NOBLESVILLE — Kelli Singleton and Stacey Heltsley wanted people to be able to disconnect with technology and reconnect with art in a social environment. But when the pandemic forced restrictions and changes on their business, they found technology may very well be key to survival.
Heltsley and Singleton started uPaint Pottery Studio seven years ago. Since then, it’s expanded to four different locations across Central Indiana, where you can choose a delightful dish or figurine to paint yourself.
But March 2020 brought an unprecedented shift in restrictions on businesses like theirs.
“It’s definitely been the most challenging (time) that we’ve faced,” Singleton said. “It’s been a lot of pivoting and changing.”
With people staying home to avoid COVID-19, the two women used their creativity to come up with a solution: Take-home art in the form of “Pottery To Go.”
That meant adding an online element.
“That was a big change for us because before, you just came in and picked (everything) out,” Heltsley said.
Their original goal may have included keeping people away from screens, but going online had its advantages.
“We were very experienced based. So, we were kind of, honestly, anti-internet, and trying to break away from the phones and do something with your hands,” Singleton said. “But in this environment, you have to have an online presence, so we created an online store.”
Here’s how it works: You choose your paints and figurines/dishes online, pick up your supplies, paint at home, and then return to the studio to fire your art in the kiln.
uPaint found people were grateful to still have a way to expend creative energy, especially now.
“It’s been really great to be able to provide people an outlet to relax, it’s just been so stressful,” Singleton said. “Doing something with your hands and kind of relaxing and painting, a lot of people find it therapeutic.”
When we asked them of any success stories they’d like to share from this past year, the owners said they were grateful and proud they were able to continue to keep their staff employed.
And on their wish list for 2021? Everyone to be able to safely reunite to practice art together.