Last Updated on December 10, 2020
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About Rebecca Anne Killian
My name is Becky. I’m 38 and from Newport, RI. I’m an only child, and was very quiet with big glasses as a kid, until I discovered track – track and new friends ripped me out of my shell! I was a division one college athlete, then got very sick with lyme disease. I did not know how to function so sick, so I would drink every single day and smoke cigarettes to numb my illness. Finally about ten years later, I decided to get healthier and changed my life around! I started my paint party buisness – Mermaid Masterpieces, and my life has been such a positive adventure since! I am single with no children, but I’m blessed with countless amazing kids in my life – and they make me so happy! I live on an island so I love to go to the beach, take photographs, paint, drink tea, go camping, live outdoors music, anything with my friends and their kids is my favorite!
About Mermaid Masterpieces
I hadn’t been able to hold a job for more than a few months for several years because I was too sick to handle a normal 9-5 from lyme disease. The entire time I was sick, my grandpa, who was an artist, would often say “I understand why you can’t work..but why aren’t you doing your art?”. I’d always tell him I can’t afford supplies. He’d then put together a brush, canvas and paints and send me on my way. Those were the best nights, I’d put on my music, and get lost in the colors – this is how I knew art was extremely theraputic.
In 2014 I decided to change my life and became much healthier. My grandpa Inky passed away a month later, and I got all of his art supplies! I started really painting for the first time in my life and decided I should work for one of those big corporate paint party companies…so I applied! They hired me on the spot, and I absolutely loved it. I trained with them twice and my first time doing an actual party was on my Inkys one year anniversary of passing away. I knew it was a sign!
2015 was a very snowy winter in New England, and I didn’t have a very nice car. The company I worked for needed me to travel, but I told them I could not when they interviewed me (my car was terrible in the snow!)… They asked me to anyways, during a noreaster, and when I said I could not, they let me go. That night I decided I was going to start my own paint party buisness! I wrote up a whole Facebook post about it, letting everyone know that Mermaid Masterpieces was now a thing! As I was about to click post, I had second thoughts. I knew no one would believe in me, as I had been a sick person for so many years… People thought I was a joke! I didn’t know if I had it in me to prove them wrong. Just as I was about to give up, my friend who passed aways sister – who I’d never spoken to before – sent me a message asking if she could book me for a paint party. I couldn’t believe it! From that moment, Mermaid Masterpieces was born!
At first, I envisioned me being in bars with a bunch of women painting while they had drinks and had girl time… Because at that time, that’s exactly what paint parties looked like! I booked parties at a few venues around town and I was on my way, slowly by surly! I would have between 4 and 15 people showing up at my parties – I loved it so much! Then people started to ask about fundraisers, birthday parties, team building, church gatherings, bachelorette parties, you name it, I was asked to do it! My idea of what my business would be was changing so quickly – and I changed right along with it! A few months in, I was asked if I would do after school programs at my public library. I couldn’t believe it! Other libraries started to hear about me, then schools k-universities, big companies.. It was crazy and changed my entire vision for the better! The number one thing I’m asked to do? Kids birthdays! It is so much fun!
Now due to covid I work with all of these places still, except virtually. It’s pretty amazing!
I teach people step by step how to paint their own Masterpiece. I give them all the supplies, we listen to music, dance, sing, laugh and enjoy – it’s a beautiful way to escape for a while! All ages participate and absolutely love it! It’s very theraputic and the most wonderful thing I’ve ever done!
I have recieved several awards including “best family activity”, “best date night”, “best girls night”, “cultural enrichment” – I’m really all over the place, just like I like it!!
How Did You Get Your First Several Customers Or Users? How Many Users Or Customers Do You Have Now?
Completely word of mouth /social media. I now have over 8k followers on my Facebook, I’m pretty proud of that… However I look forward to getting out there even more virtually so even more kids can get pumped up about art and spread positivity with me! I’ve painted with several thousand people through the years. I don’t know an exact number because I’m terrible.
How Does Your Company Grow And Acquire New Customers?
Word of mouth.
People (adults and kids) come to my paint parties, both in person and virtual…and they have a blast! They tell friends, their friends check me out! I also encourage people to take pictures and tag me, they do not do that enough though.
What Actionable Tips And Tricks Do You Have For New Founders Who Are Looking To Get Their First Thousand Users Or Dollars?
You’ve gotta decide that you’re the best at what you do, and let people know that in the least cocky way possible. Confidence is so huge! I swear, people think I’m the best around my area because that’s what I’ve told them!
Be open! I walked into Mermaid Masterpieces with a completely different vision than what I do today – and I’m so glad about it! You’ll never stop evolving.
Ask for help spreading the word.
Have social media and be creative with you posts!
Make connections wherever you can, and don’t be afraid to ask to collaborate! I some how work Mermaid Masterpieces into every conversation, it isn’t even on purpose anymore! But, make those connections – even if it doesn’t make sense! For example. I do paint parties. I litterally just today have partnered with Forever Lazy, those adult onesies on infomercials… Why? Because people can paint in them and be cozy! So now my customers get a special coupon code… All because I approached them with a problem with my shipment, saw an opportunity and asked if they’d like to collaborate! I’m thrilled to work with them!!
I did the same thing with Budsies too – I love it!!
Don’t be afraid to tell everyone what you’ve accomplished! Every time I win an award, get an article written about me or do something noteworthy, it goes up on my social media – zero shame! Even if it’s an every day accomplishment – share it!!
What Is Something You’ve Learned That Would Not Be Obvious To Somebody Who Hasn’t Worked In Your Space Before?
Don’t help people with their paintings, let it be their own! You can talk them through fixing something… And in the end they’ll feel so proud that they did it on their own. Parents get so mad that I don’t let them hover over their kids during my parties, but I’ve done too many to know that the kids relax more, have a better time and feel so proud at the end when they do it all on their own!
What’s The Craziest Thing That’s Happened To You (Good Or Bad) On Your Founder Journey?
My medium told me I’m going to be very famous from this! She told me I’m going to write a series of books about Mermaids about what I do and that I’m going to get filmed teaching kids lessons all over the world. Ever since then, that’s been the goal! I have completed one book, and currently on book two… And I’ve been filming myself doing paint parties for almost a year now, reaching kids all over the world!! I truly believe that I’ll end up being like a Bob Ross, but for kids!
It sounds crazy, but I think I’m crazy enough to believe it AND make it come true!
What Are Your Favorite Books?
Anything You’d Like To Plug?
- Becoming A Magician With Daniel Chan
- Building An Employee Voice Platform With Michael Papay
- Building A Mexican Tile Business With Melanie Ocana
Book summaries, notes, interviews, and more!
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