We had the good fortune of connecting with Sharon Wolff and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Sharon, what is the most important factor behind your success?
What is the most important factor behind your success / the success of your brand? Over the years, I have been asked this question many times and each time I think about it a little differently. No doubt, the first 5 years were the most difficult. The art business is difficult regardless of how long you have been involved, but during the early years, it is most critical to develop a business plan and stick to it with determination. So many factors can lead to success or disaster. Location, competition, internal business operations, product, demand, networking, hired talent, training, business and leadership skills, determination/focus, etc. Although there were some lean years, my responsibility has always been clear: to first take care of customer needs and the artists who committed themselves to Hunter-Wolff Gallery. As time passed, my focus became razor sharp and my business Plan more important. With solid goals and a well-defined mission statement that focused on meeting the expectations of art creators, art lovers, collectors, and the curious, I believed Hunter-Wolff Gallery could succeed even during hardships. Part of that mission is always to make Hunter-Wolff Gallery’s art collectors feel special. They have many options to find art, but we go the extra mile for our clients to make their experience memorable and bring them back. I believe it is important to build a special relationship with the client (and my artists) and ensure we always listen, talk less, and learn what they most need and appreciate. This allows us to deliver on expectations successfully.
What should our readers know about your business?
I own an art gallery in the historic area of Colorado Springs and growing art district of our community. Hunter-Wolff Gallery was founded in 2005 and our community has changed slowly over the years creating opportunities to make change within my business. Change is never easy if you resist it. However, I am an optimist and believe change is healthy. Along with changes come opportunities. For example, the change the world experienced in early 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic made business and life difficult for many. People continue to suffer from this forced change. However, I chose to look at this change as an opportunity to find new ways to reach new clients and build on relationships with existing clients, make them feel safe and cared about. We implemented new ways to do business safely and to give clients and artists what they need and want. Based on what clients tell us, makes me believe we have a lot to be proud of. Hunter-Wolff Gallery is more than a small business in a local market. We serve clients around the world. Because I believe in teamwork, my artists and staff have all been part of our success. We work together to forge close relationships and face challenges head-on. I learned early in my career to openly communicate, encourage new ideas, share plans, and keep those channels open with those who are important in our lives and business efforts. We strive to leave a life-long impression on those who create and collect art.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
When friends and family come visit, I am extremely proud to take them to my art gallery and humbled by their responses. We all need feedback, good or bad, but when a trusted friend gushes over your life’s work, it is especially humbling. I like to plan a day in Old Colorado City to introduce the many fine shops and restaurants and their owners who I have gotten to know over the past 15 years. It’s always fun to include an outing at Garden of the Gods, and another day at some of the other local hiking trails, which there are many in our area. Depending on the visitor and time of year, we like to plan a day rafting, horseback riding and/or biking or going to a football game at the Air Force Academy. Some of my friends look forward to a day’s outing taking the cog rail up to the top of Pikes Peak to take some spectacular photos. Everyone loves an afternoon at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo and an evening dining at the Broadmoor Hotel. A week can go by quickly with so many options for activities in the area.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I am extremely grateful to many people who have supported me and believed in my aspirations during my long career, giving me the confidence to build a successful business. Early in my corporate career, two highly regarded corporate executives were in my corner from the time I started working with them. First, Helen Turner taught me the importance of teamwork and encouraged me to reach beyond my own expectations. She helped me prepare and take the next big step in my career. Patricia Albertini forced me to face my fears and reach for the stars when I joined her organization. Patricia helped me gain the skills needed to be successful working solo or with a team. She was a planner and showed me how important planning was to get the results desired. We developed many contingency plans during our careers together. Allan Wolff, my late husband, was my biggest cheerleader. He gave me the freedom and encouragement to make hard choices and helped me grow as an independent business leader. He was my mentor, my confidant, and my council. Allan was always there when I needed to brainstorm new ideas and gave me the confidence to make the right choices, even if it was unpopular. He allowed me to forgive myself when I made mistakes and to accept compliments when I didn’t feel deserving. Everyone needs someone like him in their corner, especially during difficult times. I will always be grateful to Helen, Pat and Al, along with others, who supported me, believed in me and were willing to share their years of experience and wisdom.