Issued by Business Gateway
When Sara Garnett worked at the Tate Britain gallery she hoped that one day her paintings would be seen and bought by art lovers.
But her dream didn’t become a reality until she moved to the tiny Highland village of Nedd in Sutherland and she opened her own business selling artwork, prints and antiques.
Alba Art, which was set up with help from Business Gateway, is also Sara’s studio and is based in a refurbished gypsy wagon situation in Sara and her husband Pete’s garden.
“I know it sounds cheesy but my dream really has come true,” says Sara, 42. “I studied Fine Art at university and I was really lucky to work in some of the best galleries in the country including Tate Britain and Sheffield’s Millennium Gallery but my ambition was always to paint full-time. Now I am living in a beautiful, serene part of the world painting every day with people actually buying my work, I couldn’t ask for anything more.”
Sara and Pete moved to the Highlands from Sheffield eight years ago because they wanted to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city, and Scotland was a place both of them had holidayed in as children.
Although Sara was working in administration she began to sell her art at local craft fairs. After the couple discussed it, they decided that they had already made one lifestyle change in moving, they might as well make another so Sara gave up her job and began to paint full time.
With help from a neighbour, Pete renovated an old gypsy caravan which is also used as a showroom and shop. As well as Sara’s art, she sells her own range of cards and antiques that she has picked up from all over the country.
Already Alba Art, which will soon also have an online store at http://AlbaArt.etsy.com is attracting customers, many of whom are intrigued by the wagon and want to find out more.
Sara said: “Our location is really close to the B869 road which is one of the most scenic routes in Scotland. So we get a lot of people driving along who see the wagon and our sign and stop to have a look. I like people to come in without feeling they have to buy something and I’ve met some really lovely, interesting people so far. I am inspired by our surroundings so a lot of my work is centred around the wildlife and landscape of the area. I still can’t believe that people are buying my art but I hope it continues!
“Initially the best thing about going to Business Gateway was the encouragement I got. That gave me the confidence I needed to push ahead with setting up Alba Art. I have also received advice on how to develop the company. Business Gateway pointed me in the direction of a grant that Highlands and Islands Enterprise runs which I was lucky enough to receive. To be honest, without Business Gateway’s help from early on, I’m not sure I would have gone ahead with starting my own business.”
“Sara has used her considerable talent to set up a rural business that will delight locals and visitors alike,” says David Knight, Regional Development Officer, Business Gateway Sutherland. “Since Sara told us about her idea to open Alba Art we have supported and helped her with issues such as her business plan and potential avenues of funding which she has taken advantage of. We hope to continue to assist Sara as she looks and plans for the future.”
Business Gateway provides practical help, advice and support for new and growing businesses in Scotland.
To find out more about how it can help you set up and develop your own business visit www.yourbusinessgatway.co.uk or call 0845 609 6611. Alternatively call your local office directly on 01863 766 128.