From retail and restaurants to tech and media, contractors to coworking spaces, large, small, and everything in between, a diverse array of businesses call Alexandria home. In our blog series, Growing in Alexandria, we sit down to talk with businesses around the City to learn more about who they are, what they do, and why they love it here. Have an idea for a business in Alexandria to talk to? Email us!
Economic Development Associate Kyla Ramdat had a lovely conversation with Alexandria native and artist Lisa Schumaier. Lisa shared her passion for art and for the city where she was born and raised and has not left since.
AEDP: To get started, please tell us a little bit about your art business.
Lisa: I have a studio at the Torpedo Factory, where I make and sell my art and encourage our visitors to embrace their own creativity.
AEDP: How did you get started?
Lisa: I have always been a maker. The first figure I made was a little guy fashioned from rocks and tape when I was two or three. My parents encouraged this creativity, and Alexandria public schools nurtured and grew it. Art on the Avenue in Del Ray was where I really began marketing my work. After a few successful years selling there, I felt courageous enough to think about running my own business. I finally got into the Torpedo Factory after 4 years of trying, and I love it! I am grateful every day that I get to be there.
AEDP: What is the biggest challenge of running your business?
Lisa: The math and office work of a business. I adore my customers, and I love making things. Marketing, merchandising, and networking are all really fun, but the math still feels like homework.
AEDP: How have you pivoted during the Covid-19 pandemic, to keep your business afloat?
Lisa: When the pandemic hit and the Torpedo Factory was shut down, I went from having the most profitable February I had ever had to suddenly owing more than I was bringing in.
After crying for a little bit, I got to work setting up an online store. I doubled down on social media and with the help of my wonderful customers, things began to turn around.
AEDP: What is the most rewarding aspect of running your business?
Lisa: I was mentored by an artist at the Factory when I was a teenager so being able to give that back to young artists who come in is important to me. Working in my studio, showing visitors how I create my things, allowing people to look at and touch the materials I use brings the art alive and gives them a connection that they can’t get at a gallery or museum. I also teach a class for teens through the Art League, and during normal times I get to put together a lot of hands-on projects for visitors of the art center. Seeing people reconnect with the fun they had making art when they were little makes me really happy.
To learn more about Lisa and her art, visit her website or her studio in the Torpedo Factory.