Happy Pride Month, Yelpers! Each June, celebrations around the world commemorate the Stonewall riots of 1969, a pivotal moment in the fight for LGBTQ equality. Just as these events honor the struggles and advances of the gay rights movement, Yelp would like to celebrate how businesses with queer connections have shaped the cities that they call home. Follow along all month as we profile some of North America’s top LGBTQ small business owners, all Yelper approved.
Las Vegas, NV is definitely known to be a transient city full of tourists and locals. What you might not know is that it’s becoming a hub for international and local artists as the city grows. Vanessa Skye, owner of Skye Art Gallery, was drawn to the magic of the desert and knew she wanted to continue her passion in the art world to educate people, help artists, meet interesting people, and make a difference.
Vanessa was born in Peru and came to US to study art. To be an artist, the commitment to your craft is a fierce one and although she knew she wanted to work in the art world, she was drawn to working with people rather than committing 8-12 hours in the studio each day. After studying Art History in New York and working in museums she worked in her first gallery and become hooked. She found her niche.
Back in 2011, Vanessa came to visit a friend in Las Vegas and realized she was missing out on life in NY. Vegas was friendlier, city was growing rapidly, and there were lots of opportunities for new and exciting things. She wanted to build something that didn’t exist. Because she was enchanted by the city and the magic of the dessert, Vegas was a natural fit for her. She even volunteered to help create Fiesta Las Vegas where she did art exhibition to educate the community with Latin American Artists.
Vanessa was inspired and motivated by her wife, whom she met while she was vacationing in Las Vegas. Her dream to own a gallery was born because of her. She saw her passion and encouraged her to take the leap. The gallery is thriving in the beauty of the Forum Shops and carries 11 different artists from all over the world. What excites her about the gallery is that 80% of clients have never purchased art before. Their price points are affordable, approachable, and for average people. “People think art is only for special people with a lot of money and it’s not true. Art is for everyone.”
So Vanessa, how do you support the local LGBTQAI community?
For the gallery, I always choose talent first. I am working with The Center to offer workshops for LGBTQAI artists. I want to help them have the answers on how to take next steps to take their art out of the studio. I also work as much as possible with other local organizations.
Are there any Pride events happening around Vegas this month that you’re excited about?
June is so hot in Las Vegas! Since the celebration here is in October, it’s a good opportunity to go out and go to other pride celebrations. I’m heading back to NY for the Pride Parade. The celebrations in Las Vegas are still growing and many organizations do different things. Our parade is small but it gets better every year.
What other local businesses do you love supporting?
I really enjoy The Phoenix. Gay bars in Las Vegas come and they go. The Phoenix is a great combination of men and woman. They host women events and the food is great. The have really cool people working there. I feel like it’s my responsibility to show up and support these places. I just show up. If I don’t, who else will? It’s my responsibility.
Any advice for others out there in the community who’d like to start their own business?
Get a mentor.
Find something you are really passionate about because you’re spending countless hours in it. Enjoy the process. Adjust and make changes quickly in the first year being open. You have something in mind, a vision, but a lot of things are going to come your way. You need to be quick to adjust to see growth. Get a mentor! There is a lot of wisdom that people get from experience. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel.