Phind out Phriday: Serena Saunders of PassionArt Designs

When you dream bigger you do things like get investors that help you open stores where you can not only sell your products but became a shared space for other creative brains. In October of 2011 you were introduced to Serena Saunders of PassionArt Designs. Well this week Serena is back on the blog because she and her team are the new kids on the brick and mortar block. This weekend, April 14th, 2012 PassionArt Designs will be opening it's doors to you. This weekend you are guaranteed to see great art and fashion, listen to good beats, and taste good eats. Beyond this weekend you are guaranteed to interact with a team of creative and passionate people who are making art  and creating a space for you to interact, enjoy, and purchase that art.
Phreedum: You are a midst final preparations for the PassionArt Designs Grand Opening this Saturday, April 14th, 2012. However, when we spoke this past October you only had an online presence. Talk to me about the decision to go from your in home studio and online to a store?
SS: Having a space where people can come and socialize, network, see the process of the garments and paintings being made, and shop has always been a goal for PassionArt Designs. I think deciding when that was going to be a reality was the tricky part. I knew that the “when” would be dependent upon several things such as having a solid team and the financial backing. Both things fell into place recently and unexpectedly  which was how I knew it was time to open up shop.
Phreedum:  Talk to me about expanding and utilizing a team to continue to fulfill the PassionArt Designs dream?
SS: I never really agreed with the whole “starving artist” model. I get that it happens. I get that as an artist much of your work is from and for passion as opposed to pay. However I have yet to meet an artist that doesn’t at some point or another dream of the venture capitalist or angel investor. In the past I would say I’ve always been surrounded by other creative people but my team really lacked financial business savvy people. Recently two people joined the team that has these skills. You can be creative all you want, but if you don’t have the means to get your creativity to the masses then what good is it?  Growing my team beyond other creative and supportive people I think has really just completed PassionArt Designs and is allowing it to go to another level.
Phreedum: What makes for good team dynamics?
SS: You can’t help but to have great team dynamics when the people on your team understand and commit to the team mission, they know their roles, and they know how their role helps fulfill the overall mission. 
Phreedum: How has opening a store changed you if at all?
SS: I think it’s just made me even more focused. My responsibilities went up a notch. This means I have to focus even harder to wisely use resources like time and energy to ensure things are as they should be in order for people to fully understand, engage with, and enjoy the PassionArt Designs experience.
Phreedum: What do you believe a store can offer customers and community members that your online presence didn't offer?
SS: I think no matter how personable you try to make your website through videos, blogs, and the like; there is nothing to be compared to the feeling of actually interacting with people when considering a purchase. Because PassionArt Designs will be more than retail, people can come in and see the process of products being made and enjoy great art created by other artists in Philadelphia. You can’t do that online.
Phreedum: You mentioned that the store is more than just retail and you talked a little about seeing the process of the garments, what can we expect to see from the store in the way of products and over all utilization of the space?
SS: You can expect to see rotating art shows featuring a different artist each month, both clothing  and accessories such as our handbags, clothing of other local Designsers, and work stations so you can see paintings and one of a kind clothing being made. People will get to experience the process and the product.
Phreedum: Why did you choose to open shop in Philadelphia and more specifically why the location you chose?
SS: I was born and raised in Philly and I feel in order to branch out, your roots need to be as strong as possible. I want PassionArt Designs to be international yet I realize I need to fully embrace home  (Philly) and the market I have here. As far as the store location in Philadelphia- it’s in my community. Like I said, I believe in strong roots. 
Phreedum: You were also recently selected as a Philly 360  Creative Ambassador. Can you tell me more about that?
SS: Sure. First, the offer from an investor to open a store for PassionArt Designs and being selected as a Philly 360 Creative Ambassador happened in the span of about two weeks.  I take being an ambassador very seriously. In part because being selected means that there is a team of people who recognize the work that I  have been doing. I didn’t have to “try” to be an ambassador I just had to do what I was doing through PassionArt Designs and I was selected. I also take it seriously because I think it is position of influence.
Phreedum: How so?
SS: As a Creative Ambassador you are given numerous opportunities to attend and engage in a variety of creative/artistic events throughout the city. As you go to these events and you write about them and “endorse” them you have people who are ultimately being influenced to some degree on what you say and what events you attend. I also think it’s an influential position because I get to influence, or help mold, the creative scene in Philadelphia. I get to grow my network and better understand and support Philadelphia’s creative community. I love being an ambassador.
Phreedum: We first met you in October 2011 and here we are six months later and you are prepping for your grand opening. What can we see from PassionArt Designs in another 6 months?
SS: Wow it was only six months ago?! Oh my goodness. You know I don’t think I expected all that has happened in these past six months to have happened. It makes me nervous to have expectations for the next six months. I will say that you can expect greater things from PassionArt Designss. We have a really exciting summer lined up. There will be some really great artists that will be at the store and some great shows we will be a part of throughout the city. In the next six months just expect consistent greatness.

Stop by the Grand Opening Saturday April 14th, 2012
6629 Chew Avenue, Philadelphia, PA
Family friendly
Fashion show to begin at 4pm
Grilled Food (first come first serve)
Guest DJ
Photo shoot

For more information about PassionArt Designs visit Follow @PassionArtDLLC on Twitter and "like" PassionArt Designs on Facebook

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