Maya Ratcliff is in her Dallas studio listening to a “Beach Vibes” playlist when she picks up the cell phone. She’s in a contagiously superior mood as she mixes paints to get ready for the working day in advance. But if you advised Ratcliff a few decades back that this is what she’d be accomplishing at 8 a.m. on a Wednesday, she’d probably chortle in your confront.
Ratcliff, who moved to the Hawaiian Islands in 2012, invested most of her adult existence functioning as a company banker and then in the mortgage loan business. While she’s constantly been an innately curious person, the pandemic ignited a longing for some thing much more. Ultimately, she was bored. Like, definitely bored.
“I was just exhausted of the grind of my every day [job] — I connect with it a j-o-b — I is not going to even say the word out loud,” Ratcliff jokes.
Right after functioning in the exact sector for 15 yrs — and now dealing with the new norm of lockdown — Ratcliff sought a way to continue to be busy though also enjoyable, anything she says she’s “distinctly not fantastic at.”
“My partner is a woodworker, and I was sitting down in his woodshop attempting to whittle wooden, and I was cursing the entire time. He goes, ‘Honey, hobbies are not meant to make you miserable,'” Ratcliff laughs. “I recognized ideal then I experienced to uncover something that I love.”
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She tried almost everything: oil portray, watercolors, acrylics. “I was so terrible at all of it,” Ratcliff states. But when she minimum anticipated it, she found her fantastic medium.
“It truly is likely to get effort and it’s heading to acquire power, but it is really heading to be well worth it.”
As Ratcliff was in the middle of nonetheless one more attempt at acrylic portray, she struggled to get colour out of the bottle. In an hard work to loosen the paint, she additional water to the bottle, shook it up and poured it on a plate. Ratcliff did not know it at the time, but pouring that paint out was shifting her existence.
“I tilted it close to, and the following working day it was dry and I beloved it,” Ratcliff states. “So I purchased a bunch of canvases, and I in no way appeared again.”
At the time she began, she could not cease. Her new strategy of painting was “fluid,” equally in texture and fashion. But higher than all, it was mesmerizing, comforting and specifically what she experienced been looking for. Over the subsequent two months, Ratcliff started publishing her artwork on Facebook for enjoyment — but then folks started off obtaining it. Then, they wanted lessons.
“I was like, ‘I’m not an artwork teacher, but I’ll clearly show you what I do,'” she states. “I am a enormous believer that if you want to do anything, you can do it. It really is going to get effort and hard work and it is really going to take energy, but it’s going to be worth it.”
Ratcliff did not have an artwork studio, so she produced do with her garage and reworked it into a place for artistic expression.
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To established the scene, even though the partitions of Ratcliff’s garage had been painted white, they were being filled with so significantly artwork that colours lined each individual wall. The garage was at the stop of a courtyard, which served as a welcoming entrance for visitors.
It was an instant strike. She taught approximately 1,000 people today above six months. Shoppers came from all over the Big Island of Hawaii — some driving upwards of two-and-a-50 percent hrs each and every way to go to a course.
What designed Ratcliff’s enterprise a accomplishment was not only the system of producing, which she took to contacting “fluid art,” but also the welcoming surroundings she so thoroughly developed for her pupils.
“I understood that individuals desired a feeling of comfort in their art studios,” Ratcliff suggests. “All the business artwork studios that are out there are just sterile, not comfortable and cold.”
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The studio was heat and welcoming and higher than all instilled a sense of therapeutic in all these who occur by the doors.
Hawaii Fluid Art studio in Dallas, Texas | Courtesy of Maya Ratcliff
Ratcliff realized her artwork could deliver pleasure to some others, irrespective of any bodily or mental obstacles they faced. Among Ratcliff’s initial purchasers were being people today who ended up tough of hearing, experienced intense mind problems or struggled with other disabilities.
When Ratcliff initially started off instructing, she received a connect with from a man who preferred to know if she’d be eager to train his wife. She’d endured serious brain damage from a car incident. She experienced no long-expression memory and incredibly confined limited-phrase memory. He wished to give her one thing to do that she loved so a great deal in the moment that she could possibly recall it.
The woman arrived to the studio just about every week for one particular-on-one classes and, finally, she remembered.
“The spouse informed me that she would ask each day, ‘Can I go to artwork course these days? Is these days the working day I go to artwork course?’ It was the initial issue that she remembered regularly since her incident,” Ratcliff says.
During the 6 months of teaching in her garage, Ratcliff witnessed a great number of situations where by her art served as therapy and a resource of joy for other folks, so she realized she wanted to take the following phase. She opened her initially brick-and-mortar studio in Waikoloa, Hawaii in 2021 — but her enlargement didn’t end there.
“When we are in a position that we do not feel complete, or we don’t feel 100%, we have to look inside of of ourselves to determine out what is lacking”
Her new studio was thriving, and Ratcliff also taught courses for people at a housing enhancement on another component of the island. After a especially illuminating course, just one of the parents approached her.
“He mentioned, ‘Maya, you want to franchise this. Everyone justifies to expertise Hawaii Fluid Art,'” Ratcliff says. “At that second I was like, really? I started off considering about it challenging and then on the lookout into what it would take to franchise. I took a leap of faith and put in each and every penny that I had to pay for the franchise entity.”
Ratcliff poured her vitality, religion and $50,000 into the hopes of generating Hawaii Fluid Art a accomplishment, and she finally received her FDD in August 2021. Even now, Ratcliff needed to ensure that her company product was perfect before sharing her art knowledge with the globe.
So, from August 2021 to April 2022, Ratcliff worked on great-tuning the infrastructure of her small business from the inside of out, with a concentrate on making a constructive experience for foreseeable future customers and franchisees alike — and her initiatives compensated off. Numerous of Ratcliff’s franchisees were as soon as enthusiasts of her classes, or in any other case encouraged by her story, and now prolong that same electricity ahead by bringing Hawaii Fluid Artwork to their communities.
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Now, Hawaii Fluid Art has 5 destinations throughout four states, and lately marketed 137 models. Ratcliff options to open 350 areas nationwide more than the next 5 decades, and she moved to Dallas in 2022 to concentration on increasing the enterprise.
As Ratcliff continues to improve her company, she recalls what led her to the artwork in the 1st place: a longing to experience a thing she necessary but couldn’t come across.
“When we are in a area that we will not truly feel whole, or we will not come to feel 100%, we have to seem inside of ourselves to figure out what is missing, and then find those people missing puzzle pieces and get started adding them into our daily life,” Ratcliff states.