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Turning a Passion for Art into a Business

Classroom of a different kind

When you are passionate about something, being able to turn that into a viable business is ideal.  Beth O’Hanlon’s passion is art. For more than 20 years she has been both an artist and a teacher. She is certified in art and gifted education, and has experience in framing, gallery work, residencies, and teaches art history at Southeast Community College. She lives and breathes art.

Two years ago Beth was in between a teaching career and thought a business sounded intriguing. Beth explored entrepreneurship and went from there. “This was the first business I had purchased, and I wanted to make sure it was the right decision,” she said. “I take my time and process things slowly. I didn’t know much about owning a business, so the prospect was a little frightening.”

She called upon her support system that included her brother, who owns his own business in Lincoln, and several of her friends who are in the art industry. “My brother taught me what to look for from a business perspective,” Beth explained. “I had a lot of good ideas for what I wanted to do with the business, but I needed advice on how to implement it all.”

 

"It was like sledding down a steel-face cliff...it was scary to do, but so rewarding afterward. It's worth taking the chance."

 

Those ideas have since been implemented, transforming Adventure in Art to a true educational studio for both adults and kids. Focusing on art fundamentals, Beth personally teaches all classes, including drawing, painting, pottery, mosaic, glass fusion, jewelry making, and weaving. She offers classes in a variety of ways, from individual one-time classes, to a series, to week-long summer camps and birthday parties for kids. “Right now I’m teaching all of the classes, so I don’t have time to go to art gallery openings and network like I want to,” Beth said. She plans to change that by bringing on additional instructors so that she can focus on providing classes off-site at organizations throughout the community. “I’d like to do 50 percent administrative and 50 percent teaching, rather than 100 percent of it myself.”

Beth wears all hats in her business, from class instructor to accountant and janitor. Through her hard work she has already made the business successful, increasing it month over month. And she loves having the freedom to be creative and introduce new projects, art mediums, and classes to the community. “The people of Omaha have been so wonderful,” she said. “I can’t say enough about everyone who comes to take my classes.”

The feedback she’s received has been overwhelming and confirms that her initial concept was a good one. “It’s a great business, and I want to keep growing it,” she said. “There’s obviously a niche here for me.” Looking back on the process of purchasing the business, Beth reflected on that initial fear she had. “It was like sledding down a steel-faced cliff,” she said. “It was scary to do, but so rewarding afterward. It’s worth taking the chance. You’ll be part of a whole new community of business owners, and you realize you have something valuable to offer.”   

 

The Firm Deal Review

Lender: Cassie Kohl, Union Bank & Trust

Growth Plans: Add an art gallery and more corporate events

Location: Benson

Former Occupation: Teacher

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