• Juanita Austin

Women of Color in Business Volume 3: Juanita

Updated: May 29, 2019

It’s rare that I find a business in it’s beginning stages that thrives right from the start, but Juanita is going against the grain with her startup business. I could not pass up the opportunity to interview her in order to spread cultural awareness. Let’s get to the nitty gritty and meet…

I’m oooh so excited to introduce you to my audience so don’t hold back…. Tell the world who Juanita is!

I am a curator and cultural producer. What that means is that I curate events and experiences that have an impact on the arts, culture and the community. I’m still getting use to this new lifestyle of not having a typical 9-5 job. I’m currently the curator-in-residence at Hygienic Art Galleries in New London. I help to coordinate and install the galleries monthly exhibitions. This is a new position for the gallery that I created when I saw the need for exhibition support. As the curator-in-residence, I volunteer my time to help with the exhibitions, and I have a low-income “artist” studio above the gallery. Also do freelance digital media projects for income. This flexibility in my work life, and affordable housing has allowed me pursue my passion projects and transition into entrepreneurship.

When did you get bit by the entrepreneurial bug? Or did you start your business off as a hobby?

I’ve been doing freelance work for about 5 years now. Not consistently or full-time until now. What made me take the dive into officially starting my own business was the frustration of not being hired (or even interviewed) for positions I know I am qualified for. I felt very discouraged for a while. I considered graduate school, and while I still haven’t ruled that out, I felt that I would hit the same walls (discrimination, bias, etc) even with an advanced degree. I’d still be the black woman trying to work in the white man’s world. The art world can be very white, and very pretentious. Having more flexibility in my work life meant that it was time to finally put my dreams and passions front and center and launch my own business.

That can be pretty frustrating not being offered even an interview but it looks like greatness emerged from it….Tell us about your purpose with your business.

The purpose of CULTURED AF is to provide opportunities for artists connect with potential patrons outside of the traditional spaces such as galleries and museums. I want to introduce art into everyone’s life — expelling this idea that art is a luxury that only certain people can enjoy. I want to turn individuals into art appreciators, and art appreciators in art collectors.

It’s really about building a community of people who see the value in the arts. I also believe that creating experiences that allow artists and patrons to connect more personally will increase the likeliness of that patron investing art from the artist. Art should be accessible, approachable and unpretentious.

Cultured AF’s mission is to:

Transform individuals to art patrons and art patrons to art collectors

Build a community of life-long art appreciators

Curate safe spaces that celebrate the arts

Provide opportunities for artists to develop their careers

Uplift artists of color across the gender spectrum

What does being a woman of color mean to you? How does this if any affect your current business?

Being a woman of color is centered in everything I do, and how I view life, so it absolutely has an impact on my business and project. Through my work, I am always going to give preference to uplifting other people of color, and particularly black woman.

As I’ve mentioned already, the art world can be very white in many spaces, so I want CULTURED AF to be a inclusive cultural hub that holds space intentionally for artists of color, especially queer, trans, and gender non-conforming Black people. I wanted CULTURED AF to be a resource for artists of color to help develop their careers but also for patrons who are looking to connect with artists from underrepresented groups.

Read more a ciaedwards.com >>

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