Dawn Cary (Artsy Coach) had the chance to sit down and interview Carrie Wallace. Carrie was one of the pioneers in the CITC program and she shares how the business works for her and her family!
Carrie, tell us a little about yourself!
Well, my name is Carrie Wallace. I’m a busy wife and mother of 4 girls, ranging in age from 7 to 13. My husband is a worship leader in our church so we are very involved in our church community. And he plays in a band so concerts are one of our fave date nights!
I have a background in teaching 3rd grade but decided to stay home with my girls. I found Gallery On The Go and joined when they were celebrating their 4th birthday in October of 2015. I was looking for something I could do to help pay for our upcoming Disney World vacation but that I could work around 4 young girls, and this fit the bill!
Within my first year, I was able to repay my investment and pay for our 6 plane tickets to Disney World!
Because the business was easy to work and offered the flexibility I needed, I kept on afterwards so I could contribute to family expenses such as music lessons, gymnastics, clothes and shoes, vacations - you name it!
How did you start your CITC business?
As I said, I joined in October but the following May is when I dived in to what we then called Canvas In The Classroom, now known as Create In The Classroom (CITC). This sounded like the fastest way to make the largest return and kids are my heart!
I started off with my kids’ school. I emailed a flyer to the school principal. He didn’t respond. I emailed again. I felt like I was being a pest, but I called and finally talked to him and he was all for it. It’s not that he hadn’t been interested, but it wasn’t his priority. So I suggest first talking with the office staff or PTO/PTA to figure out who is best to talk to first! I also talked with the art teacher to make sure it was a good fit for her, after all, it would be her art room we’d be using and she would be a great ally!
We had different tools back then, with no way to cap registrations, so before I knew it, I had 34 kids signed up! Needless to say, that first one was a little rough! These days I use Square to handle registrations and ticket sales. I’m able to set a specific number of tickets available, and it lets parents know immediately if the event is full. I prefer to keep events at 25 kids, but I’d set it lower for newer members because 25 kids is a lot to manage! The following summer, I added a few additional schools so I would do one event per week, per school throughout each month.
How do you market the program?
My schools either send home paper or digital flyers. I send out flyers about 2 weeks before the event and most schools fill up within the first weekend. I create an email database for each school so that I can easily email my customers and send reminders. I do have one school where parents don’t tend to register until a couple days before once I send out a reminder. Each school has it’s own culture!
I send a group email to all parents of registered kids on the Sunday before the event as a reminder and with details such as snack information, pick up info, etc. I don’t bring any snacks containing peanuts, but I remind parents in this email to send their kid with a snack if they have any other allergies.
What is the schedule like for a CITC event?
Our events are planned for 1 hour 45 minutes so it’s fast-paced! Since I use the school art room, and we begin right after school releases, I don’t have time to set up before kids begin showing up. So I have the kids help me set up (which they love doing!) and get their aprons and name tags. Most of the kids are repeat painters so they know the drill. I give a short introduction and rules before we begin and I include the information that I also do kid birthday parties! I allow the kids to pick their background colors, but the rest of the painting is set colors. We have a 10-15 minute dry break where I serve snacks and provide coloring pages for the kids. We use the art room supplies such as crayons for coloring – again, it’s good to have the art teacher as your ally! I also utilize this time to pass out additional paint for the next steps.
What is one tip you would recommend?
I let parents know that I need 1 volunteer to assist me during the event and for set up and clean up. In return, their kid gets to participate for free. In each school, my first volunteer continues to be my volunteer for every event which is great because she learns the routine quickly and knows how to help each time after!
What do you love most about your CITC business?
I get to bring my own kiddos to work with me! They can help me with the event, they can participate if they choose, or just work on their homework. But it helps me tremendously that I don’t have to worry about childcare while I work!
How has CITC helped grow your business?
Remember that I said I tell the kids that I do birthday parties? Well the majority of my business outside of CITC is related to these kids! I include my business card on each canvas so when each kiddo has a birthday party, guess who they call? I also get to know the moms and they like to use me for paint and sip nights as well. In fact, I’m doing a party for one of my moms today! I also donate a free party to the school for their silent auction, I send a follow up group email to the parents with pictures from the event so the parents have lots of ways to remember and get in touch with me!
So let's get to the real question on everyone's mind...how much do you make?!
Yes let’s break down the money! I charge the recommended fee of $18 per student. My school district charges for the room use, $24 per session. Square also charges me a percentage for ticket sales and I donate 10% of each party to the school. After all of my supplies and fees, I usually walk away with between $350-$400 per event, on a weekday afternoon. Not bad, right?!
Any last thoughts?
I really love painting with kids because they are so free with their creativity! Most art classes are more objective driven and parents love that their kids have the freedom to create their own interpretations. My favorite thing is going to a house of one of my students for their birthday party and seeing their artwork proudly displayed on a wall in their home! Sure, there are hard parts to the job – after all, there’s a lot supplies to haul, a lot of children and a tight schedule, but I love how it works for me and my family!
Carrie lives in CO serving the Golden/Arvada area.
You can follow her on Facebook at Gallery On The Go with Carrie Wallace!