Cerulean Arts: Art Gallery Obtains Financing to Open on North Broad

Cerulean Arts, an art gallery, was opened in 2006 by Tina Rocha and her husband Michael Kowbuz. The area now called “The Avenue North Renaissance” is blocks from Center City Philadelphia and right around the corner is the historical Divine Lorraine Hotel which is being renovated. Since opening Cerulean Arts has been able to display exhibits of over 100 artists and they also sell hand-made crafts representing more than 100 artisans from all over the world.

The art gallery is only 600 square feet so when an opportunity came to purchase the building next door that has 3000 square feet on the main floor they did. Now they needed a loan to renovate the building to expand the gallery, add classroom space, and live-in art studios. By the time they came to the Temple Small Business Development Center (SBDC) in 2014 for assistance they were turned down by several banks. They were seeking a loan for $1.2 million which made the debt income ratio too high.

The SBDC assisted Ms. Rocha with market research, feedback on the business plan, and financial projections. At the advice of the Temple SBDC consultant client decided to resubmit the project to lenders by focusing on the renovations of the art gallery first and doing the apartments later. After being turned down again by several banks, United Bank of Philadelphia approved a SBA loan for $813,000.

Cerulean Arts also worked with a MBA intern to obtain assistance on whether the online market for selling the crafts and art work had potential. Based on the research the client decided to develop a new website with ecommerce capabilities. After researching different online platforms with the intern, the client chose Shopify. The SBDC consultant provided feedback on the website design and layout. The new website was launched in the fall of 2016 and promotes both the art gallery and the artisan crafts. The legal clinic also developed a consignment contract for their vendors.

With the loan Cerulean Arts will be able to expand their art gallery space and even offer classes for the local community. The current space they have for crafts is also very small so there will be more display room to market the products of artisans. The loan also enabled them to pay off the seller’s note which was due soon. With the neighborhood developing there is much opportunity for growth.