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Location: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

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

I’ve always enjoyed art, and I took some classes as a student at different levels. Then I became a military wife and a stay-at-home-mom for 20 years and raised four children. I finished my degree because I thought I needed to be able to do something after the children were in school, and I began working for the Oklahoma Restaurant Association in PR, events, and eventually,  the Director of Convention. I was there for 20 years. I just retired last year, in April of 2022. It was a full, busy job, and I was ready for retirement and maybe something else. 

Just a little more background: While I was getting my bachelor’s degree, I first got an associate’s degree in Visual Arts. That involved touching a lot of different types of art. That was eye opening, and I loved it. I got my bachelor’s degree in journalism advertising so that I could use my talents digitally to make some money, as most artists have trouble making a living in visual arts.

What first attracted you to Hawaii Fluid Art?

I met Maya before Hawaii Fluid Art was even a seed in her brain, in 2018, I believe. She is a friend of a friend of mine here in Oklahoma, and when I was going to Hawaii with my daughter and another friend, my OK friend said, “Oh, you should say hi to my friend Maya.” I met and had lunch with Maya when she was working for a bank. We became friends, and I followed her on Facebook and just watched her progress. It was kind of neat that I knew her. Watching her progress, I’m thinking, “Oh, man, I want that one! That piece of art is great. I love that piece!” I was watching her and envying her creativity and how beautiful the stuff was. And then she started talking franchise, and I said “Hmm!” So I sent her a little message saying, “Maya, I really think I need to know some more about this.” We started talking in Spring of 2022 when I was already going to retire. That was in the  works already, and about the time I was retiring, I was thinking ”Wow, you know this is  good timing. This might be being put in my lap.”  I just started thinking about it. Around July or August, Maya and I were talking, and I felt I had to just take a leap. So I did.

Another one of the main reasons I joined Hawaii Fluid Art is my family - my four children, their wonderful spouses and nine grandchildren. One granddaughter is already working here, and I hope that continues with all the others as they get old enough. I hope this will be a family business that gets passed down and shared.

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

It has been the people walking in here. I’ve made tons of friends. When people are finished making a piece of art, they’re joyful, excited, amazed, proud, and they want to be your best friend and come back again. There was a lady in here yesterday. She probably stayed and talked for two hours. She lives a little ways away, and we were talking about the franchise, and I handed her a franchise brochure because she’s checked into other franchises. And I said, “Well, you probably should check into this one because it’s affordable - and it’s fun.” 

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

I’ve done a few things with some charitable organizations: Wounded Warriors and Autism, and I think I’d like to expand that. It was fun and not difficult to make the plans, and people are really enthusiastic about it. I’m just now getting to the point where I’m feeling like the studio is running. I just need to contact the media and start reaching out the community. So I’m just getting to that point now, at about seven months, where I feel like that’s becoming more important than learning how to do the techniques, getting the employees trained, figuring out the paperwork/reports, etc. Now, maybe I can breathe a little bit and step outside the store.  Maya did a press release when I first opened, and I’m now wanting to tap on the shoulders of the entertainment media here “What’s Happening in OK”  newspapers that go out every week. I’m gathering media contact emails.

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

 I have been expanding the retail section.  It started out kind of basic and kind of small. Maya and I discussed it, and we thought that it would help boost my income if I could get a larger retail area. The way she put it was, “Make there be so much in there that there’s something that they’re going to want to take something with them.” So I’ve been working on that since February, and I have probably doubled the amount of items. Hopefully, now it will just be maintenance, re-restocking as things go out the door.

But as to the first part of the question about what I want to do in the future,  I think I need to use the media community to get the word out in Oklahoma City. I don’t think I am as far advanced as some of the places in Texas because part of my problem, again, is that it’s just me, and I’m not a tech person. I don’t understand all the steps in the Facebook ads and the boosting, etc. I’ve had to rely a lot on the HFA marketing group to make ads, boost them. I want to learn more, and I need to educate myself, even if I still continue to use their talents.  I want to know where it’s going. I just updated my LinkedIn profile, and I’m going to invite my contacts to follow our HFA LinkedIn page. I have a lot of contacts from my prior career. I also carry a little stack of business cards with me everywhere I go-even to the dentist’s office!

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

Our opening was fantastic, and I believe that planning events is a talent from my previous career. I let other people take care of the media and advertising, but I took care of food, made the arrangements for Hawaiian dancers, and a music trio and a multitude of other things. We had a full house, with probably 80 -100 people in and out for several hours.

In May, I had a Mother’s Day event, which was another grand effort to try to get people in the door, and we had more than I could handle. Honestly, if I did things like that all the time, I’d already need a larger studio! I had all the tables going, so probably about 30 people at a time. There were only two of us working, so I called all my kids and said, “You’re coming ,right?” They all have some knowledge, and they’ve all done art with me here, so they really helped out. It was a very busy day. I’ve had some of those days where, honestly, we started 11:00, go home at 7:30, turn on heating pads, put our feet up and take Tylenol. 

The other thing about opening is, I think Maya and I did it by trial and error at first - and probably Elva, too. We were still feeling our way and still asking questions, and Maya was my sole support. There wasn’t as much known then as there is right now for new franchisees. Now there is a full franchise team with more direction on what to do with taxes, permits, all those details that confounded me. I loved having kind of a personal contact with Maya every step of the way. As HFA grows I see that she’s got to help a whole lot of people, so she’s built a team to support us.

We were learning by our mistakes, learning by our missteps, but I think it was good. I was just very, very excited about it, so I was at the studio all the time, painting and sanding. It was a great pre-opening and Grand Opening. 

I have faith that Hawaii Fluid Art was presented to me in such a positive, encouraging way that it was a “no-brainer” to jump on Maya’s bandwagon. On the days that I was hesitant, Maya was there to be my cheerleader!