Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Concocting a Winning Combo: Tulsa Business Owner Mixes Art, Alcohol

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Concocting a Winning Combo: Tulsa Business Owner Mixes Art, Alcohol

Article excerpt

Vanessa Somerville combined her artistic skill with an entrepreneurial spirit to launch a business.

For about six months Somerville has operated the gallery and bar Lot No. 6 in a neighborhood known as the Pearl District east of downtown Tulsa.

The niche that Somerville has carved out for Lot No. 6 is bringing the works of local, emerging artists to a wider audience than a traditional gallery. The walls are filled with paintings and creations, while the bar offers a menu of beer, wine and spirits.

She earned a master's degree in art at the University of Tulsa in 2008 and operated her own art gallery for a couple of years, she said.

"Openings were well-attended," Somerville said.

Somerville worked her way through college as a bartender, so she understood the market potential. It made sense to combine two subjects that she knew so well.

"Business is good - better than most people thought we would do, myself included," Somerville said on Wednesday.

Early on, the business did not break even, something Somerville said she had expected.

But for the past three months, the operation has been in the black, Somerville said. She declined to disclose any financial details.

"I've been surprised as I did not think it would do so well so quickly," Somerville said. "This is totally fine with me."

About 18 months ago, Somerville learned about Tulsa Community College's Launch Your Entrepreneurial Spirit program. The college introduced a philosophy of instruction designed to appeal to creative and emerging entrepreneurs. It takes a nontraditional approach and teaches the steps required to take an idea to the marketplace.

The noncredit startup program is accepting applications through Jan. 13 for the next session.

Kristen Bergman, an organizer for Launch, said Somerville is a good example of someone who came into the Launch program with an idea.

"Through the coaching and mentoring she was able to refine the idea and make it even more successful in the long run," said Bergman, who is also vice president of business development for Tulsa-based BizXe LLC. "She didn't open Lot No. 6 immediately upon graduating from Launch, but instead kept working on her business model. …

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