No school? No problem. Anna Sokol couldn't find a job teaching art, so she made one.
Anna Sokol's story starts much like those of other small business owners: She was working a 9-to-5 job, sitting at her desk, looking at her computer, going through her routine. And she just wasn't happy.
After graduating with an art education degree, Sokol found work at Pickerington Local Schools. But a failed levy resulted in her layoff, leaving her desperate to teach-even if it meant doing it only on nights and weekends. So she started Children's Art Studio in 2009. She traveled to different locations, offering after-school and weekend art classes-doing anything she could to hand students a paintbrush. Demand was increasing, but she still needed her day job.
One spring day in 2012, a preschool called to request that she come teach a few art classes during the day. She had to turn them down.
Or so she thought. That night, she reconsidered. And the next day, she called the preschool again. "Just give me two weeks," she said.
Sokol, 28, quit her day job, bought space at 2831 E. Main Street in Bexley and opened Creative Art Studio. She filled the rooms with color and art and candles (she loves candles). She expanded her offerings as well-because, as she says, adults need to exercise their imagination too.
"The truth is, for an adult to live a creative life, it's nearly impossible in our world unless you make yourself sit down and have a creative moment," she says. "I always tell everyone here, 'You're having art therapy, and you don't even know it.' "
She opened her doors to private parties, classes for all ages and her popular "Wine Your Art Out" class, where painters can bring their favorite bottle of wine to sip while they smear.
A year and a half in, Sokol packs around 30 people into her studio for most classes.
But success is a double-edged sword: While Sokol has been able to hire more teachers, she admits that allowing others to teach is a lesson in letting go.
That growth also meant a recent name change for her studio. She now calls it Art With Anna, a moniker rooted in her childhood. As a kid, she went door-to-door through her neighborhood, gathering other kids for $1 art classes on her porch. The classes were called Art With Anna.
"It's more personal," she says.
That's what matters to her: being personal. She stresses the importance of building relationships with her students, showing them the benefits of imagination and creativity. Her husband, Randy Sokol, says it's that bond that makes them return.
"She's very soulful," he says. "She connects with people and loves them, and they love her back."
Katie Henderson, a regular at Art With Anna's Wine Your Art Out class, is one such student. Henderson, 29, started classes just as Sokol was getting her bearings. She now paints on her own, and she's taught a class at the studio, too. But it's Sokol's spirit that keeps her coming back.
"For me, it's not just the painting," Henderson says. "It's the experience with her, because she's just truly a good person that wants to bring out your inner artist and [make you] feel confident."