Behind The Business: Where Creativity And Culture Combine

by Alexandra Jones Alexandra Jones   |   September 10, 2020   |   Share this:  

The Institute for Creative Exchange – Americas, or ICE, is a non-profit organization that brings together artists, academics, cultural practitioners, and writers in a creative way. What makes ICE so unique is their focus on international exchanges, a concentration that allows practitioners from the various disciplines to develop stronger connections with artists in other countries. Essentially, their organization seeks to support art distribution across the globe.

In 2016, ICE established programs at the University of Toronto, museums, cultural institutions, and government entities to help artists expand their creative skills and build bonds with their peers overseas. One of their core beliefs encompasses the idea that exchanging visions and opinions between artists from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines allows members to tap into alternative methods of communication and tell the world something new.  

Digital Main Street ShopHERE Program powered by Google Graduate, The Institute for Creative Exchange
Ximena Berecochea, one of the founders of ICE- Americas

Recently, ICE wanted to start an online store to make some of their artists’ award-winning photography works available to the public at affordable prices. As a way to fund business activities the idea seemed promising, but when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, their business and operating model were challenged. International mobility is difficult at the best of times, and keeping a photography gallery felt unsustainable, so when the founders heard about the ShopHERE Powered By Google Program, they knew they had a great opportunity in front of them. 

“Moving our business and operational model into the digital space gave us a renovated impulse and expanded our market” said Salvador, one of ICE’s founders.

The step-by-step nature of the program was something both founders were quite impressed with too, mentioning that they were also pleased because ShopHERE allowed new distribution opportunities with minimum risk. While it was challenging to re-shape their business model to include a heavier digital focus, they found the results of the program to be rewarding as it allowed them to rethink the way they saw their work. Additionally, as an international organization, they sought to update their languages to better respond to their consumers- changes that ShopHERE helped them configure.

Digital Main Street ShopHERE Program powered by Google Graduate, The Institute for Creative Exchange
Salvador Alanis, one of the founders of ICE- Americas

In addition to the ‘quick and painless’ setup that ShopHERE helped facilitate, the founders also made a comment on their sales:

“We started to get sales in the first week, something we never imagined was going to happen. Our store is visited from different countries and the feedback is really positive.”

The founders are continuing to work hard since completing the program, perfecting product propositions, designs, pricing, and variety. They hope to expand to include even more products and services in the future. Overall, their experience helped lessen the impact the restriction of in-person activities had on their business, and are continuing to thrive in their new digital environment.

It’s important now more than ever to support small or local businesses, so if you or someone you know is interested in getting started, check out the ShopHERE Program for more information. Also, be sure to check out the ICE site here, get connected, and browse their brilliant collection of artist photography.

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