Today we’d like to introduce you to Karen Belmont.
So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I visited Evergreen from Iowa in 1993 for a family reunion and found it so charming. It seemed to have a draw for me. I remember lamenting that I would love to live here someday and what fun it would be to own a little shop in the historic downtown. I was a paralegal, working and living in Iowa at that time. In 2001, I moved from Iowa to Colorado, working once again as a paralegal. I’ve always loved art and gardening and started a fairy garden party business on the side called WeeScapes, while still working as a paralegal. I registered for a business planning class with the Denver Metro Small Business Association. It was one of the best decisions I have made and even won first place for my business plan, earning a trip to the Governor’s Mansion for the statewide competition, which I didn’t win. It definitely helped me with the business side of the studio.
Many friends kept telling me that I should have my own store. I didn’t feel that I could ever do that. Just for the heck of it, I decided to let a realtor show me Go Paint! which was for sale. The moment I walked in the door it spoke to me. I decided that I was at a time in my life that I wanted to do something that would fill my heart and soul. I was going to take the leap; leaving a stable job with the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office. I think my family thought I was crazy. I remember walking around the lake in Evergreen the night before the closing on the business; scared to death at what I was about to do. It was a life-changing decision. I would be solely responsible for my own future and income. I was speaking out loud, “God, Universe, whatever is up there, please show me a sign”. Many of my friends hike and find heart-shaped rocks, I asked to find a heart rock. I took a few more steps and felt a tug on my left arm. I looked down and there it was a heart rock. Not only a heart in one direction, but it could be turned in three different directions, all with the tell-tale heart shape. I remember looking up and saying, “okay, done deal”. This heart rock remains on my register at the studio still today. I have told this story to many of my customers, sometimes inspiring a few to take the leap. I have never regretted my decision and have owned Go Paint! for four years now. Dreams do come true.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
As a small business owner, you wear many hats. It definitely takes a lot of time and attention in order to succeed. Hiring employees is always a challenge. You have to keep up on all of the new laws, hiring do’s and don’ts, wage raises, etc. Hiring in a tight job market.
Marketing is always a challenge with an ever-changing landscape with Social Media and modern technology. Staying on top of trends in our industry and what the hottest new toy or movie is with the kids. Where is the bang for my buck?
Even with all the challenges, I love what I do, and I’ve met so many interesting and fabulous people. My studio is my home-away-from-home
Go Paint! with Fire-n-Faeries – what should we know? What do you do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Go Paint! is a paint-your-own pottery studio that has been in Evergreen for 18 years! I brought in the fairy gardens I call WeeScapes and when paired with the ceramics is called Fire-n-Faeries. It has been a great fit, adding fun, imagination, and creativity to the studio. I also have added canvas painting and board art.
I love working with our local non-profits on fundraisers. We just completed our 10th year of Mountain Bowls (formerly known as Empty Bowls) with the Mountain Resource Center. People paint the bowls and donate them to the events. We facilitate parties, for the bowls. Churches, businesses, scout troops, schools, ladies’ groups, etc. come in and paint and have a great time, all while making an important contribution and learning about the Mountain Resource Center.
We are currently in the middle of our 12th Annual Art of the Egg Contest. Every spring it brings the community and local artists, (professional and amateur) together to paint beautiful duck-sized ceramic eggs. The eggs are juried and voted on. The professional eggs are sold in a silent auction. The proceeds benefit our Downtown Evergreen events, such as The Holiday Walk. I also started the Art of the Egg Hunt; a fun scavenger hunt to drive people into our local downtown businesses during a slower time of year. Families love it and the store owners have fun too.
Go Paint! takes all of our supplies to the local assisted living centers, for the residents to paint. We usually go several times a year to Life Care Center, Elk Run Assisted Living Center and the Senior Resource Center. Always rewarding to see a smile on their faces.
I started the Evergreen Enchanted Fairies Festival two years ago, held in Mountain Village in Downtown Evergreen, Go Paint!. It has become an annual event, the 2nd Sunday of September. Kids and adults love it. We involved three non-profits last year raising funds for them with our Fairy Quest for Conservation. It has been compared to a miniature Renaissance Festival. The festival keeps growing with approximately 600 attendees last year. I love coming up with more and more imaginative ideas. This year the funds will benefit Lean In, a new non-profit that provides free support, counseling and referral services to youth in the Evergreen and surrounding mountain area communities and supports the process of education and raised awareness of social, emotional and mental health issues.
I am currently working on another fundraiser for Lean In to address the suicide and mental health issues in our local high school. I lost my step-son two years ago to this terrible disease and feel the need to do something that hopefully will make a difference; even if it’s a small one. I’ve been speaking with many businesses and individuals interested in this fundraiser, which I hope to have in place next year.
I also work with the Denver Pachyderm Zookeeper, Dave Johnson, for the Katie Adamson Conservation Fund, raising money to help to save the rhinos and elephants in Nepal and Tanzania. We’ve had several fundraisers and when people paint a rhino or elephant in the studio, we donate 15% to the KACF. To date, we have raised approximately $4,000.00 and are currently working on a jaguar fundraiser to be held in May.
Of course countless birthday parties, team building events, scout troops, church groups, ladies groups, bridal showers, painting, and fairy garden creations; we are always open to imaginative new ideas.
We are a fun and happy place where people come together and create art in a comfortable, relaxing atmosphere. I see children grow up and see their art skills improve. Painting is very therapeutic. It is very rewarding to have the type of business where you can help with fundraisers and “think outside the box” to work with the community and hopefully make a bit of a difference. I have met some wonderful people and established some wonderful friendships. The hugs I get from the kids are the best!
What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
I would say working with the non-profits and being able to make a difference in the community. It really is a special feeling to know that you have a business that can do this. We won the Evergreen Chamber of Commerce People’s Choice Award last year, which makes me realize that the people in our community do appreciate all of your hard work.
- Address: 4602 Plettner Ln, Suite 2B, Evergreen, CO 80439
- Website: www.gopaintfun.com
- Phone: 303-697-3089
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Facebook: kb2003