Art instruction proves to help children with the development of motor skills, language skills, social skills, and more. However, in recent years fewer public schools have been able to offer art programs to their students. Currently, more than one million students in America have no access to art or music education.
Spending time creating can also have a healing effect.
“After I had my youngest child, I experienced post-partum depression. I started to draw to just get my mind off of things. I never enjoyed art before. I loved writing but drawing wasn’t my thing. I didn’t even think I could draw.”
The idea to start Kidz Kreationz struck Hall in one of those relaxed moments. “One day I drew this really good picture of The Joker. I absolutely love Batman, and my favorite character is Joker. When I painted it, I thought, ‘I have to do something with this.’ I showed my husband my painting when I finished it and I said, ‘I think I want to open something that caters to children.’”
She expressed to her husband that she may be interested in opening a sip & paint for younger customers. She joked that she could still call it a “sip and paint” because she could offer the kids juice. With that, she got busy doing the research on how to open a business of this kind.
“I had been going through all the stuff to get a business like this started and one day I walked into Esplanade Mall and there was a woman who had almost the exact same concept as me with a store in the mall. That discouraged me so badly that for two years I wouldn’t do it.”
In those two years, Hall’s family and friends encouraged her to try it again by dropping some not-so-subtle hints. “I legitimately had been getting birthday gifts and they were all art supplies because people were telling me, ‘you have to do it, you have to start.’ I had so many canvases and easels and paint supplies stocked up.”
“One day I told myself that I have to stop saying that I can’t do something because other people are doing it and this is something I really wanted to do. I went into Esplanade Mall again and that woman had shut down and the person who owned it, wanted me to take her spot in it. It was literally set up for me to go in and own that spot. I chose not to because I knew that I wanted to do things a particular way.”
Hall wanted her company to meet entertainment needs anyplace they may be. Being mobile gives her an advantage that similar businesses may not have.
“I can just come to you wherever you prefer to have your party.”
In this past year, she has hosted parties at homes, churches, and schools.
She also collaborated with Jefferson Parish Public Schools to adopt a school. The parish started the initiative to give the community opportunities to support students and schools. The Adopt-A-School program set out to partner schools with companies and organizations that would “invest time and resources into the students, staff, and school,” according to the Jefferson Parish Schools’ website.
“I go in once a month, I pull a class from each grade, and we do a paint session. I teach them the basics about the different paints that we will use, how to fill in their canvas. By the end of the school year I’ll have had a chance to do an art session with every class.”
In doing so, Hall is filing a gap. Greenpark Elementary, Kidz Kreationz’ adopted school, is one of many school throughout the country currently without an art program.
She recently launched a mass mailing campaign to schools in Washington Parish, Orleans Parish and Jefferson Parish to offer discounted rates to encourage schools to contact her for these types of sessions for their student body. She intends to help more schools introduce this type of art to students in the near future.
“ To me, it’s very important because a lot of children don’t have the opportunity to be exposed to different types of art. Being able to give them that experience, it’s just awesome.”
You can never start developing your child’s appreciation for art too soon. Children can begin to identify different colors by 18 months of age.
“The youngest that I’ve hosted a party for was a one year old. The canvas was completely black but I told them it was a masterpiece.”
“I work with children up into their teens. A lot of adults have been contacting me too. I’ll do adult parties if the solicit me for it. But I focus primarily on children because a lot of times this is the first time that they’ve ever painted. As far as supplies, I give them a canvas size based on their age. I don’t want to give a 5 year old a really big canvas to fill. And I’ll pre-sketch their canvas for them. I’ll bring pencils with erasers on them because it is sketched already but if they want to make any alterations they can. Each person gets a paint palette. I have a variety of paints. I bring my own tables, chairs and I have a backdrop for you to take pictures. I have an apron for them to wear.”
Hall is intent on making it clear that she is wants to meet the children’s needs.
“I’ve even taken the initiative to start Greenpark’s Parent Teacher Organization because that is something that every school should have. Every parent should have the opportunity to help and do something at their child’s school.”
“Along with adopting that school, I did a stand-alone back to school drive for school supplies, backpacks. We had food, played games, listened to music. We were able to hand out 100 backpacks.”
Everything was paid for by Hall. She saved money every paycheck. When she felt she had saved enough, she and her husband went shopping, clearing shelves and filling multiple baskets with school supplies to give to children in their area.
“When we do community outreach, you don’t have to pay for anything. Just come and get something for your kids. I do a toy drive for Christmas. Last year, we held it at my mother’s church in Bogalusa. I let the children come in and get what they wanted. At the end, I had a mother come up to me and tell me that these were the only gifts her children were going to get that Christmas. I called her back after the drive and give her the rest of the toys.”
“My dad was sick during my childhood. I remember one Christmas all I got was one gift. And I know it wasn’t because my mother didn’t want to buy anything, it’s just that she was with my dad as he was dying. That one gift that I got that year, I gave to someone else.”
“My family is really big on supporting me. My mother and sister are extreme coupon- ers and I have gotten clothes, shoes, everything. I give it all away because community outreach should be the base of every company. Regardless of how much money you make you should always stay connected to the people who you grew up with or lived around.”
Keeping an ear to the community is a better way to serve. A more accurate approach to service is the outcome. With this in mind she is building a business that embraces the ideas of compassion and accommodation.
“Not everyone gets the opportunity to take their child to a birthday party. A lot of people have to have their party at home and even if they are interested they can’t do it. So my prices are affordable and I gave them the option of me being mobile so they don’t have to worry about going anywhere or setting up anything.”
With Hall, there is no telling how far she will go to bring art to kids. She takes the mobile aspect of her business very seriously. “If you call me, I’m there,” she says about going the distance. She has traveled to a number of places in Southeastern Louisiana and even out of state to deliver a fun painting experience.
She first premiered her “kreative kookies” for a party she hosted at a Mississippi church.
“The whole event from start to finish was hilarious! They were literally patting me down asking, ‘Do you have any more cookies?’”
The cookies. When I asked her about her cookies, she responded almost as if she forgot that she bakes too. The cookies, which are made from scratch, home baked and hand decorated, are just lagniappe.
“Oh. The cookies are not included in the paint parties. I typically bring cookies with me to give to the kids. My children, at least once a week, are decorating cookies. I never even eat the cookies. I said I was going to start offering cookie-decorating classes for the kids as well. Some people prefer to decorate on cookies and I said, why not do a baking party?.”
In the near future, Kidz Kreationz may be expanding into food art but for now, Hall wants to make sure the children she encounters are equipped for diving into visual art.
“If it’s a birthday party, I try to bring a little birthday package to give to the birthday kid. A canvas tote with art supplies, a canvas of your own, paintbrushes…”
“I also have a little painter’s hat for them to wear because I want them to feel like they are painting a mini masterpiece. I want them to be my Baby Van Gogh.”
“I’ve had kids that actually had their parents inbox me pictures of what they’ve painted after the party. I really believe this opens the door for children to have fun and express themselves artistically. I don’t think people take art very seriously and I don’t think people understand the outlet that art can be.”
Hall refers to herself as a testimony. She credits art for moving her through a period of post-partum depression, bringing her family together for quality time, and being a constant relaxing retreat when everything gets to be too much.
“I feel like even with me, I found out in my late twenties that I could draw. And I have drawn just about every day since. It does just really calm you down. It’s very therapeutic.”
Kidz Kreationz is based in Metairie but travels throughout Louisiana and some neighboring states. They focus on children paint parties but are also available for adult parties. To connect with Kidz Kreationz follow them on Facebook or visit their website, kidzkreationznola.com