1. KidzArt Franchise Opportunity - Please CLICK HERE to learn more
2. KidzArt Business Opportunity - Please CLICK HERE to learn more
1. How did such an interesting concept as KidzArt come about?
When the thought came to me in 1993 to do something with art education, it came as an epiphany - an "ah ha" moment. My son was only seven months old at the time. I like to say that it was the visitor that arrived and never left. At that moment I made a firm decision that became a mission and instinctively lead
me to the idea of developing a national art education program. At the time I did not know what form the business model would take as franchising was not my first choice. My business partner, best friend and President of KidzArt, Chris Cruikshank, and I had similar goals. She was ready to bring her drawing program to the masses, and I was ready to develop an art education concept. Knowing how creativity and my love of art played an important role in my own growth as a child and later as a professional, we both became committed to the idea of creating a program that could be delivered nationwide. At the time, I was home with my son and continuing my professional life as a career counselor, consultant and teacher/trainer. I was fortunate enough to assist hundreds of adults unhappy in their work to make meaningful career and life changes. My philosophy was and always has been to "do what you love for a living." As our research progressed on how to create a national high quality art education program, we were looking at two delivery systems - one that could be delivered to students on a massive scale, and one that would provide a business that encompassed creativity, service, children and many of the areas career changers were and are seeking.
Chris and I have been friends since age 10. Chris is an accomplished, juried artist of over 25 years. For the previous ten years, she had been successfully teaching her art program to children, was in high demand and was looking for a vehicle to replicate it. We started forming the original KidzArt business model in 2000, trademarked the name KidzArt, worked with consultants and began franchising our KidzArt concept in 2002.
2. In your opinion, what is the greatest thing about KidzArt?
There are many "greatest things" about KidzArt. With each class, our goal is to inspire that life changing "ah ha" moment in a student. We accomplish this many times over within the structure and format of our overall program. We are very proud of our curriculum - we consider it the best available - created and developed primarily by Chris as well a number of contributing artists. It has been a joy to continually develop new ideas and see them come to fruition in the curriculum - everyone benefits! Our curriculum is unique, whimsical and uses ideas, mediums and artistic projects that are not commonly seen in art education programs that are all kid tested! By teaching our students "creativity," our mission is to debunk the myth for a child (and for every age), that art is only for the "intuitively artistic." We such are effectively creating the "innovators" of tomorrow. As Daniel Pink notes in his book, A Whole New Mind, "The wealth of nations and the well-being of individuals now depends on having artists in the room." We are impacting the future of our children by using art as the vehicle. By teaching creative thinking skills, KidzArt can pave the way for our children to make a difference later in life by building skills that will afford them multiple opportunities in the workplace. They will also enjoy a lifetime love of art. With our simple methods, confidence builds and skills cross over to other areas in life. It also so happens that through our instruction, children of all ages engage in the creative process and almost always leave class with results unlike any they've experienced.
3. As a working mom, how do you cope with career and kids?
As mentioned earlier, the concept of KidzArt started building when my son was an infant. He is now fourteen years old. After my son was born, I worked part-time in my professional career to stay home with him. I had owned and operated my own business for many years. As an entrepreneur, I put my skills and instincts to work, but always stayed connected to my family by maintaining a home office. Being available to my son was the most critical and driving force for me to create a business that was home-based and children-oriented. To this day, I still maintain a home office with a tie to our business office here in New Braunfels, TX so that I can be here when my son gets home from school. Luckily, managing one child is easier than managing 2 or more, but the demands are still there, especially now that he's entered high school. From the age of five, my son has always been a part of the business. It's been a tremendous education for him. Like all parents, my husband, Mike (our Operations Manager for the past three years) and I would like him to join us one day - but we're not getting our hopes up!! It also helps to have a supportive husband who understands the business and brings very different talents to it.
4. Do you believe that a woman can have it all? (not without causing a stress-related disease!)
That is an interesting question. I am fortunate to have a great family and business that I love. I feel that I do have it all in many ways. Of course, things are not always a smooth ride, and I guess I live my life in accordance with our art education philosophy - "It doesn't have to be perfect." With all the ups and downs, it works on many levels. One of the ways I made it work for me was to keep my home-based office with a regular connection to our corporate office. Knowing that I'm available to my son at a critical time in his life has reduced a great deal of stress. Having the flexibility that is afforded with our business makes it easier to "have it all" and thus reduce potential stress-related challenges. So, for me, it's finding a comfort level that allows me to work at my optimum. At this stage in my life, I am very familiar with my "stress" points, and try to create the best possible environment. But, let's face it, there's always stress to some degree when you own and operate a business.
5. Let us talk about your franchise opportunity
More than an art education program based in drawing and building skills over time, KidzArt classes build confidence in all ages, teach creative-thinking, help develop a love of art and skills that transfer to all areas in life. The business is home-based, yet involves setting up KidzArt classes and programs on-site at schools and facilities such as recreation centers, YMCA's, community centers, clubs in gated communities, etc. throughout a protected territory. As mentioned earlier, our curriculum was developed by Chris Cruikshank, KidzArt's co-founder. Chris happens to be one of the most gifted artists I've ever met. I've watched her talents grow over the years. She has a style, heart and spirit, and is a driving force in our company. We often hear from our franchisees how much they appreciate Chris' artistic vision. She sets an extraordinary standard with each lesson plan. Each owner receives years of exciting multi-media, multi-cultural curriculum that are original, whimsical, and very unique. KidzArt classes are a compliment to any school art program, yet can stand alone as a core program in many private and charter school environments as well. Our program meets and exceeds the National Standards for the Visual Arts.
The franchise partners we are seeking will have excellent business and organizational skills, marketing/sales ability, some knowledge of human resources and the ability to effectively manage people, an affinity for working with children and, of course, art. Most KidzArt franchise partners chose our concept because they were ready to contribute to their communities, to make a difference, to be challenged to own and operate their own business and are comfortable with a bit of ambiguity. By that, I mean there are a number of "moving parts" to this business, which can certainly take one out of the comfort zone. It requires getting out in the community, networking while communicating to everyone what KidzArt is all about. For the right person, this opportunity covers all aspects of business from the ground up.
6. Are most of your franchisees women, and if so why?
The answer to that question is a resounding, yes! We have a good mix of men who are partners in a husband and wife team, but our business mostly attracts women. They seem to enjoy the creative opportunities afforded by the business and many have the natural skill sets required. Women tend to make connections easily through networking to develop a customer base made up of principals, parents, children, and educational professionals. Our business also attracts teachers who are natural multi-taskers, ready to leave the classroom and move to the next level in their professional lives. KidzArt allows women the flexibility to work from home to build their businesses, while continuing to cultivate a healthy family environment. Many women are seeking a business that will provide creative opportunities, particularly for those who have an affinity for art and marketing. This is a creative business in every way. Many women tell us that their children are very involved in their business, and that they are thrilled to serve as entrepreneurial role models. Most of our franchise partners come from the corporate world - many have left to have children and don't want to return to a structured career. Many have decided it's time to strike out on their own and do something that meets their personal needs. KidzArt fulfills this role in spades for women.
7. What kind of support do you offer your franchisees?
Our support comes in many forms. Many franchise partners require a bit of hand-holding in the beginning - after all, owning a franchise system should be just that - a system of delivery that is comprehensive. KidzArt provides initial coaching, resources, professional on-going support, operating tools and systems based on best practices, an intranet with easily-referenced materials, conferences, webinars and on-going updates, programs and assistance that we are proud to say, is second to none.
8. What is the most gratifying thing about being a KidzArt franchisee?
KidzArt franchisees take pride in offering the best art education program available anywhere. They always know that they will receive new and exciting curriculum that stands the test of time, so lessons are never repeated. They understand that they have variety of revenue streams available to them, offering limitless opportunities to grow their businesses. Most importantly, they enjoy the opportunity to change the lives of children, receiving accolades from parents who are thrilled with their child's progress, and how much FUN they are having in class each week. Most of our franchisees provide scholarships to students in need in each class as well as to large groups of children through the fulfillment of public and private grants. KidzArt offers multiple opportunities to give back. After all, who wouldn't enjoy a business that has the potential to make a positive impact?
9. What is the greatest lesson you learned along the way?
Build your team! As a self-described recovering "micro-manager," my greatest lesson is that you can't accomplish something this big and this important alone. It has been a process for me over time to let go of trying to do it all, and to bring in the best of the best to help take KidzArt to the next level and beyond. In my 20's, I learned that my best work was always doing something I loved - that I felt committed to and passionate about. I've also learned that it's so important for my team to be made up of people I enjoy working with who get along, where each of our contributions are welcomed, and an environment that is FUN. If it's not FUN for the most part, it's time to move on. Another great lesson - you don't know what you don't know - be open to new ideas, listen to your franchisees and keep learning. Never stop!
10. Any words of wisdom for the women wanting to be their own boss?
It's important to work for someone else first - to get a sense of what it takes to experience a number of job and/or career environments. To build as many skill sets as possible and then to decide which ones you enjoy using the most. Becoming one's own boss would hopefully be a natural evolution or next step in one's career - a decision that has to come from the heart and with a great deal of research, so that the risk is there, but it is a calculated one. Be passionate about what you are doing. Make sure you are well capitalized to overcome the ups and downs of the first and possibly second year. Then be prepared for a real ride! GET SUPPORT from family and friends. You will work more than you've ever imagined, but it will never be the same as working for someone else. It's yours!
1. KidzArt Franchise Opportunity - Please CLICK HERE to learn more
2. KidzArt Business Opportunity - Please CLICK HERE to learn more