x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

How thejamjar manages the art of creative change

The Life: We follow up with Hetal Pawani of the art studio thejamjar, which has learned to adapt its business model to survive.

Hetal Pawani's Jam Jar was ranked in the top 100 small-to-medium enterprises by Dubai SME. Razan Alzayani / The National
Hetal Pawani's Jam Jar was ranked in the top 100 small-to-medium enterprises by Dubai SME. Razan Alzayani / The National

Hetal Pawani started thejamjar, a platform for creative minds, in Dubai in 2005. Six years later, her company was ranked in the top 100 small-to-medium enterprises by Dubai SME. Originally from India, Ms Pawani, 33, talks about what makes her business work.

The last time we spoke, in 2008, you had a gallery and a studio. Have you expanded on that front?

We actually closed down the gallery and turned the 1,000-square-feet space into a not-for-profit project with a focus on artist residencies. We call the artist, or select them from applications, and they work on mixed media, found objects, or we have collaboration of disciplines such as architecture in visual art. It was formally launched in March and we have our third ongoing artist residency. They use the space for a month, interact with other artists and that leads to an exhibition. We assist with materials such as video, photography and text. The current artist in residency is Walid Al Wawi, who lives in the UAE.

How do you finance this and plan to expand it?

We support ourselves and though currently we focus on UAE-based artists, we plan to link up with artists' mother countries for regional collaboration.

Have you opened thejamjar cafes across the UAE as you had planned?

Those have always been on the agenda. We are scouting for locations. It has to be on the street level. We have not been attracted to malls. We have been offered space by malls last year and this year and some retail spaces, too. But we are looking at the footfall, parking facilities, how it would be different from what we are doing here. But we hope to open one in March or later next year.

How have your staffing and revenues grown since 2008?

We had around eight people then. Now we have 17. Our revenues have grown, not significantly, but there has been a steady growth. We have a slightly conservative approach. We have not hired 50 people during the boom period. We have a niche offering and a community approach and have maintained that.

Do you have any plans to expand thejamjar into Abu Dhabi?

We are constantly researching opportunities for that, but need to work on a lot of planning.

What are your major sources of income?

The art consultancy brings 60 per cent of the revenues. It includes creative learning and commissioning of artists - supplying artwork to homes and offices. The rest comes from renting out studio space to artists or amateurs and events such as corporate parties. We give unlimited canvases and acrylic paint for studio rent sessions starting at Dh100 for two to four-hour time slots. Every day, on average, we have five to 10 people.

ssahoo@thenational.ae