While most of us see a painting and wonder about the canvas’s cost or the artist’s skill, Rebecca Barborak doesn’t just wonder–she creates.
Barborak, a Santa Fe graduate who also has a BS in Psychology from the University of Florida, recently founded Corks & Colors Studio, a weekly art class that invites adults to learn to paint their own masterpiece in a relaxing setting.
“What fulfills me is watching my own ideas grow and happen. Of all the projects in my life, this has been the biggest,” says Barborak, who is incubating her new business at Santa Fe’s Center for Innovation and Economic Development (CIED).
The 26-year-old Barborak has been an entrepreneur for as long as she can remember. As a young child growing up in Costa Rica, she sold lemons from her family’s backyard tree to neighbors. It was also in Costa Rica that Barborak began her artistic ventures, starting with a jewelry business.
“After I moved to the US when I was nine or 10, I would go back every summer and buy the beads to make the jewelry,” says Barborak. “Being that close to cultural diversity helped me appreciate different forms of art.”
Twelve-year-old Barborak sold jewelry to family and friends, but this passion flourished into a full-scale online business, as the 19-year-old Barborak bought jewelry wholesale to sell through her website. Today, she still runs Funkie Tree Gifts and Jewels, which sells primarily jewelry but has expanded to include bags and décor.
Starting one company wasn’t enough for Barborak, though. After seeing a similar class in another state, she decided this year to implement the idea of an adult-friendly art class, where participants can sit back, pop the cork on their favorite bottle of wine, and unwind with an evening of painting.
“I’m the kind of person who would go out and buy a canvas to paint if that’s really what I wanted to do, but some people don’t have the time or the motivation,” she says. “So I provide that opportunity at Corks & Colors Studio.”
For a fee of around $25, Corks & Colors Studio provides everything from canvases to brushes, as well as the direction of experienced artists who break down the painting process into simple steps. With kids’ and couples’ courses available, each night has a new and unique theme. One night students might channel their inner Van Gogh by painting cherry blossoms, while another might be devoted to painting edgy cityscapes.
“Plus, one of the things for adult classes is we encourage students to bring drinks,” says Barborak. “But it doesn’t have to be wine. It can be Starbucks with cheese and crackers– whatever makes you happy.”
Two and a half months ago, Corks & Colors Studio started out by advertising through a free Facebook fan page with links to a website where consumers could sign up for an art class. Determined not to take out loans to promote her new business, Barborak instead fostered interest in Corks & Colors Studio by partnering with another local company, Sweet Serendipity Photography, through an online contest.
“When I started Corks & Colors Studio, I did it with my own money, so it couldn’t have started without the snowball effect of Internet advertising,” says Barborak.
Also crucial to her success was the foundation provided by the CIED. Barborak first came across the CIED when searching to rent a room for her studio classes, and the meeting spaces CEID offers for its entrepreneurs turned out to be exactly what she needed.
“I googled [the CIED], and I thought, ‘I fit right into the category of what they’re looking for, as far as new businesses looking for support,'” says Barborak. “I didn’t even know CIED existed until I was searching for it, and all they really wanted from me was for my business to be successful, so it was a perfect opportunity.”
The CIED accepted Corks & Colors Studio as part of its Entrepreneur Incubator program, which provides small businesses with access to resources such as legal experts, human resources specialists, and organizational coaches. The program also facilitates the exchange of ideas between incubating businesses, a feature which Barborak values.
“I’ve found every little bit of the CIED important to my business, and it’s been a great community resource for me here in Gainesville,” she says.
Corks & Colors Studio continues to grow, with new print advertisements in local magazines such as Gainesville Today and plans for a discounted student night, but Barborak’s main concern remains the same: the happiness of her customers.
“People who have never painted, who did not think they could do it, walk out with a smile. That’s my gratification-to see them do something they’ve never done before and have fun with it.”
For more information about incubating a business at the CIED, contact Dug Jones at 352-395-5269 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
~ This press release was written by Allison Griner, Communication Specialist, College Relations