Every so often I meet someone in Philadelphia who is really inspiring and makes me remember why I love this city so much despite all of its imperfections. Florcy Morrisset, owner of Vivant Art Collection is definitely one of those people. Florcy is a “Jill of All Trades” in the city’s vibrant art community. If you are looking for some fabulous, vibrant art to adorn your home or space, you should definitely head to the Old City section of the city to visit her gallery. So now onto the interview!
Shen Dove: Tell me briefly about Vivant Art Collection and your inspiration for opening the gallery?
Florcy: I opened the gallery six years ago. November 17th will be my sixth anniversary. This is an amazing feat in itself given that I opened during what was technically a recession. The idea behind it was to celebrate my Haitian heritage. I quickly realized that there were so many other countries that need to be exposed. There was art from Cuba, Mexico, Latin America, and the Bahamas; there were so many places in the world where we don’t traditionally get to see their art. The goal with the art is to really show how the rest of the world is living, to learn about their history, to learn about their culture, to learn about the people and to see the land. Specifically for Haiti, there are a lot of negative connotations that I want to dispel. I felt that I could use art to dispel some of that negativity.
Florcy: That might take the rest of the day, ha ha ha. With the gallery, we have expanded to do consulting. We do marketing for institutions. We also work with artists in terms of career development, representation, placement, and looking at whatever they need done and really help them to move their careers forward. It’s really exciting, I love what I do. I do it for the love of the arts. With that said, I realize that the art gallery has given me the opportunity to do so many more things. For instance we opened up the gallery as a space for people to come and have events, so we do a lot of partnerships with other organizations. Because I started with Haiti as the premise for everything that I’ve done, I belong to a Haitian organization, the Haitian Professionals in Philadelphia. I’ve been involved with the organization for the last five years and for the last three years, I’ve served as the Chair of the organization. This organization is really committed to giving back Haitian professionals and being a support system. We help our parents and community members in Philadelphia as well as those in Haiti. We like to do career development, cultural events, and we are also very into politics. Those are the main two organizations that I’m focusing on working with now.
In the past I’ve worked with an advocacy organization called the National Coalition of 100 Black Women’s Pennsylvania Chapter which is another amazing organization. It was very hard to be active in the Coalition because I was doing so many other things. I also served as Director of Programs for the Richard Allen Museum at Mother Bethel A.M.E. Church. I am also a creative ambassador for Philly 360 (which is a lifetime position). I will represent Philadelphia until the day I die in terms of the art scene. It is really dope here. I am on the board of the African American Museum in Philadelphia. That’s a position I’m proud of, we do a lot of cultural events there. My goal is to educate professionals, promote African American art, and attract visitors to the museum. There are other things I do, but the one’s I mentioned were projects and organizations I really feel committed to.
Shen Dove: Do you have any advice for young professionals who aspire to start their own businesses, particularly creative/artistic entrepreneurs?
Florcy: I definitely have advice for young entrepreneurs:
1. Like Nike Says, “Just Do It.” Society says you have to prepare, have a business plan perfected among other things before launching. And it can help you in more ways than you can imagine. It will help you to be organized for a start, and with this comes the hope that everything else will fall into place. Of course, you could always contact someone similar to this online company formation agent with yourcompanyformations.co.uk if you wanted some extra help and guidance when it comes to managing the first phase of setting up your business. For most people, having all the help you can get when it comes to establishing your business plan will put you in good stead for your future endeavors. But I believe the best learning experience is the practice of running the business itself. There’s nothing like doing it (starting the business) and saying, I’ve done it, because you know you’ve given something. 2. Use Social Media, Use Technology to your advantage. Now that we are in a digital age, use social media and technology to your advantage. One thing that many newer business owners are looking at are how to move away from the brick and mortar model; moving beyond the whole idea that you have to be in a building to be a business. You have online blogs, online shops, you have pop-up galleries and other business types. All of them need to have an effective marketing plan to ensure their success, and many find that in this day and age, social media will be the best choice to make. Not only can you upload as many creative and relevant posts about your business as possible, but you also have access to Instagram growth services like nitreo.com that can help you when it comes to increasing your followers and targeting your desired audience. This could give you a headstart in promoting your business online.3. Claim It. Be sure to self-identify. If you think of yourself as an artist, claim it and do it. A lot of times artists will say “I’m just creating art” or “I’m doing this as a hobby.”
Shen Dove: What is your ultimate vision for Vivant?
Florcy: My ultimate vision for Vivant is to grow it. I never thought I would be where I am today. I had goals tied to financial numbers, selling a specific amount of art. But my goals never covered what I want my impact to be on the community. I am one of a few galleries Black owned galleries in the city. I never thought that I would be a pillar of the community. My goal is to continue to present great cultural diasporic art. I’d like to create a network full of artistic professionals that really sustain the art scene and art institutions in this city. I’d really like to give back to the cultural fabric that is Philadelphia. With that I envision Vivant Consulting, Vivant Travel, Vivant Books; I see Vivant as a brand. I want to continue to see Vivant grow, I am a visionary.
Shen Dove: If you had only one day to spend in Philly, what sites/places/businesses would you suggest as “must-see”?
Florcy: I had an opportunity to talk about something like this for Philly 360 and once did a one-day tour with Danny Simmons (Russell Simmon’s brother). If I had one day in Philly, I would start at Museum Row (on the Ben Franklin Parkway). The first time I moved here I saw the flags on the Parkway, and for me, they represent the culture of Philadelphia. I would pop into some of the museums like the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Barnes African Collection, and the Philadelphia Academy for Fine Arts which also has cool, young, dymanic art. Then I would make my way down to the Old City area to Gallery Row (where Vivant is located!). I would then stop by the African American Museum. Next, I would go to Chinatown for lunch. For dinner, I would go to the Italian Market and then to Rittenhouse Square to catch the scene. The Rittenhouse area is a favorite because it has the park, people, fashion; you have everything there. If I had time, I would take some architecture pictures of City Hall, I love how the building intersects the city. I would also take photos of the murals, we have a lot of cultural murals in Philly.
Shen Dove: Because of the fashion focus of this blog, I have to ask: Where do you shop? Please describe your fashion style.
Florcy: This is a hard question for me. I find myself making sacrifices to focus on my business, one of them being shopping. I’m not as into fashion as I once was, but I do travel a lot and the last time I shopped was during a trip to Paris. I like little boutiques, I like one of a kind. My style aesthetic is a mixture of Audrey Hepburn, Michelle Obama, and Hello Kitty. My hair is a part of my fashion look. My shoes are a part of my fashion look. My style revolves a lot around accessorizing. For me being a business owner is about dressing as a business professional and using accessories. The right accessories can easily allow you to go from business appropriate to evening, accessories can turn up your look. I think it’s important to dress in a way that allows you to easily go from work to happy hour in one day. It’s also important to be authentic in your style.
Shen Dove: Thanks for the interview Florcy! If you want to pick up an amazing art piece that will be a show stopper, stop by Vivant Art Collection at 60 North Second Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106 (Located on Gallery Row in the Historic District of Old City Philadelphia). You can also follow Vivant Art Collection on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.