May 21, 2018
Art teacher Katie Black has been working since age 14 and has always had a second job. She worked at the Des Moines Art Center for seven summers and teaching at the school simultaneously. “I’ve always had to have a second job. There’s only one summer I didn’t, and that was the summer after my son was born.” Black said. “There was no way out of it, we just couldn’t make the money.”
Black taught morning and evening sessions for the kids camps all day during the summers.
Four years ago Black started worked at a company recently created by her friend Connie Pruitt. The company, El Arte Uncorked, teaches a variety of classes ranging from fundraisers, bachelorette parties, and home decor. “I was one of her employees that taught the classes,” Black said.
After owning the business for a while, Pruitt decided to it was time to slow down. “She’s a grandma now, and she wanted to spend time with her grandkids and her kids,” Black said.
Two years ago, Black purchased El Arte Uncorked and began the process of scheduling and hiring staff. The company does two to six events a week, and Black teaches around three of them. The others are delegated to one of her two teaching staff. Black is in charge of updating the website and Facebook page in addition to all of the scheduling and planning, though recently she hired another employee to do the monthly newsletters for her.
Some of the events are private and some are for fundraisers. Depending on what the party is wanting, Black will give them more or less advanced instructions. “Basically I’m Bob Ross but simplified,” said Black. “People aren’t necessarily coming to learn the ins and outs and all about color theory and all that.”
The weekly public classes are held at Felix and Oscars most of the time. During the weeknights, there is an entire side of the restaurant that stays closed down, and Black is able to hold classes there. It’s a social painting class. “They come to have dinner and enjoy themselves and to take a painting home with them,” Black said.
The two current favorite classes are painting on milled logs and ‘Paint Your Pet’ events. Paint Your Pet is a fundraiser event, where half of the proceeds go to the Animal Rescue League. “It just fills every month,” Black said. “We’ve raised thousands and thousands for the animal shelter.”
Black has made some fun connections with her students and the businesses that she paired with to hold events. “A friend of mine, and I call her a friend now, she was bringing her son to the kids classes and we would just get talking,” Black said. “She’s actually referred my business a couple times; I worked at her sister’s bachelorette party and some birthday parties, stuff like that.”
One of her other contacts is Cupcake Addict, where she’s held birthday parties and kids classes. I’d really like to know what it’s like just to teach, because I’ve always had to work during the school year too,” Black said, “Mostly that’s because of student loans.” Black graduated around 10 years ago and is only six months away from paying off her debts.
It gets to be a lot at times. Black puts enough time into the business to qualify it as a full time job. “I struggle to put the time where it’s needed because I’m spread so thin, I feel like I don’t do anything well,” she said. “It feels like I’m just doing immediately what has to be done, and that’s all there’s time for each day.”
In approximately a year Black plans to think about what to do with the business. There is a possibility of selling so she has time for family again. Black does get creative when planning out family time. “Now that my kids are getting older my son can probably handle [coming to classes],” Black said.
Her son is seven, while her daughter is four. “They like to carry stuff in and set up the easels and stuff like that,” Black said.
During classes, Black’s mother-in-law comes to watch the kids while Black is teaching.