Dori Desautel Broudy photographed by Ivory Tree Portraits.
As a network of more than 3,000 small businesses, we’re paying close attention to how they’re faring in an age of stay-at-home orders and social distancing. In an effort to stay connected to our TSG community and share their stories, we’re “catching up with” different business owners every week to hear about their challenges, learn how they’re coping, and find out how they’re spending their time at home. Today, we’re checking in with Philadelphia, Pennsylvania-based Dori Desautel Broudy, a lawyer-turned-artist with a lifelong creative streak whose work—available through her “Gallery of Good,” which donates a portion of proceeds to charity—is meant to inspire people to pause and celebrate childhood, family, and friendship. Here, she discusses her current projects, finding joy in doing random acts of kindness, and continuing to engage with local businesses professionally and personally.
What’s your business up to right now?
The Gallery of Good has been bustling (and yes, I’ve taken many a moment to reflect with gratitude). The website underwent a major spring cleaning—planned pre-pandemic—to highlight the newest additions to my portfolio, which include stand-alone acrylic blocks, canvas, and acrylic conversions of my work, and to provide an even more seamless purchasing experience. Also included is an introduction to each category in my words (“So She Says”), which seeks to provide a better understanding of my process and the inspiration behind the work. No sooner did the website and related products take off than I began receiving countless demands for face masks customized with my artwork, which has been an incredibly demanding, fulfilling, and emotional proposition. My Gallery of Good donates a portion of every sale to charity, and with the current pandemic, COVID-19 recovery funds (local, state, and national) are a focus.
Your biggest challenge, professionally and/or personally:
The biggest challenge personally is not being able to see and hug people that I love—my parents, my sister and her family, my best friends—and watching my children miss their friends so, so terribly as well. This struggle, however, is countered with the blessings of having met so many new people, and by appreciating the time I have with loved ones more than ever.
A lack of control over the present circumstances is both unsettling and liberating at the same time; I love (and hate) the fact that there isn’t a remotely comparable set of prior events to help guide us. Instead, we have to draw from our collective experiences, rise to the occasion, and be the best versions of ourselves to lift one another up. We’re already getting there.
What’s bringing you joy:
My joy comes from observing the joy of others. I love to surprise strangers with an act of kindness. If I’m at the grocery store, for example, I try to purchase a plant or some flowers for the person behind the register and hand it to them on my way out. Finding a way to surprise our kids when birthday parties, play dates, special road trips just aren’t possible has been really tricky (solution: new puppy). Cheering up friends and neighbors for whom this experience is wearing thin (solution: being a good listener and sticking blank cards in their mailboxes). Staying close to loved ones when we can’t physically get close (solution: surprise care packages). Helping local businesses thrive (solution: listening, sharing ideas, and offering help).
Perhaps not surprisingly, figuring out new technology (particularly when it’s being temperamental) does not bring me joy.
What you’re watching/reading/listening to:
I fall asleep around 8:30 each night—as a mother to three children in primary school learning virtually, I need to be attentive just about around-the-clock, so I’m pretty tuckered by the day’s end. I’m listening to the conversations my kids are having with their teachers during Morning Meetings. I’m reading words of encouragement from friends and strangers who are finding joy in my work and comfort in our commonality. I’m watching the people around me rise to an occasion no one could prepare for. (Incidentally, I’m also watching Vanderpump Rules; it’s a guilty pleasure I’m never going to apologize for.)
Your go-to snack:
I drink a couple of protein shakes each day as a substitute for what I really want: a cannoli at Di Bruno Bros. But in a pinch, there’s nothing a spoon, some peanut butter, and Nutella can’t fix.
Your favorite family activity:
Family activities include multiple, daily visits to the trampoline. I’m proud to report that I can jump like a Pointer Sister.
The local businesses/services you’re using this week:
I’m thrilled that I’m able to continue supporting several of my vendors and retail partners. Marathon Printing & Graphics in Philadelphia is open for business; I’ve just launched works available at Di Bruno Bros. (another Scout Guide member) in-store and for curbside pick-up. I’ve also been meeting with local companies about the production of beautiful, high-quality face masks in and around Philadelphia: Baldwin Designs and Fabrics in Philadelphia and Playprint in Darby. And my family is eating delicious, nourishing foods well beyond my capabilities because of Di Bruno Bros. (note: this has been my resource since well before COVID-19).