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Laura's Studio by the Bay Goes International
Laura's Studio by the Bay is a teaching art studio located on Alsea Bay. The facility is on 20 acres and includes a large barn that has been converted to an 800 square-foot studio area, a full kitchen, full bath facility and a 10-bed dorm. Students can come here and stay at the studio for a very nominal fee where they have access to a full kitchen and all the facilities. The studio area is open 24 hours during seminars, which allows students to paint at any time that suits them.
When Miller first bought the business, the building was in terrible shape and Miller spent the last four years investing in repairs and remodeling in anticipation of attracting customers not only from the immediate area, but also from outside the state and the country. Miller hosts international folk art painters who are looking for a U.S. venue to show and sell their works. Miller pays their way and their expenses while they are here. Artists attend painting conventions together where they can get maximum exposure to a pool of both national and international painters. Artists then return to her Waldport studio where Miller teaches a series of seminars based on their particular styles and they give demonstrations of their techniques. Miller charges a per student/per day fee which does not include the fee for staying in the dorm. The seminars are usually two or more days which means the students stay in this area for the length of the seminar and often a day or two more. They shop in the local grocery store, they often go 'antiquing' and usually all go out to dinner together at least once per seminar.
Miller received several boosts from the SBM program. Miller is much more comfortable with books and financial statements. The programs helped with developing systems in her business. This was the first time Miller had dealt with inventory and found it difficult to get a handle on how to track it, particularly supplies that are used but not sold.
It was incredibly helpful to have one-on-one assistance to figure out specific inventory problems and to have help figuring out what systems were going to work for the several parts of the business. As a result, Miller found places where she was using resources inefficiently and have been able to reduce both overhead and expenses. Miller also learned about margins, how to increase them and formulas to use to price products. Miller was able to attend a Small Business Development Center (SBDC) seminar that featured SBA International Counselors and with the help of a local attorney she met at the meeting. She now has professional advice in dealing with any international issue. The SBDC is partially funded by the U.S. Small Business Administration, Oregon Coast Community College and Oregon Economic and Community Development Department.
As a result of the program, I am expecting to increase sales by about 15% over the next year and am confident that Miller will be able to substantially increase client base. Miller also plans to hire one part-time employee next year.