Hubber Nitin Chand recently sat down with Boston Changemaker Liz Powers, Artlifting’s “Co-Founder, Chief Happiness Spreader”.
Nitin, on behalf of Impact Hub Boston: Tell us, what is Artlifting?
Liz: Artlifting is a social enterprise that empowers homeless and disabled artists, we help them sell their artwork. There are thousands of existing art groups in shelters and disability centers across the country.
We partner with existing art groups and become the art broker who curate the top work to sell it.
Artlifting started in Boston with just four artists and we are able to expand really quickly, now we have artists in eight cities across the country.
IHB: How did you get involved with Artlifting?
Liz: I’ve been working with homeless individuals for nine years in the Boston community and my job used to be running art groups in shelters, I kept seeing amazing artwork being produced and thought what a no brainer to help and sell it.
IHB: What has surprised you the most about the development of your organisation over the last two years?
Liz: It is amazing how quickly we’ve grown, we are going to meet fifteen cities by December 2015 and who would think just two years after launching we would be in fifteen cities. So it’s really exciting.
IHB: As a customer, what should one look out for in Artlifting?
Liz: The key part of Artlifting is each artist’s story, that’s very unique.
IHB: What do you have to say about your team?
Liz: We have seven people full time in our team. Our COO, Kelly McKenna just graduated from Harvard Business School and it is great to have her business discipline and mind on the team as we are scaling so quickly. My brother co-founded Artlifting with me and that was really fun. He had a background in business consultant and I have a background working in shelters, so thats a perfect complement.
IHB: What is next for Artlifting?
Liz: Expanding to fifteen cities by the end of this year and we are also looking to grow our corporate sales. We recently decorated Staples headquarters and Microsoft’s new innovation center in San Francisco, it is great to be working with fortune five hundred companies but we’re open to working with all different corporations. We also see licensing as an option in future.
IHB: Why the name Artlifting?
Liz: My brother came up with the name. The idea is to do uplifting with art.
IHB: What do think, what got credibility to Artlifting so quickly?
Liz: I think the fact that we’re so genuine, i have been in this field for a decade and everyone knows that our heart is in the right place and we feel so passionate about making huge change. So that’s really why we have been able to scale so quickly with our partnerships. In terms of how we’ve been able to spread our customer base so quickly, we have not paid for marketing at all. It’s just been getting picked up in an article. And that’s been extremely powerful because it’s such a new idea. Creating jobs for a lot of individuals who have never had a break.
IHB:Which is a more important market for Artlifting, B2B or B2C?
Liz: They’re both important. Being a startup we are testing out different sales channel, giving them all really good shot and then seeing what sticks the most.
IHB: What according to you are measuring tools for social impact?
Liz: I think that measurement should always be local based and should reflect how many lives you are impacting.