FRAMINGHAM – After 18 years and hundreds of birthday parties and craft sessions, Whimsy Family Arts and Crafts Studio will soon be wrapping up their paintings and hanging up their blouses.
The arts and crafts studio at 686 Worcester Road (Rte. 9) will close at the end of this month once its lease expires, according to Lori Karlsson, who founded the business with Maya Elisayeff. The studio is now booking farewell tours and final craft sessions and events.
The colorful arts and crafts studio typically had around 220 weekend birthday parties each year, not counting tours, Karlsson said. This equates to about 1,000 guests per month. But when the pandemic forced the company to shut down for almost a year, business declined by more than 90%, she said.
Many customers are still not ready to return, she added.
Throughout the pandemic, there has been no leniency on rent and utilities for the over 4,000 square foot studio, which has been closed for much of last year, Karlsson said. .
âWith expenses of almost $ 5,000 a month, and you do this for 15 months without any businessâ¦, who also had another full-time job – with Elisayeff – while running Whimsy.
âIt has always been a labor of love and the development of the creative spirit – this is our reason for being,â said Elisayeff.
Karlsson currently runs the business with his sister, Carol Moy Daniels, and their mother May, also known as “Grandma Whimsy”. The business is located in Hamilton Plaza West and is part of a building with other tenants including Ski Haus and a tanning salon. It also included The Yoga Leaf – a separate yoga studio located inside Whimsy – but which closed in March 2020.
The whimsical owners hope to give patrons a piece of themselves to take home by hosting a silent auction for its colorful playhouse, mining lock and paint bar.
The yellow playhouse with a red roof, measuring approximately 5 feet high and 6 feet wide, sits inside the building but is intended for outdoor use, Karlsson said. When the fire department arrived for a building inspection, it also had to submit the performance hall to a satisfactory inspection – and at first it didn’t, Karlsson said. A sunroof was then installed, providing a separate escape opening, she said.
A mining lock allows children to sift tiny rocks into sandbags, which has always been a highlight, said Elisayeff. A paint bar consists of colored tubes that spray paint from below at the push of a button in front of the faucet. The craft was made by Kelly Daniels, late husband of Carol Moy Daniels. An air compressor in its back office pumps paint from below and sends it through the tube, which then spurts out below, Karlsson explained.
The proceeds from the auction will be used to cover unpaid rents, utilities and other debts, she said.
But this is not the last chapter of Whimsy, according to Karlson. A planned upgrade to the company’s website will allow the company to increase the number of products to sell, add shipping services and increase its delivery area.
Lori Karlsson and Maya Elisayeff are the women who started Whimsy
Karlsson and Elisayeff quit corporate jobs to start Whimsy Arts and Crafts after taking maternity leave and wanting to open a place where their children could also grow up, according to Karlsson. As a new mom, she struggled to find a comfortable place to do nifty things with her baby. There is still not much to choose from, she said.
âI was still very uncomfortable,â she said. âThere was never a place where I could be with the baby, where I had space and where I wasn’t stressed. I thought, ‘We can do better. “”
Today, Elisayeff is the Creative Director for a Boston real estate company, while Karlsson still runs Whimsy with his sister and mother, and works at a school that manages operations and events. The sisters grew up in Framingham, after their mother, May, emigrated from China in 1938. May has artistic talents, especially for traditional Chinese and floral painting, and passed that creativity on to her three daughters, Karlsson said. .
This fall, Karlsson will start a new job at the New England Innovation Academy in Marlborough, where she will be responsible for programming and extracurricular activities. This school, which is still in the process of being completed, will serve grades 6-12.
After:New England Innovation Academy on track for opening day
âA whole new world,â she said. âBut that’s still not the end. Maya and I still have many visions of what (Whimsy) will turn into. ”
Lauren Young writes about business and pop culture. Contact her at 774-804-1499 or [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @laurenwhy__.