Arts added to business plan
February 19, 2021
Jessie Waldorf faced the class.
"We're here just to have fun and make something creative."
It was a chilly Saturday afternoon and sunlight streamed unobstructed through big, south-facing storefront windows at 213 Chestnut Street in Carlton. A hardwood floor and white walls combined to bring early-February light all the way to the back of the shop.
Waldorf is the owner of CreativEdge Designs. She was talking to a group of about a dozen women of all ages as part of new art classes at the shop.
It's an enterprise borne of the Covid-19 pandemic, a turn toward expansion as traditional business has slowed.
"[The pandemic] pushed us into doing this sooner rather than later," Waldorf said. "So, in the evenings and weekends, we're now taking on the fun stuff."
Four big tables on the west wall of the shop provided ample surface for art projects. The women had been talking and laughing quietly as they waited for their acrylic painting workshop to begin.
Barbie Into stepped to the front of the class, held up a painting she created and delivered tips about where to start and how to mix colors. She moved from table to table answering questions and encouraging the mostly-novice painters.
The students were offered a canvas just larger than the size of a legal pad. Some of the women looked like they had handled a brush before. Others appeared to be just a little tentative.
Waldorf and CreativEdge employee Katie Bottila worked to put the class participants at ease. "We're not professional artists," Waldorf said. "We're just people who love art and love to have fun with it and want to share it."
Into made her case. "I am not a professional painter by any means," she said. "But I do love to draw and paint."
"I work in retail," Into continued, "so my escape is going home and grabbing my canvas, my paintbrush, and I just start painting. It balances my day, and it's really helped me a lot. I've learned a lot. And I've struggled a lot."
It was instruction and inspiration.
"This is just for exercising your mind, your soul, your heart," Into said. "Your painting doesn't have to be perfect. You can do whatever you want with it."
The students came with a variety of expectations.
In keeping with pandemic guidelines, the tables were spaced apart and the participants were mostly grouped with friends and family they came with. Some removed masks during the class. Staff members stayed fully masked up.
Carol Jaakola sat with her daughter, Lorri Antus. She told her mother about the workshop and both decided to go. "This is my very first art class," Antus said. "I've never been into artwork at all. So, it's a grand experiment."
Georgette Petrovich came because her sister, Into, was teaching the class. She was enjoying the experience. "I'm looking forward to future classes."
Megan Holshouser saw the $30 workshop listed on Facebook and said she knew a good thing when she saw one. "I just wanted to get out of the house," she said with a laugh.
Into found an ally in Waldorf. "I used to bring my son's art out here and I'd say, Hey, can you print this? Can you do this or that? So, I knew what magic she could do," she said.
If increasing the amount of space your business demands is a sign of success, Waldorf is in good shape.
In 2017, when Waldorf opened, she utilized a tiny room in the same building she occupies now.
"I started across the hall in a very small closet, a spot that was probably about ... a sixth of the space I'm in right now ," she said. "It was just my computer and my copier."
As the business grew, she began coveting a larger space across the hall. When it became available, she wasn't quick enough, and another business moved in. Still, she needed room, and moved a block away to the old PrintCorp building.
Today, she's back at 213 in an ideal spot. "It's been a fun, growing couple years," she said. "This was the space I really, really wanted."
Like so many other area small businesses, Covid-19 has dealt a blow to the printing business. "I haven't had a lot of the usual posters for events or invitations for weddings and such, since the pandemic," Waldorf said.
The art classes are a way to expose the business, make a little money, and offer a creative oasis.
Into said inspiration can be found at the shop with your own artwork.
"You can have a coffee mug made, or a mask," she said. "My sister is going to have a gaiter made. There's a table up there you can see the different things she offers. So that's part of what it's about - introducing Jessie, what she can do, what she has, and just having fun."
The art classes add another wrinkle to an already interesting line of work, Waldorf said.
"We lettered the school bus for Swiftwater Adventures last summer," Waldorf said. "That was a new adventure, and it was really fun."
"Every job is different, and they're all fun," Waldorf said. "We love what we do here. It's great to just come to work, have fun, and enjoy working."