© Peder Strux
VelveNoir founder Alexandra Schafer. © Peder Strux

VelveNoir was founded by Alexandra Schafer in 2014. Located in Salzburg, Austria, the intention was to launch an online gallery in order to support international artists.

Since then, however, the company has taken a whole new direction. Realise that their “clients required more than just a white cube gallery in order to make a decision on purchasing art,” they shifted focus in order to better connect interior designers with art, and to show clients how art makes a difference in their homes.

STARTING THE BUSINESS

What makes VelveNoir unique in the industry?

We connect artists with interior designers, help them outsource art, as well as share accomplished projects and showcase the unique synergy between art and interior design through our website but also in our established showrooms. Our clients have the opportunity to find a curated selection of art as well as a selected portfolio of interior designers who are masters in their field and are passionate about integrating original art within their clients projects.

What were the toughest challenges you faced when starting out?

To explain and demonstrate our new concept connecting art and interior design online and offline – meaning how to communicate our message through the website, PR and social media channels. To make all our services clear for someone who never heard from us; that was one of the toughed challenges up to date.

What do you wish you’d known in the beginning that you had to learn the hard way?

That’s a good question…that starting your own business is a long journey. Ideas change, and you have to be ready to adapt to those changes, as they are each a part of your development, so you should see it from a positive perspective. Same with regards to working with various people in business. I would tell my younger self that you should trust myself more and to stop relying too much on others.

LOOKING TO THE FUTURE

What do you find is most important to remaining at the top of your industry?

Keeping our standards high, and being focused on more than the online aspect of our business. We try to offer clients ‘offline’ opportunities to get to know them and their services as well as to build strong business partnerships and create more win-win situations. That is a crucial aspect of our industry.

How do you see the industry changing over the next 5-10 years?

I think that the art and interior design industry will change rapidly over the next 5-10 years. Consider the fact that, already, there’s a 22% gap between people who discover art through social media and those who discover it in museums and galleries. Furthermore, consumers are more comfortable purchasing art online than in the previous years. These facts are leading towards a growing element within the market that supplies the mass market with reproductions and the creation of more online stores for art and interior design products. This gives us new opportunities to connect with what we call ‘the premium sector’ – those who appreciate art and want to understand the personal service and expertise behind it. In the future I do believe more and more clients will care about the quality of art.

How will VelveNoir adapt to this change?

We’ve started already to integrate various offline experiences such as selected showrooms, where we set up unique art & interior design concepts for our clients to explore. With those partner-showrooms we host various events throughout the year to introduce the concept to a range of clients.

What is your vision of ultimate success?

Seeing VelveNoir grow through new showrooms, more connections with interior designers, and a growing range of projects and events. We want to expand beyond Austria and into Europe, then globally in the future. That would be the ultimate success for me.

Do you have any advice for entrepreneurs who want to follow in your footsteps?

Starting your own business is a long process. You shouldn’t give up just because the first or even second year doesn’t go the way you planned it. Always believe in what you do, and be open to changes.

For more information on VelveNoir, visit the official website.

Our thanks go to Alexandra Schafer for taking the time to be part of this interview.

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