How One Entrepreneur is Bringing Art to You, Wherever You Are


If you’ve arrived at the stage in your company where you’ve officially moved into your own space, then you know that with the excitement (and ahem, bills) comes the stress of figuring out your brand aesthetic. Will you have an open-office floor plan or cubicles? A fun kitchen or bigger bathrooms? Conference rooms or corner offices?

And what about the artwork?

Imagine if you didn’t have to invest in expensive artwork but could still give your employees a glimpse into the world of some of the most influential artists in history. Thanks to Dot Bustelo, the founder and CEO of Loupe, you can. What’s Loupe? A technology and sales company that allows its customers to stream artwork from around the globe. You can also guest-curate your own gallery via your Apple TV or by webstreaming. Love a piece so much that you want to own a print - or the original? You can do that, too.

With the online art market valued at $2.64 billion in 2016, Bustelo has definitely tapped into something - and people are paying attention. Since its inception, Loupe has reached the coveted top position for ‘Lifestyle App’ on Apple TV in 35 countries, and is in the top ten in 75 countries.

Here, Bustelo talks about her background, what’s next and what she wish she knew before becoming an entrepreneur:

What’s your background? Have the arts always been part of your life?

I worked at Apple for many years on the Worldwide Product Marketing Team. My role was to travel around the country introducing Apple’s professional music software, Logic Pro, and music production techniques to world touring bands, DJs and producers.

Dot Bustelo Courtesy of Affixmusic

I am also a long-time electronic music producer myself and started my career in music equipment sales, which all led to this role at Apple. The vision of Loupe was born while working in the music industry, spending long hours in recording studios, and constantly looking for visual inspiration to support the creative energy in the room.

So cool. Have you always found art to be relaxing?

For as far back as I can remember, I’ve sought out environments where I could quiet the mind, be in a zone to relax, be comfortable, and most of all, be inspired. Dim the lights, enjoy some candles, add one blue light and pour the right beverage, and it'll create the zone and ambience in my studio to work on music.

I’d often turn on old 1940s movies without the sound – movies that starred Cary Grant, Gregory Peck, Audrey Hepburn, Lana Turner or my other favorite directors of visuals sci-fi. For around an entire year, I left ANIMATRIX running with no sound. It always amazed me how well these great images fit with whatever music was playing, and how much people who visited enjoyed the atmosphere.

I began thinking about the over 120 million people streaming music at home, and what they were doing with their TVs. And I thought about the technology of streaming music, which has become the accepted norm. Why not apply this technology to visual art?

What was the moment when you knew you had to be an entrepreneur?

I honestly never had that moment. I had only a vision of something I saw clearly that I wanted to exist, and that was contagious. A team of creative and talented people emerged around that idea and myself.

What was the moment you knew you were onto something?

A young friend who worked for one of the major upscale hotel chains as a concierge looked me in the eye when I shared my idea and said he wanted to be the one to bring Loupe to his hotel’s global branding team. Funnily enough, he is now marketing director in New York at one of their properties and we are working on that as we speak. Moral of that story? Never judge anyone’s value by their current position or resume – only by your intuition.

What is your goal for Loupe Art?

My goal is to hear about people walking into a faraway hotel, cocktail lounge, airport terminal or other memorable space and see extraordinary art streaming on ultra-thin LED displays and other ubiquitous surfaces. They'll smile, retelling the moment they first caught a glimpse of Loupe, the music that was playing, the company they were with, and the experience of Loupe.

They return home and continue to enjoy Loupe with their friends and family, building infinitely-customizable playlists of visual art.

We are applying streaming technology to visual art so people can be as immersed in art as we are with music. I hope to expand the physical experience of great art – like that first visit to the Louvre – to infinite physical locations, times of day, and moods.

What's next for your company?

By launching on Apple TV, we were able to enter global markets at launch. Apple populates all Apple TV App Stores around the world with our service.

With Loupe’s managing partner Karrie Bran now based in Europe (owner of The Kagency, a New York-based events company representing 400 venues and a client list of luxury brands), we plan to expand our sponsored art channels, installations, events and marketplace sales into Europe and other global markets.

Loupe launched the paid guest-curated channel program in 2017, allowing museums, galleries, art festivals and other art-centric businesses to have a channel on our platform. It is a stunning channel launched in January by New York Art Gallery/Art Installation Services company ARTI.NYC. Talks are underway with many other exciting art-centric brands and partners who see the opportunity to be part of a new global art platform.

What advice would you give female entrepreneurs?

The same advice I would give to male entrepreneurs. Stay true to your original vision. Live the passion fully and authentically, and you will draw in extraordinary people to move it forward. They will open doors while others may do the opposite, but no one ever holds you back except yourself.

What's surprised you the most about being a female entrepreneur?

I don’t focus on my gender or surprises about starting a company as gender-specific. The less I do, the less I feel it being part of the dialogue with others or their perception of me. It’s very difficult to start your own business and I don’t think the challenges of going from “zero to one” of building a business are easier with either gender. I suppose this may come from having worked in such a male-dominated industry for so long. I could either find the gender part of my work or table it.

This month, Loupe was honored as a Finalist for a Global Impact Award in the Category of Innovation by the City of Atlanta for contributing to the city’s exponential growth into global markets in technology and business. I happened to be the only one of the 12 finalists that was female when we were all brought to the podium. A few people in the audience pointed that out to me afterwards and thanked me for being there.

I took note, and kept moving. Back to work.

3 Min Read

7 Must-have Tips to Keep You Healthy and Fit for the Unpredictable COVID Future

With a lack of certainty surrounding the future, being and feeling healthy may help bring the security that you need during these unpredictable times.

When it comes to your health, there is a direct relationship between nutrition and physical activity that play an enormous part in physical, mental, and social well-being. As COVID-19 continues to impact almost every aspect of our lives, the uncertainty of the future may seem looming. Sometimes improvisation is necessary, and understanding how to stay healthy and fit can significantly help you manage your well-being during these times.

Tip 1: Communicate with your current wellness providers and set a plan

Gyms, group fitness studios, trainers, and professionals can help you to lay out a plan that will either keep you on track through all of the changes and restrictions or help you to get back on the ball so that all of your health objectives are met.

Most facilities and providers are setting plans to provide for their clients and customers to accommodate the unpredictable future. The key to remaining consistent is to have solid plans in place. This means setting a plan A, plan B, and perhaps even a plan C. An enormous amount is on the table for this coming fall and winter; if your gym closes again, what is your plan? If outdoor exercising is not an option due to the weather, what is your plan? Leaving things to chance will significantly increase your chances of falling off of your regimen and will make consistency a big problem.

The key to remaining consistent is to have solid plans in place. This means setting a plan A, plan B, and perhaps even a plan C.

Tip 2: Stay active for both mental and physical health benefits

The rise of stress and anxiety as a result of the uncertainty around COVID-19 has affected everyone in some way. Staying active by exercising helps alleviate stress by releasing chemicals like serotonin and endorphins in your brain. In turn, these released chemicals can help improve your mood and even reduce risk of depression and cognitive decline. Additionally, physical activity can help boost your immune system and provide long term health benefits.

With the new work-from-home norm, it can be easy to bypass how much time you are spending sedentary. Be aware of your sitting time and balance it with activity. Struggling to find ways to stay active? Start simple with activities like going for a walk outside, doing a few reps in exchange for extra Netflix time, or even setting an alarm to move during your workday.

Tip 3: Start slow and strong

If you, like many others during the pandemic shift, have taken some time off of your normal fitness routine, don't push yourself to dive in head first, as this may lead to burnout, injury, and soreness. Plan to start at 50 percent of the volume and intensity of prior workouts when you return to the gym. Inactivity eats away at muscle mass, so rather than focusing on cardio, head to the weights or resistance bands and work on rebuilding your strength.

Be aware of your sitting time and balance it with activity.

Tip 4: If your gym is open, prepare to sanitize

In a study published earlier this year, researchers found drug-resistant bacteria, the flu virus, and other pathogens on about 25 percent of the surfaces they tested in multiple athletic training facilities. Even with heightened gym cleaning procedures in place for many facilities, if you are returning to the gym, ensuring that you disinfect any surfaces before and after using them is key.

When spraying disinfectant, wait a few minutes to kill the germs before wiping down the equipment. Also, don't forget to wash your hands frequently. In an enclosed space where many people are breathing heavier than usual, this can allow for a possible increase in virus droplets, so make sure to wear a mask and practice social distancing. Staying in the know and preparing for new gym policies will make it easy to return to these types of facilities as protocols and mutual respect can be agreed upon.

Tip 5: Have a good routine that extends outside of just your fitness

From work to working out, many routines have faltered during the COVID pandemic. If getting back into the routine seems daunting, investing in a new exercise machine, trainer, or small gadget can help to motivate you. Whether it's a larger investment such as a Peloton, a smaller device such as a Fitbit, or simply a great trainer, something new and fresh is always a great stimulus and motivator.

Make sure that when you do wake up well-rested, you are getting out of your pajamas and starting your day with a morning routine.

Just because you are working from home with a computer available 24/7 doesn't mean you have to sacrifice your entire day to work. Setting work hours, just as you would in the office, can help you to stay focused and productive.

A good night's sleep is also integral to obtaining and maintaining a healthy and effective routine. Adults need seven or more hours of sleep per night for their best health and wellbeing, so prioritizing your sleep schedule can drastically improve your day and is an important factor to staying healthy. Make sure that when you do wake up well-rested, you are getting out of your pajamas and starting your day with a morning routine. This can help the rest of your day feel normal while the uncertainty of working from home continues.

Tip 6: Focus on food and nutrition

In addition to having a well-rounded daily routine, eating at scheduled times throughout the day can help decrease poor food choices and unhealthy cravings. Understanding the nutrients that your body needs to stay healthy can help you stay more alert, but they do vary from person to person. If you are unsure of your suggested nutritional intake, check out a nutrition calculator.

If you are someone that prefers smaller meals and more snacks throughout the day, make sure you have plenty of healthy options, like fruits, vegetables and lean proteins available (an apple a day keeps the hospital away). While you may spend most of your time from home, meal prepping and planning can make your day flow easier without having to take a break to make an entire meal in the middle of your work day. Most importantly, stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.

Tip 7: Don't forget about your mental health

While focusing on daily habits and routines to improve your physical health is important, it is also a great time to turn inward and check in with yourself. Perhaps your anxiety has increased and it's impacting your work or day-to-day life. Determining the cause and taking proactive steps toward mitigating these occurrences are important.

For example, with the increase in handwashing, this can also be a great time to practice mini meditation sessions by focusing on taking deep breaths. This can reduce anxiety and even lower your blood pressure. Keeping a journal and writing out your daily thoughts or worries can also help manage stress during unpredictable times, too.

While the future of COVI9-19 and our lives may be unpredictable, you can manage your personal uncertainties by focusing on improving the lifestyle factors you can control—from staying active to having a routine and focusing on your mental health—to make sure that you emerge from this pandemic as your same old self or maybe even better.