Taking stock of the people and experiences that plot your path
You may or may not be familiar with Juliana Roslin. Her company Art Firm was at the most recent High Point Market and featured a live, on-the-spot painting that was created and sold inside its Market Square showroom. If you didn’t see it in person, then you may have caught it on social media. Even though it was Art Firm’s first time showing at High Point Market, you could sense the experience they carried as creatives and leaders in the industry.
Juliana is the founder of Ready2HangArt and Art Firm. She’s been in the industry since 2005 as an art publisher and has a history in fine art and antiques. She talks about the large array of services Art Firm provides practically and romantically. “When you think of a law firm, you think about how they’re going to solve your problems. You’re going to go to them with tax issues, marital issues, mediation, contracts, and consulting. They’re your go-to people,” Juliana said. “We’re an Art Firm. We are doing everything from art curation, consulting, placement, and fabrication all in-house.”
And while she’s leading the businesses, she’s not doing it alone. She and her husband have been together for 17 years and working side by side for almost as long.
When we chatted with Juliana, we discussed several topics including:
- How she got her start in the art industry
- The people who changed her professional trajectory
- Her advice to business partners
- And so much more!
As you continue to read her story, we encourage you to find the golden tidbits in her story that will inspire you to lean into your story, too.
WithIt: How did you find yourself in this industry?
Juliana Roslin: It all started in high school. My uncle worked for a gallery in Palm Beach and I ended up taking a job at an Italian shoe store next door to him. One day on his lunch break, he came over and [said] the gallery owner was looking for an assistant. “Do you want to interview with him?”
So, I interviewed with this gallerist and got the job. I was his personal assistant from the time I was 17 years old to around 19.
When I went to college, my boyfriend’s mother (who later became my mother-in-law) had a vintage poster business. She used to do decor framing shows and sell to a lot of the people at High Point.
Back then, inkjet printing was just kicking off. My boyfriend (now husband) said, “Let’s buy a printer and start printing our own vintage posters because they’re open domain.” Then I was like, “Well, vintage posters are a little boring. Why don’t we start curating real living contemporary artists and really make something cool out of it?” So, I started studying licensing and copyright law.
That’s the little idea that started everything. From then on it continued to migrate. That’s how I got into publishing. It was called Tamayo Fine Art back in 2005.
Art Firm is a new entity under the parent company called Ready2HangArt. I started Ready2HangArt in 2013 with a vision of bringing curated art into the home decor market, to serve the dot com retail space. I was one of the initial on-demand art suppliers, and Ready2HangArt remains one of the primary leaders in that space.
A few years ago, I realized that I’d sort of outgrown that space and was ready to start exploring and hyper-focusing more on a mid to higher range of a la carte curated art for design, home furnishings, hospitality, and healthcare. I needed a space where I could continue to grow as a curator and as a product designer. And so, Art Firm was born under our umbrella.
WithIt: So, you had a lot of very influential people around you and at the time you probably didn’t realize that they were inspiring major change in your life?
Juliana: 100 percent. And even when my husband and I started that little Tamayo Fine Art business, it really didn’t kick off. Our pieces ended up getting picked up by a drop shipper, and we ended up working with them. That’s how I got into eCommerce though Tamaya didn’t end up working out.
I left and went back to the fine art world for about five years, and I grew my career in fine art and antiques. I hyper-focused on expanding that out until my late twenties. And I got to a point where I’d basically built a multimillion-dollar business for this gallerist and was doing very well but wanted to become a partner and they weren’t interested.
I was ready to do my own thing, so I came up with Ready2HangArt. I wanted to do something sustainable, so my idea was not only to license local artists but to create proprietary brands.
I hired an artist that was painting beneath me. I was doing the art direction and product development, and we started designing lines. For about two years, I worked full-time at the gallery while developing Ready2HangArt until I was financially independent enough to go full-time.
That was in 2013, and I now have nine proprietary brands that I’ve done all the art direction for and get to take into the market, including Olivia Rose and Tristan Scott.
WithIt: You said you were in college, what were you studying?
Juliana: I was a business major, who minored in art history. I found a passion there, right? Because, in my mind, business and history without a trade is useless.
I said, “Okay, I found this is what I want to do. I want to do art.” And so, I started doing art history and studying.
But I’m first generation American, so my family came to the US as immigrants from Columbia, and they were entrepreneurs. They had a flower shop, so they were small business owners. You know, I worked at this flower shop as a little girl, and I used to pop up and set up my own little table and sell my merchandise. (That was really theirs.)
So, yes, I had to hustle when I was in college. I had to pay my way. I worked 48 hours a week and went to school full-time. And I was like, history is a degree for rich kids. I couldn’t afford to do what all my friends were doing, but I didn’t begrudge that. I was very grateful for the position I was in and what I was learning. I knew I was going to have to work hard. I knew that research and work ethics were going to have to supersede. And so that’s always been my approach. I’m very research-focused and very data-focused. I put in the hours, I put in the effort, and I show up every day. That’s my strategy or at least one of them.
WithIt: It sounds like your decision to sell to the trade was made in the beginning. What impacted that decision?
Juliana: I love the challenge of being able to create and work with the trade. There’s a need. And when you have a need, you’re creating based on that need. When you’re designing fashion, consumers are going to either make it or break it. Whereas in the trade world designing for need fills a void of being challenged.
Let’s say for contract and hospitality you have a new property being built, and you’re aligning yourself with a designer’s vision and an architect’s vision. It’s engaging that you have this challenge and you become determined to curate the coolest art that really means something to the property. It’s extremely rewarding to be able to be a part of that. Even in retail stores, I think it’s rewarding for local artists to be able to walk into a local store and know their art is there, you know?
WithIt: Do you have any encouragement for professionals who want to create change within their industry?
Juliana: I would say to be unapologetic. I feel like it’s taken me a long time to speak up. It’s like they say, “15 years to overnight success.” I’ve been hustling for so long, and I was always working so hard, but still so timid. And now I’ve, I feel confident enough to stop making excuses and just do it.
Fight for your passions. Fight for what you believe in and someone’s going to listen. And if they don’t, at least you’re going to go to bed at night feeling good about following your dream and doing something.
WithIt: Can you tell us a bit about what it’s like to work with your husband and what advice would you give to people who are wanting to go into business with a partner, married or otherwise?
Juliana: So, we work in very different areas, and I’m the visionary. When we decided we were going to work together, and I started Art Firm, I was like, “Listen, this is me. I’m creating this, and if you want to be a part of what we’re doing, it’s my way.” And he supported me a million percent. And I’m so grateful for him every single day because he’s my biggest cheerleader, my biggest supporter, and my biggest critic, as well.
Again, we work in different areas. I’m on the creative product, design, marketing, and business development side, and for everything I create, he makes sure it gets done. He runs operations in the factory. We definitely complement each other.
I feel very safe knowing that when I’m working with a client, we’re a powerful team. I’m not just a creative on my own. I have a manufacturing facility behind me with a really, really brilliant guy who’s going to get it done.
I would say try to listen to each other because sometimes that’s hard. It’s even hard for me to quiet my mind and actually take the feedback because ultimately you have the same goal. We’re working for our family, and we’re working for other families that work with us at the company. We’re not a one-man team, we’re not a two-man team. We’re a team of many.
This or That
In a final burst of quick-fire questions, we asked Juliana about her design and work/life preferences. Here’s what she said:
Contemporary or Traditional?
Oh, I’m everything but traditional.
Urban or Rural?
Both. I live in the mountains, but I’m from Florida so I’m totally split between the two.
Digital or Analogue?
But I also have a hundred post-it notes on my computer.
Blinds or Curtains?
Neither. I like to see the world.
Color or Neutral?
Both, but I like extremes. I’m either choosing black and white or bright, bold colors like fuchsia.
No matter where you are in your career, we hope you found some inspiration from Juliana’s story. If you’re a WithIt member, would you reach out to Juliana and congratulate her on the Art Firm launch?
And if you’re considering WithIt membership for your professional journey, find out more about WithIt’s mission here or make the decision to join today.