Anne playing her cards well in art shop - Bay of Plenty Times January 15, 2016 14:47

Anne Westerskov took her micro-business up a notch with a pop-up shop in Piccadilly Arcade prior to Christmas.

Christmas shoppers in Tauranga might have noticed several popup shops appear in the lead-up to Christmas.

One was very much a labour of love for the person behind the counter - Anne Westerskov.

Twenty-five-year-old Anne, who has Down Syndrome, discovered her love of art while at Bethlehem College, then found it flourished under the tuition of several well-known local artists who were initially a part of her community-based education programme.

The first was Talulah Belle Lautrec-Nunes through Harrison's Gallery and she has also been helped by Alison Brain and Pauline Goodwin. Anne said she had learned about things like light shading and dark shading at school but that her tutors helped bring out her ideas. But it was the encouragement of a friend that would give her the confidence to take another step into selling her work.

"Long ago, just after I had had my 21st birthday, one of my friends said 'you have to put some of your art on cards'," she says.

Talking about some of the more recent cards, Anne says that after finishing her designs Kim (her dad) thought some of them were very funny. The "funny" ones were among those she chose to be made into cards.

She was supported by the owners of Paper Plus in Tauranga and the Kofistop in Bethlehem.

Her cards are also sold at Village 7 in Te Puna and, thanks to friend Tamrah Hare, at a pharmacy in Mount Eden.

Anne and her assistants, including Tamrah, have also sold them at various conferences at Te Papa and the Waipuna Hotel and in Tauranga, including the Tauranga Business Women's Conference. There is even a stall at Otaki Markets selling them, and Anne has her own website.

Tamrah says the cards received a lot of positive feedback and they "sold like hot cakes" at the pharmacy.

But Anne was still keen to go further. "One day Mum and Dad said 'we can have a big launch to welcome the new designs'," says Anne.

That launch also marked the opening of the pop-up shop in the Piccadilly Arcade in Tauranga, a suggestion that had come from Toby Tagg from Paper Plus Tauranga.

Anne's mum Vivienne had secured a short term lease on the unit to help move Anne's micro business forward.

"Over the last two to three years Anne and her business team have slowly built up a micro-business based around Anne's art. Her paintings are reproduced as greeting cards and as small framed prints and larger stretched canvases," says Kim.

"The cards sell wonderfully, in their thousands. It's very exciting to see Anne growing in stature as a person, an artist, and a business woman." As for Anne, she says her art is booming".

- Bay News