MARCELLUS — In late November 2020 Chelsea Lembo, a former public elementary-school teacher and certified educator with a specialty in arts-integrated learning, was organized and ready to make an impact. She had already established an entity (LLC) for her startup and had a space secured in Marcellus where she could provide students with creative workshops.
Before the 2020 pandemic, Lembo had planned to start her business exclusively as a creative-based learning experience. After COVID hit, she decided to pivot her business plan by assessing the immediate needs of her target customer base. Chelsea — who has a master’s degree in elementary education and creative arts in learning from Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts — knew that she could give stressed working parents a safe place for their children to go and learn during the day. Her expertise and experience (https://www.evoke-creativity.com/mslembo) allowed her to assist full-time home-schooled and hybrid students with their remote learning, while still offering her creative classes after the kids finish their academics.
While Lembo was originally referred to the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Onondaga Community College (OCC) for help with her market research she stated, “I chose to keep working with them because the communication was excellent, and I feel that my advisor (Keyona Kelly) really listens to what I need and helps me to develop a plan for success by providing support and guidance as I navigate my business venture Having an ally who has the best interests of my business in mind, who can coach me on aspects of the business world as I learn to navigate it, has been an enormous asset.” And with the help of the SBDC, Lembo was able to open the doors of EVOKE: Creativity’s Learner’s Lounge on West Main Street in Marcellus, on Jan. 4.
EVOKE: Creativity’s Learner’s Lounge programming provides daytime childcare for K-6 homeschool learners or hybrid students to attend on their remote-learning days. It provides a structured learning environment to help students stay on track with their education. Participants of this program receive support with organizational skills, time management, and academic content. Both brain science and the growth mindset are used as a lens to discuss the learning process, helping children build confidence and grit.
The Learner’s Lounge program also connects the child’s teachers and parents with another educator, expanding the support system for the learners who attend. The gratitude for this special program can be easily found online, with various quotes like these: “Chelsea makes learning fun! The learning lounge is warm and inspiring,” “Our daughter never wants to leave!” and, “Chelsea Lembo has started a business where teacher dreams come true and, during COVID times, work from home parent dreams come true as she supports students doing virtual learning.”
The Learner’s Lounge offers youth in the community a safe and supportive learning environment that fosters creativity, as well the space and time for the grown-ups who care for them to focus on their other responsibilities.
Business is going well for this much-needed resource; in fact it is going so well that Chelsea Lembo has announced an expansion of EVOKE: Creativity’s programming and space will be coming this May 2021. The two pillars of EVOKE: Creativity’s foundations are education and creative expression. The physical expansion of the space will serve as a type of “Artist’s Office,” or studio, where creatives can come together to work on their own projects and collaborate with others. It will also serve as studio space for learners to produce creative projects when participating in the educational and enrichment programming offered through EVOKE: Creativity.
The added network of artists involved with the expanded studio space will also provide classes and coaching, as well as participate in community projects as creative mentors. The expansion will be part studio (where students and artists can work on their own projects), part community space (where artists can meet and collaborate with other artists), and part classroom (where artists can offer classes about things they love, and can even serve as creative mentors for younger or newer artists). The expansion will help promote the visibility of art in our community, encouraging anyone to explore the creative arts while also enhancing the programming offered through EVOKE: Creativity.
EVOKE: Creativity’s Learner’s Lounge will continue to offer a daytime academic, arts-integrated service for school-aged learners with plans reaching into the 2021-2022 school year. Programming at EVOKE: Creativity will expand to include afternoon and weekend classes in addition to school-break and summer programs for learners of all ages.
To learn more about EVOKE: Creativity’s Learner’s Lounge, visit its website at https://www.evoke-creativity.com/.
Advisor’s Business Tip: Tailor your concept to solve a problem or fill a need where you see a gap for your target market. This will allow for a more streamlined sales strategy, reduce competition, and create a loyal and satisfied customer base.
Keyona Kelly is a certified business advisor at the SBDC, located at OCC. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org