Karen deWysocki has a passion for art and a love for the community of Newport News, which is the city she grew up in. So she combined her love of both and on March 20 of this year, took the leap of faith and opened her own Kidcreate Studio in Newport News.
“Kidcreate Studio is an art studio for kids only, from ages 18 months to 12 years old. It brings art into the community and kids into the studio for art-enrichment activities. What differentiates us from other studios is ours is only about kids. When we create a program, we always focus on kids and that age group,” deWysocki, owner and manager, says. “Kidcreate Studio is a small franchise based in Minneapolis; it has been fun partnering with them. It took me a long time to find the right fit.”
deWysocki grew up in Newport News while her father served in the U.S. Navy on the U.S.S. Mississippi. Her college experiences took her to the Rochester Institute of Technology, where she earned a degree in photojournalism. She lived briefly in Washington, D.C., working as a photographer, but her heart was always in Newport News, and she wanted to work with art. So, she headed home.
“I wanted to be in a business that would further my college learning, and a career that would be the longest and last job to build with the community where I grew up,” deWysocki says. “I love working with kids. I am formerly a teacher for adults. I moved back to Newport News to raise my children and I’ve been here ever since. Newport News seemed like the best place to serve the most families and still be central to travel around the Peninsula.”
In addition to single art sessions, the studio offers weekly recurring classes; camps during the summer; and parties, custom classes and events on school holidays. It even offers a date night special on a Saturday night, when parents can drop their kids to do projects.
During her time spent teaching art curriculum and projects, deWysocki has had many proud moments since her opening. “During our summer camps, I saw kids form bonds and I got goose bumps talking about it. It was so sweet, so touching because the kids are hungry for companionship. It’s really special to see kids make friends and do a project together, and then it is fun to tell parents that their kids are friends so they can set up play dates,” deWysocki says. “It is cool to know friendships start here. I was thinking it would be about learning art, not realizing that the friendships are almost as important as the art skills.
While friendships have been an unexpected bonus for deWysocki, she has also seen kids become proud of what they have created, and that fills her with joy as well. “I have seen kids be so proud of what they have done, and I think ‘This is why I am doing this,’” she says. “We know some kids get that proud feeling on the soccer field, or achieve an A on their report card. Those are not where all kids get their proudest moment. Some kids are artistic, and to watch them excel here truly motivates me. Kids pose for photos for their parents with a genuine smile and their work.”
deWysocki has taken steps to partner with local organizations, including the Boys and Girls Club of the Virginia Peninsula and Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast. She is a firm believer of “giving back to the community.” “Owning this business,” deWysocki says, “allows me help other businesses and nonprofits. My best friend suggested having the Girl Scouts come in and earn badges at the studio. So I worked to become an official partner of the Girl Scouts of Colonial Coast, and now we can be an event location for their projects and host badge specific classes.”
While she loves her work, deWysocki admits it takes most of her time. “I have two kids still local, so I spend time with them, and I have two nephews who I love to spoil. I am close with immediately family and travel to visit good friends and family when I can.”
deWysocki has taken a winding career path to Kidscreate, including her work in photography, teaching adults and corporate work. “I have taken a crazy path to buy a children’s art studio, but it makes sense to me, and I did the best I could along the way. I want people to know that skills as you learn them are transferable to anything you are passionate about.”
TO THE POINT:
Address: 12715 Warwick Blvd., Ste. D, Newport News, VA 23606
Contact: Karen deWysocki, owner
Business: Art studio for children 18 months to 12 years