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Trend Hunter's Shelby Walsh spoke with Jacqueline Poirier who hand-paints one-of-a-kind designs on charger plates. She's Ritz-Carlton's artist in residence and also sells her designs online. Ms. Poirier's answers have been edited.
What is your role within the company?
My company is called Jacqueline Poirier. I am the artist of my hand-painted charger plates, which are used to dress up dinner tables at parties, weddings, and other special occasions.
Where are you based and how many employees work there?
My studio is located downtown Toronto in Mirvish Village, close to the landmark discount store Honest Ed’s. I have one assistant named Brooke who is a jack-of-all-trades. She’s incredibly talented and creative, and helps me with painting, design and everything else. I don't know what I would do without her!
Where do you sell your products?
My plates are permanently on display in TOCA restaurant at The Ritz-Carlton in Toronto, where I’m the resident artist. I also sell my plates online through my website or my App 'Jacqueline Poirier' where you can browse, shop, and even upload your own image to be custom painted and shipped. I have also sold my plates at the One of a Kind Show and various trade shows.
What makes your artwork innovative?
By painting on plates, I am using a different medium to display my art. The plates are displayed on dinner tables so when guests arrive at the restaurant expecting a 'food and wine' experience, they're often pleasantly surprised. The plates can be customized and personalized, and allow individuals to build their art collection through functional pieces. At $100 per plate, the price is appealing to all.
What's your design philosophy?
Create what you love. Love what you create. I try to pull creativity from every aspect of my life. I am always looking for ways to improve and grow. I love making people smile and by painting whimsical, fun images on plates, I am able to do so. Everything is inspiring in one way or another. I am learning from my mistakes and for this reason I am open to making them.
What's your biggest challenge as a small business?
Time. It’s always working against me. I put so many hours into each plate I paint, it's impossible to cut corners in order to fulfill orders...
What's something most people don't know about your company?
Most people don't know that I ran my company for the first two years out of my one-bedroom apartment! Painting and all.
What advice would you give to entrepreneurs in this business?
Always be five steps ahead. Network, network, network. Be proud of your product and remember to share your experiences with others. Being an entrepreneur is all about learning, growing and striving for success. Believe in that success and you will succeed.