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Location: Lubbock, Texas

(Coming Soon: Charlotte, North Carolina and Nashville, Tennessee)

Tell me about your life before you started your Hawaii Fluid Art franchise.

Absolutely. Before HFA, the closest thing that I did to art was photography. That is a very different field, but one of the reasons why I like photography is that it is easier to get into, and a lot of art has kind of a high barrier to entry in terms of the number of hours that are required. And so I like photography for that reason. What I was doing at the time was franchising food trucks. And so my business partner and I, who are still business partners today, were in the process of becoming a franchise. We had a few different successful concepts, and we had gotten in with this consulting group that was helping us do all the leg work to become a franchise. There’s a lot of legal paperwork and just operational stuff that you have to get really sorted out. And so we were at a franchise convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, and everybody was talking about Hawaii Fluid Art. And that’s how we first came into contact with the concept. It was through Maya’s son Austin, who was there doing a trade show demonstration and running a franchising booth at this convention.

While I was doing the food trucks I was getting my master’s degree abroad, and I realized that I liked franchising so much that I wanted to do that instead. You know, the master’s was a way for me to get into law school, and getting into a good law program was in my mind at the time. The quickest way from point A to Point B was to become an attorney. The drudgery of it was enough to push me to look for something else. Franchising suited that. But we had spent a lot of money trying to become franchisors with the food trucks, and as I said, it was going well. We had a really viable concept. But ultimately we decided that Hawaii Fluid Art made a lot more sense. It had a lot fewer employees involved. It didn’t require a ton of heavy equipment. You know, restaurant equipment is very expensive. Food trailers are very expensive, and also I think that one of the nicest things that stood out to us is that Hawaii Fluid Art was so low maintenance. Food is regulatory intensive, and I’m certainly not a public health professional. So we sold everything and put it all into Hawaii Fluid Art.

What first attracted you to Hawaii Fluid Art?

I think it was the ease of use. And obviously, Item 19 looked wonderful.

That’s going to be a driving factor for most people, or pretty much everybody, I would imagine. But we were making probably more money with the food trucks. I think the biggest factor was just the ease of use. You know the number of employees and employee management is difficult. It’s probably my weakest area, to be totally transparent, because there are so many factors involved. To find a business that had only a few employees, no equipment, no real regulatory constraints, and that was just fun and had all this vibrant branding felt kind of like a unicorn, and that’s a word that a lot of consultants use. But for us, it did feel true — just the simplicity of it and the branding and the marketing and the way that Maya had put everything together and got these bulk negotiations done already. You know she talks about having done a lot of that leg work on the front end before she was even selling franchises. And that’s pretty rare. That’s the vibe I got from just going through the consulting process to become a franchisor and seeing all the other franchises and concepts there; it just it felt like the perfect time to come into the HFA group.

What is your favorite part of your Hawaii Fluid Art journey so far?

Wow, that’s tough. I feel the urge to say it’s a lot of different things. I think my favorite part is just the vibrancy of it, and I know that that’s not very tangible, but it’s such a fun brand. I’ve made tons of these paintings. My wife and I have a huge one hanging up in our living room. It’s just that everything about it is fun is harmless. It’s beneficial. In fact, you know, it’s not a brand where I feel a little bit guilty in any way about endorsing. It’s just the feel of it. It’s hard to express, and it sounds weak, but the truth is that it’s just a lot of fun. And luckily, the tangibles are there as well, when it comes down to it. I’m just really happy to be a part of it, truthfully.

What are your plans for getting involved with your community through fluid art?

Yeah, that’s a great question. So that will depend on each territory that I’m involved with. Charlotte and Nashville aren’t quite open just yet. But Nashville, for example, has great potential for the music scene. Charlotte has great potential for kids’ events, and there are a lot of local groups here in Charlotte — groups of working moms and moms with kids and young families that get together to do things. And so that’s one aspect of the family engagement, which is kind of similar to community engagement, but in terms of giving back, I guess, in a more specific sense. A lot of what we’ve done in Lubbock has been pairing with community organizations that we support.

So we work with a nonprofit that does housing for young girls. We’ve worked with groups with developmental disabilities to just provide fun experiences, and we’re willing to pass along some corporate-approved discounts to them whenever we can because you can see that it’s really beneficial for people, and there’s not a lot of fun and engaging activities that select populations can engage with in a way that’s not totally overstimulating for them. An arcade or things that have just hundreds of people around them, I imagine, would be difficult for some people. But here, people can experience mindful entertainment in what I imagine is kind of a rehabilitative type of way — or a stimulating type of way that’s appropriate. And so we’ve done probably one type of event a month for that, and I’d like to do more. We’ve been so busy that we kind of wait for groups to approach us, but we typically never turn a group down.

We also give gift cards as well for raffles and things like that. We’ve done a dozen of those. We don’t want to turn people away empty-handed. We’ve also given away gallery paintings that we have created to be able to provide something and showcase our art in different ways, while also benefiting the community.

What plans do you have for making your studio even better in the future?

That’s a great question as well. So there are a couple of things that we have in mind, and one of them is currently in motion. We happen to have a small outdoor space on the side of our studio, and so we put out some picnic tables and chairs and things like that. I think that makes it a more vibrant and welcoming space, and it also improves our versatility in terms of offering a slightly better package for kids’ birthday parties and things like that and going into the summer camp season, it just kind of made sense. We do get a lot of party bookings, so being able to set up food or drink outdoors is also a really nice offering.

What would you suggest to your fellow franchisees about preparing for the opening?

I get asked this question pretty frequently. I think opening one of our stores, compared to other businesses I’ve been in, is pretty straightforward, but at the same time, there are a lot of pieces that go into it. Being really mindful of the suggestions that the corporate staff make is important. And there’s a lot of excitement initially, and you want to put your own stamp on it, too, which is cool, and at HFA, we do have some flexibility there within our brand guidelines to experiment with certain things, but, in hindsight, for the first studio, I wish that I had relied more upon that information and less upon the information that I had accrued over the years as being a small business owner, because there’s a lot of really specific things that do just kind of enhance the feeling of the studio, and cumulatively, the effect of those is great. So just being mindful about suggestions in relation to location and store layout and things like that might save you some time later on down the road.

Also, location is really important. Finding the right location is a big factor in terms of how well your studio will do. And of course, the digital marketing component and the in-person marketing components will play greatly into the success of your store.