We had the good fortune of connecting with Elizabeth Yarnell and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Elizabeth, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
I didn’t set out to build this business. At the beginning, I was simply volunteering at my eldest child’s school by administering a grant for integrating art and technology into the elementary school curriculum. The co-chair of the committee, another parent volunteer, was a film professor at a local university. I had a background in the film and video industry stretching back to the 1980s. Together we designed an innovative curriculum to teach different forms of digital storytelling to students in kindergarten through fifth grade. After a few years, the film professor noted that we had developed some amazing programs for kids and it would be great if we could offer them to students beyond those lucky enough to attend this single school. We decided to partner in a business offering vacation camps, after-school enrichment programs, and in-school residency programs. A year later, he left the business. By that point, I wanted to continue the business as a way to share our innovative and robust programs and inspire more kids with 21st century skills.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
One of the things that sets my business apart from others is our focus on encouraging creative use of technology with elementary and middle-school students. We believe that students as young as six can learn how to use their voices to tell a story on-screen, and viewing their finished movies gives us as much pride as it does the kids. We are molding the next generation of storytellers and giving them the skills they need to succeed in our modern world in school and beyond. Throughout the years our biggest challenge has been marketing. In the beginning, we would hand out flyers at schools, but then the schools went paperless and we lost our most effective and reliable outreach system. Marketing has been a struggle ever since. Finding the right business model has been challenging, and the realities of the pandemic required a major pivot from in-person programming to on-demand virtual experiences. An unanticipated but welcome result of this redirection is that our new direct-to-student online programs are the best in our catalog and represent the future of learning. Today Digistars is focused on supporting students and teachers by meeting their learning or teaching needs for either in-person or virtual experiences.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Aaahhh… It has been so long since I have been able to get out and play in this city that it’s hard to remember what I used to love to do when the world was open and safe. I love walking around the Denver Botanic Gardens, trying new restaurants, and depending upon the season, either riding my bicycle or heading up to the mountains to ski.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My shoutout goes to my dear friend, mentor, and champion, the late Jon Husband. Jon first introduced me to the film and video industry as a college intern and continued to support my efforts in the industry over the following twenty years. Jon was a legend in this town and his memory lives on in me and others that he inspired and led.