Zoom Interview with Gulf Business, April 2020 - We Love Art

Zoom Interview with Gulf Business, April 2020

Zoom Interview with Gulf Business, April 2020

We Love Art founder Denise gives a Zoom interview from COVID lockdown with Gulf News Business section regarding We Love Art’s past, present and future. Denise discusses the launch of the We Love Artbox which has enabled the We Love Art experience to bring creativity to people around the world despite being stuck at home.

What is your business all about… 30 seconds

We Love Art started once as a passion project and has now seen tens of thousands of people in our community. We host social paint & grape evenings, inspiring courses, and exciting corporate events, all with the focus on making art accessible for everyone.

We Love Art started once as a passion project and has now seen tens of thousands of people in our community. We host social paint & grape evenings, inspiring courses, and exciting corporate events, all with the focus on making art accessible for everyone.

And the great thing is: we will be soon spreading this artistic love to everyone in the world with WeLoveArt.com. With 1 click on the button you can now purchase the We Love Art box which contains a pre-sketched canvas of any of a famous art pieces from our gallery, brushes, paints, a step-by-step handout, and a video to guide you throughout the painting. Whether you will be painting alone or with others, the box has everything yo bu need to make you feel like an artist and create a painting you will be very proud of.

When did you begin?

Our story video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zSlL2CFzgZ8

It started as a love story. In 2013 I took a chance and moved to Dubai, to be with an Irish guy who I actually didn’t even know that well. Luckily it was and still is a hit . I have a master’s in Law, but when I came to Dubai it felt like I entered Disneyworld for adults. You could feel the opportunities. And so the idea brew to start with something new. My passion. I have always loved painting. I come from a family of artists and entrepreneurs, so perfect ingredients to just go for it. Nervously excited, I started my very first course with 10 people, and what an awesome ride it has been ever since.

The feedback was so positive that very quickly word started spreading. Luckily it did because I don’t know anything about marketing. So I’m forever grateful to everyone in this community as I owe them everything. Our success is created by them.  Within 7 years, word spread and tens thousands of people had experienced We Love Art events, be it our 8-week painting course, famous Paint & Grape events or corporate events which I have done for many companies in Dubai. I still need to pinch myself every now and then 

What was the spark that caused you to begin what you do?

I think the answer is Dubai. And this is based on 2 things.

  1. When I first came here to follow the Irishmen of my dreams, I felt a hint of insecurity. I left everything in The Netherlands behind my friends/ family, my house, and my job and came here and I knew no one. And I had no idea where to find arty, fun, like-minded people. So, it was the trigger for me to create something.
  • And then, what better place than Dubai to do this. Anywhere else in the world all those industries seem saturated but here it breathes opportunity. There are so many possibilities and there is a great appetite for anything that brings people together. People might find themselves, like me initially, also isolated in this slightly overwhelming place. During our classes, you create, not only a Masterpiece but also bonds you might miss from home.
  • For me, We Love Art has become my Dubai family, I deeply care about each and every one of them.
  • And then topic wise. I want to make people feel like a true artist. I want them to feel so immensely proud of something they would have never even imagined they could create that. Famous art. I want to make interesting, head-turning pieces of art available for everyone, regardless of your level.

Greatest moment?

There are so many; I count my blessings often. From the first time I was hosting a huge event and was saying “test/ test” through the microphone prior to the event, I felt like Beyonce; to the first time, I hosted a corporate event for one of the biggest tech companies in the world.

But the most memorable moment is tied together with my greatest loss. In 2017 we lost our son Beauden; a day after he was born. It was the most difficult and also a beautiful day of my life. He has taught me, like no one else on this planet, how to live a better life. How to be more mindful with people, how to appreciate the small things in life we often take for granted and he gave me an animal power to live for two. He can’t breathe anymore, so I do it for him. I will show him what we can do. Maybe he took a step aside, so I can learn and share my experiences.

And by opening up about him, has brought me even more together with all the art lovers in this community. On his birthday, on the 1st of April, I always dedicate a painting to him and give a speech about his short life. It often brings me to tears and the response of the community is beyond amazing. From a group applause for Beauden on his birthday to hugs, messages, and flowers. And maybe more important, it helps people opening up about themselves. We are not alone. We are all in this together. We are a Family.

How did that influence how you manage people now?

I only get people involved, I tell them that if they were to work for We Love Art, that they will enter my We Love Art family. It’s like introducing your boyfriend to your parents; you only bring the keeper home. I have the exact same approach with employees. I’m very protective about the people in the We Love Art community and find it important that they feel remembered. That they feel seen and heard and not just a guest who joins an event.  So I only bring employees “home” from who I have the feeling they are “keepers”. From who I feel they can bond with people while guiding them in finding their artistic spark.

POST CRISIS

What comes after the crisis?

The UAE is an incredibly well led and managed country with huge resilience, growth, and fundamentals in place, so I have no doubt the UAE will continue to power forward.

We Love Art has been working on our global online business for a year now to bring the We Love Art Experience to the homes across the world, and the current crisis is accelerating our launch. How is it doing it? Well, the We Love Art community is demanding the We Love Art Box, without knowing that we already had it in production.

The We Love Art Box provides, in an elegant box like Louis Vuitton, all materials required to experience We Love Art at home. This includes a pre-sketched canvas, paint, brushes, palette, instructions, and online full class experience. With logistics suffering, the orders are coming in quicker than all our materials, so we are currently shipping a beta version of the We Love Art box around Dubai, without having even marketed it.

What is the new structure looking forward

The Paint & Grape, Courses are Corporate events are available to UAE once gatherings are allowed again.

As of now, we are focussed on the global store to purchase the We Love Art Box and Classes which are available on www.weloveart.com. They are two different business models but we have a great team who 100% believe in our vision of inspiring to be creative and unlocking all those hidden artists around the world.

Every company has had its slate wiped clean… you can start all over again however you want to. What is going to be your approach?

Our new approach is to give the warmth and creativity of a live class now to your own home. We want to give people a chance to sit back and relax and forget about their daily life, no matter where you are in the world.

What do you believe will be the game-changing thought for businesses going forward?

I don’t think its game-changing, but with so many new players offering their services on the internet I believe it’s so important to really understand your customer. Over the last 7 years, I have been teaching people art, and this gathered knowledge I can use now to understand what the customer really wants.

What will your level of engagement be post-crisis? And how do you envisage it changing?

I don’t really know what that means, but I’m working around the clock to make all my costumers at all times happy.

Whether we engage in person or online, I believe that doesn’t matter as long as you stay authentic to everyone involved. Through professional videos which come with the purchase of the Box, I guide them through each Masterpiece. So it’s a one on one experience in their living room. Arguably I will be more connected to them than ever before!

How do you see customer service expectations changing post-crisis?

Even though it’s still a bit too soon to say as we are just starting, but I do think customers have basically zero tolerance for IT issues, so we need to be on top of that at all times.

Which values do you see as risers?

Authenticity. Everyone can put its content online, but it’s the people with depth on their subject, true passion and experience who will succeed. I hope at least!

And which values will evaporate?

That life is not only about work and routine. I think what it has shown us – you only live once so follow your passion. Life is to short not to.

Is there any scenario you can visualize where you would say, Business as usual?

There is a Dutch Saying my Grandpa used to say “Stilstaan is achteruit gaan which means “Standing still is going backwards”. So it should never be business as usual, crises or no crises!

THE POST CRISIS EUPHORIA

What do you anticipate the rebound of joy being when a cure or vaccine is established?

Van Gogh once said “Great things are done by a series of small things brought together” How I interpret that is that no matter how big the success in life, every success must be celebrated. So celebrate your time at home now and use it to grow, and when the cure comes, celebrate even more.

 

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