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Daily Inspiration: Meet Wendy Harris

Today we’d like to introduce you to Wendy Harris.

Hi Wendy, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
Artisans in THE LOOP is my dream that came to reality 3 1/2 years ago. Located in The U-City Loop, the area reminds me of my hometown of Squirrel Hill, a suburb of Pittsburgh, PA. This very walkable, high foot traffic, diverse area, seemed like the most ideal location to make my dream come true.

As a glass jewelry artist myself, making handmade glass beads in a torch for nearly 20 years, I had connections with artists from participating in art shows and a vision for the gallery. I wanted to create an inspirational yet functional art gallery. I knew the gallery had to be very bright and colorful, not the traditional dimly lit gallery. I also wanted to make sure that the artwork was the star of the show, so I had custom, frosted pedestals and jewelry displays made. I use high-tech, gallery lighting and special paint on the walls… again, the artwork is the star of the show. I display beautiful artwork that fits a modern lifestyle and provides mostly local but also some national artists a forum to promote their work in a meaningful way.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
Opening any new business is a challenge. You have to go in knowing that you will be working 24/7 for the first two years to promote the business and get your name out there, which is what I did. I opened in May of 2018 with 30 artists and as the word got out, I had artists contacting me daily to be represented in my gallery. I currently represent over 80 artists with a long waiting list. 

I went through the normal growing pains of a new business the first two years and was very pleased with where we were heading and I knew that 2020 was going to be a fabulous year…

While the pandemic has been a bit of a challenge, I think it forced many of us to be creative and do business in a different way. With the help of a fellow artist, our online store, artisansintheloop.square.site, was created. This helped keep us going while we were closed for two months in early 2020 and has continued to be a nice resource for selling the artwork. I also used the two months while the gallery was closed to work with the artists to refresh their displays and update their inventory so that we could hit the ground running once we were able to reopen.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
I worked for 17 years as a radiology supervisor for one of our major healthcare systems. My job was to oversee the day-to-day operations of three different departments within radiology. I managed 41 employees during my years there and I believe that my people skills and organizational skills have helped me as a small business owner.

While I am very proud of my accomplishment of opening a beautiful art gallery and having the opportunity to represent so many very talented artists, I am most proud of my accomplishments as a wife and mother. I have been married to my best friend, Michael for 46 1/2 years. He was a successful local business owner for 40+ years and just retired a month ago. We also have two wonderful children, Lindsey, our daughter, who is a contract professional at World Wide Technology and our son Brandonn, who is a professor at Georgia Southern University.

We love surprises, fun facts and unexpected stories. Is there something you can share that might surprise us?
As a glass bead maker, I am still terrified of lighting my torch, even after 20 years!

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