Suzanne Randolph: Three Decades of Pioneering Art and Entrepreneurship

"Having the independence and flexibility to explore other business avenues, to be creative to pivot as markets and one’s personal passions expand has been so important in my life."

What does being a Black Female Entrepreneur mean to you?

I must first say, that I feel very fortunate to have my art advisory firm  Suzanne Randolph Fine Arts continue to be viable and successful for over 35 years. Throughout my career in the arts, starting as an arts administrator for not-for-profit arts organizations, i was surrounded by a world that I loved – knowing and  working with artists to bring their work to a larger audience  – in corporate settings or large scale works in the public realm. I’ve worked with artists of all disciplines and ethnicities. Well before the market for the work of Black artists is the way it is now, i took pride in placing works in collections because it was firs and foremost great art.  While being an entrepreneur does not always have the financial consistency of a corporate position ,having the  independence and flexibility to explore other business avenues,  to be creative to pivot as markets and one’s personal passions expand has been so important in my life.

When the atmosphere becomes challenging, what drives you to keep going?   

The visual arts has always sustained me! Just looking at art gives me hope.  Having the deep  trust that a new project will come along  and that your knowledge and deep experience has value has been so motivating!  However,  I do think  the hardest part – when you hit some challenging moments, is  being a solo entrepreneur as i am.  I have a nice network of friends for advice but it’s not the same as a real close colleague for support, inspiration and,  together, to be able to think through next steps and new strategies for business  stability and growth.

What advice do you have for Black Women who may be considering entrepreneurship?

You must, must,  must love what you do! If it is your temperament, work in a structured environment or with another entrepreneur to learn skills and resources that can help feel supported as you move out on your own. Get involved in related  professional organizations so you can reach out to others. As an entrepreneur remember there is no hierarchy! So nothing is beneath you. You are it!  While there are certainly challenges being a Black woman entrepreneur – today – you are not alone as I was so many decades ago. So I would go for it and set your goals high!

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