As an avid art collector and world traveler, Melanie Coleman dedicated many of her travels to finding unique, artisan-made creations. While visiting Alaska with her daughter, Melanie decided to act on her lifelong dream of creating a gallery space in the Kansas City area which showcases the talent of artists who are committed to the purity of their craft. In 2011, Melanie opened TallulahBelle’s LLC, a gallery of wearable art and other fine crafts which feature approximately 75 artists.
With more than 25 years of corporate finance experience, Melanie understood the importance of preparation. She wrote a detailed business plan for TallulahBelle’s, and she engaged the services of the Kansas Small Business Development Center (KSBDC) at the Johnson County Community College to evaluate the feasibility of her gallery concept.
“The KSBDC offers real-world, practical business advice. Their knowledge and expertise helped me reach informed decisions. The KSBDC helped propel my business forward,” said Ms. Coleman.
The SBDCs are partially funded by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and provide a vast array of technical assistance to small businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs. SBDCs provide services through professional business advisors such as: development of business plans; manufacturing assistance; financial packaging and lending assistance; exporting and importing support; disaster recovery assistance; procurement and contracting aid; market research services; aid to 8(a) firms in all stages; and healthcare information.
Melanie met with KSBDC consultant, Elisa Waldman, on a regular basis to review financial projections and brainstorm site selection. Although Melanie had a clear vision of the gallery space and its purpose, Melanie relied on the KSBDC to challenge her assumptions, suggest additional resources, and provide candid feedback.
“TallulahBelle’s provides a differentiated customer experience which is as unique as the art we showcase. At Tallulahbelle’s, exceptional customer service is combined with passion and purpose to create a memorable customer experience,” said Ms. Coleman.
After almost two years in business, TallulahBelle’s mission has expanded to include not only support of independent artists but also enhancement of the Kansas City community through art. Melanie was honored as the 2013 Woman of the Year by the American Women’s Business Association.
Melanie explains that “our vision for TallulahBelle’s is to tell the story of each artist, so that when you make a purchase, you’ve acquired much more than a piece of art, you’ve been touched and inspired by someone’s life and passion.”
Creating this connection has allowed TallulahBelle’s to fulfill Melanie’s lifelong dream of providing local access to extraordinary works of art.
TallulahBelle’s is located at 5255 W. 116th Place, Leawood, Kansas 66211.