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Name: Rachel Bertoni
Business: Bertoni Gallery, an art gallery specializing in watercolors and jewelry
Location: Sugar Loaf, New York, U.S.
Reason for starting: I have always had a love for creativity. I grew up in a home with two artist parents. My father was a graphic designer and painter. My mom is an award winning master watercolorist and I knew from a very early age that I loved to create and wanted to be creative in my life. It took me many years of working many other careers to finally open my own gallery to show and sell my mothers work as well as my own. I got tired of designing for everyone else and it became time to do it for myself.
Related: Read about another design entrepreneur who decided to take the plunge and start her own business here.
How do you define success? For me success is the ability to make money doing what you love! I have finally gotten to that place after having at least 7 other jobs/careers. Now it is a matter of refining it and growing the business to the next level. I would really feel like I had achieved success if I were able to take time off and have more leisure time. I work very hard up to 21 hours a day 7 days a week. I would also like to get to do more sculpture which is my ultimate creative voice. I’m currently doing mostly jewelry with a little collage.
Biggest Success: My biggest success was opening a store in upstate NY. I looked while living in NYC for many years and couldn’t afford one. That was my own personal success, to realize a long awaited goal. Since opening the store , my biggest success was probably getting my jewelry worn by Jennifer Lopez in a movie. I got a lot of press and people have contacted me from all over the whole as a result. I never even thought about getting jewelry placed in movies and once it happened, I started receiving calls from outside the US. Something I also never imagined. People have started to view me and my jewelry designs very differently since the movie!
What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it? My biggest challenge to date is the business side of running a business. I have been making jewelry for 30 years. I can make the jewelry but trying to develop packaging, branding and all the other paperwork end is hard to juggle. I have taken business planning and marketing classes and the bottom line is when you run a business on a shoestring there isn’t enough time in the day to address and follow up with all the ideas while trying to make jewelry on one hand and then try to promote it, develop systems to organize it on the other. Keeping your customers happy, joining local groups, networking and everything else involved all takes away from the design elements. The juggling act seems to get harder the more you grow. I thought it would become easier. Something on the business development side still escapes me! The classes don’t give me the time I need to execute the ideas!
Related: Discovering Entrepreneurship’s Ripple Effect.
Who is your most important role model? Well that is an easy answer. My mother! She is currently 85 years old and still painting her watercolors. Ever since I can remember she was painting. She would take me on vacation and we would paint the landscape. We never went to Disney World! Our vacations were nature and studying nature by trying to capture it with a paint brush! Mae Bertoni has always worked at her paintings and worked 7 days a week ever since I was a child. She was a single mom before it was popular! She raised two children on her own through selling her paintings. She would sell her work down in Greenwich village in NYC until she got with some galleries.
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Edited by The Story Exchange