are passionate about their work and art.
What’s the thing you least enjoy about running your own business?
I enjoy all aspects of the business from travelling to meet new artists in their studio , assisting and helping people buy online through our website, meeting clients in our art gallery in Stow on the Wold in the Cotswolds and through art fairs such as the affordable art fair . Probably I would have say the least fun part is the administrational side of the business.
What has worked well about your business?
The online art gallery side is going well , the art fairs are a real buzz and I really enjoy meeting clients at our art gallery in Stow on the Wold.
What’s been your biggest business mistake? How did you deal with it?
I exhibited at one fair which was not an art fair without fully researching my market . I should have known better but I was on a real high with sales going so well so I thought I had nothing to lose. I had a lot to to lose as fairs are expensive! It is always a mistake if you do not know your market – like any any market you need to know what you are dealing with. It was a trial that did not work and one not to be repeated.
How do you fit in work with the family?Is your partner supportive of your business?
The children are at school and nursery and although everything is a juggling act when you work I feel I now have a bit more of a balance between my work life and my home life. My husband, my family and his family are tremendously supportive and I am not sure I would have persevered with the business if they had not been so encouraging.
Are you working towards a financial goal for your business?
I wrote a business plan before I started the business to make sure I felt the business was viable. I am very focused on achieving all of my targets and goals. I have achieved everything to date and it was an ambitious business plan so I have a lot of self inflicted pressure this year and next year to hit all of my targets.
Would you ever give up your business to do something else?
Not if I can help it!
Do you have an exit strategy?
No I am hoping I do not need one.
Have you had your ‘I’ve made it’ moment? Tell us about it. If not, when do you think it will come?
I am not sure I will ever feel like this as I always think I should be doing better. However I hope if things continue in the same vain as they are now then I hope my ‘I’ve made it’ moment will come.
Where do you hope to be in five years time?
I hope to be employing a number of people within 5 years and for international sales to be as high as the UK sales. There are are number of other goals but they are so ambitious I cannot share those yet unless I achieve them.