We recently sat down with Peggy Wood Townsend, co-owner of Townsend Atelier, which specializes in artistic instruction, unique products, and community involvement.
What prompted you to start your own company?
My background is in Arts Administration/Non-profit Management. Between us, my husband and I have over 30 years in the arts community. Our focus on the Atelier method of instruction is unique, in that many art students have been taught styles or philosophies, but lack foundational technical knowledge. Through the Atelier model they gain opportunities for master/apprentice relationships. The instructors who teach with us are masters who work daily in their own art. They’re not removed from the creative process.
The products we sell give students good tools for good skills. We offer unique items such as small batch paints and brushes from the U.K. We have a closer relationship with our suppliers than you’d find at a generic supply store.
What do you like best about doing business in Chattanooga?
Chattanooga is the right size to get things done. It’s exciting to be part of a changing and growing community.
Our city has so much to offer. When family or friends travel here with our art students, they’re surprised by the diverse activities that are available to them.
What piece of advice would you like to share with other entrepreneurs or start-ups?
It’s easy to get overwhelmingly busy being involved in all aspects, so it’s important to have a passion for what you’re pursuing. You need to have a very focused vision and stick to it. Believe in it. Make it fun and fulfilling, because the day-to-day part gets hairy.
How has our company helped you in your success?
I attended a Women Mean Business seminar where Lynn Talbott spoke, but my real introduction to her was through a referral from a fellow entrepreneur. What’s appealing about Lynn is that she understands the needs of small businesses. As a business owner, making sure our books are done right is another motivation. I have a soft spot for the INCubator because it’s where we began. And I appreciate the opportunity to support another woman-owned business.
What’s next for Townsend Atelier?
We opened in the BDC in 2007 and have been at our current location for four years. In October, we’ll be moving into the The Arts Building downtown at 11th and King Street, across from the Fleetwood Building. We’ll have beautiful offices, a retail space for art supplies and will nearly double the classroom space. This will make it easier to host public programs and exhibits, as well as providing a larger environment for instructors and students.
Even though our space is expanding, we’ll still keep our class size small with a limit of 12-15 students. We want to make sure everyone receives personal attention and pointers. Our typical average is 8-12 students. We also offer private lessons.
And I’m curious about your logo…
We wanted something unique and old. We found this in an illuminated manuscript bookplate. It was a teeny image imbedded in an ornate design.
Our thanks to Peggy and her husband in offering a wonderful destination for master artists and students. If you haven't yet taken a class with them, you can find their fall line-up on their website.
We look forward to visiting them in their new location! Check out their Facebook page for recent photos in the construction process. Their new address will be: 301 East 11th Street.