A smart, savvy woman with an edge in her style and an eye for art = definitely my idea of an ideal client.
We’d already been admiring each other over social media for some time, so when online art gallery owner Alessandra Salituri reached out about the redesign of her already popular site Citizen Atelier, I was giddy as a girl crush. The process was honestly almost too easy, as so much of our tastes align and our visual aesthetics overlap — I mean, just take a look at the in situ photography above (styled by client Christine Dovey) with which I got to work! What a joy to go down this redesign road together and churn out a beautiful product of which we are so proud, with the exquisite execution by her dedicated development team.
And what a joy to get to know Alessandra and her successes even better here, in our sixth installment of Brand Styled!
Name & Title
Founder & Creative Director
Running a business is a lot of work! What made you decide to start it up and what keeps you going?
I grew up in the art world– my mom has been an artist for over 40 years, so I’ve always had a passion for it! Working as an art dealer, I came to the realization that there was a major gap in the market between high-end galleries and big-box stores that sell mass-produced images. I wanted to bridge that gap and create an inviting online space that had a mix of emerging and established artists/photographers. The Atelier had been a vision long before becoming a reality. When I first came up with the idea, limited-edition art e-commerce sites were just beginning to emerge, but none had the feminine and ethereal aesthetic I was after. On a hot summer day in 2013, I made the decision to bring the gallery to life. I would say that my love of unique art and the thrill of discovering pieces, and the backstories that inspired them, is what keeps me going. Art has an incredibly ability to give meaning and add depth to a space.
When you initially thought about the redesign of your website (a big undertaking!), what were your goals with the new site?
A website redesign is a huge undertaking! It was important to me to have a beautiful online space that was not only an e-commerce platform, but a place for art and interior design lovers to get inspired by gorgeous photographs. My vision for Citizen Atelier was to make the site feel really modern, while still being approachable, as though you were visiting a friend’s beautiful atelier. I’ve also always wanted to include a blog to share my inspirations, so I’m happy this was a new feature I could bring to reality.
Having gone through the redesign process, what would you say your ‘brand style’ is? Were you inspired by any ‘brand muses’ along the way?
I would say my brand style is very monochromatic, with a touch of Scandinavian minimalism, art deco and feminine glam! My brand muses are actually interior designers! Gilles & Boissier are my favorite. Their spaces feel simple and paired down, yet luxurious.
Can you think of a tipping point in your journey, a defining moment that made your business take off? What steps did you take to get there?
It was when people and decor sites I admired began blogging about Citizen Atelier and sharing images from our lookbook on social media. A couple of days after launching the site, Loni from Adore Magazine in Australia wrote a post about us, which was a ‘wow’ moment. I realized I had created something that could actually take off.
Describe a typical day in the life.
A typical day starts really early at around 7a.m. I spend my mornings at cafes in and around Montreal. I love working and enjoying a latte among the hustle and bustle of the city. I also work as a PR consultant, so my day is a beautiful amalgamation of meeting clients, organizing interviews with the media, working with designers on custom art projects and working with my lovely assistant Camille on new ideas and collaborations for Citizen Atelier. I’m usually up late working until 10-11pm. It sounds cliche, but I love what I do, so I don’t mind!
Owning a business means you get to touch base with every facet of it from product acquisition, to interacting with clients/customers, to marketing decisions. At the end of the day, what aspect do you find the most rewarding?
The most rewarding part of owning a business has been without a doubt connecting with like-minded individuals, interior designers, bloggers as well as other female entrepreneurs who share a similar passion for working hard and creating beauty. I feel like I’ve made a lot of great new friendships over the last two years.
What’s one way that you continue to develop and improve yourself and/or your business?
The one thing I’m continually trying to improve upon is staying organized! With so many moving parts, it’s important to have strong systems in place to keep things flowing.
Any can’t-live-without software programs or apps that have helped you run your day/life/business better?
In many ways I’m quite old school. I still write things down in my traditional agenda! Social media plays such a huge role in such a visual business, so I rely on Afterlight and Squareready to have my photos prepped for Instagram!
What piece of advice can you give other entrepreneurs looking to start their own businesses?
I always say, cultivate an enormous amount of certainty in your vision, as well as a plan of how you will market that vision. With so much competition in the e-commerce sphere, a solid marketing plan is important for ensuring your business is a success. Also, you don’t need to be good at everything to create a successful business. Outsource certain tasks if needed and create a strong support system with people who are masters in their fields! Though the hardest lesson I learned while building my business is the importance of being well versed in accounting 101 :).
What essentials can always be found in your purse (or on your desk)?
Great question! I moved to downtown Old Montreal from the suburbs earlier this year and my new ‘thing’ is not carrying a purse! It’s been quite liberating. The only thing I need these days is my iPhone and I’m good to go!
What’s one thing we may be surprised to learn about you?
I’m an amazing hip-hop rapper. I’m just waiting for someone to discover me…
Thank you Alessandra!
And be sure to check out the stunning collection Alessandra has brought together on Citizen Atelier!