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Success Story: Alex Harper ’19

Her idea for Women of Culture went from passion project to thriving business.

An Idea Forms

In late 2015, Alex Harper MA ’19 needed a change. While working as a Packaging Designer on consumer healthcare products at a Fortune 500 company, she yearned to connect with other creative women and with different forms of creative expression. That’s when her passion project, Women of Culture, came to life.

“Women of Culture was born out of a personal desire for an increased sense of belonging, community, and connection to the arts,” she says.

She always had a knack for event planning and bringing people together. She took those skills a step further by creating a membership organization that brings together professional women to connect socially through art-based events.

“It was somewhat natural for me to try doing that on a larger scale—carefully curating cultural experiences for a wider network of women to experience together.”

From Passion to Planning

Three years later, Harper’s effort was gaining traction, but she struggled with moving Women of Culture from passion project to profitable business. That’s when she turned to the Entrepreneurship in the Arts MA program.

“I didn’t have a business plan, or any plans for that matter, and the Entrepreneurship in the Arts program changed that by helping me to clarify my mission and vision. It gave me the structure I needed to solidify my business plan and take steps toward turning my side hustle into my main hustle.”

She chose this program over an MBA or Arts Administration program for its practicality.

“The Purchase program felt far more applicable to what I wanted to do and seemed to offer the real-world, hands-on approach I was looking for.”

Facing Down Challenges

While the pandemic has posed challenges, Harper has employed creativity and resourcefulness. “In response, I created an online women’s circle called the Sisterhood of Discovery and started leading (COVID-safe) art, culture, and history walking tours of different NYC neighborhoods,” she says.

“The community and membership continue to grow slowly, and I am finally able to dedicate the majority of my time to the business.”

The arts can often be a “hard sell” for some, especially during the pandemic, but Harper’s love for what she does keeps her moving forward.

“Planning and curating art-based experiences is my form of creative expression,” she says.

“I love coming up with new and different ways to engage the Women of Culture community, help them discover new art, artists, and perspectives, facilitate meaningful connections and build community ties, all while seeking to support and elevate the arts in their many forms.”

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Harper grew up in East Dorset, VT and earned a BA in Advertising and AAS in Graphic Design.