Amy Appleyard and I co-founded Spark Craft Studios in January, 2005, after developing the concept during a business-plan project at the MBA program at Boston University. Encouraging feedback from angel investors during a presentation convinced us to launch Spark after graduation.
Being ambitious, we carry big jobs. I'm responsible for stewarding the creative vision and long-term strategic goals of the company. I oversee studio membership, classes, special events, and community and business partnerships, as well as marketing, sales, and public-relations initiatives. Amy manages all internal operations and day-to-day activities, including supervising the company's finances and accounting, retail and studio operations, and technology systems.
We faced a lot of challenges starting out. We needed startup capital, so we raised it from angel investors, family, and friends. To sell an unproven concept, we pre-sold memberships before we even had our studio. We found a lawyer to help issue equity and hired an accountant. Renting property as "non-credit" tenants (i.e. not a Starbucks) was tough, but we convinced our landlord to let us have the space with four month's rent as a deposit. We hired craft instructors and Creativity Consultants (our retail/studio staff) while we were painting, refurbishing, and decorating our 3,000-square-foot retail space.
In all, it took us one year to go from business plan to actual business. This is what a typical day is like for us:
8:30 a.m. We carpool to the studio and debrief events from the night before during the 25-minute drive.
8:55 a.m. Quick stop at our favorite caf?, Diesel. We like to support other women-owned small businesses.
9:00 a.m. Arrive at the studio, turn off alarm, and turn on lights in the 10 classrooms, studios, and retail areas. Activate point-of-sale system and make sure customer/sales data is backed up. Check voice mail and return calls for class/event registrations and private party bookings.
9:15 a.m. Open up laptops in our tiny office to get some e-mail and paperwork done before opening the doors. The phone starts ringing with registrations and inquiries.
9:30 a.m. Amy delves into QuickBooks. We have daily finance meetings. We have decided to enter a Series B funding round, so I'm working on a press/investor kit to attract publicity, clients, and new investors. Amy is tweaking the financial model that we'll share with current and prospective investors.
10:00 a.m. Unlock the front door. We take turns waiting on customers.
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