2021 Business Challenge $1,000 Grant Recipient

Sarah Harmeling

Owner/Founder, Homeschool Art Box

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"You are sure to learn helpful information to grow your business as well as make some new connections and friends. And you have a chance to win some money!"

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Homeschool Art Box is an all-inclusive art curriculum which provides lessons that ship to the customer’s home. Boxes include an artist lesson, related art appreciation prints, and a related art project which consists of the necessary art supplies and step-by-step instructions.

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About Homeschool Art Box

Through Sarah's 15+ years of experience as both a homeschool mom and a homeschool co-op art teacher, she has seen the need for this curriculum first-hand. Art is a challenge for parents to implement at home for various reasons – lack of user-friendly instruction materials, the difficulty of creating lessons, feelings of not being knowledgeable or artistic enough, and the inconvenience and expense of searching for art supplies. Parents spend the bulk of their time and energy on the core subjects, such as Math, English, and Science. They want to include art in their homeschool and feel it is important, but it is remarkably challenging. Sarah desires to make art accessible for all homeschool families to include, no matter their art skills or experience. As a homeschool mom and co-op teacher, she developed art lessons as she taught for years. "I saw the need was larger than just my local co-op," said Sarah, "so I thought, someday, when I have time, this could be a business."

 

Through Homeschool Art Box, students acquire knowledge and appreciation of famous and influential artists or art movements; then follow the instructions, coupled with their own creativity, to successfully complete an art project in which they can take pride. As a result, busy teachers are alleviated from the time and effort that goes into lesson creation and development and searching for the needed art supplies. Lessons are designed primarily for the 1st through 8th grades and are bundled in boxes for 1 - 4 students. Boxes are purchased primarily with a monthly subscription that spans the 9-month school year or can be purchased individually at any time from selected past subscription months. Homeschool Art Box helps students appreciate the artist's work and exposes them to various art media and techniques. Best of all, the prep work is already done for the teacher.

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How did the Accelerate Business Challenge help?

Sarah first saw the Accelerate Business Challenge on a Facebook post. She had previously attended some virtual Wisconsin SBDC business help seminars. "I was tempted to dismiss it as something I had no chance at winning," she said, "but figured there was no harm in trying."

 

"The next step, preparing a pitch presentation, was intimidating," said Sarah, "however, the advisor was extremely helpful, not only in preparing a pitch, but also with advice on other aspects of my business." Sarah added that the advice she was given helped her focus on her business's fundamental selling points and the concise value she was providing to consumers. "The feedback I received about my business idea was so encouraging to hear!"

 

Sarah had a great experience with the SCEDC and SBDC. "They give honest advice to help you be successful," said Sarah. "I also had the chance to talk with other business owners in the competition, which was helpful and encouraging. We talked about the challenges and successes we had experienced in our business, and since our businesses were so different from each other, there was no sense of competition, just helpfulness!"

 

Winning the Accelerate Business Challenge allowed Sarah to direct more money towards marketing and purchase larger amounts of art supplies at wholesale prices, increasing her profits.