While at a play date, each with two kids under six years-old, Meredith Hubbard and Tracy Gohl were discussing budget cuts in the creative curriculum at their schools.
The women had similar backgrounds in event planning and teaching preschool and being involved in the arts and theater.
They met during the economic crisis a few years ago and started brainstorming about how to make extra money. They settled on the idea of teaching an arts and crafts class–a class to provide preschool children an unstructured environment to encourage creativity. But the challenge was this: how to include all the kids in a family so moms didn’t have to drive all over town dropping one child at one activity and another somewhere else? That’s when they decided to create a class for siblings of all ages. And better yet, a class that takes place at your home or theirs.
Meredith and Tracy created the art workshop based on what they would want if they were enrolling their children in the class. They decided to offer a mobile 45-minute class that takes place wherever mothers wanted it to be held.
They named their new venture, Easel Does It, with the tag line, “We bring all the fun and take all the mess.”
To enroll students, they promoted the classes by posting flyers at local preschools, telling all their friends about it and emailing everyone they knew around their home town of Huntington Beach, CA.
“I love that we have been able to create our own schedules around the thing that is most important to us – our kids and families,” said Tracy.
Starting with preschool level classes, Meredith and Tracy brought their younger kids with them – no babysitter needed. During the afternoon classes, their older kids love being assistants and helping participants complete a variety of fun projects.
Easel Does It is set up to let kids choose from a large selection of projects and provides “art stations” so kids can move from craft to
craft. The projects range from beading to finger painting to paper collages. They use all kinds of items including rocks, wooden spoons and shoe boxes.
Classes can be designed for any group ranging from ages three to 15. Kids love the crafts and parents love the creativity they inspire.
Catering to the child’s areas of interest or the theme of the party, Easel Does It creates customized projects for birthday parties as well. The moms told me, “It’s pretty cool that we have found our niche and been able to fill a need for those in our community.”
As the business grew via word of mouth, Meredith and Tracy wanted to expand their offerings. They contacted local Parks and Recreation departments and were eventually hired to offer their class two days a week. From there, they branched out to Parks and Recreation departments in neighboring towns.
Now, these two moms have their dream job, teaching two or three classes a day, four or five days a week, in three towns.
With virtually no start-up costs, Meredith and Tracy were able to build a business that fit their needs.
“I was someone who quit a lot of things because people kept telling me it wouldn’t work – but this is one thing I felt passionate about and I knew it would be successful,” says Tracy.
What’s next? The partners plan to hire more teachers – mostly moms who need a job with flexibility. Summer camps are on the docket and maybe a store front. With no business plan, not even something written on a napkin, Meredith and Tracy started with one mobile art class and grew from there – easy does it….no Easel Does It!
Since founding VentureMom.com, Holly Hurd has become a sought-after expert in the field of entrepreneurism. She recently spoke at the Women and the Entrepreneurial Spirit Conference in New York City, numerous CT venues, and has been featured in the New Canaan/Darien Magazine. Hurd has always been at the forefront of entrepreneurism. When she was only twenty-five, she was featured in Futures Magazine, USA Today and in Fortune‘s People to Watch column for her exceptional work managing her own fund on Wall Street. She has put her exciting life experiences to excellent use by creating VentureMom.com, a resource and showcase for mom created ventures.