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Color Me Mine
by Beverly Dykes
Color Me Mine is a paint-it-yourself ceramic studio that gives clients the ability to create unique pieces of artwork while relaxing, socializing and having fun. Whether one is five or 85 years old, artistically challenged or a pro, the studio has a project and technique to suit every interest level. At Color Me Mine the creative juices are stimulated, and knowledgeable, friendly staff on hand to assist in making the experience simple and memorable.
The Color Me Mine paint-your-own pottery concept is a leader in the art as entertainment category of retailing. Based in Glendale, California, the company was founded 23 years ago “to make the unique and creative experience of ceramic painting accessible, affordable, worthwhile and fun for everyone.” Presently there are over 135 Color Me Mine studios open in 28 states in the U.S. and dozens more operating under franchise territories established in countries around the world (including Australia, Canada, Costa Rica, Jordan, Korea, Kuwait, Lebanon, Mexico, Panama, Philippines, and The Netherlands).
The company’s longevity is largely attributed to it being a unique concept offering franchise owners a business that requires low start-up capital, is rewarding to operate, is difficult to compete against and that makes a worthwhile contribution to the community. One example of the experience and success of its franchisees can be found in Bruce Westenfelder, who opened his first franchised Color me Mine location in 2004, followed by a second opened in 2007 and a third in 2010, all of which have continued to exhibit positive growth. Westenfelder has additionally taken on a corporate role within the company, as VP of Franchise Development.
In the words of President Mike Mooslin, “As the only international chain in the contemporary ceramics industry, our focus is on long term stability through product diversification, proprietary innovations, centralized marketing and operating systems that are difficult and expensive for independent operators to replicate.” To ensure product consistency and reliability of supply sources, Color me Mine utilizes licensed factories, which supply large quantities of high quality products with a consistent clay base.
Each of the company’s studios presents an upscale, modern environment offering unfinished ceramic pieces and other craft media. Customers enter the relaxing setting, select from over 400 different unfinished wares (in 10 different categories encompassing everything from kids to dinnerware, and gardens to interior décor), then spend a few hours painting their chosen piece in an expression of their own unique vision. All the paints used are non-toxic, lead free, food safe and dishwasher safe. The painted items are then left on site to be glazed and fired and picked up at a later date (typically within two to three days). Prices vary, based on the size of the piece, but generally range from $15 to $35 plus a painting fee of $10 per visit. VIP Membership entails customers paying no studio fees for a year, a 10% discount off bisque, first dibs on new products and notification of exclusive monthly specials.
Each finished work is truly one of a kind, because, besides having a large variety of bisque pieces from which to choose, there are thousands of graphic design ideas on the studio’s computer that can be traced or transferred on prior to painting. There are also over 65 colors of under glazes to select from. Customers have the freedom of using their own technique for painting their creation, can reference instruction sheets that offer ideas and suggestions for a range of popular effects, or consult a staff member who can assist and teach easy approaches and offer hints.
Color Me Mine is the ideal setting for family outings and wholesome recreation activities for small, organized groups of people. The first thought that comes to mind is parties. Whether for a birthday, anniversary, bridal shower, office team building exercise, bachelorette party, baby shower, bar or bat mitzvah, sports team commemoration, reunion or house warming, Color Me Mine can customize the craft process to accommodate the planners needs – with a range of packages and prices to match. Clients can even arrange for To Go Parties, involving the studio setting up operations at the customer’s own location of choice.
For school groups, the studio offers themed painting classes that are both instructional and fun. There are over 100 classes offered at various times throughout the year (geared towards school age grades K-6), and Art Adventure courses during summer months on various subjects. Schools can also arrange for in-class art workshops or as part of an extracurricular arts enrichment program. The studios also coordinate and host field trips. The concept offers a safe, convenient environment that is a complementary adjunct to home schooling programs, with its variety of education oriented topics that can be used to convey art techniques simultaneously.
Among the studio’s products other applications are fundraising (via auctions and tile walls), and family keepsake items (such as capturing a child’s growth on an indelible work of art). A hand painted, custom designed wedding platter can feature the bride’s own color scheme, and makes an ideal keepsake for family and friends to sign. For bridal showers, there are sets of pieces that can be painted to match by the shower attendees. For housewarmings, there is a table topped with tiles that can be individually painted by each guest. Items like jewel boxes, picture frames, vases, plaques and mugs make ideal gifts or party favors, or to commemorate special occasions like family reunions.
Color Me Mine studios typically range in size from 800 to 2,100 sq. ft. and can be positioned in upscale lifestyle and regional/community open air centers, downtown/central business districts or freestanding. Preference for co-tenancy is for entertainment and family/group-oriented concepts, such as theaters, bookstores and restaurants. The company anticipates adding approximately 10-15 new studios annually through 2016. The lease term commitment is five years, with one 5-year option. Demographic requirements call for a population of 100,000 within a 5 mile trade zone, earning mid- to high income levels.
The motto at Color Me Mine is “fun for now, fun for later!” It’s an apt synopsis of the idea behind the art studio’s purpose and atmosphere. The destination uniquely succeeds in encouraging artistic expression and helping people acknowledge their natural creativity by providing them with a contemporary, welcoming and stress-free setting.
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