Eagan Business Owner Starting Arts Nonprofit

From the Eagan Patch

Color Me Mine owner Julie Schroeder has seen the impact that art–even in small doses—can have.

For three years, Schroeder has run her do-it-yourself ceramics studio out of the Eagan Promenade. In that time, she’s worked with veterans, sex trafficking victims and hospital patients. No matter the difficulties her clients face outside of an art studio, when they are working with the ceramics, she said, they begin to relax and unwind.

Schroeder hopes to bring those benefits to a wider range of people this year with the creation of a new nonprofit organization: Art for Everyone. The goal of the nonprofit, Schroeder said, is to collect private donations and grants from the community, then use that funding to pay for scholarships that would allow more people to take art camps or workshops offered by Schroeder.

Schroeder’s desire to start the nonprofit was fueled in part by the requests she routinely receives from local families looking for scholarships so that their children can attend one of Schroeder’s art classes.

Equally important was art therapy—the idea that participating in art can have a healing effect on a person. Schroeder routinely works with young adults from the Minneapolis VA Health Care System and Breaking Free, a nonprofit organization that supports women who were involved in prostitution. She would love to use her nonprofit to offer classes through her business for free or at a reduced cost for both groups.

Schroeder, who recently obtained 501(c)(3) status for her organization, is looking for community members interested in volunteering with Arts for Everyone, or donors willing to contribute. Schroeder will not accept a salary through the nonprofit, and plans to to spend all the money she receives on art scholarships and marketing.

Later this year, she hopes to set up a website and office for the nonprofit in Eagan.

“I have not for one second regretted my decision to go into business on my own, but I did know right from the beginning that this would not be the final stepping stone,” Schroeder wrote on the recently created Art for Everyone Tumblr page. “I knew that I would eventually use my love of art and my business to give back in some way.”

A New Shade Of Family Fun: Lakewood Sentinel

Lakewood Sentinel
Clarke Reader creader@ourcoloradonews.com
Lakewood families can have another creative way to be together with the opening of a new Color Me Mine location in the city.

Color Me Mine is a family-friendly studio where visitors can paint their own pottery at 7134 W. Alaska Drive. This is the seventh location of Color Me Mine in Colorado.

According to Mike Mooslin, the company’s president, the concept for Color Me Mine was created in 1991, and is based on the traditional idea of family dinners.

“Dinner was a time when families would talk to each other, and it’s just not as prevalent today. When we want to celebrate, we’ll often have a big group event and go to a restaurant,” he said. “This is the only activity that really parrots that — everyone does their own thing, but they’re still all together.”

Color Me Mine doesn’t aim for appealing to one age group, and Gloria Schatz, owner of the Westminster location, 14694 Orchard Parkway, No. 1200, said that she gets all ages coming through her studio.

The studio has more than 100 items people can choose to paint, as well as more than 60 colors to use and 22,000 images to help design the pottery. Birthday parties, showers, fundraisers and school programs can all be hosted at Color Me Mine.

Mooslin said one of the things that makes pottery painting a great activity is that it is such a universal thing — at least everyone has a piece of pottery. That is part of what has kept the company growing.

The other part of what accounts for the company’s growth is its franchising policy. According to Mooslin, getting owners who know the community is important, so Color Me Mine has a program where the store is built and sold to local owners, with the company playing a supportive role until the local owners take over.

“It’s a very service oriented, very wholesome concept,” he said.

For more information on the Lakewood location, visit www.lakewood.colormemine.com.

Color Me Mine: Pasadena’s New “Hot Spot”

After several years at their Colorado location Color-Me-Mine has a new face. Now under new ownership Shawn Dellis and partner Lindsay Craine have settled into a 1300 square foot space on the corner of Green Street and Fair Oaks Street in Old Town Pasadena.

If you are not familiar with the Color-Me-Mine name you should be. It is quickly becoming one of Pasadena’s “places to be.” With their easy paint-it-yourself ceramics, this studio has seen a surge of people pulling up a chair for a little afternoon art therapy. As a matter of fact “The Art of Having Fun,” is there motto. And that is exactly what is happening. Patrons from three to sixty don a piece of pottery, find a cozy table and with a few strokes of their brush walk away with their very own porcelain masterpiece. The light airy studio has tables for two or parties over twenty. As soon as you walk in the door there is fun welcoming feel that makes you smile.

But with over 300 different ceramic pieces, 60 exclusive colors, and 9 specialized painting techniques where to start could be the biggest drawback. Not to worry Color- Me-Mine has friendly knowledgeable staff to guide your process. Whether you have an artistic bone like Picasso or prefer a splatter method like Jackson Pollock there is something for you.

“For the price of a nice movie and popcorn a family of four can have a memorable bonding experience,” says Dellis. He goes on to tell about the day a mother wandered into the studio with her young daughter and their new puppy. “They had just picked up the puppy,” Dellis explains, “and were walking through Old Town when they saw the studio.” They jumped at the opportunity to memorialize the moment. Fifteen minutes later with a dip of the paw and print of a hand she had a piece to cherish forever.

But Color-Me-Mine is hardly just for families. Over half of the studio’s patrons are adults having a casual friend to friend chat or on dates. One couple who chose this hot spot as their Saturday activity was thrilled with the whole experience. “I had a great time. I will definitely come back,” they stated. The couple picked the Pasadena studio over other LA locations because of the studio’s atmosphere and old world charm.

Dellis is pleased with the response. Open now for only eight short weeks the store is already recommending weekend reservations for a table although, walk-ins are always welcome. “In eight weeks we have had twenty-four parties. We have also rented out the studio for large family reunions and corporate events.” Or let the party come to you. The Color-Me-Mine staff can set up shop in your own backyard. Pick the ceramic pieces you would like in advance and they will provide materials as well as two staff members for the duration of the party. The completed pieces are carefully packed up and taken to the studio for glazing. Once glazed your one-of-a-kind work of art will be oven, microwave and dishwasher safe.

Next time you are looking for a new way to spend time with friends and family, consider Color-Me-Mine. Grab your imagination and that special someone, they will provide the rest.

Husband, wife sculpt success with Color Me Mine

Indianapolis Business Review

For husband and wife team Noel and Shilpa Patel-Paul, becoming a part of Color Me Mine, a paint-your-own pottery franchise, was a decision for not only their family’s success, but also to achieve the “American Dream” their parents had hoped for them as they ventured to the United States from their native countries.

Noel, born in Pakistan, and Shilpa, born in India, came to United States as children where their lives were changed forever. As they grew older and started a family, it became apparent that not only passion for their professions but also work-life balance was important to them as a family.

After working in human resources for several years, Shilpa wanted a change. As a creative person who detested the idea of sitting in a cubicle, she opted for business ownership and decided to look into franchising. As she began researching, she found the Glendale, Calif.-based Color Me Mine. At Color Me Mine, she would be able to incorporate her own management style and store décor, while helping customers with their pottery and operating their business.

“In our native countries, it would not have been possible for me to own my own business, much less have the work-life balance I so desperately craved after having our children,” Shilpa said. “The United States, my parents, and our education provided me with the opportunity to flourish both personally and professionally and I was going to take advantage of that.”

While the husband and wife team were not new to business ownership as Shilpa previously owned a dance school, they were new to franchising and began to see the difference between the business models.

“When operating our dance studio, while it was successful, I had no corporate office to turn to. President Mike Mooslin and the corporate office team nurtured us and provided great business guidance that allowed us to grow our business locally,” Shilpa said. “Having added support has been wonderful throughout the years. The corporate office is there to see our successes and provides us with words of wisdom during our times of struggle.”

Under Mooslin’s leadership, Color Me Mine has become a leader is contemporary ceramics with nearly 140 locations in operation worldwide, including studios in 26 states throughout the United States. The company plans to target key markets throughout the United States for continued expansion, including Cincinnati, Dallas, Houston, Seattle, Long Island, Manhattan and Upper New York, among others.

Today, the Patel-Pauls own a Color Me Mine studio in Carmel, Ind., which they run with the help of their children. Shilpa’s studio office is decorated with items from Shilpa’s Indian heritage, and her creative side is showcased on ceramic pieces decorated with henna, which is displayed throughout the store.

From The Top: Bruce Westenfelder of Color Me Mine

By David Sharos For The Sun August 23, 2012 7:00PM

Bruce and Janie Westenfelder think that hands-on activities for kids are a good way to develop relationships as well as creativity. Their business offers just that — opportunities for youngsters to have those experiences with friends and so much more.

Bruce Westenfelder, 48, of Naperville spent years in the corporate world in sales, management and marketing roles for companies in the Chicago area. But the entrepreneurial bug bit him almost a decade ago, and in 2004, he opened Color Me Mine in Glenview — a sort of hybrid art studio and craft concept where patrons pick a piece of pottery and then design, paint, and have it glazed and ready for use.

“This is a 21-year-old franchise that offers a ‘paint your own ceramics’ experience that focuses on family-oriented activities,” Westenfelder said. “My wife and I both spent time in the corporate world, and when the last business I was with sold, we wanted to find something we could do together as a family, including our 5-year-old son who could grow up in the business.”

The Westenfelders added their second store in Naperville in 2007, followed by a third in Burr Ridge in 2010. Today, all three studios are experiencing positive growth, and in addition to running his locations, Westenfelder has taken on a corporate role where he spends 50 percent of this time serving as vice president of franchise development.

Mike Mooslin, president of Color Me Mine, raves about his VP.

“While we provide a lot of support for franchises regarding financial analysis, inventory, labor costs and other things, Bruce is savvy enough to know how to use it,” Mooslin said. “He and his wife run a tight ship, and they know how to stock, display and sell product day to day, and there is a esprit de corps among their employees.”

Franchise Chatter: Exclusive Interview with Mike Mooslin, President of Color Me Mine

Exclusive Interview with Mike Mooslin, President of Color Me Mine, Originator of the Paint-It-Yourself Ceramics Concept
by Franchise Chatter on June 29, 2012

Color Me Mine is the leader in the contemporary ceramics industry with nearly 140 locations in operation worldwide, including studios in 26 states throughout the United States. Founded in 1991, Color Me Mine provides consumers with an upscale art-as-entertainment studio offering a relaxing environment to choose from 350 unfinished pieces and express their own vision through painting.

The company recently reported that average unit volumes at its 140 studios worldwide nearly double that of independently owned paint-it-yourself ceramic studios. Although Color Me Mine represents
just 15 percent of U.S. ceramics locations, it accounts for approximately 30 percent of the revenue stream in the industry.

Mike Mooslin, president of Color Me Mine, has been involved in fast food franchising for over 30 years (7 years with McDonald’s, 17 years as President of Naugles Drive Thru, and 7 years as a franchise consultant to franchise attorneys and restaurant chains). Mike sold his consulting company and private restaurant holdings to develop KOO KOO ROO, a fast-casual restaurant concept, which was later sold to El Torito in the 1990s. In 1998, Mike bought Color Me Mine, the leader in the paint-it-yourself ceramics industry.

Franchise Chatter (FC): For those unfamiliar, what is the concept behind Color Me Mine?

Mike Mooslin (MM): Color Me Mine is the originator of the paint-it-yourself ceramics concept. Founded in 1991, Color Me Mine studios provide an entertainment, enrichment, and bonding experience for families. Customers come to a studio and pick a white, blank ceramic object and decorate the piece themselves with the assistance of our employees, if needed. The next step is to glaze and fire the pieces. Once that is completed, the customer comes back in a week or less to pick up their finished masterpiece.

FC: Can you talk about the business model for a Color Me Mine franchise? How do your franchisees generate revenues? What are the major expenses to generate those revenues?

MM: Cost of sales is quite low making the lease the biggest single expense. Cost of sales is about 18%, labor about 18%, rent about 20%, and administrative expenses about 20%. The average sales is $266,000 per year, with profit in excess of 22%. Primary revenue drivers, besides walk- ins (40% impulse), would be group sales from girl scouts, birthday parties, wedding and baby showers, fundraisers, day camps, and after-school enrichment programs.

FC: How has the difficult economy of the past few years impacted sales at Color Me Mine locations?

MM: We have actually seen an increase in sales during the recession. With the difficult economy during the past couple years, we have noticed an interesting trend in which people are traveling less and looking for entertainment close to home. I think people are also doing more personal gifts rather than buying expensive items at a department store for holidays or birthdays.

FC:Can you describe Color Me Mine’s primary target customer?

MM: Our primary target customer is women ages 18 to 54, and children under 12. Additionally, those with upper middle incomes and above, with a college education and a small family size are also ideal target customers.

FC: What is the ideal location for a Color Me Mine franchise? What is the size of a typical location?

MM: Color Me Mine’s ideal location is in vibrant downtown walking areas; entertainment or lifestyle power centers with movie theaters, day spas, women’s apparel, and children’s services; or malls.

FC: What is the typical role of a hands-on Color Me Mine franchise owner/operator? What are the staffing requirements for the average Color Me Mine location?

MM: Each studio hires 5-7 part time employees (about 90 employee hours). Color Me Mine franchisees work in the studios about 30 hours per week, and conduct marketing strategies (online and in-person on a grass roots basis) about 8-10 hours. Our franchisees and staff must have outgoing personalities, enjoy children, and be proficient with computers.

FC: What kind of training and support can your franchisees expect to receive?

MM: Color Me Mine hosts a 10-day program at the home office training facility. This includes three days in a local studio, plus five days with a trainer on site to help franchisees open their new studio. Additionally, the Color Me Mine home office team provides full real estate support (site evaluation, letters of intent, lease negotiation, contract signing, etc), construction and opening support, as well as ongoing operations support and training at regional and annual meetings. We also provide monthly financial and operating analysis.

FC: What can you tell us about the estimated initial investment, royalty fee, and profit potential for a Color Me Mine franchise?

MM: Initial investment is about $145,000. The royalty fee is 5% of gross sales. Additionally, franchisees pay 1% of gross sales to corporate for producing marketing materials, and $80 per month for 7-day per week online computer support and license upgrades to computer systems. Average profit for a studio open more than one year is about $58,000 ($86,000 for the top 25 ranked studios). This can be looked at as an additional income for a family rather than a business that alone will support a family.

FC: Why should some interested in opening a ceramics paint-it-yourself business go with a franchise like Color Me Mine versus starting one on their own?

MM: The business appears easier than it really is. Color Me Mine eases small business ownership by helping handle a lot of complexities that the average independent does not have the skill set to handle, such as real estate, leases, financial analysis, inventory, and merchandising management.

Unlike independent operators, Color Me Mine has national marketing partnerships with companies like Warner Bros., Pixar, Disney, etc.; national buying programs that reduce costs; brand awareness among landlords, making better locations available than would normally be offered to an independent; 24/7 support center; website management; social networking programs; national gift card program; bank financing support; business plan development; studio design; marketing programs; window display services, among others.

FC: What are your growth targets for 2012 and beyond? Which regions are you targeting for expansion?

MM: Color Me Mine would like to open more than 20 new studios in the coming years in key markets, such as Atlanta, Georgia; Austin, Texas; Charlotte, North Carolina; Chicago, Illinois; Cincinnati, Ohio; Cleveland, Ohio; Dallas, Texas; Houston, Texas; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; New York City, New York; Phoenix, Arizona; San Diego, California; Seattle, Washington; St. Louis, Missouri, among others.

Pottery chain wheels out big NYC expansion

Crain’s New York
Color Me Mine’s make-it-yourself chain aims to add three franchises here in the next year and to have 20 in the next several years. It’s an activity that’s great for “bonding.”
By Adrianne Pasquarelli | May 21, 2012

Do-it-yourself pottery chain Color Me Mine is painting the town red. The Glendale, Calif.-based franchiser is planning to open three Manhattan locations in the next 12 months, and expects to have 20 New York City outposts over the next several years, according to President Mike Mooslin.

“We want to go where family populations exist,” said Mr. Mooslin, noting that the company, which was founded in 1991, is concentrating on the Upper West Side and Upper East Side. It has operated a store in TriBeCa for five years.

Each space would cost a franchisee about $145,000 to open. Color Me, already a 140-unit chain with 15 additional outposts in the works around the world, is looking for Big Apple locations that range in size from 1,000 square feet to 1,400 square feet. So far, no leases are in negotiation though. Mr. Mooslin is also planning at least four Long Island shops.

With net sales up 3% last year, and its average store taking in $266,000 in annual revenue, the ceramics company is prospering by filling a need for family-oriented activities, according to Mr. Mooslin. The company caters to social activities such as baby showers, wedding parties and birthday parties. “There’s been a longing for more bonding activity and more family activity that’s missing in this age of cell phones and Gameboys and Wiis,” he said.

Another do-it-yourself franchiser, St. Louis-based Build-a-Bear Workshop, has had success in New York City with its 565 Fifth Ave. location. The company just reported $95.2 million in first quarter sales, a 1.6% increase over the year-earlier period, as well as a 3.6% increase in same-store sales for North America.

Not all of such retailers have prospered. Bath Junkie, an Arkansas-based company that allows shoppers to create their own beauty products, opened its first New York City outpost in NoLIta in 2008, but closed shortly after.

Snoopy Makes Appearance at Eagan’s Color Me Mine

Kids got a chance to take pictures with Snoopy, play trivia and watch the latest Peanuts DVD at Color Me Mine on Friday Night.
By David Henke
May 19, 2012
Snoopy paid a visit to Color Me Mine in Eagan on Friday night as part of a special, Peanuts-themed event held at the business.
As part of the event, “Peanuts Kids Night Out”, attendees got to take their pictures with Snoopy, play Peanuts trivia and watch the latest Peanuts movie, “Team Snoopy,” while painting and decorating their own ceramic artwork.
Color Me Mine owner Julie Schroeder said “Peanuts Kids Night Out” has a special resonance with families from Minnesota, Peanuts author Charles Schultz’ place of birth.
“It’s a really great thing for Minnesota,” Schroeder said.

Color Me Mine in Summit Continues to Prosper In Spite of the Economy

Color Me Mine in Summit Continues to Prosper In Spite of the Economy
By Michael M. Shapiro

SUMMIT, NJ – To say that Color Me Mine in Summit is a successful business is an understatement. The franchise owned by Short Hills resident Ann Mills is in the top three Color Me Mine franchises in the country in sales, vying for that position with more than 149 Color Me Mine franchises. But it’s not the sales records that Color Me Mine in Summit continues to break that make the business such a success. Color Me Mine is successful because of its highly-rated plentiful offerings and because of the astute leadership of owner Ann Mills.
Ann Mills is not the typical owner of a ceramics store. She has two Masters in Finance and Econometrics and was an international equity trader on Wall Street for thirteen years. She worked overseas in London for ten years.  She worked for four years for Morgan Stanley and was the head trader for Merrill Lynch on their international desk for five years. She was then the global head of equity cash trading for ABN Amro for four years.
So how did this highly sought-after financial wiz become the owner of Color Me Mine in Summit?
After her second daughter was born (she has two daughters, one in 8th grade and one in 4th), she decided she no longer wanted to commute and had recently moved to Short Hills. She decided to take four years off to raise her daughters. When her daughter was about to enter kindergarten, Mills visited Color Me Mine in Summit and noticed a sign that the business was for sale.
Ceramics had always been a hobby for Mills and she thought it would make for a great business. The Color Me Mine in Summit has been in town for over fourteen years and was one of the original franchise locations. Mills decided to purchase it and she has owned it since 2004.
Not content to rest on the laurels of the Summit location, Mills added an after school component, scout program, and expanded its summer camp. In addition, she increased Color Me Mine’s offerings to include multimedia art projects.
For the after school component, Mills created after school enrichment in more than twenty schools. She created a one-hour class after school that takes place in the schools. The sessions last for 8-11 weeks and are run through the PTOs, which contract with Mills to provide the service. The PTOs charge the students. “Our after school program grows our business in many different ways including increasing the visibility of the business,” Mills said. The after school program includes schools in Millburn, Westfield, Chatham, Long Hill, Short Hills, Livingston and Summit.
Under Ann Mills’ leadership, Color Me Mine is also very active in performing community service and charity work. “One of the areas of which I am most proud is the work we do with various charities. I try to choose one each year and do a fundraiser with them. This year, we ran a weekend event for Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Last year we ran an event for the NJ Food Bank,” Mills said. She added, “It is important to me to partner with the community that supports us and try to give something back.”
Mills said her business background has come in handy. For example, she realized that through economies of scale, if Color Me Mine in Summit was well-stocked with many different ceramics from which to choose and inventory was changed frequently, the offerings would attract more customers and customers would come from longer distances to participate.
Color Me Mine offers two main products. Customers can select already shaped bisque to paint. Color Me Mine then dips the ceramics in an outer glaze to seal them and then fires them in kilns at 1800 degrees for thirteen hours. They take eight hours to cool. Through this extensive process, which takes a week from start to finish, the end product is food safe and can be used just like household dishes.
Mills noted that all Color Me Mine products are non-toxic, lead free, and food safe.
The second offering from Color Me Mine is mosaics. Here, customers are provided with a wooden plaque and they can glue on mosaics. Color Me Mine in Summit offers 35-40 different colors and shapes. When the customer leaves, Color Me Mine grouts the plaque and it is ready a week later.
In addition to after school programs, Color Me Mine offers a summer camp, walk-in time, scout programs, and birthday parties. Color Me Mine is open Monday and Wednesday from 10-6, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, 10-8 and Sunday 12-6, except on holidays.
“It’s such a great business and a great town,” Mills told The Alternative Press. “This business has not missed a beat in spite of the economy.” She noted that 2008 was a record year for the Summit location and in 2009, the franchise matched its 2008 record. “We’ve had a great couple of years,” Mills said. She noted that the camp business is “very strong” and that day trips from camps to Color Me Mine are steadily increasing.
The only thing Color Me Mine is lacking? “Space,” said Mills, who noted that while the Color Me Mine in Summit has a large location, she could easily utilize twice as much space and still not have enough because of the demand.
In an economy that is just beginning to climb out of a recession, Color Me Mine’s lack of space due to increased demand is a “problem” that any business owner would love to have.
Visit Color Me Mine at 438 Springfield Avenue in Summit or on the web at summit.colormemine.com 

Photo above: Ann Mills, owner of Color Me Mine in Summit

Photo by Michael Shapiro