Don’t fear technology. At first it might seem like things take longer with technology and it’s learning curve, but sooner than you realize, you’ll master that new way of doing things and be glad you did!
The COVID19 pandemic has disrupted all of our lives. But sometimes disruptions can be times of opportunity. Many people’s livelihoods have been hurt by the pandemic. But some saw this as an opportune time to take their lives in a new direction.
As a part of this series called “How I Was Able To Pivot To A New Exciting Opportunity Because Of The Pandemic”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Kimberly Bavington, CEO of ART CLASSES FOR KIDS.
For nearly 30 years, Las Vegan Kim Bavington, artist, art teacher and founder of the popular Art Classes for Kids, has inspired literally generations of young artists to mine their creativity, refine their fine art skills and grow their excitement for visual art in her private lessons, group classes, birthday parties and school-break camps, as well as on her YouTube channel. Kids and families can enjoy Bavington’s extraordinary art instruction at home via her Art Classes for Kids YouTube channel, her virtual summer art camp, ART CAMP IN A BOX, and the FALL 2020 SEMESTER ART BOX, and now the WINTER ART BOX collection. For more information, visit www.artclassesforkids.com or follow onFacebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we start, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?
Born in Berkley, California to artists, my father’s career brought us to Vegas in 1963 where he began a 40 year career as an industrial designer creating the big “chaser light” marquee signs tourists gaze upon on The Strip. Sadly, my parents divorced when I was 5 years old. They both influenced and supported me with their creativity.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
I actually have two that have proven to be equally relevant… When I was a child, my father told me “Do what you have a passion for and turn that into a way to make a living.” When I was a teen, my mother told me “Never depend on someone else or your own livelihood.” Now a single mother myself after a 20 year marriage to a successful artist, I’m supporting my twin 12 year olds and myself with my business of inspiring others with art.
Is there a particular book, podcast, or film that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
Hmmm, I never really thought about that before. Perhaps it was Willy Wonka (the original movie version), I’ve always wanted kids who come into my environment either in person or now online and feel like it’s magical and inspiring, but unlike Wonka’s factory, I want them to leave feeling great about their experience!
Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. Can you tell our readers about your career experience before the Pandemic began?
While in High School and College, my part time jobs were being a hostess at an upscale restaurant, doing visual merchandising for retail clothing stores, graphic design, teaching aerobic, and modeling. After graduating college with an Art Degree, I worked as a graphic designer and an art director in the advertising field, then opened a Graphic Design Firm as I taught my friends kids art on weekends.
For the decades before the Pandemic, I worked a lot from home. I have a home office, home studio space, and plenty of storage. I taught private lessons at home as well as group art classes and small art camps. I also went out in the field teaching group classes at rented by the hour facilities in the suburbs of my Las Vegas community where a majority of young families live. I would also teach private lessons at student’s homes and put on art themed parties.
So as you can imagine, when the pandemic hit, 100% of my business was no longer viable since nothing could be done in-person without extreme caution and safety measures — a huge challenge to meet when working with kids.
What did you do to pivot as a result of the Pandemic?
The Pandemic really pushed me to do something I knew I wanted to do for a long time, but didn’t have ample time for — creating accessible fine art lessons online.
Digitizing everything was a sink or swim decision, and it wasn’t easy! Filming and editing lessons, purchasing supplies to resell while stores were closed, building boxes, pricing them accordingly, providing support, bringing marketing online… all of it could get overwhelming at times. There were a lot of nights where I’d find myself up at 3am working, all while helping two kids at home with their new “distance learning,” but it’s all been worth it.
I was very fortunate to have the space at home and turned my garage into a warehouse, my studio into a little factory for assembling boxes, and my living room became a full time television studio!
Can you tell us about the specific “Aha moment” that gave you the idea to start this new path?
After posting videos for 2 years on my YouTube Channel, then posting daily once the Pandemic lock down began, I realized that I needed a quicker way to monetize video instruction. With my business being my only form of income and having to close it due to the need for distance learning, coupled with my liability insurance company emailing me that “a pandemic is not a national disaster and all policyholders are not covered for liability during a pandemic,” I had an idea.
As I realized that I was going to refund all the parents who had pre-registered and pre-paid for my originally scheduled summer art camp, I came up with the idea to simulate my decades successful Art Camp in a virtual format.
To do this, I was going to have to provide the supplies, and figure out how to set up the technology that it would take. Luckily, one of my past students and now an employee came to my rescue and with her current career as a digital marketing specialist, knew exactly how to set up my ART CAMP IN A BOX idea and was willing to help me out.
How are things going with this new initiative?
Things are going exceptionally well. The first major change was moving our summer ART CAMP to a completely online ART CAMP IN A BOX, which reached over 800 kids across the globe. Our YouTube channel doubled in following, and we have some videos with tens of thousands of views. From there, we realized that this channel is going to be a major focus for us in the coming years.
Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
Yes, this person is Chloe, my former student turned employee whom I mentioned above. She is positive, tech savvy, reliable, fearless and knows, believes in, and fully understands my business. She’s part of the new generation of young business people who grew up with the language of social media. I am also grateful to all those students who volunteered to help me pack boxes when I had no idea how much manpower it would take once the Art Boxes began to sell quicker than I could make them!
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started in this new direction?
We’ve had huge corporations like Salesforce and Neutrogena reach out to us to build art projects specifically for their employees and their families — that was something we never anticipated, but it’s been a really fun new challenge!
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started leading my organization” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- Don’t own your business with someone else, if you can do it without a partner. I actually had a business partner for approx. 4 years after I had already owned my business all by myself for 6 years. Now that seems so long ago. It’s hard to own a business with another person who isn’t nearly as hardworking for the company’s success, or wants to take things in a different direction after becoming a partner.
- Accept that your business will always be evolving — with change comes the ability for more success. For many of the successful years in business, I didn’t make many changes because I thought it was running just fine. I now realize that with every change or growing pain, came greater success.
- Don’t fear technology. At first it might seem like things take longer with technology and it’s learning curve, but sooner than you realize, you’ll master that new way of doing things and be glad you did!
- You can’t do it all yourself. Since you can’t buy time, that commodity is limited and you must still get your sleep, you’re going to have to hire some help. If funds are low, start by subcontracting help on a part time basis until that proves to make your company more able to increase hours and salaries.
- Make time for your health, both physical and mental. Get a full night’s sleep and fit that extra hour in a day, and don’t feel guilty that it’s taking an hour out of your work day. It can be done and you’ll feel better the rest of the day working with more energy!
So many of us have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. Can you share the strategies that you have used to optimize your mental wellness during this stressful period?
I am naturally a pretty positive person, and I have survival instincts. I grew up with very little and had a happy childhood and as an adult have experienced a lot of the best things, but know that I don’t need a lot of fancy stuff to be happy. Each day I try to emphasise the positives and appreciate what I DO HAVE and not what I DON’T. I make sure everyday has some moments of fun mixed in with all the work.
I have set up a really positive environment for my kids to do distance learning so that it’s almost better than actually going to school. My one splurge was to keep my kids tutor checking in with us twice a week for an hour, and that gives me a needed release from being the only one with expectations for their schooling. It’s truly worth every dime.
Lastly, I have been in touch with 3 families during the pandemic, each of their households with kids and parents working from home, making sure everyone stays healthy. I make a conscious effort to coordinate get togethers with the kids taking turns giving parents a break from their kids. This has really helped with the mental health experienced during the pandemic.
As tough as this Pandemic has been I think the biggest silver lining has been the opportunity to spend more time with my kids, to do something that I have always wanted to do (reach kids outside of my small community), and use all the skills I’ve acquired in my various jobs/careers in one job. Once I became a mother, someone once asked me what would you be doing if you had another career aside from teaching kids art. Immediately I exclaimed “I’d love to have a kids television show all about inspiring them with art, and have more time for my kids while they are young” …and now I’m doing that!
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
First of all, never stop learning! When you think your human brain is full, it really can fit more in it and once it’s in, you’ve got more tools when needed.
Second, I used to think that my strength was inspiring kids with art and in part it is, but where I see the biggest influence is with taking someone’s first job and having a positive influence on their entire career. I think if more businesses had an internship program for middle schoolers and high schoolers it would make a big difference in kids setting goals and for a successful future, after all they are our future. I start kids by asking them to help out while they are young, because they are looking for something to do that fulfills them and are at the age when they aren’t taking a job just to earn money, they are curious to learn in an environment that seems really positive.
Once a 13 or 14 year old has volunteered for me a few hours a week for a year, and my having such high standards, they are more qualified than some adults with a decade of working around kids. These volunteers get to the top of the list of applicants when an assistant instructor position opens and after a year or two of assisting part time, are naturals at teaching. Most of my instructors are college students and are highly creative suggesting project ideas and excited to learn about artists that I create projects about.
Years later, I find them in their various creative careers telling me about how their first job influenced them and how they realized that many of the skills they acquired when volunteering, they still use in their careers today.
Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have lunch with, and why? Maybe we can tag them and see what happens!
I would love to sit down with Oprah. First of all she’d have something healthy to eat, and her positive energy would be so easing. I love how she is so open to new ideas, isn’t afraid of new challenges, is inspired by so many others, converses with respect and seems non-judgmental. After I hear her talk or interview someone, she makes me want to be the nicest and kindest I can be.
How can our readers follow you online?
Readers can find us on our website https://www.artclassesforkids.com, YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/artclassesforkids, Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/artclassesforkids, Pinterest at https://www.pinterest.com/artclassesforkids/, and Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/artclassesforkidslasvegas.
Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!