November 15, 2005 > Color Me Mine owner Daria Wagganer
Color Me Mine owner Daria Wagganer
by Tina Cuccia
Color me beautiful
If there's an artist within you - or even if you think there is not - paint-your-own ceramic studio "Color Me Mine" offers an opportunity to unleash the creativity of everyone who walks through the door.
Situated on the corner of Mission and Washington Boulevards in Fremont, the airy and inviting ceramic studio opened its doors last April, offering a place for anyone who would like to paint and personalize ceramic dishes, plates, figurines, picture frames, dinosaurs, planters, jewelry boxes or just about anything you can think of!
When you walk inside, you'll see hundreds of bare "white earthenware" ceramic pieces that are porcelain smooth, just waiting for someone to give them color and bring them to life.
There are plenty of tools on hand to create almost anything you can imagine - paint brushes, sponges, masking tape, contact paper, stencils, stamps and more than 60 colorful glazes. Books are also available providing simple techniques to achieve certain effects such as texturing and interesting backgrounds. Color Me Mine's friendly and knowledgeable staff members are also on hand to help.
If you are one of those types who say you can't paint a straight line, there's no need to fear! Color Me Mine franchise owner Daria Wagganer offers patrons a binder full of ideas and designs in addition to computer clip art.
"What I like the most about Color Me Mine is that it makes art accessible for all," Wagganer says. "No creativity or talent is necessary...it's not intimidating. Anyone can do it and our staff will help you create your very own masterpiece!"
And attracting all ages is something that Color Me Mine continues to do. In fact Wagganer, mother of two daughters ages four and six, says their most senior customer is 96 years old and their youngest so far has been a mere two weeks old, decorating a small heart dish with tiny footprints.
Wagganer says customers will usually spend from one to three hours painting a piece - though you can stay as long as you wish at no extra charge. All you pay is a flat rate of $10 per day for adults and $6 for kids plus the price of your ceramic piece. Most pieces in the studio are under $20, but range from small tiles or magnets at $2 to large platters or vases at around $50.
After you've finished painting your piece, it's dipped into a clear food safe coating. All of the glazes are non-toxic, lead free and dishwasher safe. You will be able to pick up your finished piece in three to five days.
Color Me Mine offers a wide and unique variety of ceramic pieces in the studio to paint including dolphins, frogs, mermaids and other aquatic life. They have plates, platters and bowls in many useful sizes and shapes in addition to cookie jars, flower pots, vases, picture frames and even "itty bittys" that can be turned into magnets or pins to wear. If you can think of it, they probably have it. For the holidays, you'll find platters for Thanksgiving and dozens of items for Christmas and Chanukah.
Wagganer and her husband, Eric, first decided to open their studio when she wanted to make a handprint plate with her own children for Mother's Day last year. A Fremont resident, she couldn't find a local paint-your-own ceramic studio. She found what she was looking for at Color Me Mine, Menlo Park. She thought the place was "delightful" and loved the way it felt. Wagganer soon learned the franchise is the world's leading paint-your-own ceramics studio chain, with more than 120 Color Me Mine franchises located worldwide.
"I was really impressed by what the company was about and the people who were involved in it, especially because all of the studios do a lot with schools and charitable organizations," Wagganer said, adding, "And, I liked that they provide activities that every age can enjoy."
By August that year, Wagganer, who has a Master's degree in engineering management, and her husband Eric, a process engineer at Lam Research Corporation, Fremont, headed to Color Me Mine headquarters in North Hollywood, in Southern California, to discuss opening a franchise of their own. But it wasn't just Color Me Mine that appealed to them. As a mother in Fremont, Wagganer says it's often difficult to find indoor activities for her girls that are not a long-term time commitment. She says her daughters' birthdays are both in the winter months, so finding a birthday venue indoors was something she found herself trying to do each year. In addition, she wanted to create a place where you could drop in anytime and do a fun activity at your convenience.
After learning more about the franchise, Wagganer realized that Color Me Mine was exactly what she was looking for, filling a void in more ways than one.
"I wanted to bring Fremont some of the things I had to drive out of town to do," Wagganer said. "Fremont has lots of wonderful activities for children, but not a lot indoors and non-scheduled events. As a mom, I knew this was something that was needed."
A strong advocate for art (and music) in the schools, Wagganer figured opening the studio would also help fill some of the gap in these programs that K-12 schools have experienced due to budget cuts in recent years for the arts.
After she left Color Me Mine headquarters, the Wagganers were inspired enough to seriously consider what it would take to open their own franchise, particularly the time and energy necessary. "Opening any retail business is a huge commitment the first year," she says. "You really have to love what you do."
When she and her husband decided to take the plunge and become entrepreneurs, she said they soon fell in love with the "perfect location," where the studio exists today. "It's like a 'mini arts district.'" We're right across from Mission San Jose and Museum, we have the performing arts center at Ohlone College [The Ohlone College Gary Soren Smith Center for the Fine and Performing Arts], the Olive Hyde Art Gallery next door and a dozen schools close by."
Once the location was settled, Wagganer and her husband spent the next few months hiring a staff and outfitting their studio with kilns, tables, chairs, shelves, posters and over 400 ceramic pieces to paint. She says she was amazed at how much there was to do.
"At the time it seemed like - and I say this with a smile - a simple concept, creating a nice Zen place for customers to come sit and paint," she says. "But there was more to it than that. There's lot of behind the scenes work. But the enthusiastic response we've received from the community makes it all worth it," she says with a bigger smile.
In October, six months after opening the doors, Fremont's Color Me Mine was named as one of the Tri-Cities' "Best Kids' Party Spot." Color Me Mine is busy with birthday party-goers, according to Wagganer, who says they had several birthday parties booked before they opened the studio in April.
While a special party room holds 14 guests, the entire studio can accommodate up to 50 people. Parties (and group events) are held for all ages - not just the little ones, she says. "We've held bridal showers, family reunions, 'girl's night out' and corporate and team building parties.
Color Me Mine also offers classes for all ages as well as after school programs and summer camps in July and August called "Summer Art Adventures." The studio's new "Creative Brush" technique classes for adults began this month and feature simple techniques for beautiful holiday designs, florals and backgrounds such as marbling. Classes are taught by Wagganer's stepfather, Borut Korosec, who is the studio manager. Korosec has a background in art history, archeology and engineering. Wagganer says classes can also be brought directly to schools as an after school program or single day event.
Girl and Boy Scout troops are also invited to take part in Scout Programs at the studio, where they can learn about ceramics and earn credit toward arts and crafts merit badges. Color Me Mine also offers programs for homeschoolers and other groups such as playgroups, mothers' groups, sports teams, singles organizations, book clubs and more.
Every month, Color Me Mine offers a calendar of activities featuring special savings nights like "Ladies' Night" and other special events. On Saturday, December 10, kids and their parents are invited to the "Paint with Santa Workshop," from 2 p.m. - 4 p.m. (please call to reserve a space). There will be refreshments and Jolly Ol' St. Nick will be on hand for pictures and painting.
Color Me Mine also offers a variety of fundraisers for all kinds of organizations that want a fun way to raise money for their organization. For more information on fundraisers, classes, events and hours of operation of Color Me Mine, please visit www.fremont.colormemine.com.
Paint with Santa Workshop - (call to reserve a space)
Saturday, December 10
2 - 4 p.m.
Color Me Mine
43301 Mission Blvd., Fremont
Fremont, CA 94539