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Meet Kristin Heidbreder of Crafty Chassis

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kristin Heidbreder.

Kristin, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I am a Colorado native and I grew up in the small town of Castle Rock. I was very fortunate to have exposure to fine art, photography, performing arts, and music throughout my grade school and high school education. I found that my passion lies in fine arts. When I went to college, I started down the track of getting an art degree. During this time technology was changing, and digital art presented itself as a decent degree for prospective employment after college. After taking a couple of digital art courses, I knew I wasn’t fulfilled with creating art using a computer as the medium. During this process, I discovered the Mass Communications department and found a balance with creativity and storytelling through video production. My senior year I attended a Mass Comm career lunch and ended up sitting next to a former alumni who currently worked with a local production company called Rocket Pictures. That $10 lunch really paid off! In the next week, I had an internship with the company and I was working on the show, “Emergency Vets” for Animal Planet. This launched a 20-year career in TV Production!

During my TV career, I lived in Denver and I continued to produce fine art as a hobby. Denver was growing significantly and becoming a city rich in arts, food, culture, and music. The production company I had been working with was now called High Noon Productions, and as a company, they supported the CBCA (Colorado Business Committee of the Arts). In 2016 I was accepted to be in the CBCA Leadership Program. This was an 8- week program that really opened my eyes to the Denver art scene and the vast amount of non-profits, and for-profit organizations that were leading the way to our city becoming an art mecca in the Rockies! I had to find a way to become a part of this thriving community.

At the time I was working on an HGTV series called “Tiny House, Big Living.” A few of our episodes featured contractors here in Denver who specialize in converting school buses into homes. One of our participants in the show was converting a bus into her home, that also would act as a mobile studio for her to travel and make custom hats. This is when the idea of creating a mobile arts and crafts truck popped into my head. I did some research and quickly found out that there really wasn’t any other mobile business like this. For months this idea continued to permeate my brain and wake me up in the middle of the night. I knew the universe was telling me to take the leap and start my own business. In September of 2017, I became the proud owner of a 12-foot box truck, a blank canvas that would soon become its own unique piece of art!

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
I did put the cart before the horse in a sense when I finalized the order for a custom 12-foot box truck. When you order a custom vehicle, there’s no test driving it before you drive it off the lot. Once my order went in, there was an 8-week waiting period before the vehicle would be ready for pick up. I was on a deadline, and I really needed to consider the logistics of having such a large vehicle! Where could I park it, and would it be secure? Will it be easy to drive? What kind of insurance do I need, not only to cover the truck but to also cover general liability since this is a mobile business? What would I name the business?

Denver has a thriving food truck community. I started researching places where all of the food trucks are kept. I found the Denver Commissary where they offer kitchen rental space for food trucks, as well as secure monthly parking. They were able to offer me a parking spot at a monthly rate. The insurance piece was a little more complex. I started cold calling agents in Denver. The biggest difference from my business model compared to a food truck is that my overall idea would allow patrons to walk in and out of the truck to see displays and grab materials. This interactive piece posed as a problem for some underwriters. I realized that my business was similar to a fashion truck, and luckily a friend of mine owned a fashion truck. She was able to recommend an agent who had the right insurance company to support my business.

Time passed and the truck was complete and ready for pick up at the dealership. With my insurance in place and the parking place secured, I was as ready as I would ever be to pick this baby up! As I drove up to the dealership, the truck was parked out front. I took a minute to walk around it. It was a lot bigger than I imagined, 10 feet high, 21 feet long and 6 and half feet wide, luckily it wasn’t large enough for me to need a CDL driver’s license. The inside was in pristine condition, but very sterile looking with white walls and aluminum shelves which was far from my artistic concept, but this was only the beginning! The transaction was complete, I shook the car dealers hand and took the keys. A nervous excitement came over me as I jumped in the driver’s seat; it was time to drive. I took a minute to get used to the side mirrors; these are your best friend when driving a vehicle like this. As I drove off the lot and onto the highway, I knew my creativity and vision would be put to the ultimate test to transform this truck into a viable business.

In the following months, I came up with the business name “Crafty Chassis.” Crafty, is defined as the use of artful techniques to create a handmade item. Chassis is defined as the metal framework of any truck or vehicle. I worked with a couple of designers to create a logo as well as a design for the wrap of the vehicle. I started collecting funky antiques and pieces of furniture to transform the interior of the truck into a mini arts and crafts shop. I went back to my contractor friends who specialized in transforming buses into homes, and they helped me build out the inside and secure everything down for travel. All in all this transformation took about ten months, and the business was ready for launch!

I’ve been in business for less than a year now and I’m still in the most challenging stage which is getting the word out to the community and prioritizing my time and resources. I rely on networking groups, referrals, public events, social media, and community events as marketing tools. I’m full throttle going into the 2019 season, and I’ll learn a lot in the upcoming years ahead!

Please tell us about Crafty Chassis.
Crafty Chassis is a 12-foot box truck that has been transformed into a mobile arts and crafts studio. We offer a variety of DIY projects and provide all of the tools, materials, and guidance needed to help people of all ages create fun, colorful crafts. Our custom-built truck comes stuffed with enough creative inspiration to help even “non-artistic” people tap into their inner artist. The fun-loving vibe under our canopy provides a safe, social atmosphere where everyone can be inspired and take away a one of a kind handmade project. Crafty Chassis is the perfect pop-up art studio and entertainment for your next event!

We specialize in creating a custom project for any event including birthday parties, girl’s night out, bachelor/bachelorette parties, team building events, baby shower’s, weddings, graduations, and the list goes on! What makes Crafty Chassis unique is that we deliver the party to your location. We can also recommend local wineries, breweries, and distilleries that are willing to host your event. Crafty Chassis will customize a craft project, shop for materials, deliver to your location, instruct on site, set up and clean up. We deliver art for everyone!

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
Crafty Chassis has been in business for less than a year. At this point, there hasn’t been enough time to know what I could have done better or what I should have done differently. As a new entrepreneur, I plan to learn a lot more about what works and what doesn’t in the next few years.

Pricing:

  • Private parties start at $300
  • Individual projects at various events on-site range from $10-$30

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Raemirue Photography

Getting in touch: VoyageDenver is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

2 Comments

  1. Angela Little

    April 30, 2019 at 3:04 am

    Wow! What a great idea! Fun for all ages & skills! Good luck with your business Kristen, it should be a real winner!

  2. M Zavala

    May 2, 2019 at 4:21 pm

    This is a fantastic concept with applicability to a variety of settings: corporate, schools, senior activities and events. I have seen Crafty Chassis at work in neighborhood block parties, at breweries, wineries, and at a birthday party. Making art is fun. Making art as a community is even greater fun! Thank you Kristin for bringing this, and the joy you’ve created, to Life.

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