Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Charla Maarschalk, Founder of Bold School, located in Kelowna, BC, Canada.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

Bold School has online, on-demand art classes and mentorship. We are making the process of art simple so artists can be bold. Creating is not supposed to be hard. We serve artists that want to make art with impact, art that people want to hang on their walls.

Tell us about yourself

I’m a bold color portrait artist who challenges the concepts of traditional art. I believe it’s important to learn and practice the rules, but rules are meant to be broken.

Like many, I’ve been an artist my entire life, with careers in graphic design, photography, professional art, and teaching. The title I carry boldly is that of a teacher. Homeschooling my kids was some of the best years of my life, and when I couldn’t do that anymore, I decided to start teaching artists who long to be bold in their own work.

Teaching in the arts was an easy transition because, at all my shows, artists would ask me to teach them how I painted in bold abstract colors. As I became too busy to teach them all in person, I decided to use all of my other skills and take my classes and workshops online. That was the beginning of Bold School.

My biggest motivation to keep moving forward is the artists that gather each day in the Bold Community spaces. The community began as a space for our teachers to mentor artists through their class work. It has evolved into a place where we hang out just about every day, sharing work, hanging out over zoom, reading books together, and challenging ourselves in just about every way we can think of.

Their stories of finding the courage to create art that matters, finally realizing that their art is important, and knowing the world needs to see it… it’s those stories that motivate me every single day to show up and keep making my art and school better!

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

The Bold School Community! That might sound a bit strange. Running a business means learning how to lead teams, figuring out new software and tech, making sure our content is fresh, time management, and so many other things that seem like huge accomplishments some days!

But truly, the only reason I do all that is because I can go into our Bold Community and visit and talk with all the artists who gather there every single day. The fact that there is a space where people from all over the world gather to talk, share and learn is more than I set out to do at the beginning of all this. When one of our artists posts about how for the first time in their life, they have realized that their artistry is important and that they also have, for the first time, made art they are excited about, I know my real work for that day is done!

Actually, the artists are the ones who made the school and community grow, so I’m not even sure I can call it my accomplishment. But I do know it came out of the work I’ve put in, and it’s the reason I work to keep it all running, so I will confidently say that the Bold Community is our biggest accomplishment.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

I can probably just speak about the hardest thing this week, cause the hard things change almost daily. Actually, there is one really big hard thing that I didn’t account for when I started. As an artist, I took the thing that I am most passionate about in life (not including my family, of course) and made it into a business. What I love most, creating, is no longer just for me, and that was a hard transition.

Before I started Bold School, I was a full-time artist. I sold my work, and I loved the whole process. My art being my business, was not new to me. But starting an art school meant another step deeper, and I shared not just my work but also my entire process. Every time I was in my studio, I thought of how I could bring what I was doing to our community. Sharing every part of my art world with our community takes a lot of courage, but they have always responded with love and support and made me better for it.

The hard part I didn’t really think of was the other side of the business world, the people I had to do business with! They haven’t always treated my work with care; it’s all business to them. Because of that, I’ve faced the prospect of losing some really important parts of me along the way.

Luckily I’ve had a few really great mentors in my life who have helped me figure out how to still find joy in creating. Learning how to keep parts of my creating sacred and knowing when to share it with others was something I wasn’t expecting to have to learn. It was hard because I didn’t realize that if I didn’t handle it correctly, I could lose the very thing that gave me purpose; I could lose it to the crazy side of business, teams, and money.

The best thing I can liken the experience to is being a parent. I love my kids, and I know they aren’t perfect. But when someone tries to hurt one of them, I go into protection mode. It can be hard to see clearly when the mama bear is activated. But to truly give my kids the life they deserve, I need to see that they aren’t perfect and discipline them when needed. However, I would never be willing to lose them to anyone or anything. And that’s kind of what it’s like to bring my entire art world into business.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Learn time management. (burnout is hard to come back from)
  2. Learn to work harder than you thought possible. (never forget the first one)
  3. Learn not to attach your identity or worth to the work.
  4. Learn relationship. (business is nothing without people)

These tips can easily be turned into practical applications. Research time management courses and read books written by famous business owners. And then do what they say!

Find out everything you can about burnout and how to avoid it. There are lots of people who have gone before us and have succeeded without dying. It’s possible! Learn from them.

You are not your work or your art. I have worked hard at recognizing my worth is not in my work, success, or money. If I lose it all, I am still valuable. Getting that truth into your heart will help you work smarter because the fear of failure won’t be connected to your self-worth.

Relationships are everywhere in business. You’ll have customers, a team, and relationships with other businesses. They are all people. Create boundaries, be kind, and serve others. And when you can, learn everything possible from the people around you.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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