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Newport’s ‘Boss Lady’ of the Week: Kristen Coates


‘Boss Lady Of The Week’ Is A Weekly Column That Highlights Empowering, Entrepreneurial and Inspiring Females In Our Community

Kristen Coates: Curator, Artist, Designer, Art Agent, and an all around badass. Kristen is a graduate of Rogers High School and has re-planted her roots in Newport after spending time in New York City. Although Newport is a slower (and saltier) version of a city, Kristen does not seem to have any qualms about her decision to come back home. Her convictions are stronger than most, and I think that is one of the few things that makes her success so great.

Before I could even ask any questions, Kristen graciously gave a shoutout to our publication:

“I really like WhatsUpNewp and I think what Ryan is doing is great.”

There are many people who trust Kristen’s opinion, just saying.

Q: Do you have a favorite artist or type of artwork?
A:“I like contemporary art, I like new art. I am so intrigued by what people are working on now. Mark Reigelman is one of my dearest friends, and I like what he is working on very much. I like living artists; I can go to his studio and curate from there. I like the experience of being part of the artist’s life; there is a full circle thing that happens. I like when I get to tell the artists that their work has sold and people are happy with it,  it encourages them to keep going. It’s a nice little cycle that we have at the Kristen Coates Gallery.”

Q: How do you choose which artists to showcase and sell?
A:
“I represent eight artists, I really represent them. I talk to them on the phone and critique their work and help them with promotion and branding; branding is a big thing for me. I was in fashion, and now I am in the art world. I understand the idea of having a business and wanting to support yourself in doing what you love. Working in New York City I have a good idea of how things should be presented and what beauty is, I would say that I have a much more personal approach to art. You should be able to live with it. Maybe that means having a sculpture on top of your piano or under your piano … the artists that I work with is all art that I believe in…

…I believe all the art will make a difference in the world, maybe not today but someday. If I don’t believe it, I can’t sell it.”

Q: Credentials?
A: “1. Do I already own this? Would I want to own this? Would I treasure it?
2. It has to be something someone picks up that they can’t find elsewhere – something that they have to buy right now. It is not just completely ordinary things; they are one of a kind or handmade pieces.

Q: So, generally speaking, you believe that art should be accessible?
A: “The reason why I don’t have a gallery in New York is because my ethos is that: original art should be accessible. You can buy an original piece of art in my store for $20, literally $20. Last year when I looked at opening a gallery in New York (to afford the overhead), I would have had to quadruple the price at least. I like the idea that someone my age can purchase a piece of art for $500 and hang it in their house and know that they have an original piece of art. I have a lot of clients that have grown with me over the years; it is much more organic and natural process for me than walking into SoHo and slapping paintings on a white box gallery and selling it for $20,000. Newport is so important to me because I can still get clientele from New York. I develop relationships with people very easily, I have a lot of friends who started out as clients.”

Q: You have transitioned from Egg and Dart and are now just representing your brand. What’s the story?
A: “It was a year ago that I went from having a business partner and the name was Egg and Dart and now it’s just Kristen Coates which is a lifestyle brand … it’s just so different and I think focusing on my job is my favorite thing right now, it feels good…

…We went in different directions; I had some major changes, one of those years that’s like .. rip it off like a band-aid! I am getting used to all of these things on my own. It is different, but it is better. The store is what I had envisioned from the beginning. Some people told me I should shut down my store after my partner and I split but it’s my baby so, I kept it.”

Q: Do you have a team?
A: “It is mostly me and I have a couple of people who help me out in the store who are my saviors. I feel so lucky to have the people around me that I do, Bowen’s Wharf is so supportive of my business. I went from being a two-person operation to restructuring the entire business. They told me that I bring value to the wharf, I can’t say enough good things about Bowen’s and my relationship to the landlord there. It is a beautiful place to go; it is open every day of the year with the exception of a few holidays. You see the owners literally in their stores or in their restaurants, and I feel very fortunate to be part of that community of Newport. There is really nowhere like Bowen’s Wharf. I couldn’t do all of this on my own; I feel like I have an amazing support system, especially after having a tumultuous 2015.”

Q: How would you explain, or define your gallery?
A: “It’s not just an art gallery or a house wears store, if you find something you love, and you’ll find something to match it eventually – it is a semblance of style. I was quoted somewhere, where it was too public, but I said that I didn’t care if anything sells in my store because I would just keep it! I do love everything in my store so much that I would want to own it myself.”

Q: Any big plans for the gallery?
A:
“If I want to, I repaint the interior and change it up. Every three to six months I do something different. I will rearrange art, rearrange furniture, it just depends on how I feel.

I have this idea which I don’t think I will ever be allowed to do … I want to serve coffee in my store. I feel that my store would be the best place to pop in and have coffee and sell flowers. It’s an idea that I hope to have been a real thing, mostly in the off season. There are a couple of places in New York that are doing it now. I don’t understand the business dynamic around it or if it is profitable but my boyfriend is wonderful with numbers so we are trying to figure out if it can happen.

You always have to have a goal or a dream!”

Kristen Coates is my new female-real life-superhero-idol, catch some inspiration at her shop Bowen’s Wharf and be amazed. She can also decorate and design your entire house if you let her.

“I become obsessed with an idea until it is a reality. I think that’s why people think I am successful or bossy because I don’t take no for an answer.”

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