Q&A With Kidcreate Studio Founder and Chief Creative Officer Lara Olson
Kidcreate Studio founder and Chief Creative Officer Lara Olson details why she founded the arts and crafts franchise brand and her vision for the future.
What inspired you to found Kidcreate Studio?
The idea came when my kids were in their early elementary years. My son was coming home a little frustrated with spelling and reading but was so excited about his art classes. Looking back at how I felt as a student at that age, I knew what he was going through. He was only getting art once a week, and it wasn't enough. I began searching for something to supplement what he was getting in school and couldn't find what I wanted for him. What I wanted was what Kidcreate Studio is today. I became obsessed with the idea of creating this new environment for children to engage their creativity. It took 12 years to build to this vision, but we’re finally here.
What about Kidcreate Studio makes it unique within its industry?
The physical brick-and-mortar locations we utilize make us stand out. Our studio space is totally kid-friendly—all tables are at kid height, there are two parakeet mascots in each studio named Arty and Crafty, and we have books, legos and puzzles to help kids transition away from their parents as they're dropped off. Our whole space is designed to supplement what we’re doing.
Kidcreate Studio also utilizes a 2-in-1 business model. We have our studio locations where we hold classes and camps, but we also offer on-the-go classes, meaning we establish partnerships with other local organizations to host Kidcreate classes and camps at their locations. That’s something that can’t be found elsewhere in our segment.
Our locations are also completely tech-free for students. It's so hard to get kids away from devices these days; to separate them from these distractions and help them tap into creativity at the studio is so important and a huge differentiator for us. Between schools cutting back on art education and sports being in such high demand as far as kids’ time is concerned, providing another outlet that gets kids away from screens is something a lot of parents see value in and are looking for.
Why is Kidcreate Studio a good investment?
Our 2-in-1 business model is worthwhile on the consumer end because our customers have the option to register their kids for classes at our studio locations. Additionally, if they're looking for a different time slot or more convenient option, they can explore where our on-the-go classes are offered and still get that same experience for their children. It’s equally as important for franchisees because it expands their client base and makes our growth margins that much higher than that of the competition.
What have been some of the brand's most important milestones since it started?
Our first studio opened in Eden Prairie, Minnesota in 2008. It’s still our top-performing location in the system.
Our second corporate-owned studio opened in Woodbury, Minnesota, a suburb of Minneapolis, three years later. I wanted to get our first location to a point of profitability before expanding, so this was a big moment for us
Franchising was always what I had in mind as far as how I wanted the concept to grow, but we took our time getting to that point. We first nailed down our systems and processes, then began franchising two years ago. Right now we're really focusing on national expansion, but we’re doing it in a way I’m proud of. We’re not after speed, but rather finding the right partners and the right location. We’re being particular about the franchisees we’re bringing on.
How does Kidcreate Studio support franchisees?
We have a really fantastic launch program for our franchisees. It starts immediately after the welcome call and runs all the way through the grand opening. I oversee this, so franchisees get a lot of love and direction from me as the founder. We move as quickly and as stress-free as we can, opening locations in four to six months, on average. Franchisees come to Minneapolis for their initial training, then we send a trainer out to their location five days before their grand opening to help with final studio setup and to provide another round of training. Our process has been working really well considering how young of a brand we are.
After the training program is the grand opening, then post-opening, which provides more one-on-one support for the first year after franchisees open their studios. Franchisees also have full access to our operations manual and full training manual, e-courses covering every aspect of the business and a library of sales calls to utilize, as developing the on-the-go opportunity is an essential component of our business model.