My name is Sara, and I, along with my gallery partner Jason, own Paradigm Gallery + Studio. We fundraised our first Kiva loan last year, and after a year of growth, are back to fundraise our SECOND! Read below to learn more about us, and how our business has been doing since our first loan.
I am originally from New Hope, Pennsylvania, USA and Jason, is originally from GuangZhou, China. Jason and I both discovered our interest in art as a possible life path around high school. Jason, who is now fluent in three languages, but was still dealing with a language barrier at the time, was initially attracted to art as a means of communication through a universal language. My love for creating developed gradually, from crocheting next to my nana as a small child, to discovering costume design in high school, to discovering fiber arts in college.
Jason and I both attended the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, where we first met. I began doing some of the styling and makeup design for Jason’s photo shoots, and we started collaborating frequently. When we both graduated, we wanted to find a way to continue to collaborate, and thought a shared studio space would be a great way to do that. I stumbled upon a place while searching for studios that happened to have a great storefront window, and really ran with Jason’s casual suggestion of “maybe we could even start a gallery space”. Before I knew it, I was hanging out in a bookstore reading “How to Form an LLC”.
Running on an impulse and lots of faith, we picked up the keys, and began renovating. After pulling hundreds, maybe thousands, of staples out of the walls, figuring out what to do with the surprising amount of broken furniture in the basement, and conquering just a few additional fix-ups, we officially had our first home as a gallery and studio space. Today we are in a space about three times the size in a much better retail location, and have now both switched to making this our full-time job, with side jobs to make ends meet. It feels fantastic to have been able to make this our focus in our lives, and we are excited to continue to grow.
Established February 2010, Paradigm Gallery + Studio exhibits contemporary artwork from around the world with a focus on Philadelphia-based artists, always keeping in mind the goal of curating accessible and diverse exhibitions to connect with a wide audience in a welcoming space. We provide artists with individualized attention, strong promotional support, and a transformable gallery space to make their own.
Paradigm has grown over the years, but still remains true to its original mission statement and roots. We have developed a program called the Community Arts Project, which involves inviting anyone that would like to show their work in the gallery an opportunity to take a free art class and then exhibit the work in a once a year exhibition (more information, and the origin of the above photo: http://bit.ly/1v76M8t).
We have started programming that brings artists from all over the world to Philadelphia to create work here in collaboration with HAHA Magazine (www.HAHAxParadigm.org). We have seen many of our artists make the switch from balancing their full-time jobs and their art careers, to becoming full-time artists.
Last year, we used our Kiva loan to participate in SCOPE Art Show, the world’s largest international art fair. There we met and started relationships with amazing artists and collectors. One connection we made was with Swizz Beats. We installed artwork by Drew Leshko at his and Alicia Key’s home this year and would not have been able to do this without participating in SCOPE Miami Beach.
Since our first loan, we have seen an increase in our revenues, and our goal this year is to double last year’s revenues. With an increase in revenues, and, hopefully, fully funding this second loan, we will not have to pull from our personal bank accounts in order to attend SCOPE this year.
We are also happy to say we have been an active part of Kiva’s community in Philadelphia, attending happy hours with other borrowers, trustees, and lenders, and even being a part of a pop up shop hosted by Kiva. We are excited to be fundraising our second loan, and to be able to continue being a part of the Kiva community.
Art fairs involve a large upfront investment, but from our experience, offer an incredible ROI, and not just immediate, but long-term. We have been accepted into SCOPE Miami Beach’s Breeder Program again this year, which introduces young galleries to the international art market.
Base booth – $8,250
Walls and lights for our booth – $1,800
Artwork crating, shipping, insurance, and travel – $5,500
We have been able to place our down payments via credit card, but would need to apply for an additional credit card or loan to pay for the rest of our costs. Paying off a credit card or loan with interest would cut significantly into our profits from the fair, profits that could otherwise go directly back into the business.
The idea of crowd sourcing a loan, expanding our reach, and connecting with new people through Kiva Zip is a fantastic opportunity to alternatively acquire this loan, and is much better for our business in the long run for all of these reasons.