Amanda Fennell got the idea for her business when she was on maternity leave in 2015. A certified art teacher with a master’s degree in creative art therapy, Fennell noticed that, as she worked on her own art, her baby was very interested in what she was doing. Since he could only scribble, she designed a way for him to create recognizable themed artwork. ColorShield works like a reverse stencil: It keeps one area of the paper white while kids color in the rest. That means that even scribblers can create a realistic-looking bird or boat. When kids remove the ColorShield, they can paint the negative space however they want.
“I soon realized that the concept of the ColorShield is versatile across age and ability,” Fennell says. “It can become simplified or more complex as needed.” She first tried out ColorShield with the public at a local art fair, where participants created “start to framed” artwork using her product. After her success at the art fair, Fennell began offering “Big and Me” art sessions for pre-kindergarten children and their caregivers, as well as youth sessions for older kids. She says, “The pairs would become engulfed in the activity, promoting interaction that was always praise and encouragement. Upon completion, both beamed with joy of accomplishment and self-worth.”
As word-of-mouth spread, demand for the sessions increased. Fennell trademarked The Art Nanny and ColorShield, which is now patent-pending.
Fennell created a business plan and successfully launched in 2016. The Art Nanny has grown to the point that Fennell was able to resign from her full-time teaching position. Several local libraries now host her workshops, and there are more than 1,000 ColorShield artworks displayed in homes across Suffolk County.
How SCORE Helped
“In 2017, I had found myself with a growing brand, recognizable logo, a patent pending product - AND a two-year-old!” says Fennell. She’d had no intention of starting a small business when she first went on maternity leave, and two years later, was struggling to stay organized and keep up with demand. That’s where SCORE came in.
“I worked with my SCORE mentor, Michael Rothbart, to create a well-defined business plan,” says Fennell. “This helped me develop a timeline and outline my entire business.” Rothbart gave her insight on how to access growth, choose profitable avenues and veer away from time-consuming dead-ends.
“I consider Mr. Rothbart a true asset to helping me create a strong foundation that I can build upon in the future,” says Fennell.