By MELINDA McMILLAN
Jan. 4, 2015, 9:30 p.m. in Newcastle Herald
PEOPLE told her she was crazy, but for Barbara Nanshe the thought of not following her dream to make art was unbearable.
She decided to take the risk.
The Nanshe gallery, which opened in May 2012, features paintings, ceramics, sculpture and handmade jewellery – all made locally.
‘‘My focus is local artists’ work and my own,’’ Ms Nanshe said.
The driving force behind opening the business was a strong desire to pursue her art and find a way to make a living from it.
‘‘I was scared that all my ideas would not come into fruition because I was working full-time and I would come home tired and I would really push myself to make work.’’
She started the business doing markets but it didn’t work out. She recognised to really give it a go she would need a shop front.
That is when she found the Beaumont St retail space.
‘‘I needed a space where people could find my stuff any time,’’ she said.
‘‘I went out on the little twiggy limb, and that is what it really felt like.
‘‘I had nothing below me and I really didn’t have that much money.’’
With the help of friends she fitted out the shop and opened the doors.
‘‘[At first] I felt like I had bitten off more than I could chew,’’ she said.
‘‘I realised everything in the jewellery range, I had to make myself, as well as run the business.’’
‘‘I had to keep going and that was really scary, and there is only me.’’
Her experience in a management role prior to opening the gallery had given her an understanding of the principles of business, but she had no business plan.
‘‘It was all in my head and I just wanted to make [art],’’ she said.
‘‘Like a true artist you don’t think of the money, you just think, I want to make stuff and sell it.’’
The key to the business has been to keep things dynamic.
She changes the display in the shop on a monthly basis and said there was no one single item which kept turnover going.
‘‘It goes in waves,’’ she said. ‘‘But I sell more of my jewellery than anything else. But I do sell a lot of art.’’
It was only at the end of 2014 she realised she was now on a solid footing with the business.
‘‘Retail is really unpredictable,’’ she said.
‘‘I think I have a bit of a following now.’’
She attributes the success to making good quality work, pieces of jewellery that hold together over time. And it is the only gallery which can make and deliver bespoke pieces on the spot and deliver on the same day.
‘‘It’s original, it’s different and it’s local and people are really getting into the local bandwagon. They realise if you pay someone local that goes straight back into the local economy.’’