We had the good fortune of connecting with Teri Adams-Fjellman and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Teri, every day, we about how much execution matters, but we think ideas matter as well. How did you come up with the idea for your business?
Seventeen years ago, stage 4 cancer took me out of the classroom. It was during my time of healing that I turned to art. Silk painting and jewelry were the mediums that called to me the most. When doing art, I enter a quiet in-between place where I believe healing begins. Three days after my first cancer surgery, I was contacted by a friend who worked for a Destination Company. They asked if I would sit at a table and demonstrate my art during a Colorado Artist themed reception being held at the Broadmoor Hotel. I didn’t realize it was an art reception for 250 meeting planners from across the United States. Several people came by my table asking for my business card and asking if I would be willing to do an art workshop for their upcoming conferences. Business card? This was crazy. I was just out of the hospital. I started writing my phone number on cocktail napkins. I never dreamed I would hear anything back, I returned home to continue my cancer recovery. Two weeks after the art demonstration, my phone started ringing. The caller asked if I could do a jewelry workshop for spouses at an upcoming conference. Blessings! Jewelry and Art Workshops was born. My daughter Kaurie started accompanying me at art workshops when she was 12. In 2018, Kaurie expressed a desire to have a larger role in the business. I said goodbye to Blessings! and we formed Elevated Art Experience. It is our desire that art is available to all, to open creativity for problem-solving or to use as a tool in healing. It is our belief that each person has the inherent ability to create, they just may need a little guidance. It was recently brought to my attention how sometimes we overlook the things in our lives that one day comes to fruition. When I was in the 6th grade, I was in Junior Achievement. Our little company was sponsored by the Broadmoor, my group called themselves “JaMoor.” When I was attending a dinner for Junior Achievement and listening to stories of past JA participants, it dawned on me just how pivotal a role that experience was back in 6th grade, I had my first taste of entrepreneurship and was sponsored by the hotel that I did my first art reception for many, many years later. Today, Elevated Art Experience is celebrating 17 years of being a preferred vendor to the Broadmoor Hotel. We are set up on the property for all the major holidays, creating art with the leisure guests as well as being available for team building, incentive or companion programs. Never underestimate the early whispers that you might hear and where the path may be led.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
What I believe sets us apart is that we are willing to share and teach art without judgement. We believe each and everyone of us is born an artist. It’s just somewhere along the way someone told them that they couldn’t paint a sunset lime green, color outside the lines, or that a nose doesn’t belong on the top of a person’s head. I believe in opening the creativity of each individual. Not that they become the next Monet (which would be very cool) but that they become the best creative leader, best creative CEO, best creative parent, or the best creative community member. Challenges. The challenges don’t end, they just are different. If the challenges are always the same, then it’s probably time for you to find a different solution instead of repeating the same old that doesn’t work. I have always taught my children to not look at the problem but to only look at solutions. Our greatest challenge right now is COVID 19. We are in the midst of re-imaging our offerings. Being a company that is 90% dependent on the hotel/hospitality/live event industry, business is not going to go back “normal”. Those days are gone. How do we address this? Well, most of those live event people I know are moving to virtual. Yes, that’s a possibility. What we are seeing in our community is such a sense of loss and a sense of separation. Many of my business friends have had to close their doors. Artists are struggling. Our solution will include ministering to our own community. We have our sights on 2021. We will go local, intimate live events. 1/2 day, full day and weekends to start. We want to be a part of the solution in bringing healing to our community and include the offerings and services of our small business friends along the way. Our new experiences will include mindfulness, yoga and art. Offering participants refuge and renewal. Sometimes, the best in business practices come from places of great pain. My business started during a period of healing and that has been a common thread through the past 17 years. When I have strayed from that focus, business just doesn’t work. 2021 will be a natural progression for us as we focus on healing, the foundation of our business. I don’t believe that you have to work hard. You have to work smart. We don’t entertain challenges. We focus on solutions. Our art experiences are just what the name implies “Elevated”. We immerse each of our guests in an experience that they have never had before. We provide memory-making moments for corporations, organizations, leisure guests, family reunions, retreats, or life celebrations at luxury hotels and resorts. We help mark a moment in time by giving guests an unparalleled art experience. We have developed art experiences for those who believe that they have little or no artistic ability. Our goal is to create an all-around experiential workshop that participants will remember for years to come. We specialize in ethically sourcing our materials and being a social impact company. We have developed our art experiences to be the catalyst, we hope, in opening the door to creativity. We believe that art and creativity aids in problem-solving, renewal of spirit, and healing. The most important characteristic that we believe has led to our success is simply holding space for anyone and meeting them where they are. I reflect back to a time at the hotel where I was doing a private art experience for a guest. She wanted to make jewelry. When I arrived, she started with one project and then asked if she could do another. She wasn’t talking much, so I just allowed her to be. After completing the final project, she had tears running down her cheeks. As I looked at her with compassion, she simply said, “Thank you. You will never know what today has meant to me. You see, while we were making jewelry, they took my mother off of life support. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to just be.” In that moment, everything I had hoped for in our business was solidified. We meet people where they are at and try to provide for them the experience that they need at that moment. This is exactly what will take us beyond COVID.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I am a born and raised Colorado Springs girl. Only a week?!?!?!? Where to begin?!?!? Monday: Garden of the Gods and Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. Lunch at The Exchange downtown (get the Cuban Empanadas). Stop by Bristol to pick up a Growler. Tuesday: Explore the Ute Prayer Trees at Benet Hill Monastery in Black Forest. Eat lunch at Basil and Barley Napoletana Pizzeria, don’t be afraid to try their charcoal crust, yummy. On the way home grab dessert at Blue Mountain Creamery in University Village, try the Root Beer Float ice cream or the Cookie Dough. Wednesday, Olympic Musuem. Eat Lunch at El Chapin Food Truck (the Carnita Tacos are beyond amazing). Thursday: Head up the pass (Highway 24). Stop first at the Wolf and Wildlife Sanctuary. Then, head over to Cripple Creek, take the Golden Loop for an afternoon of soaking in the beautiful scenery. Stop back in Green Mountain Falls and eat dinner at The Pantry or The Mucky Duck. Friday: Explore Manitou Springs. Eat a bite at Heart of Jerusalem. Relax at SunWater Spa, soaking in the famous mineral waters of Manitou. Eat dinner at Jake and Telly’s Old Colorado City. Saturday: if you want the best Irish food around, drive down to Pueblo. Eat at Shamrock Brewing Company, the Shepard’s Pie is amazing. A visit to the Nature & Wildlife Discovery Center – River Campus is fun and informative especially if you like Raptors. Or, visit the Steelworks Center of the West. Head back to Colorado Springs and get some of the best burgers in town at The Skirted Heifer.
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?
There are many along the way that have lead to the overall success of Elevated Art Experience. From the meeting and event planners, hotel sales managers and directors, to our 100’s of participants. I’ve read every self help, business for dummies book on the market. Listened to every motivational speaker. Immersed myself in a continuance of learning. I’ve chosen only positive uplifting people to surround myself with. These included the best entrepreneurs and artists I know. These people in turn have become my dearest life long friends. Although, if we are talking life changing people then, I would have to say that my greatest supporters, the people whose opinion of me does matter, would be my 3 children and my grandson. Everything I do is for them, they are the very breath and fabric of my being. They are my greatest cheerleaders, discerning critics and life adventurers. At one point or another they each have assisted me in all aspects of the business (including my new daughter-in-law before she was my daughter-in-law). My grandson reminded me to always see every situation anew and to remember to play. Shoutout to my children and grandson: Keely, Kaurie, Kel (wife -Brittany) and Logan.