Today we’d like to introduce you to Kalen Mehlman.
Kalen, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
My days of “artistry” and creativity began at a very early age. As a young girl, I participated in every art class my mom was able to register me at the Minnetonka Art Center in Wayzata, Minnesota. Batik, painting, welding, ceramics, calligraphy and needle pointing…every single class I participated opened doors to more artistic opportunities. And even earlier than those years, I just loved making pretty things out of stones collected on the water’s edge, shells found on a quiet lake beach, fabrics collected from my grandma’s attic.
This “thread” of creativity has followed me throughout my entire life…it has ebbed and flowed in various ways yet has always provided an essential, ongoing light in my life. It finds its way in the students I teach weekly in my art studio, to the interior design services I provide for my fabulous clients, to custom art pieces either hanging in my client’s homes or in my studio.
Often times I tell people that I’ve “re-created” myself many times in the last few decades but I’ve always stayed true to the inner workings of my artistic soul.
What else am I? I am a teacher. Having earned my Masters Degree in Elementary Education from National-Louis University in Evanston, Illinois, I’ve thrived teaching children-and adults! I have been a teacher in many capacities…from the traditional classroom, to local art studios and as an “artist in residence” at elementary schools, to my own art studio at Kalen’s Place. The “act of teaching” is inherent to who I am.
Today, I am eternally grateful for what I do. I am an artist. I am an interior designer. I am a teacher. I was finally able to go out on my own in 2013-not having to run Kalen’s Place “on the side” any longer while working other jobs but was able to make it my full-time work.
Has it been a smooth road?
Kalen’s Place has been an evolving “work in progress” for the past decade. In the early 2000’s, prior to the market downfall, my artwork was sold in many small, local boutiques throughout the Valley. Custom artwork that I’d created for these various boutiques was strewn throughout my home, in my kitchen, everywhere! During this time, it was suggested by a friend that I convert my carport into an art studio for creating all of this work.
There you have it! Kalen’s Place was created. However …
The 2007 market downturn hit hard-almost all of the boutiques that carried my work suddenly disappeared, quietly overnight.
I went to work as an interior designer for one of the local boutiques that remained successful despite current financial/market circumstances. (During this time, I also found myself a single mom with two very young children).
At this boutique, I was able to continue creating as an artist for clients and learn/expand my horizons as an interior designer.
While working as a designer/artist at this boutique, Kalen’s Place suddenly found a new direction (thanks to another dear friend whose daughter asked to have her birthday party in my studio). The concept to teach children’s art classes and to offer custom birthday parties and events was created. Lucky to have had training in all of the above over the years, a new purpose for my studio was formed.
To this day, Kalen’s Place continues to offer custom artwork, interior design services, weekly art classes, and specialty events (i.e., “Mom’s Night Out”, Girl Scout badges, birthday parties, etc.)
There is no doubt that I have had many struggles along the way. I have had to sit back and say, “What now? What Next?”. I have had to work outside of my own studio-at other local businesses-in order to support my family, I needed to work in this business alongside the schedule of my studio for financial stability while forging forward with new personal business concepts and ideas…often causing me to work 6-7 days a week while also focusing on being a mom to two amazing, growing children.
I believe that it is of utmost importance for each of us to find the ability to re-create ourselves as needed. To listen to the universe and to be open to its opportunities. It makes us stronger. It pushes us to become better at what we do and to find inspiration in life’s downturns. It encourages us to find new meaning and strengths.
So, as you know, we’re impressed with Kalen’s Place – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
Kalen’s Place has many creative “faces”. I offer unique interior design services, weekly after-school art classes for amazing students (quite a few who have been attending classes with me for years), and customized pieces of art for my design clients or to sell off the studio walls.
I have also recently participated in monthly television segments with a local station (Channel 3’s “Your Life A to Z”) highlighting seasonal children’s art projects that can be created in the home.
I am proud of everything I do. People often ask me, “If there was just one thing you could take out of all that you do, what would it be?” The answer is nothing. I love it all. I adore my art students and look forward to seeing their faces every week. I thrive on interior design and am challenged by those different, unique and individual projects. I love the fact that if someone says to me, “Can you…. (fill in the blank)?”, I nearly always say, “Yes”.
The creative flexibility I have is boundless. If I’m not sure I can do it, I still say “Yes” and figure it out.
Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
I am a Midwestern girl that has lived in Phoenix since 1996. In the past 20 years, I feel that the Phoenix area has begun to re-create itself by working within the original city structures and neighborhoods…suburban sprawl, which was rampant from the 90’s to 2007/8 until the market crashed, was moving at the speed of light and always concerned me. Now you find more “inward” construction and renewal and I am hopeful in seeing this shift in renovation and rehabilitation.
Arizona is a beautiful place that offers incredible varying topography and outdoor opportunities for hiking, exploring, and camping. We have had the opportunities to take our children to experience mountains, streams, waterfalls, and sandy beaches…while living in the desert!
What I like least…it is not my style to point out such things.
- Birthday party packages: $275.00 for two hour studio time that includes up to 8 guests. $25.00 per additional guest. All studio supplies. canvases and paints included in cost. Group rates for Girl Scouts, “Mom’s Night Out” and other specialty outtings, please contact.
- Website: www.kalensplace.com
- Phone: 602-316-8596
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Laurie & Charles Photography Studio
Arizona’s Channel 3 “Your Life A to Z”