Going into business in the arts is no easy decision. Much like the restaurant business, the art spaces tend to appear, enjoy a moment in the sun and disappear. So in meeting Tracy-Lynn Chisholm and Emily MacLeod of OBO Studio, I tried to discover the secret to their permanency.
OBO Studio (Our Beautiful Obsession) is a wonderfully creative space located on the second floor at 44 Pitt Street, Cornwall. Upon entering the open, well-lit area, you are captivated by colors, partly finished and completed art works, students at easels or long tables and a cozy corner with couch and coffee table.
Both Emily and Tracy-Lynn are obsessed with making beautiful things and have a strong commitment to helping others do the same.
It began when through serendipity the two entrepreneurs joined forces. Tracy had closed her studio on 4th Street and was exploring new leads while Emily, a high school art teacher was on maternity leave. They enjoyed working together and wanted a large affordable space to do so and include other artists. A group of former students of Cornwall artist, Ana Lucia Wilson soon found a new home in OBO Studio. Since the early beginnings, the group has grown in numbers and includes a wide range of artistic styles, subjects and mediums. The mood of the space is calm, positive and the creativity contagious.
Emily and Tracy-Lynn first formed a partnership built on a shared vision and similar values. They applied to the St-Lawrence College program SEA (Self-Employment Assistance) that gave them support and introductory training, which led to a business plan.
I asked them: How do you reach and maintain your vision? Here is what they have learned through their experiences.
1. Know what you want and what you don’t want.
2. Be prepared to work, work, work in order to build the foundation of your enterprise. It’s not a given.
3. In a partnership, build on the strengths of each other. (Emily is organized and a realist. Tracy-Lynn, experienced in business, is whimsical and bubbling with ideas). Together they offer the essence of a successful team.
4. Find a space you can afford that meets the minimum of your needs and enhance it with beautiful things and happy clients.
5. Plan your time; find balance in your partnership, with your family, and work hours. Pace yourself and share responsibilities. (This is very important to avoid beginners’ burnout).
6. Brand your services and get them out there. OBO Studio has been in the public eye from the get-go: Facebook, exhibitions, interviews on YouTube and Cogeco TV. (Google OBO Studios to get an idea of the visibility they have attained).
7. Be part of your community. (As individuals they have been involved in many projects: the Centre for the Arts, Wall Art on Pitt Street, painting Big Brother and Sister building on Third Street, Tourist Banners on Water Street, exhibitions and many more…)
8. Inspire others toward success. (Success breeds success) and people notice. The best seller is satisfaction expressed by word of mouth.
9. Follow your dream. Planning a business-based studio takes time and effort but it can be done. OBO Studio is proof. Focus Art wishes them continued success.
For more information please e-mail: [email protected] or co[email protected] or Visit their website www.obostudio.com