Pandemic sparks new business idea for art duo in MoldovaRuxanda Sapatari and Vasiluta Vasilache, two artists from Chisinau, Moldova, started their online business to help connect art lovers with unique products, called Galeria OU, in 2020. Galeria OU offers wall prints and home goods with printed artwork from local artists and and print on-demand art services.
Spatari and Vasilache share the same passion to help local artists monetize their work and help promote their talents on a global stage. When they joined forces in 2021, Galeria OU already had a physical exhibition space. To expand its reach, the entrepreneurial duo launched the gallery online. Targeting both local and global markets, the two artists are drawing lessons from their own experiences to market the virtual gallery via multiple media platforms.
"We are marketing our project in two ways – for the local scene in Moldova, we are using Facebook and Instagram … and will be engaging with some local influencers and with customers feedback. Also, we are appealing to the diaspora, we are aiming to use YouTube and foreign media," said Ruxanda Spatari.
COVID-19 changed their plans
Their journey to get Galeria OU online was anything but smooth. Creating a virtual gallery was not their in tension originally. The pandemic forced them to change their business model and to adapt to an increasingly online world. The first attempt to move the gallery online in 2020 failed due to a lack of knowledge and a clear vision.
"As a woman in my early 40's, with very basic knowledge of computer usage, moving to the online world seemed like a massive challenge. Being a painter, an artist that always worked with my hands, I did not know how to move into the virtual world. It was all like a foreign language to me. If in painting I have my tools, in business I had no tools. It was not easy to understand and still, to this moment, I get overwhelmed when I see how many things you must consider … however the activity had to resume," Vasiluta Vasilache said.
After a year of struggle, Vasilache persevered and decided to team up with her friend Ruxanda Spatari to bring the project to life. Both were single mothers who had lost their jobs in tourism and event planning because of the pandemic. They were left without options and unable to use the space and resources they had. They saw moving to a business online as the only option. To gain skills and a clearer picture of what they needed and how to build a business from scratch, they applied for the XY Pre-accelerator Women Entrepreneurship programme. This then sparked their Galeria OU adventure.
A big future ahead
For Vasilache and Spatari, building Galeria OU provides them with the freedom and creativity they crave as artists. "You are not only in charge of your idea and how you build it, but also it provides the space for experimentation,” said Vasiluta Vasilache. Their shared vision of developing a strong artistic community in Moldova supported by their patience and dedication made it possible for them to achieve the results they wanted. This experience also gives them confidence and encourages them to look ahead to their future projects with a positive lens. They have a strong future vision for Galeria OU, including providing workshops and exhibitions and collaborating with local artists through artistic residency programmes.
In April this year, Ruxanda Spatari and Vasiluta Vasilache participated in Women’s Entrepreneurship Expo, a space to connect, create and accelerate business ideas and growth for women entrepreneurs amid COVID-19, organized by UN Women Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia.