Updated: Jan 20, 2019
Jill Lehman isn’t a doctor, but she does offer a creative cure for an ailment from which many don’t know they are suffering – empty wall syndrome. Her remedy? Launching a one-of-a-kind art gallery and consulting firm in Fishers, Indiana, that is reinventing how Hoosiers experience art.
More about Jill Lehman:
1. What is High Frequency Arts?
High Frequency Arts serves as a contemporary art gallery, art consulting firm, and intimate event venue. I started the business with three goals in mind: 1) make fine art accessible to a broader market, 2) share the intrinsic value art brings to our lives and community, and 3) create a unique venue that inspires numbers one and two.
2. Indiana isn’t widely known nationally as a hub for fine arts. Why are Indiana and High Frequency Arts right for each other?
Art, creative thinking, and entrepreneurship go hand in hand. Art and artist have been known to incubate community revitalization and growth. We’re seeing this as Indiana’s palette and interest in fine arts steadily grows. Art can play a strategic role in retaining and transferring talent to our state, which is vital for our growing technology sector and West Coast talent immigration. Fishers is a community focused on all these things, making it the right time and place for HFA.
3. How did you decide on your unique business model for High Frequency Arts?
High Frequency Arts believes in pricing artwork at fair market value, without tedious price negotiations. We procure unique pieces that speak to individuals or make walls talk. We also support a leasing program, which allows people to evaluate a piece prior to purchase, or simply to refresh their surroundings with rotating pieces.
My work experience is rich in retail operations, logistics, technology, business consulting, transformation, culture, and engagement from the C-suite to the front lines. I know well the ongoing war for talent, essential skills and environment necessary for a high-tech global marketplace. I narrowed these themes down to identifiable problems and started to use my work experience to explore ways for solving them, which led me to the idea of HFA. My background is non-traditional to running an art gallery, but if I had a traditional background, we would not be High Frequency Arts.
4. In pursuing the launch of your business, what’s the best advice you’ve received?
I’ve received a ton of great advice, but not trying to be everything to all people has been one of the most valuable pieces of guidance. Focus on what you are trying to solve, have a target market and get good at what you do.
5. What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs, especially those pursuing a for-profit business within the arts sector?
Treat a business in art just like any other for-profit business. Research is key. Identify what problem you are trying to solve. As an art enthusiast intrigued by those who create it, I spent time before launching HFA learning about the profiles of an artist and researching the art gallery scene. I volunteered in non-profit galleries. I talked directly to artists, gallery owners, collectors, and others like me who appreciate art but aren’t always comfortable in traditional galleries.
6. What were the major challenges to overcome for opening High Frequency Arts?
The biggest challenge is getting art viewed as a for-profit endeavor. Our traditional Midwest experience with art is non-profit and more of a local art or craft fair purview. HFA is about helping advance the way art is traditionally viewed and valued. We haven’t overcome this challenge yet, but we are making progress.
7. How has The Startup Ladies helped you?
It’s been valuable to hear stories and tips from successful start-up business owners like John McDonald (CEO of ClearObject) and Mendy Werne (CEO of BLASTmedia), as well as other women in start-up mode. The Startup Ladies provides you access to grow your network and services often absent for early stage start-ups. The focus on women entrepreneurs makes it a community.
8. What makes you comfortable with the risk of opening a business?
My mantra is “nothing worth doing is easy, but it is necessary.” I have a background filled with leading transformation and change endeavors, so it’s just part of my DNA. My confidence comes from the passion to make something happen and doing something I love and believe in. What keeps me going are the small wins we make, the support we have, and the people around us.
9. What’s next for you and High Frequency Arts?
I’d like to be able to say something sexy and outrageous, but that’s not the reality when starting a business! Now that the gallery is open, and our art consulting practice is building momentum, everything is about return on investment. Our focus is continuing to build relationships, generating referrals, forming partnerships, and making the adjustments needed for smart, sustainable growth.
Connect: LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jilllehman/