Those of you who know artist Sherri Reeve would probably agree that she puts the “S” in serendipity. I’m not certain what is more serendipitous–how I first met Sherri, or the events that led to her becoming the success that she is today.
I first became acquainted with Sherri through a surprise phone call one day. “Hi Courtney, this is Sherri Reeve,” she said. “You may know of me, I own an art gallery in Makawao.”
Probably not your first guess, but Sherri was calling to set me up on a blind date with her ex-boyfriend. I politely declined. But I decided I had to meet the vivacious woman behind the phone call. And so it was that Sherri’s chance phone call blessed me with not a boyfriend, but an endearing friendship.
Sherri just has a way of connecting people. Take, for example, Sherri’s colorful array of T-shirts which greets you as you enter the Sherri Reeve Gallery. Wear one of these shirts and you may single-handedly reduce global interconnectedness from six to two degrees of separation.
“I’m always touched by the stories I hear about my clients introducing themselves to one another because one of them is wearing my shirt,” Sherri told me.
On your next visit to the gallery, be sure to ask Sherri what prompted her to start carrying her artwork on shirts. Don’t be surprised if she answers with a story about a letter she mailed from Boston to Oahu in 1986 that mysteriously reappeared in a ravine in Waiehu four years later.
The letter was written to a friend who would eventually become a buyer at Liberty House and take on Sherri’s first line of shirts. Sherri’s first three shirts would then go national and have record sales.
“This opportunity provided me with product to sell at the local craft fairs along with my posters and greeting cards,” she said. “I now had enough product lines with paintings, greeting cards and t-shirts to provide jobs for members of my family in sales and warehousing, and the venue to start creating a product base for my first catalog… which ultimately was a big part of my being able to open my own store.”
Looking back, Sherri sees that letter as divine intervention. “There’s no other explanation for it,” she told me. “It’s too crazy!”
Still, Sherri insists that her success was not overnight. It was years spent painting at night and on weekends, pursuing the craft show circuit, and marketing herself as an artist that created the canvas for divine intervention to paint upon.
Sherri remembers well the days she spent pacing Front Street in Lahaina, portfolio in hand. “Before this success happened, I was in my eighth month of pregnancy, and broke,” she said. “I really like saying that because it lets other artists know that I started with meager beginnings. I didn’t just start out with where I am now. A lot of people walk in and say, ‘Wow she’s been so successful.’ I’m a 15-year overnight success. It’s been years in the making.”
And then there’s the support of Sherri’s ohana—her mother, sisters, niece, daughter and friend Eloise Miranda.
“It’s been seven years,” Miranda told me. “A long history. I’ve outlasted most of her boyfriends! Working for Sherri has been a great opportunity. I feel like part of the family. We take the time to share this aloha with our customers.”
Makana Doyle, Sherri’s niece who manages SReeve Designs, spoke with me about working with Sherri.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity to learn from my aunt who is an excellent example of entrepreneurship and creative vision,” she said.
And, if I might add, of matchmaking gone blissfully awry and serendipity in the making. MTW