Presents: Gallery Owner Cryselle Stewart



Cryselle Stewart was born in Georgetown, Guyana. When she was three years old, her father decided to move the family to the United States for more opportunities. She lived in New York for a while, and then in Atlanta, Georgia where she attended high school. When Stewart graduated, she headed for Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) where she majored in photography and tried her hand at painting, just a few credits shy of obtaining a minor in painting.

Halfway through SCAD, Stewart decided to return to New York to get some exposure and make a career in photography. She quickly discovered it would take more than a will–it was going to take a plan. After a year and a half, she returned to SCAD where she graduated in 2007. That same year, she opened Dimensions Gallery. Dimensions focuses on emerging artists and works to get them the exposure they need before they go out into the world. Stewart has actual experience that helps the artists understand some of the pitfalls they may face. “I knew I needed a plan. I worked with Connie Edwards at the Small Business Development Corporation ( SBDC) for 6-7 months on developing my business plan. In fact, I even worked with Connie after I had opened the gallery. She really helped me put my concepts on paper and provided me with a roadmap that I would need to be successful. I encourage any small business to utilize this resource. ”

When asked about some of the challenges she faces because she is a young, African-American, female, business owner, Stewart says, “There are times when patrons come into the gallery expecting to see someone different, maybe older, maybe male. When they find out I am the owner, the perception is that the gallery is not credible or sustainable. I have to work twice as hard to get an artist to do a show or to make a sale. Not only that, it is more difficult working with emerging artists as they are not as established. I am sure that adds to some of the misconception about the gallery.”

On the contrary, this young woman is well versed in art as she is a certified art appraiser, and is well versed in business. “In this current economic climate, even avid collectors are changing their buying habits. In order to sustain, I provide a variety of services including: consulting services for collectors, as well as for companies that have an art fund and need to invest in certain kinds of art; staging for interior designers who need pieces for model homes; renting space for private functions and exhibitions; and renting studios to artists. I also work with permanently represented artists who are exclusive to Dimensions and their work is in-house or displayed on our website.”

Aside from the business plan, Stewart says marketing and networking is critical. “I am a member of the Downtown Business Association (DBA), the Chamber of Commerce, and serve as Vice-President for membership of the Montgomery and MLK Business Association (MMBA). I am also a member of the Tourism and Leadership Council (TLC) and recently joined The First City Club.”

The best advice I can give to a small business is to have a solid business plan, network, be open to negotiation, and plan to work hard.”

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