“Success rarely happens by accident. It is the result of planning and a lot of work. To be a successful Artist there needs to be a marriage between the Art and the Business. Like a marriage there will be times when you don’t see eye to eye but the outcome is better when you both work as a team.” “Sharon is my Ying and I am her Yang”, says Dan “We balance each other; her enthusiasm and my reality”.
Artists: Sharon and Daniel Brassard from Romantic Designs Artist Studio
Sharon is a Canadian Doll Artist and Sculptor. Daniel is a Watercolour Painter working in 3D and Animation. Where they came together was their subject; Celtic folklore and fantasy. Once referred to as a “Two Person Artist Guild” this pair had already achieved awards and acclaims from their peers and public, when seven years ago, they left Ottawa and settled in St. Thomas. Their vision was to open an Art Studio, amalgamating their joint artistic talents.
The Business Plan:
“One step into their studio and you can tell these people have taken a professional approach to their business.” John Allen – Small Business Coach – St. Thomas
Together, we worked out a Mission Statement (one still over our studio door today) and came up with a life plan to keep our personal and professional life in balance. One thing was for sure we needed a Studio. It would include a Gallery, a workshop, a classroom and an area to sell specific art supplies. We had seen many of our fellow Artists start out too big or resort to housing so many other Artists, they were lost in their own studio. Although our plan was to feature other Artists through our classes – it was also to keep our “eye on the prize” Romantic Designs. We incorporated what we liked about other classes we had taken and eliminated what we did not. What would make us different? What would keep students and potential buyers coming back?
The Location :
“It’s so beautiful – I just want to live here….” Visitors to Romantic Designs Artist Studio
People have to know about you in order to want your work. Awareness precedes desire and promotion is about building awareness and a good reputation. We were instantly drawn to the site of the old Marlette building, at 120 Wellington Street. With its wooden façade and rustic demeanor, there was a peacefulness that gently rustled the line of trees bordering the property. The parking lot was large and lit at night and a bonus was the railroad tracks that would someday (fingers crossed) carry passengers from Port to the Train Station on Talbot. Although we looked at many other sites, this one kept beckoning us with its quaint originality and whispers of heritage. “If you want to achieve career success the loudest voice you hear must be your own” Sharon Letcher. Our task now was to MARKET ourselves by website, online galleries, memberships to business associations, show and class handouts, partner-up with other businesses (thank you CURVES) and most important get a Business Coach …our personal Business Guru: John Allen.
“The Brassards are passionate about what they do and it is infectious. They actually do what the rest of us just dream about.” Katheline Small – Ottawa
First, find your Niche and capitalize on it. We knew that one of our business strengths was going to be our product’s originality and uniqueness. Our diversity in mediums and Art forms was also a plus but it could instantly change if we became too diversified. We had to stay focused on our vision. In order to succeed as an artist, someone beside yourself generally has to get the point of what you’re doing.
Secondly would be our classes and there was an opportunity to expand on that. Hosting visiting Artists would be a win for everyone. It brought more students to our site and gave the Artists without a studio an opportunity to run a class. In addition we would go out and do presentations and guest speaker appearances. No missed opportunities.
Success – Have a seat
“I would love to crawl inside their brain for just 10 minutes – what an amazing place “ Ursula Rudd, Artist – St. Thomas, ON
One of the secrets of enjoying today and embracing tomorrow is learning how to wait. We have been extremely lucky and fortunate in our endeavours to date and I sometimes think we have a guardian angel that was an Artist, up there looking after us. For whatever reason, we have achieved our 4 year goals and continue to prosper. Our accountant is happy; our business coach is happy and guess what, we are happy. We must be doing something right.
In their spare time The Brassards:
- Co-ordinate The Artisans Village – IronHorse Festival
- Two time Trophy recipients for designing Santa Claus Parade Floats
- Committee Members for Appreciation of the Arts
- Daniel is a Website Designer
- Sharon is the founder and facilitator of The St. Thomas Doll Club
- Member of the Elgin Business Women’s Network
- Sharon teaches Dance 2 the Music at the St. Thomas Senior Centre