When Kymm Hughes Ledbetter moved from southern California to Topeka, Kansas to pursue her Bachelor’s in Fine Arts from Washburn University she didn’t know how far that 1,544 mile move would really take her.
While pursuing her degree at Washburn, Kymm decided to teach summer art camps for youth out of her home basement. As parents picked up their children each day from camp, she noticed something fascinating. The parents were interested in not only encouraging their children to make art, but they themselves were interested in the process.
It was an opportunity she hadn’t anticipated – teaching adults. And it was an opportunity she didn’t want to ignore. By opening up her classes beyond youth camps, Kymm knew she would need more space and equipment to expand.
And expand she did. As Kymm grew her business, her business needs grew.
Learning About the Art of Business
In 2010 she attended classes at the Kansas SBDC at Washburn to begin exploring QuickBooks to help with her accounting. Shortly after, in January of 2011, she began using the free consulting services at the Kansas SBDC and connected with consultant Rick LeJuerrne. Together they worked on her Prairie Glass Art Studio business focusing predominantly on profitability and marketing – two keys to effective business growth.
As Prairie Glass grew, Kymm needed new equipment. Tapping into her ongoing relationship with the Kansas SBDC, Kymm worked with Karl Klein at the Kansas SBDC at Washburn to write and submit a successfully funded grant application to the Entrepreneurial and Minority Business Development (EMBD) Council for a kiln.
It was critical that as Kymm developed the business, she had a partner in the Kansas SBDC that was willing to help. The team at the Kansas SBDC helped Kymm understand wholesale pricing and effective methods for pricing through online retailers. She began appreciating the impact of margins and cost drivers on her business. Kymm has continued consulting with Klein as well as Brittany Crabtree to develop an even more targeted marketing plan that has helped the business hone in on effective pricing strategies. All of which have resulted in both increased sales and profits for Prairie Glass.
Working with the Kansas SBDC over the past four plus years has moved Prairie Glass forward and taken what was once only a passion into a full-fledged business. Kymm credits the work she has done with the Kansas SBDC with three important areas of growth in her business: her ability to effectively merchandise, the creation of new and innovative products, and a recent 40% increase in sales.
The Benefits of Help
Kymm’s advice for others interested in starting a business today is to “do what you love – and don’t try to do it alone.” As an import from California, she’s witnessed a lot of support in Kansas. “There are a lot of people in the community that want to help you out and see you succeed. Sometimes those supporters are organizations like the SBDC and EMBD, and other times it is friends and neighbors. Believe in the support. It can take you a long way.”
To learn more about Prairie Glass Art Studio, visit www.prairieglassart.com or call (785) 271-8006.
Senator Pat Roberts
Senator Jerry Moran
Federal Congressional District KS-02 Lynn Jenkins
State Representative District KS-052 Dick Jones
State Senate District KS-020 Vicki L. Schmidt