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The Blok DSM

Des Moines, Iowa

Matching Partner: N/A

I’m no artist. An art lover? Definitely. A lover of artists? Absolutely!

In my family, I’m the only one who isn’t an artist. My husband is a woodworker & designer. My eldest daughter has a fine arts degree and spends her time teaching or in the studio. My middle child loves photography, and my youngest is shaping up to be quite the architect. I’ve seen how art and creativity affect a community.

Though I’m not an artist, I’m a problem solver. When I moved back to Des Moines, Iowa after 10 years away, I learned that our local art supply store closed! This really surprised me since I knew we had plenty of artists living in the area. That’s when the idea started taking shape

Then the pandemic hit, and we were forced to slow way down. It was then that I had time to start making my lifelong dream of owning a family business a reality. I’ve been working in retail for over 20 years. My favorite thing about sales is helping someone find exactly what they need. The prospect of helping artists realize their creative dreams was just too tempting to let go of. In 2020, I learned that Mainframe Studios had a large rental space open up. I jumped on the opportunity to start a store supporting artists.

My family was thrilled, and since then we’ve all been working together to create something amazing for our community. We’re all using our skills to support the growth of the business. My husband builds custom canvases, my eldest leads classes, my middle daughter takes marketing photos, and my youngest restocks the shelves. Currently, I’m still working a full-time job to maintain my household finances. A loan will allow my business to expand and enable me to be there full-time with the rest of my family.

Business Description

The Blok is the only independently owned art supply store in Des Moines, Iowa. It is a woman-owned business that is entirely operated by my quirky and creative family. We saw the need for quality supplies for professional artists in our area, and decided to step in. We provide a variety of supplies including clay, large-scale canvas, and high quality paints and supplies. We also offer artist services like handcrafted custom canvas stretchers, design work, cnc carving, and more.

The Blok is located inside Mainframe Studios, an artist studio building that provides permanent workspace to 150 artists. Our location within a creative hub has allowed us to tap into a vibrant community and learn what artists need most. For example, shortly after our business began we learned that many local potters and ceramicists were taking 3+ hour road trips to purchase clay in bulk and avoid high shipping costs. Now, much to local ceramicists delight, we provide a service to custom order bulk clay. Finding ways to serve our community, and helping artists realize their creative visions is the heart of what drives our business.

What is the Purpose of This Loan?

The Blok began with limited resources and has slowly grown to meet the high demand for creatives in our area. A loan will allow us to expand inventory, purchase store fixtures, and market our business online.

$9,000 will go towards additional inventory. Including the full line of Frederix Red label canvases, and expanding our paint and paintbrush options to include more colors and higher quality brands. We also plan to greatly expand our clay section to include more diverse glazes and underglazes, as well as a variety of clay tools like decorative rollers, pottery wheels, and more.

$5,000 will go towards store fixtures. Currently, all the fixtures in our store were donated or purchased secondhand from closing clothing stores. We plan to purchase and build matching shelving and display racks. This will greatly improve the appearance of our shop and make it easier to display our products.

Finally, once we have more inventory we plan to advertise to our local market. So far, we have done minimal advertising. $1,000 will go towards local advertisement to boost awareness of our business.