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SBI Minerva Awards Honoree: Sara Baldwin, New Ravenna Mosaics

Just as mosaics are made up of tiny pieces of material to create a large work of art, Sara Baldwin has transformed her business into a masterpiece since she first started in 1992.

View the original article at Small Business Insight

“It’s an interesting process,” Baldwin explains. “I think market research is key — really listening to potential customers and filtering the information. The customers will of course be part of the hopefully synergistic equation that will one day equal your business.”

Another factor that Baldwin says goes into turning one’s passion into a successful business is to find the right people who are willing to add their talents.

“Unless you plan on being a one-woman (or man) band, you better be on the lookout for people who can play guitar, or sing, or dance,” Baldwin says.

In her experience, the two things that make great employees are an optimistic, happy outlook and a good work ethic.

Baldwin and her team specialize in the idea of “utilitarian art,” which is an elaborate tile that performs a function.

“A painting elicits an emotional or intellectual response,” Baldwin explains. “You don’t physically interact with it. It’s not really practical. Conversely, mosaics are useful. They protect and seal surfaces.”

She compares it to the organic farming movement: it is a very labor intensive process that produces a beautiful, useful product.

“Certainly (mosaics) can be artistic as well, but they also have a function in the same way a table or stove has a function,” Baldwin explains. “Conveniently enough (for me), when an object possesses a function, it’s also easier for the customer to justify the cost. Many people will pay $3,000 for a foyer floor but wouldn’t ever spend that much on ‘art.’”

Baldwin is  the largest employer in her city of Exmore, located on the Eastern Shore. She has been involved with the local Boys and Girls Club for the past 15 years, serving as president in the past, as well as chairing their largest annual fundraiser for years.



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