Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in fine arts but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Sonya Sparks, Owner and Curator of Sparks Gallery, located in San Diego, CA, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

Sparks Gallery exhibits and sells original Contemporary Artwork primarily by Southern California artists who innovate and provide excellent craftsmanship in a multitude of mediums. We match collectors with inspirational artwork so each space can tell a story. Our customers are art appreciators and/or collectors who are interested in elevating their space, are typically over age 30, have higher education, and are often affluent.

Tell us about yourself

When I was working a corporate job in online marketing, I began to have many health issues, and I was frustrated with the lack of options for upward mobility. I sat down with my mother over lunch one day. I explained to her how I did not feel like I was in the right place. She asked me, "If you could do anything, what would you do?" I responded, "Maybe start an art gallery." She smiled and said, "OK, then do it." I had studied art and business, so it was really an "a-ha!" moment for me, revealing the path before me. I opened the business in 2013 while we renovated our building to become ready to showcase art over the course of 2 years. I founded Sparks Gallery in 2013 to encourage the patronage of local artists, support local art groups and institutions, and educate the public about Southern California artists. We began to open the space up to hold events and now rent the space for special occasions.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

With many art galleries closing recently in San Diego, we find that we have a duty to continue the presence of creativity and imagination to support a thriving urban community. We are not only facilitators who help artists make a professional living but also educators for art in the community, with a welcoming, receptive environment to learn about our local art scene. I find great satisfaction in connecting a person to something beautiful that they will treasure for many years and potentially pass along to their families. Allowing the artists to leave a legacy and to be a part of that is wonderful. I feel most accomplished by satisfying that part of our mission statement.

What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?

I believe time management is one of the hardest things that come with owning a business. One must allocate enough time to keep the business on the right track while balancing life and health. I believe this is the hardest for me because I have to be the "CEO" of everything: my personal health journey, taking care of my family, as well as overseeing and being responsible for the business. I have many ideas and have to slow myself down to avoid burnout.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Find someone who has already started a business in the same community, and ask them to be your mentor to help start up your company.
  2. Have a Business Plan.
  3. Know your audience.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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