"A HUMBLE BEGINNINGS" Elena Bulatova in Vegas Circle Interview
Paki & Chris invite the International Artist and Owner of Elena Bulatova Fine Art (Elena Bulatova) to join the CIRCLE for Episode 92.
Vegas Circle: How does your husband feel about your business and having your name on it? Just curious as a sidetrack for a second, does he like that? Does he like having the name on the three different locations and studios?
Elena Bulatova: Yeah, he likes it. I’m so fortunate with him. I’m so lucky how he supports me as a business woman. In Russia, I felt like it was just so much harder generally to do business as a woman, but being here - I feel so much support from him, and just in general from the community. Being a young woman, they take you seriously. And all of our clients, many of them, take you seriously. It is amazing if you are able and you are knowledgable and you are hardworking… then you are able to achieve a lot in this country! I am grateful to be in the US. You can live your American dream here!
Vegas Circle: That’s a great husband to have that support and that business together.
Elena Bulatova: We do it together. We are responsible for two different parts of the business. I think I am the brain and he is the motor. We would not be able to grow the business so far, without each other. I am all about strategy, my head is in the clouds, while he is going and grinding it everyday. He is a hard worker, but without my big vision, we may not have come this far. Without him pushing and grinding every day, especially in the beginning, I would still be in my dreams.
Vegas Circle: You have to make it work.
Elena Bulatova: Yeah, it is an amazing partnership.
Vegas Circle: With us being a business podcast, I am very interested in the selling side of the business and how that works? For example, do you collaborate with them where you have to pay a fee to hang their painting and then once it sells, or are there multiple different avenues?
Elena Bulatova: There are different models really. For example, there is the classical gallery and how it works. Say there is a gallery owner, they don’t create art, but they find artists and showcase them, then they would split probably 50/50. But for us, this model didn’t really work that much. An art gallery isn’t really a business where you’re going to become a multi-millionaire. It's actually a difficult business. Because art is a luxury, it's not a necessity, so even taking this 50%, artists they do good, but then there are a lot of expenses: the rent, the employees, so you don’t stay with much. So the reason why we were so successful is because we were producing our art. So we didn’t have to give away 50%. It was much more forgiving so if we would make mistakes, and everyone makes mistakes, we were able to stay afloat and keep growing. And yeah production is a lot, plus you need to market yourself and grow. We were able to self-fund.
Vegas Circle: For me, that’s one thing about being an artist right is the scalability, right? There is a production limit that you can essentially output.
Elena Bulatova: I will comment on that too, we are still very productive, Efi does almost 10 lines of different art. I started with abstracts, and I thought I wanted to grow as an artist so I thought why don’t I create a sculpture, a small sculpture. Then I realized with the art world, you don’t have to create everything by yourself with your hands. I still do all the abstracts by myself, but with sculpture you come up with a concept and then you have people do it for you. Then I ventured into large scale sculpture- which you really need assistance.
Vegas Circle: Yes, I saw your pieces, you do.
Elena Bulatova:You really need to produce a variety of art because our collectors, what our great advantage is, with our gallery is that we offer a large variety that really compliments each other. We could do a whole project, decorate a whole house, or a big project, and it will be a variety of styles - almost like different people did it - but it looks amazing together.
Vegas Circle: Sure, yeah. How does the marketing process work, because you feel like if you are marketing the piece, doing social media, or running ads, but to be a place like the Crystals, how do you market being there in that facility as well as fine art realm?
Elena Bulatova: Well, I did a lot of business training. Every year you learn more and more. Being at the Shops at Crystals is beneficial, it’s like - The Face - but really you have to build multiple streams of revenue. So we work with interior designers, we work with builders. For example, in the Vu Project, here at McDonald Highlands, we did the whole thing, and then we get customers who buy homes and we help them. You need to look at who is your ideal customer and then put artwork in front of them. Of course at Shops at Crystals, there is our customer. But then, who buys our art? It’s a lot of new homeowners. Then we want to partner with say, real estate brokers. We stage a lot of multi-million dollar homes. The people who buy a house that costs 10 million, it’s not their first house, it's their second or third home and they don’t have time to decorate it. So if they already like how we staged it with the art, then they will just get it as is. So you need to always look at multiple streams of revenue. One location is not enough. You need to go out, social media is another strategy, or I have a lot of art in Hollywood shows. We build a lot of things.
Vegas Circle: That makes sense to have those connections and collaborations with real estate brokers and interior designers.
Elena Bulatova: It is great advice for any business. You cannot just rely on one stream because we were seeing things happen. Covid happened and stores closed. You have to diversify and find other ways to diversify and move products.
Vegas Circle: I love your and your husband's mindset on everything. I’ve got a two-part question for you; what advice would you give somebody who maybe has a challenge getting their art out on the market? And the second part of that is - somebody that wants to get in their own business, they might be scared to do that, so what would you tell them?
Elena Bulatova: Okay well let’s start with somebody who wants to get their art out. First of all, you need to get serious about how much art you want to get out of because in America what statistics I saw is a lot of artists and most of them do less than 1,000 dollars a year from their art. So yes, you can do it as a hobby, but they cannot make a living off of it, so they have to have a secondary job, like the main job actually. So I believe that starting small and just growing from there, like how I did, because if you can grow and it really works out, then you can go from there. You have to be persistent and produce a lot of things and just get out to any possibilities where you can showcase art. That’s what I did. There are a lot of opportunities really, but you have to work hard to get it out. I remember waking up at 4AM to go to weekend shows. I was very tired, I wanted to sleep, and it was so cold, but I went out and did it. This is before I had any galleries. In another interview, I remember Efi woke me up and said Elena this is an opportunity to be on TV, you have to get up and go. In San Diego, there was a show, and I was so tired, but I went because it was free publicity. So I took everything that came my way, I just took everything. That’s what everybody should do. You just need to work hard on this. And then the second question, if you want to start a business, any business, well from my experience, I wanted to start a business many times and I failed. Again if you want it, you will get there. Be persistent. I will give a great example, even if you fail and fail you still need to keep trying. If you see a kid and he is trying to learn to walk, and he keeps falling, you’re not going to give up on him, because he is going to get it eventually, you know? So yes you have to just keep pushing.
Vegas Circle: Just to transition a little bit, we always ask our guests about restaurants in Las Vegas, and you and your husband are world travelers. What is your favorite restaurant in Vegas?
Elena Bulatova: Living on the strip is actually great. We live above Mastro’s so it’s a nice ambiance, it’s light and not super noisy, kid-friendly. I love Catch, in Aria, as well. I just recently tried Delilah, finally because for a couple of months I wanted to get in, but I was traveling with babies, whatever. So it was great. Anything around Cosmopolitan is great, Zuma is great there. Mott 32 in the Venetian is a really great concept. It’s an Asian vibe, but what’s special about them is they serve Peking duck. You cannot order it, you have to preorder in advance. A very interesting and sustainable concept - they don’t want to waste food so they want you to preorder things in advance so this way they already know what people will order. Of course, we came, we didn’t preorder, we didn’t get this Peking duck. But still, it was really interesting. There are a bunch of other places I like too.
Vegas Circle: Mastro’s I like, Mastro’s you’re right about kids, and the desert. It's like a butter cake, that’s awesome.
Elena Bulatova: What other fish restaurant? Milos is amazing. It was in Cosmopolitan and they moved to the Venetian. They are amazing. We are so fortunate in Las Vegas to have the best of the best. I was just in Chicago at the original Bavette, then we tried Bavette’s here, in the hotel close to Aria.
Vegas Circle: I love all the ones you said. I haven’t heard of the Mott 32 at the Venetian and I’m gonna have to check that one out, so what else have you concentrated on for this year, and coming up next year?
Elena Bulatova: So we actually are gonna grow our online sales and we are creating a lot of content to entertain our viewers. We are going for 5 months to Miami. So I got a lot of offers to open a gallery there, we have a lot of collectors there. We are going for inspiration, it’s an amazing market, so we will be traveling and getting more inspiration. I told you I want to focus more on the creative side. I want to create more amazing art and sculptures and I need to rest a little bit, postpartum. I have a seven-month-old baby.
Vegas Circle: Oh yeah, so you can relax, especially being on the water you can relax for sure. It’s an absolute pleasure to have you on. You have a great mind and your husband, I look forward to meeting him in the future. What are your social handles so people can reach out to you guys.
Elena Bulatova: Instagram, @elenabulatovafineart, and my personal @elenabulatova_
Vegas Circle: Yeah that’s how my wife found you, you have some great content and it was an absolute pleasure to have you on.
Elena Bulatova: Thank you guys, it was a fun conversation and the ability to share our story.