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Q and A with Amy Aussieker

by Emily Williams

January 9,2010

Amy Aussieker is founder and president of FABO, an arts and gifts gallery and network.  She has been in sales and marketing for over 16 years, working for a small company, a non-profit and a large corporation. In addition, she is very active in the community and currently serves on the board of directors of the Arts & Sciences Council. In her spare time, Amy enjoys spending time with her two wonderful children, reading, playing golf, listening to music and running!

Tell us the story of how you came to run the Fabo Café.

I had left my corporate job and was trying to figure out where I wanted to go next and decided that I loved to sell. But then the question came, what do I want to sell? What if I sold something I had a passion about? I would probably be even more successful than if I were in the business of selling something I didn’t like. And I have always loved the Arts: my mom is an artist, my brother is an artist and I dabble in it myself. So I began thinking of different ways of selling it. There is a lot of great, affordable art out there that not everyone has access to, so I came up with the idea of home parties selling original art by local artists, especially ones who weren’t able to get gallery representation. The parties were very successful, with about 80% of my guests purchasing something at every event. However, if the art was only in my home, not everyone was seeing it, so I decided I needed a retail space. That’s how Fabo was born (Fabo is an acronym for Fabulous Art Buying Opportunity!).

How would you describe the atmosphere of your business?

Once I began running the store, I thought it would be cool to have a coffee shop along with the art, which is utopia for me! I added a chef artist and a dessert artist, so people could come in, have a cup of coffee and a brownie, browse the art and buy it. There is seating for 28 people and private rooms for meetings, as well. Also, what’s different about Fabo from a lot of other galleries is that I don’t pick the art personally; any artist can participate, set their price and bring their artwork to me. So the public really decides what they like and what they want to buy. We really have so many different types of art mediums in the store, from pottery to jewelry and scarves and there is always something new to discover. We’re also constantly changing stuff around, because we have about 60 local artists that we’re working with right now. So it’s a lot like eye-candy!

 Any favorite pieces?

I have lots of favorites! Mostly because I end up becoming friends with the artists and I end up really loving their work. There are some pieces that, if I saw it at a festival, I might pass it by. But because I know the artist who created it, it just makes the piece so much more special. That’s one of the things I would love to improve, the relationship between buyer and artist.

What does the future look like for entrepreneurs in Charlotte?

Well, I’m an eternal optimist. So I’m always going to have a positive outlook. The vibe I get from people who come into the store, seeing their excitement and the fact that they can buy affordable art, it changes people’s perspectives. A lot of people feel they can’t afford an original piece of artwork – with Fabo, you can. If you look at most households in Charlotte, even if it’s in a low-income area, they still have something on their wall. People want nice things to look at. So I think even in a bad economy, while even lower-priced items are selling more, people still want to look at beauty in their home, wherever they are. What’s really cool about being an entrepreneur is bonding with other people who share your passion. It’s a like a club. I now seek out my fellow small-business owners and I want to support them, especially over the big corporate giants. We need the corporate side too, but I have so much appreciation for the people who put a lot of hard work into small businesses. I think the entrepreneurial spirit is really contagious in Charlotte right now, the idea of supporting the local community and giving back. When you talk to someone who owns their own business, there’s this spark of pride in their eye that you don’t see in someone who puts their 60 hour work week in to a corporation where they may not even know who the CEO is. So there’s a lot more soul.

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