We caught up with Premium Member Eugenia Wilson, the managing director of LUMAS Galleries Australia. LUMAS was founded in 2003 in Germany by Stefanie Harig and Marc Ullrich who wanted art and photography to be more accessible and affordable. These days, LUMAS is an international brand with more than 300 employees, and Eugenia is the woman responsible for bringing LUMAS – and museum quality art at affordable prices – to Australia.
I practiced as a lawyer for almost 10 years.
Mainly focusing on the Family Law area, but I also did a short period interning at the United Nations in New York and working with refugees in many detention centers across Australia. I always wanted to be independent and own my own business, but I don’t think I ever had a clear idea what it was going to be. Over the years, I have explored various options, until finally settling on LUMAS.
I first learnt about LUMAS a few years back when I was looking for art (as I often do). I would spend hours researching and dreaming about various artworks that I would buy. I didn’t see a LUMAS Gallery until about two years later in late 2014. I contacted the LUMAS office in Berlin to enquire about a possible partnership. I met with a representative one month later and signed an exclusive contract for rights to LUMAS shortly thereafter. We opened our first gallery in Richmond in June 2015.
I knew that people like me, young professionals with some disposable income, were looking for nice things for themselves and their homes.
Essentially, I made a marketing plan based on reaching people like me. Then I realised that my market is probably 5 to 10 years older than I thought. The idea and strategy still worked, but we adjusted it slightly to reach the right audience.
I don’t have investors, I was fortunate enough to have had some savings and a very supportive and understanding husband. We did have to borrow from the bank to fund some of the startup costs, but overall the business has been fairly self-sufficient.
I think Australians have been hungry for our products – beautiful, museum quality art at affordable prices. I think most customers want value for money and LUMAS can deliver that. We sell limited editions artworks, which means that we can offer fantastic artworks and world-renowned artists at an affordable price. We sell between 15-20 artworks per week. We represent over 250 different artists and our top 10 best-selling artists tend to be florals, water and abstract images..
I found out the hard way that running a business means that you have to be good at marketing, legal, accounting, HR, leadership and a million other jobs.
Most of us have been trained in one field only, as I was, which meant that I was thrown in the deep end. In the perfect world, one could hire people to help you with these jobs. Unfortunately, in a small business there are often no funds to do so, so you have to learn to do a million things. One other big challenge that I have had to overcome is being alone. Coming from a very peer-oriented career and workplace, I have had to learn to work alone and without people to talk to (on the same level as you). And no one to tell you that you’ve done a good job!
The person I turned to for advice was my husband.
He is an extremely successful businessman and entrepreneur and while he is great at giving me advice and guidance, I found it hard to take his advice. I really wanted and needed to find a peer-network of people in positions similar to mine, so that we can catch up, drink wine and talk business.
Connect with Eugenia here