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Petite Bourgeoisie: Annette Hansen of Cobalt Gallery
Hansen talks about business in the Upper Beach and taking an active role in the community

image via local magazine

An exclusive series by Carolyn Grisold that profiles female entrepreneurs in Toronto

Business Name: Cobalt Gallery
Owner: Annette Hansen
Established: 2004
Type of Establishment Art Gallery and Clay Studio
Neighbourhood: Upper Beach
Address: 870a Kingston Road
Closest Major Intersections: Vic Park & Main Street
Email: cobaltgallery@sympatico.ca
Phone: 416-694-0156
Hours of operation: Wed to Fri: 12pm-6pm, Sat: 12pm-5pm, Sun: 12pm-4pm

How did you come up with your business name?

Cobalt is a true blue in production of ceramics; it’s strong and consistent and doesn’t fade.

Did you work in this industry previously?

I have worked with ceramic designs in my home studio in many places, Canada and Europe. Also I have worked in other types of jobs.

When did you decide to become an entrepreneur? Was it a calling or a choice?

This was a chance and became a choice I made about nine years ago.

Do you have business partners?

My “partners” are my family support.

How do you balance work-life?

Sometimes I balance my work-life. I think women entrepreneurs are better at balancing work and life because we have a better understanding of the important things in life and are very able to multi-task.

Are you a member of any support groups for entrepreneurs?

Crave [a collection of innovative shops and businesses created by women: thecravecompany.com].

Why did you choose to locate your business in the Upper Beach?

That is a hard question, though the space was available and not far from an existing established neighbourhood and close to my home.

Why is it important for small business to take an active role in their community?

The people in your community support your business both financially and with support of their good cheer and encouragements through tough times. It is only a natural thing to support your community and community businesses.

How has your neighbourhood evolved since you opened?

More businesses have opened and some closed. Visitors comment on the changes on the street and welcome new businesses.

How has your business kept up with these changes?

I am still here after the mini-recessions/downturn in the economy. It’s a struggle and I love my work and demand very little in financial return.

What kind of challenges did you face when you first opened?

Finding the right way to promote the gallery and the services. Advertising seems like an abstract investment.

Are any of those challenges still relevant nowadays?

Advertising is still a challenge. There are so many options, it is hard to decide what works best. I think consistency is good but also be open to new possibilities. I sometimes think it is also intuition and being in your own business that can direct you to the right decision.

What do you wish you knew when you first started out?

How emotional I would feel when things went haywire.

What have you learned that has been the most surprising?

How much I love my space, business, and the people I have met over the course of almost nine years.

What do you love most about being an entrepreneur?

I am my own boss.

Could you imagine being anything else? Do you want to be?

No! And no!


Carolyn Grisold is a contributing writer to various print and online publications (Post City Magazines, Toronto.com, Gallery Magazine, Argyle Magazine). Follow Carolyn on Twitter @CityandCharm. To suggest a female entrepreneur, please email petty@inningsgate.com

For more, follow us on Twitter at @torontostandard, and subscribe to our newsletter.

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