Women's Business Center at ODU Business Gateway

ACV Entrepreneur Workshops

 Invoking Art As Business Wednesday, October 7, 2015 at The Slover Library, Norfolk, VA 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.


  • $45 Earlbird registration deadline EXTENDED TO September 28
  • $65 Regular registration as of September 29

Registration fee includes light morning refreshments & lunch.  Advance registration by close of business, October 5


Contact Erika Small-Sisco with any questions:  757-683-7150, or email her at esmallsi@odu.edu

SPECIAL GUEST SPEAKER: Diane Sulg, president of CRAFT (Craft Retailers and Artists for Tomorrow) and founder/co-chair of American Craft Week

A maven and connector  of all things artistic, Diane specializes in promoting and helping artists as they take their talents to new levels of excellence and visiblity.  She is president of CRAFT (Craft Retailers and Artists for Tomorrow) a trade organization for retailers who specialize in American, handmade products and the professional artists who create them. In addition, founder and co‐chair of American Craft Week, a national event designed to spotlight handmade craft. Recently, owner of Maddi’s Gallery with two locations in the Charlotte, NC area, Diane specialized in artisan craft, and in 2009 was named the TOP Retailer of American Craft in the US by Niche Magazine. Diane is the founder and former executive director of Quad City Arts, a bi‐state arts agency serving 34 communities in eastern Iowa and western Illinois. In that capacity, refurbished a vacant downtown department store to become the Quad City ArtsCenter. She developed a summer arts program for inner city teens (now in its twenty‐fifth year), the region’s first public arts program, and one of the nation’s very first arts districts in downtown Rock Island, Illinois. Diane is a festival specialist and founder of the Quad City’s Festival of Trees which is now in its 28th year and has raised more than six million dollars for the arts. Other events included one of the country’s largest helium balloon parades, a patriotic celebration with more than 500,000 attendees, a children’s festival, a wearable art festival and a folk art festival. Currently a consultant and speaker, Diane specializes in arts‐related topics including: the business of art, wholesaling and retailing art, developing community arts programs, festivals and organizations.

This special arts-entrepreneurial seminar is designed to invoke the power of your artistic energies and motivate you to take your business endeavors new heights.  Whether you are just starting out or are looking for a way to infuse new energy into your arts-business, this seminar is for you!  

2D and 3D artists, artisans, musicians, photographers, and performers are encouraged to take time out of their studios and busy schedules to make time to attend this exciting “jump start” event.  Designed for artists, this is not your typical business seminar; be ready for creative engagement with time woven in for making valuable connections with other area artists and artisans.

You are invited to bring one (1) piece of your work for display during the day of the the seminar. You won’t want to miss this Pop-Up Art Show opportunity to showcase your work and see that of other artists/artisans in the region.  In order to be included in you must arrive with your work and applicable easels/display props by 8:30 a.m.   Tables will be available for display.


Community Welcome:  Debra Burrell,  Arts Manager for the City of Norfolk, part of the Bureau of Cultural Affairs and the Department of Cultural Facilities, Arts and Entertainment. The Norfolk Commission on the Arts and Humanities is the largest city arts and culture grantor in the Hampton Roads region, awarding general operating grants and project grants to 34 organizations this fiscal year.

Keynote:   Lessons from an Accidental Life (Diane Sulg):  Life doesn't always turn out the way we envision it. As a former history teacher and full-time mother, Diane Sulg loved the arts but never contemplated a career there. But now after thirty years as an arts festival director, arts council administrator, gallery owner, and champion of American craft, she shares some tips on making the most of your opportunities - some serious, some funny, but all true!

Jazz Up Your Digital Messaging To Get Noticed ( Kim Taylor Cash):  So you have a website, blog, Facebook page...how do you know people are actually noticing you, your art?  Discover how to develop a content marketing strategy to boost performance of your art business.   Learn the three most important strategies that you need to know in order to develop a core audience, and motivate them to patron your talents. The hands-on will be an exploration of the back door of WordPress and other web platforms as well as a look at various blog options. We would also spend some time looking at search engines and how they rank various words related to art and craft. Are you tagging?  You should be!

Got the Show – Now Where’s the Business? (Sue Henderson): A case study for “Loosely Local”, a fine art and photography exhibit by Sue Henderson. How are you tracking your customers and marketing efforts?   With a myriad of publicity options, how do you know what works?   Are you using all the free options available to you?    If you were asked “Where do your customers come from?” would you know? Using a recent experience promoting a fine art & photography exhibit in Fredericksburg, artist and event marketer Sue Henderson will explore a fresh perspective on marketing your art and programs.

Protecting Your Brand - Basics of Trademark Law (Justin Laughter, Esq):  Artists and artisans work relentlessly to provide quality services and products and to build their studio or business name in the community. This brand recognition fuels sales, growth, and stature.  Unfortunately, whether intentionally or inadvertently, other business owners may begin providing similar services in the market under a similar name.  Confusion caused by this use not only has the potential to siphon off business, but could even confuse customers into believing the quality of a brand has deteriorated. "Protecting Your Brand - Basics of Trademark Law" will provide an overview of trademark protection and enforcement. Attendees will have a better understanding of trademark rights and the steps necessary to protect those valuable rights.

Technology and Resources for Your Artistic Business (Sandy Ratliff):  Learn how today’s innovative technologies can help your business become more efficient, productive and profitable. This workshop is perfect for small businesses and organizations who are struggling to incorporate technology into their day to day operations. You will learn about mobile and social media marketing, cloud storage, mobile credit card processing, and equipment like smart phones, tablets and apps to increase productivity while on the go. 

Artists, Prepare to Sell to Virginia!  (Sandy Ratliff): Learn about Virginia’s purchasing marketplace where all of Virginia State Agencies, Colleges and Universities, as well as many Local Governments, post bidding opportunities, get quotes and place orders for goods and services.  Free to join, Sandy will break it down and show you how becoming an eVA Vendor registration gives you access to many free services and tools including automated placement on bidders list and email/fax notifications for business opportunities with Virginia State Agencies, Colleges and Universities, as well as many Local Governments.

The Language of Business (Crystal Sauls):  Explore the reason for being in business and the steps it takes to be a business.  Learn how to communicate your products and services to firms and individuals (marketing) as well as the need to be able to communicate this in different languages as Virginia braces itself for increased international visitors.  Find out about some of the agreements you may need to conduct business and the importance of customer service as you build your team and learn to work with the public.

How To Sell Your Art Effectivly (Bill & Virginia Watson):  Join artists and costume designers, Bill and Virginia Watson, who are the founders and driving force behind one of the most successful art-based businesses in their field.  Find out how to sell your artwork effectively! Learn the Five Simple Steps necessary to making a sale. From this seminar, you will go home armed with this easily learnable and effective tool to sell your art and become prosperous.

Artisan & Oyster Trail Round-Up (Sherri Smith): Join in on a lively discussion about how the Artisan Trail Network and Virginia Oyster Trail are synergistcally connecting communities all across the Commonwealth. Information on developing an Artisans Center of Virginia regional Artisan Trail, enrolling on an existing trail and strengthening community through collaborative trail development, will be available.

SPEAKER DETAILS (In alphabetical order)

Debra Burrell is Arts Manager for the City of Norfolk, part of the Bureau of Cultural Affairs, which is part of the Department of Cultural Facilities, Arts and Entertainment. The Norfolk Commission on the Arts and Humanities is the largest city arts and culture grantor in the Hampton Roads region, awarding general operating grants and project grants to 34 organizations this fiscal year. Debra has in-depth knowledge and experience in non-profit administration, including working on all four sides of the granting table: grantor, grantee, artist and audience. She and her husband have a small performing arts company, “Fuzz and Stuffing Puppets,” and they have produced and performed special educational puppet shows for a variety of organizations. 

Kim Taylor Cash is a lifelong Virginia native who spent eleven years spearheading a non-profit political watchdog group, specializing in rapid dissemination of information to a very diverse group to spur citizen involvement. Her interest in community organizing led to several volunteer and contract positions in environmental and natural resource protection. She has taught continuing education courses in marketing through social media at several Virginia community colleges for the Artisans Center of Virginia's Studio School.

Sue Henderson, after serving in the USAF as a Master Instructor of  Electrical Systems, Sue Henderson earned degrees in Music and Liberal Arts from Eastern Illinois University and began government service as a performing arts and recreation events planner overseas for 10 years.  She and her husband “retired” from DOD and moved to the Fredericksburg area in 1995. Sue has extensive background as an arts events planner locally including contracted service for Historic Fredericksburg Foundation, FAC, Fredericksburg SPCA, Fredericksburg Area Museum and Friends of the Rappahannock. She spent 10 years as a Vocal Director for Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines and several years with Riverside Dinner Theater. Sue continues to perform periodically in the region. Sue is a professional photographer and fine artist with ties to FCCA and Sophia Street Studios. She has studied under local artist Johnny Johnson for many years and continues to show in the region. She is a regular photo contributor to Front Porch Fredericksburg as well as other regional periodicals. Her fine art and photography are showcased in several area businesses and restaurants. For more information, visit her site at http://www.FocusbyHenderson.com  

Justin M. Laughter Esq., Threshhold Counsel, PC., is a business, intellectual property and entertainment attorney. His experience representing clients is wide‐ranging, including business structuring and operations, copyright and trademark protection and enforcement, internet law and private securities offerings. Laughter regularly counsels startups, makers and other creative entrepreneurs and actively serves in the nonprofit, creative, and entertainment community, recently Interim Executive Director of Virginians for the Arts. He is a Co‐Chair of Lawyers for the Arts, Board Member of C3: The Creative Change Center, Board Member of AMP! Metro Richmond, Board Member of OneVoice, and Board Member of Gallery5 (museum, art, and performance). Laughter is a voting member of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, known for its Grammy Awards and routinely speaks to community audiences, law students, and other professionals on legal topics. He is Co‐Founder of Educational Media Creations Company, LLC dba Silly Bus, an educational media company organized to help children feel confident, successful and happy while learning foundational components of elementary education.

Sandy Ratliff is a seasoned economic developer with over 25 years of experience serving the Commonwealth of Virginia. As the Business Services Manager for the Virginia Department of Small Business and Supplier Diversity in the agency’s Abingdon office which serves over 30 localities in Southwest Virginia, Ratliff works with new and expanding businesses to offer startup consulting, community support services, sales growth mentoring, finance counseling and business information assistance. She has lead the creation of several programs including the Enterprise Fair, Small Business Fundamentals Workshop Series, Social Media for Small Business, iPad for Business, iMarketing, Mobile Marketing, and Virginia’s signature business outreach program, the Entrepreneur Express Workshop, that has expanded to every part of the state linking start‐ups and existing businesses with resources needed for growth. Ratliff is a member of the Virginia Economic Developers Association, Mountain Empire American Red Cross Board of Directors, Bristol TN/VA Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, Chair Washington County Chamber of Commerce Small Business Committee and Virginia Business Incubation Association Board of Directors and resides in Abingdon, VA. She received the 2011 YWCA Tribute to Women award for her work in economic and community development.

Crystal Sauls started Sauls International (SI) in 2004, to provide translation, interpretation and training services for businesses.  In addition to 24/7 Telephonic interpretation and training services in over 200 languages, Sauls also provides American Sign Language Services, Communication Access Real Time Translation (CART) and IT services.  Services are offered to clients in the US and overseas. Sauls has been awarded by several national and local organizations including the Richmond Small Business Administration office. Sauls has been recognized and has articles in VCU’s alumni newsletter, VCU Fiscal Newsletter, Work Magazine, Key Awareness, Money Magazine and several others. 

Erika Small‐Sisco is the Program Manager with the Women’s Business Center (WBC) at Old DominionUniversity Business Gateway (ODUBG) where her mantra is to Inspire and Empower Women withInformation and Education to start and grow their businesses. She is a graduate of Hampton Universitywith a Master of Science Degree in Business Management and a professional development certificate inProject Management from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. Her passion for assisting small businesses began while working for Hampton University Business Assistance Center, leading her to becoming a business owner. She lends her first‐hand knowledge of the challenges and obstacles that one must overcome to make a business successful, and wants to use that experience to help empower the next generation of small business owners. In addition to being small business owner, Erika worked in the corporate world for over 20 years working with small businesses, public and private institutions of higher education, and non‐profit organizations to help them stay connected with their constituents and grow their client base. As a Project Manager for Bank of America she managed large scale marketing projects and in her role as Client Services Manager for a Small Virginia Business worked regional projects providing clients an array of solutions for internet, data, fundraising and print. Erika has served in many capacities in public and private business sectors, corporate and federal government.

Sherri L. Smith currently serves as the Executive Director of the Artisans Center of Virginia, yet has worked for over 25 years as a strategic planner, project manager and collaborative facilitator. Sherri is owner of The Genius Center, LLC, an online educational resource and Lander Creative, LLC, a consultancy dedicated to the establishment of trust‐based business cultures and the expansions of entrepreneurship, community collaborations, creative pursuits, and re‐thinking education. Sherri’s approach utilizes her targeted intuitive ability, practical skill‐based knowledge and vetted network of disciplined professionals to help her clients develop innovative strategies, brand positioning, dynamic messaging, market responsiveness, and strategic partnerships & joint ventures for success. Sherri serves a range of businesses: from corporate, education, the arts and social reform organizations to small businesses and individuals pursuing entrepreneurial and creative endeavors in the arts & entertainment industries.

Bill Watson, ACV Juried Virginia Artisan ‐ Leather & Owner of Potomac Leather, is an Artisans Center of Virginia Juried Artisan and the owner of Potomac Leather.With over 30 years experience in running two successful small craft and art related businesses, Watson has found a simple, yet highly workable business model for businesses of any size. Formally trained as a saddle‐maker, he worked in a number of saddle shops and has seen a lot of unworkable ways to run a business. In 1983, Watson decided to start his own business, and got trained in small business management and administration at the Celebrity Centre, an organization dedicated to helping artists with their careers. Applying this information to his new business, he has grown this small beginning of two people, one sewing machine and a card table desk, to two of the largest design and wearable art businesses in the Renaissance Festival circuit.

Virginia Watson, Fiber Artisan is the owner of Wolfstone Kilts and an award‐winning costume designer who has been designing and creating beautiful Renaissance and Medieval clothing for over 30 years. After her initial training in pattern‐making for clothing, she also trained under world famous boot maker and founder of Merrell Shoes, Randy Merrell. For a number of years she designed and made custom leather boots, handbags and leather garments in Potomac Leather Company, a company which she cofounded along with her husband, Bill Watson. After several trips to Scotland and England, studying every piece of historical clothing she could find in every museum from London to Edinburgh, she found her true calling making historical clothing and started a new company, Wolfstone Kilt Company. It has now been in business for nearly 20 years and has become one of the most successful clothing businesses for Renaissance clothing with enthusiastic fans and collectors the world over.

Stay Connected

Enter your email address:


Virginia Oyster Trail

Featured on NPR: "Why The Southeast Could Become The Napa Valley Of Oysters" (read more)

Visit VirginiaOysterTrail.com »

News & Updates

Bedford, Virginia releases Video Showcasing its Artisan Trail
ACV Celebrates the Inauguration of the Northern Neck Artisan Trail
Top of Virginia Artisan Trail Welcomes Clarke County in Collaborative Partnership
ACV Celebrates the Inauguration of the Smith River Artisan Trail
All News & Updates »

Calendar of Events

All Calendar Events »

Our Juried Artisans

Hoover, Pat

"Color excites me."
More »

Ligon, Judith

"Ligon Art/Wearable Art and More"
More »


Rothwell, Nan

"My pots meld early British studio pottery traditions with the influences of historical American functional salt ware."
More »

Ceramics:  Functional,

Crowe, Kevin

"My wood fired pots are objects for the rituals of daily life...making a quiet difference."
More »

Ceramics:  Functional,

All Juried Artisans »


Retail Partners & Affiliates