WE ARE AN ART EDUCATION COMPANY THAT PROVIDES BUSY ART TEACHERS AND PARENTS A PATH TO CREATING BEAUTIFUL ART AT HOME & SCHOOL.
Our sunny Santa Barbara headquarters is dedicated to producing inspiring and academically aligned art lessons, curriculums and relevant art training to give art teachers the art program of their dreams and parents a path to foster creativity in the home.
That’s what we do now, but it didn’t start out this way.
This is my story….
I remember the day I set foot inside my first classroom. It was a crammed portable with just enough chairs for 32 sixth graders. The hiring teacher sat in the back, pen in hand, scratching notes which would determine whether I would be employed as the art teacher the following week.
As the kids sized me up and my heart thumped, I thought about the one thing that would calm me: how much I loved drawing as a girl.
I grew up on a 20-acre horse farm on Prince Edward Island. Extracurricular activities meant sweeping the barn floor, feeding the mares, and mowing the lawn. Afterwards, it was my time. I retreated to my farmhouse bedroom, overlooking the linden trees and sat at an old kitchen table I rescued from the basement.
I was fascinated with the human form and was obsessed with gymnastics, figure skating and fashion. Here is a post I wrote about my childhood art.
My life centered around drawing scenes from my imagination: fashion shows, figure skating competitions and what life would be like if I were a gymnast. I lived in a colorful world that I could change with a fresh palette of pencil crayons.
The one thing I didn’t have was instruction. In fact, art instruction didn’t come my way until I went to art college to study fashion design. Teachers who were actual artists taught fashion illustration. Fabric artists taught me how to render tweeds and plaids and how to sketch taffeta (yes, it was the 80’s!).
I thought about how I felt when I finished a drawing. The decision to color or not to color. The determination of whether the drawing was to be continued or set aside. The possibilities were infinite.
Remembering how it felt to create art as a child seemed to work because when that test class ended, I was invigorated in a way I hadn’t felt in a long time.
I had somehow stumbled upon my dream job.
Of course, little did I know back then, when tempera paint and kilns were foreign words to me, that I’d be a CEO of an art education company that served teachers and parents all over the world.
I also never imagined I would be working alongside my software engineer husband (AKA Mister Sparkle) and together, we’d run a company that employed 15 people.
For more than a decade, Neil and I have been crafting courses and lesson plans to sell on my blog. I was the Creative and he was the Tech. It was blissful. He’d rush home from his day job, handle customer support while I made dinner for the kids. In the evenings, he’d step in with homework help and I would retreat to my familiar corner of the bedroom and recap my day as an art teacher on my blog, Deep Space Sparkle (which was named after a Crayola crayon).
And then, by some miracle, I received a text from an agent asking me if I ever considered writing a book. I was thrilled to craft a book loaded with art projects designed to make it easier to teach art at home or in the art room. But it was also alot of work.
Teaching art 4 days a week, raising 3 teenagers, writing a blog and creating content to sell, started to feel overwhelming.
I made the decision to leave the art room. That decision was a brutal one but it was necessary as the doors to business opportunities began to open. In a funny way, that book deal was the impetus for my business growth.
In 2016, I had more space in my day to think about how we could scale our products and services. I was interested in gaining more control over how we supported teachers with our products and in a way that I would have died for as a new art teacher.
I knew that teaching art was more about developing lesson plans. It was about feeling supported as an art teacher. The job of an art teacher can be a lonely one. You have a different schedule than everyone else. You see every child in the school and you are the go-to person to make anything creative whenever the need arises.
In 2015, I hosted my first in-person workshop in Santa Barbara. 90 teachers arrived with toolboxes filled with art supplies and together we created art all day long. The day was joy-filled from the first gurgle of the coffee maker to the laughter as we learned painting techniques as the sun set over the lagoon.
What if we could support teachers as well as offer inspiring art resources? I knew that cultivating community was not just a buzzword. It fueled me.
These ideas of community, training, resources and support made up the foundation of our first membership The Sparkler’s Club.
In June 2021, it will be five years since we soft-launched our membership to a thousand teachers–many of whom are still Sparklers today. It has been a period of unfathomable growth with all the growing pains that go along with businesses.
Many people ask me how to start a membership, or how to grow a business. All I can say is that it takes time.
Time to foster relationships.
To build trust.
To hire the best team.
To balance your life.
But most of all, it takes time to hone your intentions.
Intentions are our guide. Team Sparkle allows our mission and values to take the lead and guide us in our decision making.
In addition to keeping our sunny studio humming with creative projects, I’m devoted to growing Primerry, our art at home membership for kids. This project is my passion project because if I can help a child connect with art, I’m a happy lady.
I look forward to introducing more to our Deep Space Sparkle line of products including support for art studio owners wishing to grow their business. Everyday, I’m reminded how powerful art can be to the teacher teaching art, to the child experiencing art and to the business owner cultivating their own creative corner of the universe.
To see all that we have to offer parents, teachers and art business owners, take a look at our Start Here page.