Get ready to be inspired! We are thrilled to share with you an exciting and inspiring interview with Loela (“Lula”) Barry, the President of The Joloé Way LLC, which operates Art Escape on Lake Travis at The Oasis, The Escape in Georgetown, and Joloé Art in Conroe. Loela's unwavering commitment to supporting artists who contribute to meaningful causes is truly remarkable.
MW: What was the spark that led you to start your business?
LB: As a husband and wife artist duo, we have experienced our fair share of hard and exhausting work at shows and street markets. We realized that there must be many artists like us who would rather focus on creating art than marketing and selling it. For both start-up artists and seasoned professionals alike, promoting your art requires a lot of effort and time, and often requires a skill set that is not necessarily part of the artist's palette.
With that realization, we developed a passion for uplifting our fellow artists and creating a market outlet for them. Our travels also brought us into contact with many outstanding artists in developing countries. However, the one thing that always struck us was that we wished more people could support these artists.
Then it dawned on us: why can't we be the hand that reaches out to artists in developing countries and expands their horizons? This eventually led us to acquire The Escape in Georgetown with the idea that we could operate an outlet for art beyond our own and help other artists in this way.
Soon after, we started Art Escape on Lake Travis at Oasis as our flagship gallery and art store. Our goal was to grow the business further, positively impacting more artists, and generating the resources to provide support to those in need.
MW: How do you choose the artists and their work that you feature in your store?
LB: For us, it is not only about the art, but firstly about the artist. We often have the privilege to be with them in their studios and taking part in what they create. We do have fairly strict criteria for the art we promote. It needs to be handmade, unique and exquisite quality. We also look for a connected purpose beyond the artist's work. If there is a further mission to the art, we take that into consideration.
MW: Can you tell us more about the impact Art Escape is making in developing countries?
LB: We specifically search for and onboard artists who channel a portion of their proceeds to meaningful causes. Additionally, we work hard to support and grow their markets. We also have a few causes of our own that we support in a similar way.
Therefore, every dollar spent in our stores not only supports artists but also contributes to a purposeful cause. Some examples include providing clean water, education, work for single mothers, eco-friendly and upcycled products, marine conservation, tree planting, wildlife conservation, and self-sustainability in developing countries.
MW: Can you tell us more about your involvement with meal kit distribution in Africa?
LB: The food drive was actually started by my parents 40 years ago in South Africa because the elderly Zulus have a hard time getting from the mountain and rural areas to towns. During Christmas time, my parents would create food packets and drive into the mountains to hand them out to the elderly people. Since two years ago, Art Escape has taken over the sponsorship of the gifting drive from my elderly parents, buying fresh produce from local farmers, which we combine with supplies purchased from local stores. A few helpers and I then drive up the mountains to a gathering point to present the elders with the gifts.
MW: Is there anything else you’d like to share?
LB: We have a goal to represent artists from every US state and every Canadian Province and we are almost at that point. In total more than 80% of our artists are American Made. Price points for American art are obviously higher but that is the price we need to be willing to pay if we want to be truly patriotic and support American Made.
Every purchase at Art Escape is an opportunity to create a brighter future for our world. By supporting artists and their impactful causes, you can make a real difference today. Shop now at 6550 Comanche Trail #112, Austin, TX 78732.
We have a goal to represent artists from every US state and every Canadian Province.