The Year in Review Deep Space Sparkle and Patty Palmer 2019

2019: Our Year in Review

2019 has been a kick-in-your-pants type of year. It challenged me in ways you’re only aware of after the changes have occured.

So, let’s catch up.

Deep Space Sparkle has developed into a real business. One with org charts, profit and loss statements, accountants and team building exercises.

How did this happen? Because as far as I’m concerned, I’m still the art teacher chatting with my art teacher buddies and hoping for a successful lesson.

But as someone told me recently (in a not-so-gentle-way), I need to own that I have grown this business. Intentionally. And that I know what I’m doing.

So there it is. I’ve had to shift my identity from the very lovely and comfortable space of being an art teacher to being a CEO of Deep Space Sparkle.

Fine. But I’m still an art teacher.

That’s my team in the picture above. Neil and I take the team to an all-expense paid trip to a fun California location each Spring. We get to know each other better (we have remote team members as well as in-house members), play tennis (this is Shannon’s wheelhouse….and it was rather fun), dream BIG and make plans for DSS.

I wish I could keep the team the same each year but changes are inevitable. Marisa, my content creator manager who had been with DSS since the beginning of The Sparklers Club (she added standards to ALL of the lessons and created the EPIC curriculum), resigned to take care of her baby girls and welcome a new one. We miss her but with all changes, we welcomed Heather…whose last name is Sparks and I swear it did not cloud my judgement during the hiring process.

(left) Me, Amy Clay and Marisa in Palm Springs 2019 (right) Heather Sparks visits Santa Barbara for the Holiday Workshop

Neil and I made a decision when we started working with each other full time. This was just after The Sparklers Club welcomed it’s first 1000 members. We decided to move our office from our home and rent a space.

We settled in a spot above a pizza parlor (where all great things begin) and were quite happy for a couple of years. Low rent, more space and I had my own office.

Then, we hired more people. We started doing more videos. we create more content and BAM…we moved to a new location downtown Santa Barbara with double the space and triple the rent.

Our new Sparkly Studio on State Street

And you know what? I was really good with it. I knew I wanted to attract people who would want to work in a dynamic creative location. Neil and I hired painters, bought new furniture and celebrated our new space with friends.

1222 State Street Open House

We were really official now.

Part of our Dream BIG exercises at our Team Retreat in the Spring was to address a growing request from our Sparklers (members inside The Sparklers Club) to add more videos to our membership and create more art history lessons.

We did both and spent 4 months designing an art history curriculum complete with a timeline of art history posters, 150 brand new videos and a sequential timeline of art.

To create 150 videos is no small feat. I hired a new video shooter and 5 film editors. We had a project manager and a team devoted to the graphics and the lesson development. Good golly, it was challenging.

In the end, after lots of mess-ups with videos with no audio, videos with no video, videos with my head cut off, editors who just didn’t get it…we actually got it right!

Lesson learned here is that even when something looks dire and doomed for failure (or at the very least, a missed deadline), keep plugging away because it will most likely work out just fine.

Note: You can only access the Art Through the Ages Art Curriculum as a member of The Sparklers Club. You can learn more HERE.

And this is just a set-up for a Facebook LIVE tutorial

After our summer enrollment of new Sparklers, I was giving an online tour of the website and hi-lighting the Art History Curriculum to our members. As I was giving the tour, a few members were adding in the comments that they didn’t know they could access parts of the membership website or that they didn’t know we had lesson plan posts with videos.

Let me just share was what going through my head. It was a Holy #@!* moment when I realized our navigation and buttons on our site were SO confusing. And members weren’t accessing half of what they could have! I was almost sick. Let me remind you I was discovering this as I was LIVE showing new members around.

As soon as I got off the broadcast I sat the team down and said that we needed to fix this. FAST.

It took 4 months. (members can now see the small but mighty upgrades as of today. Yes, today).

These are the things that take a long time when you have a complex website. These are the things that keep you up at night a s a business owner. These are the things you deal with on a day-to-day basis and it’s all apart of doing the best you can for the people you serve.

If you’re not a Sparkler yet, you have a great opportunity to check it out right now. Winter Enrollment is happening January 2-9th 2020.

Because our first online art workshop was a huge success, we decided to do it again. We called our workshop, Art Mixology for reasons I can’t quite remember. And yes, it was indeed cocktail-related.

During the LIVE sessions of the workshop I was showing teachers how to make popular cocktails. At 8am in the morning. It was so funny because the teachers really got into it and all day long we saw Instagram posts of teachers sipping cocktails and creating art.

Yup. That’s a bottle of rum beside the Faber-Castell gift set. I hope I can shake my boozy online persona.

As much as the online workshop was fun and educational, we know the value in an in-person event. And by the time September rolled around, we decided to host a small workshop in late October with a Holiday theme.

It was the. most. fun. ever.

We kicked off the event with a wine and cheese happy hour at the studio followed by a whole day of holiday art-making in a larger space down the street. Team Sparkle’s Heather Sparks flew in from Atlanta to join the fun.

The next week, Team Sparkle was on a workshop high and vowed to take DSS on the road. But reality always kicks in and we start to realize the expense, the logistics, the time required until we get a bit defeated.

It’s still on our Dream BIG list so we will keep you all informed.

If there was one word I could use to capture 2019, it would be GROWTH.

We often throw this word around thinking it’s easy to grow and stretch yourself. It’s not.

Growth comes with some very uncomfortable moments that usually are disguised as failure.

It’s our job to move past the sticky bits even when the future is unknown.

I wish you ALL a BIG Dream year with many sticky points to move past.

What do you think?

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  • Lisa Krones-Whalen

    Dear Patty, You make it look so easy, but I appreciate that you show us the hard parts and I love when you come online and express how you might have had too much wine the night before… it makes you real , which is not a bad thing.
    Love Lisa KW

    • Patty

      Hah! Real is not a bad thing…and nothing worth while is easy even though I keep telling myself that it should be. Love you!

  • Julie Soul

    Patty, I absolutely adore you, and how real you are. Being able to share in both of your workshops this year, and give you a hug in person, was incredible. The amount of work you put in is incredible, and it guts me that you felt at any point that your website was SO confusing. Everyone views life, and websites!, in a different way. No matter what you do, there will always be questions, always be concerns, but what makes you absolutely amazing is that you are always willing to listen with the biggest heart, and to grow. Whether it’s future workshop related, or anything else, I am always here to help, if you ever need it, no questions asked. Cannot wait to chop down the tangly bits this year and see what’s on the other side!

    • Patty

      Thank you sweet Julie! You are such a cheerleader and I appreciate you!

  • Sara Dunning

    This was an inspiring letter to read, Patty! Thank you for sharing more about your journey as an Art Teacher and a CEO! I’m a brand new teacher, with my first semester under my belt. Also a brand new Master of Art student at Texas Tech. Between Deep Space Sparkle and my online Tech courses I feel so much more prepared now than I did on my first day as an art teacher last August.

    I will be starting your Art Through the Ages curriculum this Spring, because I think that the added resources and videos will benefit my kiddos greatly. Hopefully, there will be a way to add closed captions or a transcript in the future? I am Hard of Hearing (legally deaf), and we have quite a few Deaf and Hard of Hearing students on my campus as well. Otherwise, I am THRILLED with everything Deep Space Sparkle has to offer us all – THANK YOU!

    • Betty Rivera

      Thank you so much to you and and your team for all you do!! I love the tutorials, the instagram posts, and all the weekly updates, everything!!!
      I volunteer at a small church school with 42 students and your lesson plans and curriculum have been a great blessing for me!

      I enjoyed reading your 2019 year in review. Nice to know what goes on behind the scenes! You work so hard!!! Keep the art work coming!!!

  • Bonnie Lawlor

    As a former business owner of 20 plus years, I say be true to your original goal, helping Art teachers be better Art teachers. It’s very exciting but delegating work is now your job. You are a manager. Stay in touch with what everyone is doing and eventually put those job descriptions in writing. You never know when someone has to move on. Hire professionals, as you have, for the technical things. That’s part of delegating. It looks fabulous my dear, keep up the dream! Advertising is your next step.

    • Patty

      Thank you Bonnie. You’re awesome!

  • Gwen M Cicone

    Your big dreams have blessed thousands! Keep dreaming, getting messy and taking those risks. It is great to watch others grow and flourish. Congratulations, and may 2020 be an even bigger year for y’all! 🙂

  • Athena Luong

    I hope you have more in person events. I would love to attend one!!!

  • Amy Hawkins

    I cannot believe I missed the Sparkler deadline by a day! I would suggest that not all teachers check their email in their off time, and not all teachers go back to work right after the New Year. Our district in Oxnard, down the shore from you, is actually off until Jan.13! However, because I wanted to go in and take care of a few things I saw the email on the 10Th!!! Are you sure you couldn’t fit one more teacher????

    • Amy Hawkins

      Pretty please? is what I meant to say! Sorry. I have just been a subscriber for a long time and have wanted to be a sparkler for-ever!!! Amy Hawkins 🙂

  • Tamara Thomas Evans

    I could just gush, gush, gush but I’ll try to keep it simple. You and Team SPARKLE are truly amazing. Your tireless commitment and dedication to making an art teacher’s job easier are so very much appreciated. I seriously don’t know where I’d be without you and this service you provide! Happy 2020!

  • Mariia

    You have done a great job. Thank you. Best wishes for you in new year. I can’t wait interesting ideas and inspiration.

  • Janese Swanson

    You have created a dream job! So inspiring

  • Lynn Morgan

    Patty, Congratulations on your continuing growth and success! Despite some growing pains and challenging moments, you seized opportunities for both your clients and your business. Thank you for all you do to help us succeed with our students. Wishing you the best in 2020.

  • Sarah

    I am loving my new art teacher resources for this month! Looking through your worksheets and curriculums, I realize that I used one of your checklists of Rules several years ago teaching at another school! It is nice to have a comparison point since teaching is so personal and unique to each teacher… Loving the bright colors and charming imagery. Thanks for the inexpensive new years pricing. I have never tried the Membership and it has been helpful.

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