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Azure Attoe

Gallary Go Go

Azure Attoe

Gabriel Flores  0:00  

Hello, everyone, and welcome to the shades of entrepreneurship. This is your host, Mr. Gabriel Flores. Today I am here with the owner of gallery Gogo. How are we doing?

Azure Attoe  0:12  

Good. Thanks for having me.

Gabriel Flores  0:13  

Thank you so much for joining the show. I'm really excited because you actually have a really new business actually, about six months old, kind of an experiment. So I kind of really want to hear about that. But first introduce the world to you.

Azure Attoe  0:28  

Hi, I'm, I'm Azur atto. I am the owner and director of gallery gogo, it's creative activation space in Pioneer place, and I started it about six months ago. I think like a lot of people I did a big pivot during COVID had a lot of time to think and a lot of time to research. This space was something that I had been literally dreaming about. And like a recurring dream for years and years, as I've worked in the art world and galleries and museums and teaching and working as an artist myself, I always thought, you know, what if I had this hyper public space, that was sort of like a Creative Lab, where I could try out a lot of different things. I've always been really interested in playing with retail in in fun ways. So I got to make this space, which is kind of the best parts of an art gallery, where you get to see art, but it's also very inviting and bright. And there are no ongoing events. And I turned the dressing rooms into tiny little galleries. I'm trying to make like little immersive experiences. So yeah, that's what that's what's going on. And I Yeah,

Gabriel Flores  1:43  

no, no. Does this gallery Do you also kind of engage like other entrepreneurs to kind of sell their items? Or is it mostly your art? It's,

Azure Attoe  1:51  

I would say that there's somewhere between 75 and 100 artists? Printer? Yeah, so the most, you know, I've had hip hop beyond I've had a full on fashion show at that. literary events. And I would say the thing farthest, like, what you think would be far this from art that's in there right now is there's a hot sauce company. That is just my favorite hot sauce. And they have a little museum of hot sauce. And in one of the micro galleries, showing, you know, their journey as an entrepreneur, how they, how they, you know, developed the sauce and made it in their apartment and then got distributors and I have it there specifically because they're a company that supports artists through design projects and collaborations. So I'm I'm really about collaboration throughout the entire space.

Gabriel Flores  2:44  

Love it. No, no who I got to ask who's who's the hot sauce? Nuke? Nuke?

Azure Attoe  2:50  

So me Wk s? Yeah.

Gabriel Flores  2:53  

For the folks at home. You heard it here, folks, the best hot sauce, I'm gonna have to get them on the show now, because I'm a big hot sauce fan. So I'm gonna have to get them on the show. We're gonna bring them on. So let's let's kind of let's talk about the gogo gallery a little bit more. How did you kind of create the concept? How did you have like a creative background? Are you kind of an artist by trade? Or did you kind of something that you just kind of fall into?

Azure Attoe  3:15  

So I went to I got a scholarship at Oberlin College, if you know, overland colleges, that motto is you think you can change the world? So do we, you know, and it's very, you know, college, and it's, it's where all the people the cast of girls went to, if you've seen that show,

Gabriel Flores  3:36  

I must admit I have not I'm sorry.

Azure Attoe  3:41  

Yeah, so yeah, I studied art there. And I also studied economics. And I worked in museum afterwards. And then worked a little bit in the music industry as a little bit of fashion stuff. I've worked in a lot of different areas. I've just I'm always really curious. And I love taking on different jobs. And I've been an artist continuously, about a little over 20 year. Nice.

Gabriel Flores  4:07  

So you kind of been doing this for some time now. Oh, yeah.

Azure Attoe  4:11  

Yeah, it's nice to it's nice to be able to say, Okay, I've been doing this for 20 years, you know, I don't know it feels good. It feels like

Gabriel Flores  4:19  

it does kind of like that. I know. I must admit, you know, I've been in healthcare now a little over 22 years, and I actually had a presentation and presented to Stanford health the other day, and I'm like, sit down. Yeah. And I said, I was like, Yeah, I've been here for 22 years. And I'm like thinking myself, I'm like, Damn, I'm old.

Azure Attoe  4:39  

I know, it kind of stuck the same time. You're like, ah, you know, I have a little under my belt, but then you're also like, wow, it's been around for a while.

Gabriel Flores  4:48  

Yeah. Yeah, exactly. So now your mission. So the mission of gallery gogo is to connect people through art. How exactly do you do that?

Azure Attoe  4:57  

Yeah, I mean, I think I'm just a very surface Let's level just where I am is really important. Like I specifically wanted to be in this mall in downtown Portland. I've had other places, fight me to suburban malls or, you know, other places, and I really just I want to be downtown, it's very important to me. Because, you know, I think most of us can agree that AR can, you know, inspire us and it can connect us across our differences allow us to see through somebody else's eyes, but you have to have access to the art for it to do anything, you know. So, being right there in the middle of the mall, I get the most diverse visitors that I've ever experienced in my 20 years working in art, you know. So, I think just in that in that way, number one, I can ask people because a lot of different people come in, you know, tourists from all over the world from suburban Portland from inner Portland. The second way that I connect people is I am always looking for those points of collaboration. You know, like, uh, you know, all these people that I'm bringing in, I brought in, you know, new hot sauce to, to show how they got started and how they collaborate with other artists. There's Mimi's fresh teas, which is a social justice T Shirt Company, they have like, sort of like a little museum set up where they have all their inspiration for what they do, has brought in a lot of different artists who have worked with each other. I also tend to curate towards shows that I like I like it, I like to put two together and show you know, the connections between their work. I love bringing in a lot of different makers, and showing how, you know, how art can be all different things. You know, there are people that, you know, I have like I have $6,000 paintings. And then I also have, you know, stickers that artists make. There's all these different ways that people bring their creativity into, into people's lives.

Gabriel Flores  7:07  

But you know, in fact, you mentioned a guest or an artist that you work in with Mimi's fresh cheese. Yeah, I. So for the folks at home that might be listening to the episode right now, you may have recently heard Mimi's fresh cheese it is not out yet. In fact, as we're recording this, I have not released this episode yet. But the episode will be coming out in February. So folks at home you're now realizing how far in advance to record some of these episodes. But she does some phenomenal work. And it's I think, to your point, one of the things I truly enjoy about this podcast is the network of individuals. And then all the creators how they create with in fact, during the conversation I was having, during that podcast episode with Mimi's fresh teas, we discussed another former guest, Stephen, who did some artwork here in Portland as well. And so I just love how the creative world really does kind of come together as one. Now in your perspective, why is this business so important? Why why is this collective of curator so important to you?

Azure Attoe  8:07  

I mean, it's just so much as closed down. There's there's not as many places that artists can show their work. There's not as many in real life opportunities. And we've been isolated for a long time. And I really feel like for creative innovation, for entrepreneurial innovation and for mental health, it's really important that we have a place to go and feel inspired for artists to go and to feel inspired and to show their work for visitors to go and see what kind of things are happening. Like, I just know that people are delighted when they come in, you know, there's so much that is just different and, and fun. People are always talking about the vendor vending machine I have, which is by Taylor Valdez to the, you know, the vendor. Yeah.

Gabriel Flores  9:03  

You know what, I've been talking with Taylor, and we're gonna probably get her on the show at some point soon to

Azure Attoe  9:10  

see all these amazing people

Gabriel Flores  9:12  

really, I love this community. It's a great community. We were so lucky to live in Oregon this way.

Azure Attoe  9:17  

You know, I just want this to be like a, like a sort of like a lab and a meeting point and so much can happen there and has happened there. Artists, I've seen artists who never made prints of their work, start make prints you know, because I'm always looking for ways to artists practice more sustainable for them, so just help them help them increase their impact and, and the same with my own work, but it's really exciting and I never I honestly I don't think I ever realized how much I love working with other artists until I started this.

Gabriel Flores  9:57  

I would admit like similar to you. I I think when I started this podcast and I kind of created it with this, with this void that it needed to fill of, kind of, I'm an I'm an extrovert. I like talking with people, I like meeting new people. I like networking. You know, that's kind of what my career is revolved around in healthcare. And so when that was missing during the pandemic, this podcast was has been just a huge outlet for me, and really kind of feeling good. Like, personally, it's like a mental well being for me.

Azure Attoe  10:28  

Right? Yeah, 100%,

Gabriel Flores  10:32  

I was just Is this your first business?

Azure Attoe  10:35  

It's not my first business. I've always, I've always loved the idea of having my own business. When I was a little kid. I would like just like, write about all the businesses that I wanted to have. And I would save up my money from babysitting and cleaning apartments and go buy Office Supplies. And so you know, I've always had some hopefuls going love it. Yeah. And I, you know, I had it for a while I had a product design business. And I sold a bunch of things in new seasons over about a year and a half. And, and that was, you know, I didn't end up wanting to scale that. So that was something that just sort of naturally ended. But yeah, I've had, I've had various This is my favorite by far.

Gabriel Flores  11:20  

So let's talk about this a little bit. Because you said you got in the product industry, which is a little bit, you know, you're kind of going through a little bit more operational, how is how is going through that, like creating a product and taking it to design and then actually going through the kind of the process of getting it on the shelves? How is that different now than your current business?

Azure Attoe  11:39  

Oh, the other businesses that I've ever had, were just me, really, you know, it was me designing a product going and cold calling and then pitching and, you know, then like, you know, hiring a little bit of like, short term help to help me make these things and then distributing lemons. But it was really just kind of me away from the public eye. And so this is, this is very public, you know, I've never had something where I was consistently bringing other people in, and it was really, you know, more about other people collectively than then what I was doing, and I didn't know that I'd be so happy to be out in public talking to people all the time. But I love it. I really, I didn't think I was an extrovert. I thought I was an introvert. But then it's just been so fun and interesting. Connecting with people. Yeah, so yeah, so I would say that this is definitely the first brick and mortar I've ever had, which is more challenging, you know, even just on like, the very little basic level of like, okay, if the lights burn out, on a track, you have to figure out, you know, you have to call an electrician or fix it yourself. Or, you know, you have to deal with like the day to day maintenance of the of this thing, you know, this living kind of an almost feels like a giant creature, you know, that you have to keep warm and, and take care of

Gabriel Flores  13:07  

like, and so for the folks at home that may not be aware of what this concept is. So brick and mortar is essentially defined as a physical space, right? So like, if you go to a store at brick and mortar correct. Now was your other other businesses focus more online? Or have they? Because you mentioned this is kind of your first brick and mortar? What was that product that you mentioned, you kind of create for new seasons? Are you able to speak about that?

Azure Attoe  13:31  

Oh, yeah, it was a wall wallet. I use reclaimed wool from Pendleton Woolen Mills, and they gave me permission to use their hands. So it was sort of like a, an ecological way to reuse what you know, may have been thrown away and make it into something cool for new seasons. And I made like, I don't know, many, many little wallets. And they sold it all of the new seasons in Washington and Oregon.

Gabriel Flores  13:57  

That is awesome. That is awesome. And for the folks at home think about that, too. Because I think that's there's so many different ways to create. And that's just one, one unique way of reclaiming, you know, reusing different items. That's such a such a cool way. Now, in your experience. What has been hard about you know, being an entrepreneur,

Azure Attoe  14:18  

certainly one of the hardest things was the marketing part, like just getting the word out. And that wasn't what I expected to be hard. You know, I expected it to be financially difficult. I expected to work seven days a week, you know, which I do. I was part of entrepreneurship, and I really actually love it. You know, I expected to be tired but but I thought somehow just having a place. If I could just make it as exciting and interesting as possible. Then people would just know about it somehow, you know if I post it online or whatever, but, but the marketing part is, is challenging, and I'm very lucky to have worked with Cassidy from Mater ally, she was able to write me a really great marketing plan, and helped me kind of get on top of it and feel like, okay, all of this work that I'm doing, I can bring it to the people that really would benefit from it.

Gabriel Flores  15:15  

I love it. For the folks at home, just real quick, modern ally, former former sponsor of this podcast, another great episode. So please check out that episode again. Another really good, good company that worked with I've worked with him in the past as well. In fact, casting team will probably while redesigning my, my website here soon once I collect the funds to get that dude, man having them be able to work on those things. It's so nice. Right.

Azure Attoe  15:41  

So curious. Yeah. Because when Okay, so here's another thing that I would say as far as so, you know, as an artist, like, I'm a painter, and I have not painted a whole lot in the last six months. You know, like, you have to know that. When you start a new business, probably a lot of other things are going to have to scale back.

Gabriel Flores  16:03  

Yeah. What has been easy? Oh,

Azure Attoe  16:06  

okay. What's been easy is just meeting incredible artists. Like, we, you know, when I walked into the space, it was over 3000 square feet. I was like, how am I ever gonna fill that. And then it was like, the snap of a finger. Like a month later, it was filled, you know, with with dreamwork. There's just, there's so many creative, incredible people that are doing so many fantastic things here in Portland. But, you know, it's really now searching for more space. Now, I'm like, now the mall is, you know, I'm renting out spaces, and then windows around the ball just so I could do more installations. And I'm starting an art walk downtown on Saturdays so that other galleries and creative businesses can participate.

Gabriel Flores  16:52  

So you're in the mall, which is very, very unique. Because you know, I think people you know, the mall is like, yeah, dying concept. Or some people feel Yeah, but you've been able to kind of pivot it in a way to, because I think in the past, I don't think people really thought as a more of a place to go and find different creative art. They kind of feel like, Hey, let's go and find name brand. footlocker, Nike. Why? Why

Azure Attoe  17:19  

I wanted it to be very accessible to tourists, because I want to be a space where artists from Portland can have their work have an impact on an international community. And we are fortunate here in Portland, that we don't have a sales tax. So people will travel here from Japan and Dubai and come for just a weekend to buy Gucci or lose baton without a sales tax on their lesson that basically pays for the trip, you know, but they'll they'll come here and they'll see artists, and they'll be able to take, you know, take that art back with them or take those ideas back with them. Also, downtown is very important to me, it's where I live. And I feel like right now, it really needs a lot of our attention at the city. I want Yeah, it's really important to have a thriving downtown. And if you go far back enough, you know, I mean, I love all the the fun silliness of the mall. You know, when I was a kid, you know, I had, you know, I don't know, I was a kid, I honestly have like a pretty disruptive life and like, the mall was someplace where I went and everything was clean, it was bright, and I felt optimistic. And, and it just always felt like I could just walk around, you know, I didn't necessarily have to buy anything. You know, I didn't have as much access to museums and things like that, but there was this pop pop about them all that was fascinating. And then so yeah, so those two things about the mall. And then also if you go back far enough, historically, the mall really has been a center of communities. You know, I think you would more call it like a market or something but but the mall really it's, it's got good bones, you know, it can be transformed into something. And it can I think these innovative small businesses like mine, and like another example of a small business in that pioneer places. A boutique called in coffee. And it is, yeah, there's my friend is an independent designer that owns it. He's from Togo and Africa and he, his name is John Pierre. And he designs these incredible, like, clothes that you've never seen before. And he helps artists from where he grew up, bring over like jewelry and things like that that help support them. And he also will make one of the time stuff. So if you've ever had like, a dream garment that you've wanted to make, like, he'll make anything and he is just like spectacular. He has joked that, you know, in America, people think of a fashion designer is super fancy person, but where he's from, like, it's just a skill that you pick up if you need to make money and, you know, you don't have enough money for college. So he and I have made this like, huge shirt, this giant denim shirt that would be for like a I don't know, like if you were like 16 feet tall. And he's making me like, to skirt to go over my pedestals for art. And, and then we're making like a bar, like that, or kind of like seeing jackets with scarf, so that you can easily put your wallet away just doing all these fun things. And I love that he's in the mall, and I really collaborate with all the other businesses surrounding me as much as possible, you know, because I don't want to just be an art gallery. That's in a mall. I want to be part of an ecosystem. The Starbucks across the street, like the some of the people who work there, ask their manager to donate coffee to our opening. Yeah, just all sorts of really, really great club. I've collaborated with Mooji down the street. And we made bags together. Yeah, I love I love because it's right there.

Gabriel Flores  21:35  

The sense of collaboration is so cool, especially amongst our creators. In fact, John Pierre, if you're listening, come on the show, I want to hear about some of these just clothes that you're making, especially ones that you bring from overseas. It's very, very interesting. Now, one of the things you actually mentioned what, like some of the difficulties you're having, in particular is, is is is marketing in the kind of creating your brand, creating your brand? I'm sorry? How do you market yourself? How do you market your brand?

Azure Attoe  22:03  

So I really mostly focused on these natural relationships and collaborations. One of the, you know, and having events, I think that that's been the best for me when you know, when it's safe. And when people are able to do it, I've had like kind of non stop events, I had a really great collaboration with the record store, they can have a record pop up for a few days, and I host the John Pierre's fashion show in my space, and I, you know, I post on Instagram a lot. And, yeah, it's been a lot of word of mouth, you know, I have speaking because I had a very funny, but kind of sweet experience. There was a woman who came in, and she's probably in her 20s. And she was like, looking really closely, everything and taking pictures and took, like, so excited buying a bunch of stuff. And you know, and we talked a little bit and at the end, I was like, Well, you know, I have Instagram, an Instagram account you could follow to be, you know, to know what's happening here. And she was like, Well, I, you know, I shut down all my social media two years ago. And I was like, Okay, that's interesting. And I was like, Well, how, you know, how would I reach somebody like you that it doesn't have any social media? And she was like, Well, I would just write down your intention on a piece of paper and just put it under your pillow that you want to meet people like me. So like, that's so sweet. But I did it because I was like, hey, you know, this doesn't cost anything to try this. Yeah. But it is so funny. Because like, it made me kind of think about, like, how do you reach people that aren't on social media, and plenty of people aren't, you know, and that's really the only end, you know, I guess it's like, podcasts and, you know, more community things and really just sort of organically connecting with people. I've had some very old fashioned tactics that I've employed like I, I have a sandwich board on the state that I love that has artists on it, and I want to have like three more sandwich boards. So I can feature artists work around downtown, and then you know, getting other window space downtown. It's been good to, you know, because it always looks better to have an art activation in a window than an empty window with nothing in it. And there's a lot of empty windows downtown.

Gabriel Flores  24:45  

Sadly, yes, yeah, there's there's quite a bit right now in downtown north. With your help. It sounds like we're getting returning

Azure Attoe  24:52  

a corner. We are turning the corner. Definitely love it. So

Gabriel Flores  24:57  

now what advice would you Give aspiring entrepreneurs interested in creating or designing or even just starting a business, what advice would you give an inspiring entrepreneur?

Azure Attoe  25:08  

Yeah, you know, and I think there's all different businesses, and the one that I've started is definitely one of the more challenging one. I would say, if you want to start an art gallery, I would give yourself a runway, if possible, kind of gather your resources. And, you know, think really carefully about location. Definitely, definitely consult with a commercial lease lawyer before you sign anything. Because I figured, you know, I'm smart enough, I read all the apple, you know, contract stuff, and I, you know, but the thing with commercial leases is, it's not even that you need to understand everything about them, but you need to give weight to certain things more than other things. And they are very long and very complicated. And they have a big impact on you know, how sustainable or business can be. And I was really lucky on two fronts. First of all, the mall is incredibly supportive to me and the business. But that's not always going to be the case, I would say that most commercial situations, you're really going to have to look out for yourself. And I also worked with Accelerate Women's Business fund. And they were able to get me the ability to work with rational unicorn. Rational unicorn is an incredible law firm that's really focused on helping creative entrepreneurs navigate the legal aspects of their business. And they're very LGBTQ plus friendly, and they're very active in the community. And they're just incredible. Yeah, have your lease looked over? Well, cars, like somebody who just wants to scale and to make some money from their art, there's so many different ways that you can go about that, I would just, you know, having a consistent practice, taking care of yourself, you know, because you're, I mean, as an artist, I feel like your life is your art is an extension of your life. And so and I've got to always remind myself of that, too, you've got to keep taking care of yourself and feeding yourself new ideas and curating the, you know, the energy around you. I love things like that. And this isn't for everybody. I work with a lot of different artists, and all different artists have different goals for their work and how it needs to be existent how it needs to exist in the world. I really like printing work, I think that that allows you to have a good reach, and have a more sustainable practice. So I have my paintings printed. But finding the right printer is really important too, because you need somebody who finding a really good fine art printer is just way more difficult than you would ever imagine. It took me years and years. But yeah, now I work with a place called dango additions here in Portland, and they are my print partner. And they're a women woman on printer, they started in Portland as the mom started as a gallery owner. So she's just very, you know, they're very, very focused on high quality. And it's two generations of men, she passed it down to her daughter. But they're having them as a support and a print partner has also been one of the one of the big reasons why the business is going as well as it is. I've been able to allow artists to, to try out printing for the first time I've been able to put up shows quickly, because I could print artists work out. And I actually like the prints of my paintings better than the original painting.

Gabriel Flores  29:17  

Like, you know, you've so throughout this kind of last process. And in particular, we're talking about, you know, advice for the entrepreneurs. You've mentioned several times where you've actually extended your handout and said, Listen, I don't understand printing, or I understand this legal on track. For the listeners, especially the newer entrepreneurs that maybe are just getting into the small business world. How important is it to lean on professionals that are experienced in areas that you may not be experiencing? Why is that so important?

Azure Attoe  29:48  

Oh, 100% If you know your Yeah, I mean, I I'm from rural Minnesota, you know, I grew up in the Six and my you know, I I eventually moved to New York City, but I had this thick Minnesota accent and I was working in a gallery. Well, y'all

Gabriel Flores  30:11  

stick out at all

Azure Attoe  30:18  

Yeah, you know, I mean, I'm used to, I'm used to kind of being humble, and I am in awe of people, abilities. So, I just I know how much we all have to offer. And the easiest way to make yourself way more effective and to help people that you want to help, you know, to make other people that you're working with more effective is to reach those professionals. You know, and, you know, it's not always going to be the right fit, but the more you're reaching out, and the quicker you can make those decisions, the better. Yeah, it's alright. And then once you have, once you have those professionals that you can reach out to, and you have them, you know, you have you have them in your orbit, where if something else comes up, you don't have to go searching, you know, because things will come up. It's constantly snap, I mean, that's the excitement. And the challenge of being self employed is that you're never going to be able to stop learning. The, you know, the Earth is always kind of changing under your feet. Oh,

Gabriel Flores  31:33  

man, that is so true. And that's the beauty of it. Like every day, folks, we get to wake up. And just as humans, right, and even this is across the world and species, okay, let's be a little bit more inclusive about everything. Every day, every species has an opportunity to wake up and learn something new. Take advantage, take advantage of it. Right,

Azure Attoe  31:53  

yeah, it's fine. You know, and when I, when I decided to start this business like that, you know, the advice that I gave other people is like, give yourself a runway, all that. I mean, I didn't know any runway, I have, like a few weeks to decide whether I wanted to do it because the space was there. And you know, and I felt like the need was high and, and I just jumped in and I and I learned as I was going, I had to pull people and you know, I had to I had to ask

Gabriel Flores  32:24  

ya know, for the listeners at home, how do they find your business? Where are you at in the social? Do you have the webpage, you have a local you have a physical address. So let the folks know how they can get in contact with gallery Gogo.

Azure Attoe  32:37  

Gallery gogo, so if you are on Instagram, it is at gallery go go go go. And I also have a website which Cassidy is going to help me.

Gabriel Flores  32:50  

Go Cassidy, whoever can help me.

Azure Attoe  32:55  

Yeah, no, I love her work. And yeah, she did the vendor. Yes, too. But in any case, I've got I've got a hold and I've got a website now and that's called gallery And then you can always find my gallery right there and downtown. I'm open every single day. I'm at fourth and Morrison downtown, right across from the Nike store and above Gucci. And I am open Monday through Thursday, from 10 to six and Friday and Saturday from 10 until seven and then on Sunday from 11 to six so there's so much time where you can pop in and say hi and I was always there to

Gabriel Flores  33:41  

absolutely love it. Absolutely love it. Zuri alto, thank you so much for taking the time to come on the show today. Folks at home please visit her shop because you're not only supporting the gallery, go go go but you're also supporting other local artists that are there. So please go visit the location. For more information on the seeds of entrepreneurship. Please follow us on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn or Facebook and have a great night. 

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