Aurélie’s Gallery is 6 month-old!

Aurélie’s Gallery is 6 month-old!

May 9, 2022

Today is more or less our sixth-month anniversary. I say “more or less” because we had so many false starts when it came to launching the website, so many delays, bugs and revised timelines, we ended up with the softest of soft launches.

When people ask what the best and worst things about launching my online photo gallery are, it’s easy to know the worst part: creating the website has been the most challenging part of the process. I am not a coder, nor particularly fluent in geek-speak, so I’ve felt very lost.

Finding myself so dependent on technology (and one I have very little understanding of) has been a huge adjustment. As a friend of mine told me early on, “Your business rests on both art and technology.” I didn’t fully hear her then, but I sure do now!

And now for the fun part of having this gallery: I love being able to share my love of photography! It’s as simple as that.

I’ve always loved photography (maybe because my childhood bedroom was covered in Sarah Moon’s images?). I love its immediacy and intimacy. It’s the most ubiquitous art form, one that speaks to most people. I feel photography has become a “lingua franca,” a universal language by which we all communicate.

I am also happy and honored to champion photographers whose work I love.

Coming from the advertising and fashion photo industry, I don’t recognize the usual barriers the art world sets up. There if you don’t have the right pedigree (read: education and/or connections), your work is devalued (or, at least, not as valued).

For me, what matters is my response to the images. The curation is personal – I love every image I am showing; it is not calculated according to the art world’s rules and expectations.

Aurélie at work

Lastly, I love the freedom I enjoy. It’s a huge privilege. Freedom to feature who I want, to work from anywhere in the world, to create this new business from scratch – making lots of mistakes along the way, for sure, but loving every second of it.

So, here’s to our first 6 months! I can’t wait to continue to grow and develop Aurélie’s Gallery. See you around!

 

If you missed it, read Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 of how the gallery came to be.

Follow the blog for more of my adventures in entrepreneurship land!

How Aurélie’s Gallery came to be (last part)

How Aurélie’s Gallery came to be (last part)

October 21, 2021

We’ve been busy rebuilding the website. As painful as it is and as frustrating the delay is, at least I’m getting to know WordPress quite well!

I have to say that, one of the things I enjoyed the most about putting this business together has been learning new things. I’ve never been a techie but I am starting to understand how it works and to be able to figure things on my own, and that’s immensely rewarding!

November 1, 2021

We’re live!! Woowoo… although, to be honest, it’s a very soft and subdued launch.

Between the website’s unpredictable hiccups and having still to contend with Covid, I didn’t feel like organizing an event. It’s not the launch I had envisioned, but at least we’re on!

We will have a party later, but now everything feels too tentative and complicated. Once things are more settled (and the health crisis is under control), I want to have a series of pop-up events, setting up a few days in NY, LA, Paris, etc… Wherever I can find a cheap space and I know people!

I already have a million ideas on how to run the events – fingers crossed I’ll be able to start them in the next few months.

A open bottle of champagne

December 1, 2021

The first results are in: we got a lot of positive feedback (and some orders!). I am very happy with the 3 exhibits we started with. I think it’s a great mix.

Lori’s images of horses are stunning and different from what you usually see in “animal portraiture” (is there such a thing? I’m sure there is!). Andre’s nature photography couldn’t be lovelier – just looking at it you can feel the touch of the sun on the flowers and the breeze in the leaves. And Martin’s minimalist images of suburban development around the world are intriguing. His work raises many interesting questions about globalization and uniformity.

I’m forever grateful to them for trusting me with their images and believing in my project.

January 2, 2022

It will be interesting to see how things develop. We launched so late we were not really able to benefit from a full holiday shopping season. Fine art prints take time to make so we cut it close for people to get theirs on time. Even the home & work accessories in the Gift Shop are made on-demand, which means it takes a couple of weeks to get them… Not ideal when you’re competing with businesses that promise next-day delivery!  

We also can’t compete with cheap companies. I don’t have $50 prints – that’s not what we do. We will diversify in the coming months to offer a wider price range, but I know I’ll never be able nor want to compete with the “cheap & fast” companies.

I believe there’s a place for the gallery and what we offer. There’s a place for quality and uniqueness. We just need to find not only our audience but also our customers. They’re out there, I know it. After all, I’m out there! 😉

Portrait of Aurélie in front of a wall of photographs

If you missed it, read Part 1 and Part 2.

Follow the blog for more of my aventures in entrepreneurshipland!

Aurélie’s Gallery video introduction

Aurélie’s Gallery video introduction

A funny thing happened when I decided to launch the gallery. I got super-crazy camera shy! Kind of a problem when you’re supposed to be the face of your company, isn’t it?

Here’s a little video I shot early on that I am finally releasing. Be kind – don’t forget, being in front of a camera petrifies me! 

Let’s not forget the wonderful artists who believe in me and the gallery.

I (obviously) couldn’t do this without them! 

Portrait of a white horse, photographed against a black background
Shaded and flowery spot in a park
White fireplace against a wall in construction
A woman dancing in a wheat field on a sunny summer day
Portrait of Ornette Coleman
Japanese temple reflected on a lake
How Aurélie’s Gallery came to be (part 2)

How Aurélie’s Gallery came to be (part 2)

February 1, 2021

Today, I announced on social media the upcoming launch of the gallery!

The response was wonderful – so many people congratulating me and making the jump to follow the gallery’s page. I am truly humbled by the outpouring of support.

I am also freaked out! I started to worry people were going to be disappointed and that I was not going to live up to their expectations. And putting out into the world made it all too real; I can’t just take my sweet time anymore – I said the gallery will launch in the spring so it needs to be!

I spent the last few months working on this, learning a ton about marketing, social media, entrepreneurship, sales tax and all that fun stuff. Except for my close friends, no one knew was I was doing, I was flying under the radar in my little bubble. That time is over: people now know, and I’d better deliver!

Although I had a freakout moment after making the announcement, I know I needed to take that step. I had to dive in, otherwise, I would have spent the next 6 months researching and tweaking things ad nauseam. At some point, you need to go into the world!

February 8, 2021

As soon as I made my big splashy announcement, I learned the website would take a lot more time than anticipated! We went from launching in the spring to launching whenever the site will be ready.

Pushing the launch creates a whole set of problems: from having to revise the exhibit calendar to cutting our yearly revenue (but not our expenses!), from having to sustain people’s interest during that extended gestation period to reassuring the photographers who already signed up…

The setback really crushed me. It felt like the rug got pulled from underneath me. I was so looking forward to launching, to making this dream a reality, and it was exciting to feel I was getting closer…

[2022 Insight: I now realize my expectations were completely unrealistic. I had no sense of how long building a custom site takes and didn’t do due diligence to really understand what I was getting into. Lesson #1: when venturing to new territories, like coding and websites are for me, ask questions. And then ask some more questions, and some more, until you feel you have a bit of a grasp of what’s happening.]

February 19, 2021

Onward and (hopefully) upward. I’m busy working on the non-fun part of the business – the business plan, financial planning and other fine print stuff. [2022 Insight: although I found financial projections utterly pointless since there’s no way to know or even guess how much sales you will do, listing all the expenses your new business will face is incredibly helpful. Sobering, but helpful.]

I looked for new online groups to join. As a producer, I was part of a few amazing groups who would freely share their knowledge and resources, no strings attached.

So imagine my disappointment when the female entrepreneurs’ groups I joined turned to anything but.

First, it felt like 99% of the people there were business/ marketing/ social media consultants. How many consultants does the world need? (no offense to consultants, some are incredibly helpful and insightful, particularly the one we worked with putting this business together, Stuart Goldstein!).

Secondly, most of the posts were either motivational a la, “you go, girl!” (empty words when you’re looking for concrete answers on how to launch and run your business), or sale pitches!

What was most disheartening though was how unprofessional and amateurish so many people sounded like. From cutesy avatars to bad selfies, from dated graphics and imagery to emoticons overload, most people did not know how to present themselves properly, even said consultants!

It’s a shame because online groups can be incredibly helpful and uplifting. I’ll just need to find the right ones! 

PS: If you know any good ones, leave them in the comment below! Thank you!

April 15, 2021

I’m busy working on gathering all the content we need for the website, the images, price lists, descriptions, and artists’ statements. All the while working on creating some ads on social media to reach more people.

It is very interesting to see the platforms through this new angle. I never ran an ad before so I have a lot to learn. Me being me, I much prefer the creative part of the job to the analytical one. It’s fun designing ads and writing copy. It’s much less fun (at least for me) to look at charts and try to decipher them to define my next step.

As much as advertising has evolved and improved since its early days, what David Ogilvy said 70 years ago still rings true today: “When you spend $1 on advertising, fifty cents go to waste – the problem is that we don’t know which fifty cents.”

That harsh truth used to make me laugh when I worked in advertising. Now that I’m an advertiser, not as much! Oh, how the table turned! 

Aurélie at her desk

May 25, 2021

Our developer works on a separate server, which got hacked yesterday. When she was able to finally go back in, the damage was extensive. A lot of her coding got messed up, images disappeared, links got broken. It’s a terrible setback and another delay.

I’m so upset, I don’t even know what to say.

I know in the long run it doesn’t matter if I launch in May or July or even in the fall. These are self-imposed deadlines no one is really holding me up to (I’m forever grateful to the photographers who said yes early and wait so patiently and graciously for me to get this website up and out). What matters is that people love (and buy) the photographs I’ll feature.

But it’s hard to not feel discouraged. When is this thing finally going to launch? Will it ever? Urgh…

June 3, 2021

Social media: the thing I enjoy and dread in equal measure!

I did a Story today on Instagram to announce a new post about a photographer I love, Gregory Crewdson. I felt sleek and smart… until hours later (hours!), when a friend sent me a screenshot of my Story, which was just a blank space. The image was not visible for whatever reason.

I was so embarrassed and upset. I know I’m not a digital native, but, come on! That was such a rookie mistake (but I’m after all still kinda new at Stories – I’m a late adopter, what can I say?). I felt so deflated, and thought I would never figure social media out… But then, something amazing happened!

Screenshot of my Instagram post about Gregory Crewdson

Gregory Crewdson liked my post about his work (!!!). [Granted, it might have only been someone from his studio, not him in person, but hey! That still counts!]

I was so thrilled and giddy, I was jumping up and down (in my head at least).

So, here was, in a nutshell, my relationship with social media: terrible and wonderful, all at the same time!

*For people unfamiliar with Gregory Crewdson, he’s a fine art photographer who stages eerie scenes in suburban locations. His work is strange, moody and melancholic – I love it! Read my post here.

June 10, 2021

Seeing the mockup of the website today. There’s still a lot to be finalized but I can (almost) see the launch!

On another note, I’m going through a bit of soul searching here. You see, I knew from the beginning I wanted the gallery to be very personal (that’s why I used my first name for it). This gallery is an extension of myself, of the years I spent working in the photo world, and of the many talented photographers I met along the way.

When putting the business together, it was clear to me I had to be the face of the business. It was not an ego trip. It was just this self-evident truth: I am Aurélie’s Gallery and Aurélie’s Gallery is me.

Aurélie as a smiling kid

But I now find myself fighting against doubts and stage fright. Granted, I’ve never been comfortable before a camera, but this is next level. As soon as I said I will be the face of the company, my old fears and shyness came rushing back and were like, “Ummm, are you sure?”

By the time you read this, I might have gotten over it. Or I might not. Only time will tell (so stay tuned!).

PS: this is a photo of me as a kid, before shyness and doubts settled in. I gotta go back to that kid!

July 22, 2021

What do you do when things are different from what you had envisioned? I had to undergo a major adjustment while working on starting the gallery.

You see, as a producer on photo shoots, I was used to being in control and having backup plans for all contingencies that came my way. I work with a tight-knit group of people who I know and trust. We all jump through crazy hoops to meet deadlines and budgets… no matter how impossible they are!

But with the gallery, I had to give some of that control to people who can do things I clearly cannot do, like our fine art printer who does beautiful prints, or our web developer who is painstakingly coding our site as we speak.

As a producer (and Capricorn), not being in control of all aspects of the gallery has been quite the adjustment! (read: I’m driving everyone crazy)

Am I the only one who has trouble giving away control? I can’t be, right?

August 20, 2021

Our server crashed, wiping out most of the site, the coding, images and text. The backup is buggy so we basically have to start from scratch. Our September launch date is now pushed to whenever.

To say this is devastating is an understatement.

Maybe I should give up.

[Spoiler alert: I didn’t]

 

Stay tuned for Part 3. Will I be able to launch? Won’t I? (well, we’re on the website so you know I did, but it was not without some more ups and downs!)

If you missed it, read Part 1 here.

Aurélie’s Gallery from A to Z

Aurélie’s Gallery from A to Z

When I decided to start Aurélie’s Gallery, it was clear to me it needed to reflect who I was and what I believed in. That principle guided me when putting the business together.

Here’s what is important to me.

A is for Artists – It’s not easy being a photographer. The competition is fierce and budgets are ever-shrinking. I want the gallery to succeed so it becomes another opportunity for photographers to monetize their work. Most artists are often focused on their next project, neglecting past works… but these past works are interesting and deserve to be seen. The gallery is a way to feature them and for photographers to benefit from them.

C is for Curation – I knew early on I wanted the gallery to be personal (that’s why I used my first name for it!). The curation needed to be equally personal. I am starting with photographers I know and whose work I love, but even when I’ll expand to people I don’t personally know, the connection to the work and them will be important. If I love the images but don’t get along with the artist, I won’t sign them. Life is too short to deal with divas and jerks!

E is for Experience – I worked for 25+ years in the photography world. I was a producer for advertising and fashion shoots, and I also started and ran a photography magazine. I met many talented photographers along the way – the gallery is to celebrate them and their work.

F is for Freedom – As my parents are getting older, I want to spend more time with them in France. That meant I couldn’t continue working as a producer in NY; I needed a new business that would allow me the flexibility to go back and forth. And with an online gallery, as long as I have an internet connection, I’m in business!

I is for Independent – Being independent has been the guiding force behind how I led my life. That’s why I left my 9-5 job in an ad agency to launch my production company at 27.

I want to work with other independent businesses and that’s one of the reasons I chose our printer. He is an incredible craftsman and artist in his own right, but I also love the fact that he works independently and carves his own slice of the world. I could have gone to some big printing company – their turnaround time was shorter for one thing – but I’d rather work one-on-one with someone I know and appreciate. I’m not just going to be a number with him. He cares… and so do I!

K is for Koala – Just because they’re cute!

L is for Learning – I learned so much working on this new business! From sale tax laws (boring) to social media rules (fascinating), my brain has been on overdrive this past year… and I love it. It has been challenging at times, but also incredibly exciting and rewarding to get out of my comfort zone and expand my horizon.

N is for New York – This city is an incredible source of inspiration and strength for me. The energy is palpable, and the “can do” attitude is infectious. I would have never done as much as I have done in my life if it was not for living there.

O is for Opportunity – I want the gallery to feature a diverse array of talent and showcase artists who might not otherwise get the opportunity. Women, people of color, non-binary… it is important to me to highlight under-represented artists. What matters is the connection I feel to the work and the person.

P is for Print On Demand – As a new business, I can’t afford to buy in bulk ahead of time. Enter Print on Demand, where the pillow or notebook you order is made just for you at that moment.

Manhattan skyline on a sunny day

POD is less risk upfront, but it also means less waste as I am not storing a gazillion products which might not sell. Mass-produced items are cheap because they’re produced in huge quantities, allowing for economy of scale. But they generate more waste in the production process as it’s less precise and a lot of products end up in landfills as they outnumber the demand. Our partner’s printing machines create almost no wastewaters and use less energy than standard industry printers.

Moreover, Gift Shop items are produced in different locations in the US and Europe, which helps cut down shipping time and costs. Having production centers close to you also means reducing our CO2 emissions when transporting your order.

Q is for Quality – I chose my partners carefully, from our master printer to the Gift Shop fulfillment company I work with. I want you to be happy with your purchase, be it a print or a tote bag.

S is for Small Business – Because that’s what Aurélie’s Gallery is!

T is for Tim – My husband and associate. He has great business sense and knows his way around websites (plus, you know, he’s a pretty good guy!).

U is for Unique – You will not find the images and related home and work accessories anywhere else!

V is for Variety – New exhibits will be coming regularly, along with beautiful images in the Print Shop. From landscapes to fashion, still life to portraits, sign up for the newsletter or follow us on social (or both) to see what’s coming next.

W is for Welcoming – I want Aurélie’s Gallery to be a welcoming space, where different people can find something to enjoy. Maybe you’re decorating your place and are looking for art for your wall? Maybe you want to read the blog and learn about photographers you might not know? Either way, I am happy you are here!

How Aurélie’s Gallery came to be (part 1)

How Aurélie’s Gallery came to be (part 1)

January 1st, 2020

After years of working as a producer on photo shoots, I felt it was time for a new challenge, something that would reconnect me with why I fell in love with photography in the first place. I knew so many talented photographers that the idea of creating a space for them to show their personal work came naturally.

I toyed with opening a physical gallery but quickly abandoned the idea – too much overhead, especially in New York where rents are sky-high. Plus, I know myself: after years working on my own in my apartment and enjoying the freedom of being a freelancer, having to go every day to an office (in this case, a gallery) was unfathomable. I’d been spoiled and couldn’t go back to a 9 to 5 grind.

Years ago I created with a friend of mine Resource Magazine, a publication dedicated to photography. We worked from her place or mine, with an army of interns squatting our sofas. Eventually, it became too much and we got an office… which I promptly hated.

With modern technology, we can work anywhere, any time. Why would I tie myself to a desk and chair? I love working in cafés (or, you know, on my bed with my dog curled up next to me). I knew having a physical gallery was not going to work. The next best thing was to bring my gallery online, so here we are! This year is the year when I make my dream a reality!

[Spoiler Alert: 2020 was definitely NOT the year when my dream came true!]

January 31, 2020

I started meeting with photographers I know and whose work I love. The response has been very positive and supportive – the idea is sound, but the way we implement it is what’s going to make or break it. We really need to make sure the website is both beautiful, with a great gallery experience, and easy to navigate (I can’t afford to lose people because where to buy is not easy to find!).

There’s a lot of factors to consider – I really hope I’m able to make my vision come to life! Talking to the artists gave me so many new ideas, like doing pop-ups in different cities, or showing them on set during one of their shoots, etc. It’s all very exciting and inspiring!

Although I’m set when it comes to the printer for the fine art works, I’m completely lost as far as fulfillment houses go for our Gift Shop products. Finding a company that does quality items at a reasonable price is no easy task! That part makes me nervous as I know nothing about manufacturing – it’s a brave new world I’m discovering here, and a slightly intimidating one if I’m being honest (that being said, it is also super interesting to learn all these new things and get into the nitty-gritty of how things are made).

I can’t afford to buy large quantities of products when I don’t know what will sell (or not), so I have little room to maneuver: I’d better not mess it up!

July 29, 2020

As you can see, there’s a huge gap between today’s date and the first time I wrote – covid happened and wreaked havoc to my plans and timeline.

I have to say it took me a long time to get out of my state of sideration. The pandemic brought such an unprecedented break in our lives (at least in the western world which had been untouched by war and major upheavals in decades), that it paralyzed me (and I suspect countless others).

As we were trying to adapt to this new reality, George Floyd’s death brought an intense moment of reckoning, on that was long overdue in my opinion. The soul searching that ensued was hard but necessary for us to become better people.

I started to question the very idea starting a gallery. The world was turned upside down and it felt like everything was now up for grab and for reinvention – all had been disrupted to such a degree that it was hard to not be shaken by all the ensuing turmoil…

Little by little, the idea of the gallery gained force again. With the pandemic, the universe told us in no uncertain terms that we have little control over events, but at least I can still control what I do with my time, and I decided to put my energy into this project. This gallery not only celebrates my life-long love for photography, it also celebrates life and creativity – what better project to focus on during a time of upheaval and uncertainty?

Portrait of Aurelie wearing a mask during the pandemic

September 18, 2020

I’m going from a service-based business (working as a freelance producer) to a product-based company, and an online one at that! I’m basically starting from scratch – there is so much I need to learn! From sale tax to shipping, from manufacturing to marketing… It’s overwhelming and fun in equal measures, depending on my mood of the day!

One of the most interesting things has been diving into online advertising and learning how targeted your campaigns can be.

As a business owner working with a start-up budget, I’m grateful I have access to these new tools. I would have never been able to afford an ad page in Elle Décor!

As a former ad producer, I’m dismayed to see how online platforms are siphoning ad budgets from print magazines, billboards and such. Even if I had the budget to put an ad in Elle Décor, would I when Google or Facebook ads are so much more targeted and trackable?

As a citizen, I’m slightly freaked out by how granular online tools can be, how they can pinpoint people based on their interests, income, location, education etc… People give some of this info voluntarily, but a lot of it is deduced based on their/ our online behavior, using crazily smart computers.

It’s a brave new world out there, one filled with both possibilities and pitfalls.

November 2, 2020

Can I be honest in here for a second? I’m feeling overwhelmed by the demands of social media.

I used to enjoy it – while being fully aware of its addictive nature and propensity to create alienation (without even talking about how our personal information is used and abused!), I focused on its positive aspects. Social media allowed me to stay connected with my family and friends in France, with people in my industry, and to promote in a lighthearted way my production services.

I never thought about Stories, Reels or any of those things – I would post some pictures and write a funny caption every once in a while, and that was the extend of my social media habit.

All that changed once I decided to create the gallery: as an online business, social media is key to having people find us (that and SEO, but I leave the SEO to my husband and our web developer, aka, the nerd brigade). I had to learn social media on a whole new level. It’s not enough to post some pics and funny captions – I need a strategy, I need to mix formats and (God forbid!) include video… and then, track results, see what works, what doesn’t, try different configurations. Do I highlight a post by making a Story or a Reel? Do I do long videos or short ones? How often do I post?… So many questions!

I’m trying to enjoy the trial and error process (what’s what life is about, after all!), but it’s pretty overwhelming at times.

Read Part 2 for more trials and tribulations (and all the mistakes I made in the process!)

Laptop on a desk in front of a window

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