I sat down to write a blog promoting our upcoming 10th birthday exhibition when it hit me that it had been 10 years, one month and one day since I quit my job with dreams to start my own business. And while I'm looking forward to celebrating ten years in business I realised that Quirky Fox has given me so much more than a job.
It has given me a passion, a voice and much, much more.
'The Way of The Fox' by Laura Alice (AU) from Quirky Fox's first exhibition
Quirky Fox didn't start as a business, it started as an escape. After four years of working in a job I enjoyed and allowed me to grow, things changed and I spent a year hating a job that I had loved. A year of dreading going into work and wiping tears from my eyes before facing the public.
I ending up quitting.
Once as a spur of the moment, unprofessional blurt of emotion, the next with a plan. A plan to start a business and be my own boss.
I didn't know if I would succeed. I had exit plans for three months, six months, a year and then two. I'm grateful that the days of an exit plan are far behind me.
Much has changed since the early idea of starting a business and escaping an unhappy work environment. Over ten years my initial business plan has not been adhered to in any way; it looks like a plan for an entirely foreign business.
Quirky Fox started as a concept with the name 'Qwerty', a logo featuring a frog climbing over scrabble titles, and a range of different gift lines, some which I never liked but thought would sell. In hindsight, some were pretty bad. It was just a way to escape, not a way to live.
By the time the shop opened the name changed to 'Quirky Fox', with a range of gift lines, mainly New Zealand made. It featured a beautiful logo by Culpeo Fox, of a pair of foxes looking up into the night sky. An image that continues to feature on our thank you cards, although the logo has been updated to a different image from Culpeo.
Perhaps that logo should have been my first hint of how the business would evolve, working with individual artists instead of corporations.
The shop opened in July 2012, on an unassuming morning with the first sale coming from a supportive business owner buying a piece of jewellery. The high of the first sale, and the thought of success, was incredible.
But I soon realised I were bored and there was no challenge or passion in picking things out of a catalogue, buying them and hoping they would sell. With a lot of downtime between customers.
I started looking more and more at different artists and wondering how I could introduce them.
'Fantail' by Justine Hawksworth (Joker's Wild Group Exhibition, 2016)
The second artist to join the shop was Justine Hawksworth, an artist I continue to work with and owe a large deal for putting up with all my stupid questions (even now) as I learnt what it meant to be an art gallery.
I soon realised working with artists, rather than reps and creating a unique space was what I were passionate about. The love I had for art in High School, buried under more "academic" subjects, was rekindled. And most importantly it gave me the mental challenge I needed.
'Hope' by Heather Denison (Chimera Group Show 2020)
Quirky Fox has transformed a lot since its early years, dropping all its mass produced items, working only with artists and becoming more and more curated and specialised.
In the last two years I have finally started to refer to Quirky Fox as a gallery, and feel like I'm living up to the connotations that description brings. Years after customers started referring to the space as such.
It has been a journey that has taught me a lot, and granted me the opportunity to make some truly dear friends including those first few artists that gave me the confidence to create a curated space and helped me understand the nuances of running am art gallery.
'Lola's Offering' by Aaron McPolin (Strange Bedfellows, 2020)
It has been full of highs and lows.
I'm grateful that I have developed lasting friendships with peers in the industry, that have encouraged me to curate the space in a way that is unique to New Zealand galleries, with both local and international artists, emerging and established artists represented. And a distinct curated style representing new contemporary and representative art.
In 2019, I were encouraged by the amazing framing team I work with, The Framing Workshop, Hamilton, to undergo framing training and add a complementary service to the gallery. It is something I never even thought of as a career option but something that has allowed me to further my skills, and offer a full service in the gallery. Something that allows me to be creative and pedantic and to learn everyday. Something that combined with running the gallery often sees me working in the small hours of the morning.
Next week I head to Australia, as guest of Beautiful Bizarre Magazine editor Danijela Purssey, to the opening of the Beautiful Bizarre Magazine exhibition 'Interconnected' at NERAM (New England Regional Art Museum). During this time Quirky Fox will be closed (12 May - 21 May) while I connect with people, like Danijela who has become a friend as well as a peer, and discover new artists for Quirky Fox.
Ten or even five years ago I would have never thought something like that possible.
In just over two months we will open our tenth birthday exhibition, 'Deep Waters' which is our most challenging and rewarding exhibition to date with over 20 artists from both New Zealand and abroad represented including Susan McDonnell, Heather Dennison, Dewi Plass and many more.
Over the years there has been many challenges, highs and lows, but I will always be grateful to those that have made Quirky Fox possible. Including you, the reader of these blogs and the supporters of Quirky Fox!
I hope Quirky Fox can be as much as an escape for you as it is and always will be to me.