Helping Others Express Themselves Through Art
Creating space where people can free themselves of everyday stressors and worries by just create something is exactly what business owner, Meg Pando is doing. In February, Pando opened her second business, Makers Social, a do-it-yourself interactive bar experience in Franklinton. While sipping on themed cocktails like “Moscow Tools” and, you guessed it, “Screwdrivers” you get to choose from dozens of remarkable crafting projects. This is Pando’s second entrepreneurial venture, the first being an owner of Studio 614 in the University District. In her spare time, she loves to travel, snowboard, eat skyline chili, and spend time with her husband, 3-legged cat and her son.
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Name: Megan Pando
Business: I opened Makers Social in Franklinton last February (my second business), but I opened Studio 614 in Clintonville in October of 2014 (still operating).
Describe your business:
Studio 614 is a BYOB art studio in Clintonville, hosting private events as well as art classes and DIY workshops.
Makers Social is a walk-in or reservation DIY project workshop with a full-service bar and phenomenal bourbon selection in Franklinton on Rich Street.
Everyone in business has that moment when they know this is what they’re supposed to do. When and what was yours?
During the grand opening of Makers Social last February, I was nine months pregnant. We were SOLD OUT for 4 weekends straight, and I was running around the bar helping customers with their DIY projects every weekend while experiencing Braxton-Hicks contractions (small contractions that can happen for weeks before giving birth). It was the wildest roller coaster right before the statewide shutdown, but it was the best few weeks of my life, of my marriage, and of my businesses. I knew this was right where I was meant to be. Then fast forward to March 15th when I had to shut down both businesses and had my first two-week old baby at home. I knew that was right where I was supposed to be as well. It’s been an emotional summer, but just as much a learning experience as to what matters most in life when suddenly everything can be stripped from us in a day.
What were the first five action steps you took to turn your dream into a reality?
When I opened Studio 614, I was just 24 years old and suffered from “imposter syndrome” – constantly worrying that this leap of faith I had taken in moving to Columbus for this venture was the wrong thing to do. I constantly worried about failure as I struggled to understand what it means to succeed financially, spiritually, and emotionally. The action steps I took were: beginning with my WHY, writing down my short term goals, writing down my 5-year plan (Makers Social- the second business), and budgeting like crazy. I lived on about $600 per month which included rent in my first year or two of business.
When did you know you had something special that people loved?
In my third year of business with Studio 614, a Wednesday night painting class was scheduled, but there were only 2 signups for it (a mother and daughter). Typically, any classes with less than 5 sign-ups were canceled as it was more of a financial burden to hold the class. However, this Wednesday morning when I woke up, I had some intuitional urge to teach this class of two, so I chose not to cancel it. In the middle of the class that evening, while they were both painting, I asked if they were celebrating anything or just out for a fun night. They explained that they had experienced a loss in the family: the daughter’s father/mother’s husband and needed a therapeutic night out. This is why I built the business, and I had never felt more “successful” than at that moment… with only 2 customers. This wasn’t just the moment I realized I had built something special, but also when I realized what success means to me.
What current company or entrepreneur do you admire?
I love Barbara Corcoran. She also talks openly about “imposter syndrome” she experienced early on while building her real estate empire. She found more and more motivation every time others doubted her, and I can relate. If you watch Shark Tank today, you can hear the confidence and resilience in her voice, and I know that didn’t come in a day. She’s 71 years old now, and young women everywhere can learn so much from her. We need more role models like her and less of the damaging influencers teaching the younger generation to photoshop themselves.
What are your plans for future growth?
Makers Social has now been open for 6 months (2 during the shutdown, and 3 of which are after the re-opening). Right now, I’m working on carry-out cocktails, carry-out craft projects, and virtual experiences. These are three things that I never imagined implementing since my businesses have always been oriented towards in-person art therapy and social creating. However, that’s the plan for the near future growth, and we are excited to be modifying with these times.
What are the top five things you keep on your desk?
A 3D sculpture of my kid, one of those tricky triangle games you can find at Cracker Barrel, and probably a dirty diaper.
Behind every entrepreneur are people who support them and helped them get where they are: who are your people?
When I came up with the idea to move to Columbus and start the studio at age 24, my dad pushed me to believe in myself. I still look back wondering how he had no doubt in his mind that I could pull it off, but he always says I was the best girl scout cookie salesman back in the day so he knew I’d be an entrepreneur.
I met my husband because he messaged me and offered to build me a new website for the Studio, so he’s a big reason I am here today. He’s also the reason we have a great bourbon selection at the bar.
Finally, after this statewide pandemic shutdown, my friends have come into the bar and the studio, bringing their friends and family in support. Some of them have literally painted more than TEN Studio 614 paintings that are sitting in their closets today (Jackie Thiam I’m talking about you). This is support. Everyone out there in Columbus right now supporting small businesses… you are wonderful. We need you, and we love you.
What challenges did you face or continue to face while making your dream your reality?
Here’s a challenge I’m sure many of you find relatable. I’ve been in so many situations in which someone in business calls me “honey” or “sweetie”. For some of us young women, nothing crushes our professional confidence more than being talked to like we’re a teenage girl in the workplace. So I’m sharing this for everyone – PLEASE treat all young women in the workforce as if they’re a CEO in the making. We are capable, we are assets, and we are resilient. Believe in us the way my dad believed in me, or the way you would believe in your own daughter. And just stop calling us sweethearts because we aren’t here to be sweet.
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