Like many businesses in the Alberta Arts District, Mimosa Studios pivoted its business strategy in the early days of the pandemic and supplied offerings to-go. Other businesses packaged meals. Mimosa boxes contained fired ceramic pieces, paints, glazes, pallets, brushes and instructions.
That strategy appealed to longtime customers, and it attracted new ones who sought activities to pursue at home. It also helped keep the paint-your-own pottery shop stay afloat so owner Austin Raglione could usher in its 21st year this month.
The beginnings of the business were also innovative. “In 2001, this was the emerging arts district, and I just wanted to be part of that community.” She offered space for different activities.
“This was a place for people to come in and talk about art, bring in their own crafting things – knitting, sewing, painting. By customer demand, it quickly became a paint-your-own studio,” Austin explained.
Her creative genes were nurtured as a child under her grandmother’s mimosa tree in Texas – hence the studio name. Just as Austin followed in her grandmother’s love of arts, so did her children. Her daughter, son and daughter-in-law have all helped operate the studio while it has grown across the years. “My grandson is 6 so he probably won’t start working there until he’s about 15,” she said with a laugh.
More tables were added – with pre-pandemic seating for 25 – and paintable shapes inventory increasing from 25 to 300. To accommodate social distancing, painters are limited currently to 15.
Customers continue to order the to-go kits online at Mimosa-Studios.com or visit the studio to select their supplies. “To-go kits will continue to be a cornerstone of our business,” Austin reported.
When she opened the shop, Austin began a tradition of building community partnerships. First she invited neighborhood children to paint tiles that still decorate Mimosa’s facade. That effort has been followed by donating hundreds of items to auctions to support nonprofits and more to local schools and incarcerated women.
To celebrate 20 years of community service, beginning Oct. 1, customers may select from 25 items hand-painted by Mimosa staff and designate from among three charities to receive the proceeds. On the anniversary of the shop – Saturday, Oct. 23 – 20% all sales proceeds will go to the Northeast Emergency Food Program.
For the holidays, Austin and her staff will continue their more recent tradition, “Paint a Tree, Give a Gift.” Through that project, $10 is donated from the sale of each Christmas tree and menorah to Raphael House to purchase gifts for children.
Nancy Varekamp is semiretired from her career in journalism, public relations and – her favorite work engagement – writing and editing targeted newsletters.