Two Gen Zers turned a $2,000 investment into an art gallery that sells $600,000 pieces. They want to usher in a new generation of art collectors.

Alexis de Bernede (L) and Marius Jacob (R)
Alexis de Bernede (L) and Marius Jacob (R)

  • Darmo Art is a gallery based in Paris that booked more than six figures in its latest show.

  • Its young founders are looking to highlight up-and-coming creatives and build a welcoming environment for aspiring collectors.
  • This is part of Insider’s series Star, Rising which highlights early-stage companies and entrepreneurs that are gaining popularity.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Name(s): Alexis de Bernede and Marius Jacob

Age(s): 22, 23

Location: Paris, France

Business: The art world has a bad reputation among many young people. Some find it old and too exclusive for their generations, which value inclusivity.

Alexis de Bernede and Marius Jacob didn’t wait for the market to transform – instead, they innovated it themselves. In 2017, with $2,000 saved, the duo launched Darmo Art, a gallery specializing in contemporary and modern artworks that also highlights up-and-coming artists.

Young artists have trouble finding support in the art world since many can’t estimate their overall value, de Bernede told Insider. The duo’s gallery aims to spotlight emerging artists and help them grab a piece of the $50 billion market. Simultaneously, they hope to create a more welcoming environment for aspiring art patrons.

“We want to be the first dealers for our artists,” Jacob said.

Art work at Darmo gallery
Pablo Picasso, 1958 “Portrait de jeune fille, d’après Cranach le Jeune II” on sale at Darmo Art for $600,000.

Growth: Darmo Art started by hosting public exhibitions and sending cold invites to collectors, dealers, and journalists. Its first show, in 2017, booked nearly $30,000 in sales. Today, Darmo Art’s shows occur in places like the high-end Salvatore Ferragamo store in Paris and typically net six figures per exhibition. What’s more, pieces sell for between $1,200 and $600,000, according to documents seen by Insider.

Darmo Art represents five artists – including Raf Reyes, 23,creative director of clothing brand Very Rare, and Pauline d’Andigné, 24, who is working on an exhibition at a hotel in Athens. Darmo Art also works with nearly 50 collectors, ranging from young patrons in their early 20s to established connoisseurs.

The cofounders are prepping for upcoming exhibitions in Paris and are broadening operations to the French Riveria and at the Grand Hotel Heiligendamm, an exclusive report in Germany. Additionally, Darmo Art is expanding into modern art by selling blue-chip names such as Henri Mattise, Paul Gauguin, César, and Marc Chagall.

Before Darmo Art: De Bernede received a Master’s in art history from the University of Oxford and worked as a special events intern at Christie’s auction house. Meanwhile, Jacob is still studying art at L’Ecole du Louvre in Paris.

Challenges: Making transactions in the art world is about building trust with potential buyers, but people were wary to trust de Bernede and Jacob because of their inexperience and young ages. To prove themselves, they started working on smaller projects before expanding into bigger collaborations.

“Studying art is also what made us trustworthy,” Jacob said. “People saw even if we were trying to elbow our way into the art world, we were still following the path of becoming art historians, not just business people who want to start a gallery.”

Business advice: “Always sell a work at a price you’d been willing to buy it back for,” de Bernede said. The art market can be uncertain and by ensuring customers that they can return their investments with zero losses helps establish trust between the gallery and its buyers, he said.

Alexis de Bernede (L) and Marius Jacob (R)
Alexis de Bernede (L) and Marius Jacob (R)

Business mentor: The duo leans on Jacob’s family, which owns a Parisian antique gallery that specializes in 17th- and 18th-century artwork, for mentorship. They taught the pair how to develop and maintain relationships with customers and collectors.

Art work at Darmo gallery
Joan Miró 1984 “Personnage et Oiseau” which sold at Darmo Art for an undisclosed price.

Why is now the best time to start a business? The pandemic revealed big companies are often slow to innovate themselves, de Bernede said. This leaves a white space in many industries that can be filled with entrepreneurship. “You can be an entrepreneur without necessarily changing the world,” he continued.

On hiring: Right now, de Bernede and Jacob run Darmo Art. However, they’re ready to build a team that they can trust and will tap talent from the networks they’ve established.

Managing burnout: The cofounders depend on each other to manage stress by making sure each is doing their equal parts in running the business. “Having a business partner you can trust and who can be there to motivate you is important,” de Bernede said. “Because having a business is an emotional rollercoaster.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

Brittni Popp’s 6-figure side hustle is making custom cakes for celebrities like Paris Hilton and Khloe Kardashian

Brittni Popp
  • Brittni Popp‘s custom cake business Betchin Cakes helps people celebrate important moments in life.
  • Betchin Cakes saw a 120% increase in sales from last year and is on track to book six figures in sales this year.
  • This is part of Insider’s series Star, Rising which highlights early-stage entrepreneurs who are gaining popularity.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Name: Brittni Popp

Age: 31

Location: Redondo Beach, CA

Business: Brittni Popp likes to help people commemorate their important life moments, whether that’s a bridal party, divorce, or even an expunged DUI. Her business, Betchin Cakes, sells highly customized baked goods that come adorned with decorations like Barbie dolls or empty nips. In the two years since she launched her side hustle, she’s landed high-profile customers like Paris Hilton and Khloe Kardashian.

Brittni Popp
Brittni Popp

“It’s always been about making people happy and having a moment for them,” she told Insider. “The coolest part about it is that I’ve been the most authentic this entire time – that’s what’s getting me business.”

She doesn’t bake the cakes, just decorates them. The base cost for a cake is $150 but prices can increase depending on the amount of customization. Popp’s most expensive cake was around $900.

Before Betechin: Popp briefly studied communications at a local junior college before dropping out in 2009. Now, she works full time in business development for grants management software company eCivis.

Growth: Betchin Cakes saw a 120% increase in sales from last year and is on track to book six figures in sales this year, Popp says. The Instagram account has 12,000 followers and Popp recently expanded into making cupcakes and cakes for puppies and children.

Despite the increase in business, Popp says each week is different – in one she can decorate 18 cakes, and in another, she’ll only tackle five. “It’s never normal and I’m the queen of last-minute orders,” she said.

Challenges: Since Betchin Cakes started as a passion project, Popp has been learning how to run a business on the fly. However, she’s found it difficult to create a balanced working schedule, especially as she continues to work full time.

Brittni Popp
Paris Hilton with a Betchin cake

Business advice: Take risks, Popp said. “Don’t be afraid to try and make your ideas come to life and into something that everyone can enjoy and benefit from.”

Brittni Popp

Business mentor: Popp calls Lauryn Bosstick, founder of skincare brand Skinny Confidential, a mentor. Popp followed Bosstick’s career on Instagram before cold messaging her last year, asking for her thoughts on Betchin Cakes as a business. “It’s great to have these women in the industry who are starting out just like me and gone through the same obstacles,” Popp said, referring to Bosstick’s journey of turning her passion into a full-time job.

Why is now the best time to start a business? “I would say anytime is a good time,” Popp said, noting that many people make excuses when it comes to launching their passion projects. “I genuinely started my company wanting to make people feel special and have a moment they remembered.”

Hiring in today’s labor shortage: Popp’s friends help her bake, decorate, deliver and ship the cakes, but that’s on a part-time basis. The rest is up to her. “I do my own marketing, buying, sourcing, and client calls right now,” she said. “Everything is pretty personal.”

Popp hopes to expand her business, which could include hiring, but is still imaging what a mature version of Betchin Cakes would look like. “This year has been a big year for me,” she said. “There’s so much opportunity and the demand is really high.”

Managing burnout: Popp prioritizes scheduling personal time, including a two-week vacation each summer. She and her boyfriend visit their houseboat on the Colorado River and she disconnects from social media. “It’s a great break from reality to disconnect,” she said. “I always make time for a break.”

Read the original article on Business Insider