Looking Back…

As my year comes to a close, I keep thinking to myself that I wish I could turn this into the Climb 730 Challenge.  Being held accountable and knowing that I have the support and excitement of so many people has really pushed me in a great direction.  I feel that I have accomplished a great deal during this challenge, but I also feel that there is so much more that I need to do and wish that I could have done in this year and I only need more time to get it done.  Well…more time,  a life coach, continued support,  more hours in the day, and a house keeper would all help me to reach my goal faster.  I tell ya…it takes a village!

When I applied I discussed that I had a two part goal.  First, I wanted to start a wine and painting business. I wanted to create a business at a local winery where I offered sipping and painting classes.

For the second part of my goal, I wanted to start a community art center in my area.  I was going to use the momentum from the wine and painting to drum up excitement and interest in my community Art Center.  The sipping and painting business would then become part of the programming that I would have at my art center.

I knew that I would not be able to fully accomplish both things, and that the community art center would be something that would definitely take more time to work on and to achieve. But I had hoped that my progress on the art center would have been further along at this point.

During the summer and throughout the fall I worked pretty diligently on planning and making connections for my art center.  I learned about a local business incubator program in our town in which George Mason University, in conjunction with the town of Warrenton, provided services for people who are looking for help in starting up their own businesses.  I had several meetings and counseling sessions through this incubator program and started really working on my business plan. I also started looking into available areas and spaces to rent in our area.  I contacted a realtor  to get some ideas on spaces and I also researched other art centers with business models close to the one I hope to create.  In November, I went and visited the Larkin Art Center which is a very similar business started by a young woman in Harrisonburg, VA,  a little over an hour from where I live.  Speaking with her really opened my eyes to the sacrifices and challenges that I will face when I actually open the art center and I definitely took note of things that I might consider doing differently in order to gain community support, and to think about in terms of being for-profit or not-for-profit, etc.  Probably the biggest shock that I learned from her was the financial risk I would be taking within my salary and family. It made me really think about the fact that I might not be earning a real salary in the first few years of opening this center, and how, as a mother with two young kids and a family that needs my income, can I make this all work?

I lost momentum on the work that I was doing in terms of planning the art center in December.  I know exactly when this happened, because it was when I had my fist “Evening of Sipping and Painting” at Naked Mountain Winery.  It was a milestone for me during this year!  I really enjoyed the event and I know that the participants had a great time, because they keep coming back to my classes!  I must say that during the Sipping and Painting event I was truly in my element.  I LOVE entertaining and being social and this night combined these attributes with my artistic talent and passion and I think it created a perfect storm!  The classes really took off.  Through the advice of my friends at the winery I created an Artist Facebook Page and was able to promote and book the classes through this site.  I will never again underestimate the power of social media!! Through the facebook page and the kindness of my friends and acquaintances who shared photos and the fun that they had at my first class my business really took off!  There is so much to talk about in terms of the Sipping and Painting business that I will discuss it in my next post.

While this is all so very exciting, the success of my new little “sipping and painting” business has pushed my work on the art center to the back burner.  Probably one of my biggest flaws is the fact that I am overambitious in terms of what I can actually get accomplished in a day, a week, or a year.  As my focus has shifted more to the Sipping and Painting business, it has shifted away from my ultimate goal: my goal of making a larger impact in my community and creating the much needed community art center.  Therefore,  If I could rename this the climb 730 challenge, then I would spend the  second half figuring out how to balance this new business, my teaching, raising two kids and a trying to keep a clean house all while allowing myself time to really plan and build connections that I need to create the center.  I know I say this with a little sarcasm in my voice but this year has truly taught me that I am on the right path.  This art center is something that I feel an utter NEED to create.   It has shown me that I MUST find a way to do it.  I cannot look back five or ten years from now and be disappointed that I somehow lost momentum.  I need to know that I helped create something great; something that our community really needs.


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