Shawn Palek had been an airbrush artist for 27 years before he finally decided to seek out a location to serve both as a studio for his own creations and as a place to display his artwork on a more permanent basis. Working with his wife and colleague, Misty Palek, Shawn opened the studio, offering art classes to help cover the overhead costs. After discovering a location a few blocks from the State Capitol Building in Des Moines, they went forward in establishing their business, Palek Studio and Gallery.
What separates Palek Studio and Gallery from other art teaching programs is that the classes are designed for people who just want to learn a little about art and have some fun. The classes last only a few hours and are very reasonably priced; they aren’t like the expensive eight week courses people sign up for.
“We classify ourselves as industry leaders and deem our business the ‘athletic club of art,’ meaning we offer short, inexpensive classes from beginners to advanced,” Misty Palek said.
Palek Studio and Gallery offers the community an artistic outlet where people not only have the chance to learn the various techniques in art making, but local artists can display their work to the public.
Rather than taking out an SBA loan, the business was funded with simple cash flows. The partners approached Mid Iowa SBDC Regional Director Christina Moffatt to help them with ideas. They needed help with the bigger picture—to set their business up to succeed as well as differentiating it from the competition by offering unique services.
Of their experience with the SBDC, the partners said, “Great! We really enjoyed just talking about our ideas with the counselor and her giving us feedback on if our ideas were realistic.”
Palek Studio and Gallery has no employees, instead they contract instructors to teach their classes. Shawn and Misty do not get paid by the company, but run it in their spare time and business has been steady. The studio is marketed through various outlets including social media, community calendars of events, art shows, and word of mouth.
Misty currently operates a bookkeeping service out of the gallery, and the business partners plan to expand that business. They also plan on expanding their art course offerings for the general public, building off of their six new instructors.
Palek Studio and Gallery didn’t need a lot of help from the SBDC because they’d been in business for a while, but they do recommend that any new, young artists visit their local SBDC for assistance with their businesses.