We had the good fortune of connecting with Dawn Marsh and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Dawn, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
It was an inspiration more than a thought.. I had been in the apparel business, screen printing and embroidery for most of my career. From Colorado to Arizona to Montana to Texas. I had been praying to move to another industry when we found ourselves driving from TX to MT for one of the kids graduation from college, I had been working in the paint and sip industry for 6 weeks and was very happy with the creative change. About 1/2 an hour out of Austin, our former employees called and said they were not going to make it in the apparel business and we found ourselves back in MT re-selling the business. Right then I heard/felt the Lord say “start your own paint and sip business” which I was not thrilled about at first, as business is very difficult for me, but soon after when we started coming up with names and making lists, I was all in. I created 5 paintings each weekend in between finishing out apparel and sign orders and selling the T-shirt equipment and we opened Brush Crazy in Great Falls Montana on July 16, 2014 with 20 paintings. We now have over 800! My hubby, Doug, listening to customers, added ceramics to the mix 3 months later. We added Wood pallet signs soon after and now have glass, clay, mosaics and chainsaw critters to paint! What sets us apart is in addition to classes where everyone paints the same thing, you can come in to paint what you want when you want!
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
My favorite medium is acrylic paint on canvas. I created large paintings for our house just for fun over the years. For example, When Doug came home with a new zebra striped bed spread I painted a zebra eye with the stripes being the dominant focus. Most of my paintings are very vibrant with color and a lot are beach focuses as I LOVE the ocean! I believe my entire life I’ve been preparing for “whats next”. Mountain View Elementary School had a Talented and Gifted program for Art and my teacher and folks agreed that would be a great place for me. I was given Bob Ross books to copy paintings from and thoroughly enjoyed that! I was in private art classes in our neighborhood as well. Art comes naturally to me but making a living with it was another story. In college, I attended the Colorado Christian University that had a joint program with the Colorado Institute of Art so I was able to attain a BA and Associates in Graphic Design in 5 years. My first job was for a screen printing company in Salida, CO, where I learned how to hand separate T-shirt art. Next I was designing T-shirt art. In my early 20’s my first husband and family started a screen printing company from scratch so I learned every aspect of planning, starting and running a business. A fun highlight from that era is we printed night shirts with a mummy sarcophagus on it and sold them to the Luxor in Vegas. Next I was an internal art/sales rep where I took the info from the sales team and communicated what they wanted to the art department. Eventually I became a sales rep for other apparel companies and that is where I met Doug, at a trade show in Denver. One lesson I’ve learned is that you need a team of people around you that know more than you do! We can’t know it all no matter how old we are and you don’t plan to fail, but you can fail to plan. I’m an artist. I am not a strong manager of people. I do not like doing the book side of our companies. We hire a great tax firm for books and I look for employees who can run our studios as if they were running their own businesses. I do listen to business and leadership podcasts because I do believe I can learn to be a good manager of people and myself..that’s the hardest one, leading myself! I want the world to know that with God, all things are possible and He has given us a spirit of power, love and a sound mind and I want to use Brush Crazy as a megaphone that art is fun and relaxing and a great way for people to connect and make memories and experience life together.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Best spots I take myself and others is Garden of the Gods as I’m always inspired to see Pikes Peak against a clear bright blue sky set off by the brilliant Coral Red rock formations with White and Gray sprinkled in here and there 😉 We would eat down town as my hubby takes everyone there to try out all the restaurants and look at all the fun shops. Mexican Food would be had.. We would definitely be finding a karaoke bar to hear Doug sing 80’s Rock ‘Nothin’ but a good time” and my rendition of Bring me to Life by Evanescence or Hopelessly Devoted to You by Olivia Newton John..We also love to walk Old Colorado City and Manitou Springs. We live right by Palmer Park so we would hike a few of the trails and hopefully catch an amazing sunset at the top right before they close the gate! And of course, we would take them to paint at Brush Crazy!!! Wink.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I am a firm believer that men and women are equally valued and important and offer different strengths to every effort we create. Doug is just that for me. It will be 20 years of marriage this June. He is more of a true entrepreneur than I am, he has vision, loves to research, watches competition, social media and looks to see what the next new thing may be. He runs errands, order our beer and wine and helps train employees in the kiln room. He started us on the track to franchise and our first franchisees joined us 3 years ago this next August! He is my biggest cheer leader, besides my folks, and reminds me to stay creative and keep painting new samples 🙂 We wouldn’t be here without both sets of parents who are very supportive as well. We moved corporate from Great Falls MT (where Doug is from) to Colorado Springs CO in 2018 where I was raised. I have amazing friends that share our business on social media as well as word of mouth. Our home Church, DCC, is in the same parking lot as Brush Crazy, and we are thankful when the women’s ministry does girls nights out with us.
Other: https://shop.brushcrazy.com/coloradosprings/ This takes customers to our shopping cart to view our current inventory in COS.