I love this time of the year! Decorating the house for the holidays. Getting together with friends and family, and best of all, creating handmade gifts. There is something so special about giving and receiving gifts that were lovingly and thoughtfully handmade by someone you know and love. And ironically, that is the genesis of how the idea for The Bent Brush came about.
But let’s start at the very beginning, shall we? I have been painting pottery as a hobby for about 15 years. It all started with an invite from a co-worker when we were living in Colorado. After that, I would grab anyone I could find who was willing to go paint pottery with me. I have always found it to be really relaxing, and I love to melt away into whatever I am painting. Friends and family kept telling me I was really good at it, and so they all kept getting handmade gifts from me!
It’s one of the things we would do to bond with family too. Every year I would get together with my sister-in-law and my nieces to paint pottery together. When my children were born, I made sure to paint something with their hand and foot prints on it, as a way to hold onto their babyhood. Once they were old enough, and they could paint with me, it became a family activity that Nate and I could enjoy with our children. I loved watching their creative vision come to life! I have every piece my kids have ever painted!
I think one of the reasons painting pottery is such a great way to bond is because it is one of those few times when everyone puts away their electronic devices. After all, you don’t want to get paint on your expensive phone. Sitting around the table, relaxing and creating together puts people in the mood to chat with each other, laugh, share ideas and have fun! Because it’s very casual, neutral, and enjoyable, it’s a great ice breaker for people who don’t know each other well, and a great way to reconnect with your family members also.
So back to our origin story. In early spring 2016, my husband Nate and I decided we wanted to move to Florida. We did several fact-finding missions to the state before choosing Cape Coral as our future home. We both spent a lot of time putting in more than 100 applications for work. I have a degree in microbiology, and only got one call back from those applications! I was starting to feel like maybe this dream of moving to Florida wasn’t the best idea.
Fast-forward to Christmas season of 2016, I was in my favorite studio with my mom and my daughter doing my favorite activity. . . painting ornaments and other items that would become our handmade Christmas gifts that year. Suddenly my mother looked around the studio and said, “You know Dania, you could do this. You could open your own studio.”
I looked around that studio and thought, “Yeah, I really could!” And that night I mentioned it to Nate and to my surprise, he was instantly on board with the idea!
I started to research what it would take to open a paint your own pottery studio, and the expense of it was more than daunting. It just seemed too expensive to try it, so I quietly went back to sending out resumes. But in February 2017, Nate asked what had happened to the idea, encouraged me to look into it again, and so I found a business consultant to talk through the idea with. In March we started working with Connie Speer from The Pottery Consultant to create the business plan and train us in what it would take to run this kind of business. The next month we put our house on the market, and by July we had signed a lease for the studio space. We persevered through the delays in permitting to build out the business and all of the other delays that can happen when you are starting from scratch. But we were thrilled to be able to open the studio in June of 2018, and we so enjoy the opportunity to share our love of this creative process with people here in Cape Coral. We’ve gotten a lot of feedback that our studio is warm and inviting and relaxing and that is exactly what my dream was. Thank you to everyone who has made our dream business possible by your patronage! We welcome you to come in and paint some of your own handmade holiday gifts this year, and to make some long-lasting memories with your family and friends while you are at it.