LatinX entrepreneur growing the business of art.
On a Thursday evening in mid July after enjoying the music and food festivities of Bastille Day in Nyack, NY, I was invited to take a stroll over to the tiniest most amazing chocolate shop hidden away from the main street, but still super busy late at night.
Named Adams Chocolate after owner Adam, I was informed by a friend that he makes incredible chocolates, as well as hot cocoa, coffee and cappuccinos.
I opted for a late night cappuccino and while waiting for my it to to be lovingly made, I checked out the fun vintage décor within the store.
High up on a wall, I spotted a beautiful piece of art that I asked Adam about. It turns out that his friend, muralist (another Adam),
Adam Hernandez is a Bronx born native who moved to Columbus, Ohio and is continuing his passion for art as a business.
I decided to check his work out on Instagram and immediately fell in love with the style and color of his work. Being a native Ohioan myself and having family in the Columbus area, I felt the need to contact him to discuss how he turned this incredible talent into a business.
On our Friday morning interview, Hernandez and I get acquainted; he tells me that his family is Puerto Rican and he grew up as a typical Nuyorican kid that didn’t learn Spanish.
He jokes that he thinks his parents used Spanish in their tiny Bronx 2-bedroom apartment as a way to have an adult conversation without he and his brothers being a part of it.
He also feels that at the time of their growing up, his parents wanted to make sure that he and his siblings grew up fitting in and speaking English.
Now he tries to practice more and speak it whenever he can. In hindsight, his parents wish that they would have grown up speaking the language with Adam and his siblings. I share with Adam that this is a similar experience that I had growing up and not learning how to speak Spanish fluently.
Hernandez and Adam, of Adam’s Chocolate actually went to Nyack College together where Hernandez says he was a bit of a rebellious kid and got kicked out of the strict Christian school.
In the time he was at the college, he met a lot of other great people whom he made friends with including a girl from Ohio. He dated her, and followed her back to Ohio. Although they are no longer together, Hernandez fell in love with the slower pace and way of life of Columbus.
He calls it a great “small big city” with nightlife, a great art scene, great music, but as he says “if you want to lay back and be chill, you can drive 20 minutes and be in the woods taking hikes”.
He remembers when he first decided to make the move to Ohio, people asked him what in the world he was thinking, there’s nothing out there, and he did wonder to himself– “What if they’re right? What will I do”. He admits today that he finds Columbus pretty awesome.
Adam tells me that after he got kicked out of Nyack College while he was still quite young, he worked a number of odd jobs, from sauté cook at a fine dining establishment to working at a carnival manning the rides.
Hernandez who has always loved and created art since he was a child, credits his grandfather who was a self taught oil painter as inspiring him. At around the age of 25, something clicked in Hernandez when he sold his first piece of art at his first Columbus art show.
Adam says the thought went through his head… “What? People will pay me for this?” and that got the ball rolling and he’s been pursuing his ambition ever since.
Supplementing his income
Hernandez says that he had been supplementing his income doing odd jobs in the studio of the largest on-line magic retailer, based in Columbus.
One day, the company asked if he could operate a camera and do some video editing. He decided to say yes and that is what he has been doing for the last 3 years for additional income, but Hernandez says this has been the most successful year for him so far and he hasn’t been able to do both his art and have an additional job.
In the past couple of months, his business has picked up enough to keep him busy doing what he loves.
He says this is particularly the busiest time of the year for projects. He feels that he may need to pick up another job again to hold him over during the winter as things tend to slow down. That’s the typical cycle of work him. He hopes that he can get things to continue successfully so that he can solely focus on his art full time.
As a creative entrepreneur, I asked Adam some questions about how he manages his business and key points to share with aspiring artists who want to follow in his footsteps.
Much of Adam’s commissioned artwork currently comes from his Columbus headquarters and the surrounding Midwest. I ask him how tries to gain new opportunities for more commissions.
Next page: More art, Two insights, An artist’s compensation