Women in Business: Lauren Runyon of Yellowbobbypins Art Camp
Create, teach, learn and start again. Lauren Runyon’s passion for art education extends throughout her career, but flexibility has proven to be key to her success.
“I’ve been teaching for over 25 years,” she says. “I’ve taught in private schools and public schools. When my daughter was born, I had been teaching 19 years at that point.
When Runyon found that her daughter was not thriving in preschool, change was needed.
“My husband and I decided I needed to come home and work with her and manage treatments and all that, so I quit and started looking for other things to do to make ends meet,” she says.
Runyon decided to do what she knew – and began offering art classes in her home.
“It kind of exploded,” she says. “After three years of doing this, we had about 200 people visiting our house a week. I would offer home school art classes, after-school art classes, and preschool play groups. We would rent out our house for birthday parties on the weekends.” “Some weekends, we’d have three birthday parties a weekend. It was crazy. Then Covid hit.”
Runion pivoted again, turning to virtual art classes. Once again, I found a niche.
“I’ve been able to teach kids from here all the way to Hawaii, Washington state,” she says. “I think I ended up representing about 30 or 40 states in my classroom at one point.”
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As the world reopens, Runion has taken a new leap, opening Yellowbobbypins Art Camp in Hampton Station just over a year ago.
“It was just kind of magical,” she says.
Bustling with activities, the place offers classes for children aged 6 months to 14 years, as well as sensory play groups, camps, parties, school holiday day programs and more. It’s all driven by Runyon’s shared passions for children and art, although where she ends up is far from what she expected.
“It’s completely different,” Runyon says. “I never planned to be an entrepreneur. I was very happy in the classroom. It never occurred to me to think about running a business. I came across it by accident, so I am an accidental entrepreneur. I learned and learned a lot from my husband who has been an entrepreneur all along.” ‘His life. In the first two years of work, I spent a lot of time picking his brain – ‘What about this?’ What about this? What about this?’ “And I’ve also been taking a lot of classes as well, trying to keep up with the pace. The educational side of it is easy because I’ve been doing it for a long time. The entrepreneurial side has been a big learning curve.”
As art students build community with each other, their parents connect too, and Runyon takes charge of that, even as she feels supported by business owners around her like Craft Ax Throwing, White Duck Taco Shop, Halloween Earth Pottery, and others among her neighbors in Hampton Station.
“Yellowbobbypins came about as I needed to stay home with my daughter full-time,” says Runyon. “The classrooms are built around her and what she needs. To this day, she comes with me. We homeschool and she comes with me to the classroom when needed. I’ve been able to hire a teacher and she brings her daughter when needed and that’s just part of the way we manage. We are mothers first “
Learn more through Yellowbobbypins.com.
This article originally appeared in the Herald Journal: Women in Business: Lauren Runyon of Yellowbobbypins Art Camp