Recently moved from the Lowertown neighborhood of St. Paul to the east end of Grand Avenue, Three Sisters Eclectic Arts is part art gallery, part artisan craft store. Co-owners Valerie Anderson and Linda Snyder pride themselves in not only providing a forum for local artists and artisans to showcase their work, but also helping emerging artists and curators hone their crafts through community outreach programs. Representing more than 100 local artists, Three Sisters houses what Anderson and Snyder see as a hugely diverse Minnesota arts scene.
1. Why did you decide to make the move from Lowertown to Grand Avenue?
An opportunity to lease a space at Grand & Victoria came up, and we felt this was the right time to make a big decision about location. Lowertown has been good for us, but with limited retail in the Lowertown area, it was difficult attracting enough business to sustain us. Grand Avenue is known for shopping and dining, and we think we’ll fit in very well there!
2. How do you choose which artists’ work to sell in your shop?
We’ve found artists in a number of ways; a favorite is going to art fairs and talking with artists whose work we’re attracted to. Besides choosing only Minnesota artists, the number one factor is quality—in design as well as craftsmanship. We are getting better at understanding what our customer likes, so that’s a factor, too. Many customers like art with a Minnesota theme, so we offer as much of that as we can find. And, we look for an eclectic mix, in all price ranges.
3. What has been the most challenging thing about owning your own small business? The most rewarding?
The most challenging thing about owning a small business has been marketing the business. We just weren’t prepared for the day-to-day necessity of keeping our name out there in order to attract business. We’ve learned a lot about marketing! The most rewarding thing about owning the business has been the satisfaction of creating something from nothing, watching it grow, and waiting to see what happens next.
4. Tell us about your community outreach efforts.
Giving back to the community is important to us. As often as we can, we love to invite non-profit organizations and emerging artists to showcase their art. Some of the great organizations we’ve been lucky to partner with include St. Paul Public Schools; Free Arts Minnesota; Emerging Artist Exhibit; the Epilepsy Foundation; and The Show, which works with organizations to promote artists with disabilities.
In Lowertown we had a great, large space, which presented us with the opportunity to be creative. There are a lot of artists out there who don’t always get the same opportunities as others, and we had the space available to help get their work seen by the public. In working with schools and Free Arts Minnesota, we gave kids the opportunity to learn how to set up an exhibit, curate their work, and be part of an opening. Our space on Grand is much smaller, but we will continue our outreach there, as well.
5. Have you ever explored your own artistic pursuits?
I learned to sew at a very early age, so have worked with fabric all my life. I love to create with colorful fabrics, making little dolls, potholders, and doing hand embroidery. Valerie also works with fabric and creates fun organization items like aprons with lots of pockets and smart phone docs.