“If you want to stay relevant and current, you have to invest in yourself and embrace a lifetime of learning.”
Bouwien Luppes has been an entrepreneur all her life. She has worked in marketing, run a health and fitness franchise, imported and sold baby products, worked in banking services. Now, as founding CEO of , an Alberta, Canada-based international fine art rental and sale company, she wants to cover your walls with the unique work of handpicked artists from around the world.
“My clients are anyone who considers themselves an art lover,” she says, “people who want easy, affordable access to great art.”
Launching her own company
Luppes launched her company in spring 2017, around the same time she was completing her certificate program in and the . She had always loved marketing and began taking the classes to update her skills.
“All the experience that I’ve had is the base that I started from; then I had to pull it into the 21stcentury,” she says.
As her business idea unfolded, she started targeting courses that would help bring the new product to market.
Luppes talked often about her business ideas with Ly-Huong Pham, an instructor, chair of the Marketing Management certificate program, and a successful businesswoman and CEO of her own company; and Michael Savod, instructor of the course and a marketing consultant formerly with the Oakland As, Chrysler, Jeep, and Maserati. She signed up for the social media course series and used Try it Art for class presentations. Class feedback helped her shape strategy going forward.
“The response from my fellow students was so enthusiastic that I had to think more in depth,” she says. “It evolved. Every course demands that you think in a certain way. Every course took me a step further. By the time those three (social media) courses were done, I was pretty certain I was going to make it into a business.”
“I’ve taken online courses and I can do that online thing, but actually being on campus adds another dimension. An online classroom is not the same as sitting in the class and meeting and interacting with your fellow students and instructors. They truly have a wealth of knowledge and they are sharing it.”
Last year, Luppes filed her Articles of Organization as a limited liability company with her husband Percy Rotteveel as chief technology officer.
Building a Social Media Audience
Using old fashioned networking and many of the social media tools she learned from instructor Shilpi Agarwal, Luppes studied the industry, talked with artists and art lovers, and built an audience. Eventually she partnered with eight contemporary artists from as far away as her native Netherlands and Portugal and as local as San Francisco.
The company delivers their work to a growing list of clients that want temporary or permanent installations, organizes art exhibitions and fundraisers. Recently a group of friends rented a painting as a housewarming gift for a woman who had been visiting the website admiring one of the pieces.
Luppes has lined up several events this year including the art exhibition, May 26–June 24 in San Francisco, which includes an “Art on A Postcard” charity event, benefitting San Francisco based Creativity Explored.
“Do it,” she says to students considering jumping into a new venture. “If you don’t, you’ll always wonder what would’ve have happened. There’s no shame in failing. Take the courses first and then go and do it.”