I still clearly remember the day when my son Jake came home from elementary school on the verge of tears due to poor results on his spelling test. Seeing his disappointment brought me back to my childhood, as Dyslexia runs in our family, and now I could see the same signs in Jake. Fortunately, the very next day, Jake came home in a more joyous mood, for he had art class that day.
Similar my mother and me, Jake found joy and solace in art and was able to truly shine in his classes – a stark contrast to the stress and anxiety that his other classes brought to him. I wanted to see more of this for Jake, but was disheartened when I discovered he was only receiving 45 minutes of art instruction once every four days.
Knowing Jake needed more time exploring art, as it was the best way for him to express himself and channel his emotions, I began looking around for art enrichment classes for Jake. It was to my true disappointment that I found not one solution I was looking for.
Creating a solution
If there wasn't a solution already out there – I needed to create one. I have always considered myself an "entrepreneur at heart," but at the time I was working as a furniture sales representative and had never owned a business before.
Delving into the unknown, I began dedicating countless hours to researching starting a new business and developing curriculum for my classes. After finding mentors to guide me and plenty of trial and error, Kidcreate Studio was born.
Seeing my vision come to life was truly inspiring, and knowing the impact it had made it that much sweeter when the first Kidcreate location opened in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, in 2008.
Opening a business, especially for a first-time business owner, is no easy feat. When I came across bumps in the road, I always thought back to something my mother, an entrepreneur herself, once told me: "Keep moving forward until there's a reason to stop."
For me, there was no reason to stop. Knowing how Kidcreate could help kids just like Jake every day to learn and grow their confidence was truly inspiring and is what kept me going even when times were tough.
My family's support was essential to the process, especially that of my kids Jake and Layne. Throughout the entire process, they provided me with feedback on the Kidcreate curriculum, and even designed the images we use trhoughout our graphic and interior design. It was essential for me to get their opinions on the business I was designing, as the main goal was to create an amazing place for kids and art education.
Today, we have two locations open, both of which specialize in art classes, camps and art-themed birthday parties for kids ages 18 months to 12 years. Through both our in-studio and On-The-Go classes, kids are able to learn about art techniques and concepts, as well as art history. At Kidcreate, we aim to combine "kid-culture" with art education to make our lessons both entertaining and educational. For example, one of my favorite art projects is a painting of Harry Potter flying on his broomstick through Van Gough’s "Starry Night." By using these creative and innovative methods, kids can enjoy and have fun creating art, while at the same time developing art skills, creativity and self-esteem.
Although Jake is now 17 and will soon be heading off to college, I still see kids every day in my studios that remind me of Jake, and myself, at that age. Even though the road to starting Kidcreate was, and still often can be, a challenge, these kids are my inspiration and are the reason I’ve never found a reason to stop spreading the beauty and enrichment of art.
I often receive emails from parents thanking me for the lessons their children receive at Kidcreate. Seeing the success these studios have and the impact they make, I decided to open Kidcreate Studio as a franchise opportunity, hoping that "entrepreneurs at heart" like me can find the same joy in owning a business that does so much good for the community.
About the author: Lara Olson is the CEO and founder of Kidcreate Studio, a children's art studio franchise.
Edited for length and clatiry by Shannon Gausepohl. Have a great entrepreneurial story to tell? Email your pitch to email@example.com.