Professional Learning

4 Tips to Start a Business Strong When You’re an Art Educator


Are you passionate about a special skill or hobby? Maybe you have thought about pursuing your creative aspirations by starting a business. Art educators are creative by nature so many consider starting other artistic enterprises. Not only is it an artmaking outlet, but it is a productive solution to take care of all of the art you are making. It can also be an opportunity to earn a little extra cash to further fuel your passions. While it can be daunting to be both an educator and a business owner, it is doable!


Kayla Koslow is an art educator and successful business owner. She began teaching in Virginia and is now an elementary art teacher in Texas. During her 12 years as a teacher, she has launched two businesses. First, she began Kayla Koslow Photography. Then, she started Kayla Koslow Art, a sticker, clothing, and accessories business geared toward other teachers. Kayla shares with us how she juggles two successful businesses with being a great art teacher.

Here are Kayla’s four suggestions for creating and maintaining a successful business while being an art educator.


1. Learn how to balance your business with teaching.

There are times when teaching feels all-consuming. It can be challenging to think about adding anything else on top of such an already demanding profession. However, if you have enough passion for your business, you can find ways to do both and still maintain a healthy balance.

Here are four ways to balance your business with teaching:

  1. Find ways to automate.
    If your business revolves around putting your designs on physical items, using print-on-demand services saves you time, space, and money. It also prevents you from having too much inventory. Find a print-on-demand company you love and ensure it creates high-quality products. Always order one sample of each product for yourself to test the quality. You can also use the sample for product photos to market on social media or put on your website.
  2. Maximize school breaks.
    One perk of teaching is having breaks built into your work schedule. Use these breaks to push full force on your business. You won’t always be able to give your business all of your free time or attention without draining yourself physically and emotionally. Use your breaks to set up automated systems and create products so you’ll be in “maintenance mode” when teaching takes your full attention.
  3. Make art just for you.
    Even if your business is art related, you still need to create art just for yourself. Visual journal, experiment, and step outside of the confines of your brand. If you only make art for your business, you’ll burn out. Don’t let your business take away the passion you have for art!
  4. Build a support system.
    Do you have someone who will print labels for you? Drop sales off at the post office? Maybe even post on social media for you occasionally? Starting a business is a ton of work. Don’t do it by yourself if you don’t have to!

hands with paint

2. Create a brand based on what you love.

Your business brand should be a reflection of what you love. Kayla loves bold, bright, and cheery colors. Her classroom is a reflection of this. When other teachers come into her classroom, they comment on how joyful it is. Other teachers are drawn to what works for her. Since her target market is other teachers, her customer base knows she is authentic.

If you aren’t creating what you love to look at or use, your heart won’t be in the right place when you try to convince others to love or use what you’re selling. People support authenticity!


3. Follow successful businesses.

If your product is stickers, find people who are successful at selling stickers. If you’re selling your curriculum, find someone who is successful at selling curriculum. Learn by watching others’ marketing plans, creation methods, and how they interact with their followers.

Some successful business owners gatekeep their methods, but there are creators like Kayla who believe there’s room for all in the business world. In fact, she believes part of her success comes from helping others. She doesn’t hide her processes or the print-on-demand services she uses. She shares her tips and tricks in her Instagram’s highlighted stories. Follow people like Kayla to find out what works!

pencil sticker

4. Market on social media.

Social media is a valuable free marketing tool. It allows you to get your product in front of friends, family, and even people you’ve never met!

Here are Kayla’s four recommendations for marketing on social media:

  1. Determine if you can use your existing social media accounts.
    If your target audience for your business is other teachers and you already have an account dedicated to your role as an art teacher, you can use it to market your business. If your target audience is outside of your current audience, create a separate account. It’s still okay to occasionally market your business on your other social media platforms, but keep the majority of the marketing on your business page.
  2. Start somewhere.
    Don’t let your lack of followers stop you from marketing your business. You don’t have to have a large social media following to be successful. In fact, Kayla’s social media grew after she started marketing her products.
  3. Be confident and own your business.
    Don’t worry about feeling too “salesy.” Some people believe you should stick to a certain ratio of personal posts to business posts, but don’t confine yourself to those rules! Post business content when you have it. If people are offended by your marketing, then they’re not your customer base. The people who love you and your business will stay.
  4. Keep current trends in mind.
    While you shouldn’t put too much pressure on yourself to do what everyone else is doing, you do need to acknowledge current trends in order to be successful. For example, reels on Instagram are generally seen and interacted with more than pictures. If all you’re posting is pictures, you’re limiting how many people see your product.


When starting your business, maintain a healthy business-teaching-life balance. Use Kayla’s tips for automation, create art for yourself, maximize school breaks, and find your support system. When it comes to branding, create a look and a feel you love! Doing so will keep you passionate about your products and it will allow you to maintain authenticity when marketing. Learn from other people who are successful at similar businesses and use social media to your advantage! For more tips on how to pursue your creative passions, be sure to check out AOEU’s course, Creative Pursuits, Side Hustles, and Business Smarts. Don’t let the crazy workload of being an art educator keep you from chasing another dream. You can be successful at both!

What’s stopping you from starting a business as an art educator?

What type of business are you interested in starting?

Magazine articles and podcasts are opinions of professional education contributors and do not necessarily represent the position of the Art of Education University (AOEU) or its academic offerings. Contributors use terms in the way they are most often talked about in the scope of their educational experiences.


Chelsea Solano

Chelsea Solano, a secondary art educator, is a former AOEU Writer. She is passionate about choice-based art education, fiber arts, and amplifying students’ voices in the classroom.

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