Skip to main content

Growing Community through Creativity

Minni is growing! We're partnering with local schools and opening a second location of our community creative space in Boston MA.

$20,480
pledged of$50,000 goal
71
29Days Left
Fund it
Campaign Ends on July 25, 2022

Project Description

WHAT'S MINNI?

A community creative space focused on early education, Minni hosts proprietary art and design classes, workshops and events on-site, and extends programs off-site through strategic partnerships with neighborhood organizations. Minni’s class curriculum and offerings are coordinated and taught by professional artists, designers, and educators. Minni responds to a decade-long decline in arts education funding, a noted shortage of creative spaces for children, and a dearth of design courses for preschool and elementary students.

kids making art in the studio at Minni

THE PROBLEM

Three distinct pain points, one Minni. 

Urban areas—and the Boston area in particular—suffer from a lack of local creative spaces; a decline in arts education funding, and a scarcity of design courses aimed at the preschool, elementary, or upper-school aged student. The shortage of available creative spaces also limits community event options for local families.

Minni Studio Aubrey

THE SOLUTION

Minni’s answer to these challenges is two-fold. First, Minni hosts a broad spectrum of classes uniquely programmed to early childhood students, all under the tutelage of professional artists, designers, and educators. The tried-and-tested curriculum is process and technique driven and is novel in its 360-degree integration of design principles and vocabulary. Additionally, Minni offers a beautiful community space that is accessible to the neighborhood through open studio drop-in time and a suite of special events: parties, workshops, corporate events, exhibitions, and pop-ups.

Minni intends to increase the outreach of early art and design education annually to reach the estimated 35,000 children (pre-K to grade 5) in both public and independent schools in Boston. Our short-term goal is to grow enrollment in our physical studios by 20 percent annually. In the long-term, we hope to add locations and partnerships in other cities. Through a percentage of retail sales and foundation grants—and crowdfunding campaign like this—we are working to grow a scholarship fund to support programming to hundreds of children annually in underserved local communities.

 

Kelly Harris Smith at Minni Space in South End Boston Minni Signs hanging

OUR STORY

Hi! I’m Kelly. I’m the founder and creative director of Minni. 

As a kid, I had creative tendencies, but most of my extra time was focused on sports. I went to college as “undecided,” played on the Division 1 soccer team, but was always attracted to arts and design. This interest led me to explore my options and I majored and graduated in architecture. I worked as a designer in an architecture office for a few years before starting a small textile and accessory business. This led me to co-found a sustainable textile company, and then to furniture design and the world of interior design. This circuitous route gave me an informal education, and I can honestly say I didn’t hear the term “industrial design” until I was several years out of school. If I had known about the many different possibilities in the design world in my youth, I may have chosen a different school or taken another path. But then I wouldn’t be here!

From the beginning, my vision for Minni has been to make arts education accessible to my former self and others who may have lesser access to art and design education. Part of this vision was to open multiple locations around Boston and ultimately expand into other communities, offering art and design programming to young children. 

In the fall of 2019, I was meeting with developers and looking at spaces for our second location. At the time, nothing felt like the right fit, which was timely, as a few months later the onset of Covid-19 abruptly halted our operations. We closed our physical studio twice for a total of 8 months and pivoted to online classes and developed a creative curriculum-in-a-box that we delivered by mail (and by hand on occasion). I did what I could to stay positive and afloat during that time of widespread uncertainty. Through the support of our amazing community, and the resilience of our team, Minni survived, and even with the uncertainty of an ongoing pandemic, we’ve begun to thrive! 

My goal for 2022 was to maintain this new stability and steadily increase the enrollment in our art and design programs. I also aimed to reignite and expand our partnerships with local schools and educational institutions, many of which are serving lower income families. Earlier this year, I pursued an out-of-the-studio idea to create a “Mobile Minni” (think food truck, but instead of food, we’d dish out project materials) to reach some of our communities outside during the upcoming warmer months. 

After speaking with my team and some business advisors, I realized this partnership expansion could potentially happen without a physical truck—but it can’t happen without some major funding (our fees for these programs are about a third of what we charge in our studio, and we will be doing some of these events as free events). 

In the middle of this activity, a customer reached out to say that a space was available for lease right next to a popular bakery in the old meeting house on Charles Street. This wasn’t in the plan for 2022, but upon seeing the space, I felt I had to jump on the opportunity, closing a circle that I had started in 2019. This location is ideal, being within walking distance to several schools and only a few blocks from the nearby Charles MGH T stop.

I realized that seizing this business opportunity could also help me bring my vision of expanding into underserved communities to fruition. 

Lydia messmakers + printing

OUR TEAM

Our team is comprised of art educators, artists, and designers.

Kelly is our founder and creative director. Alexandra is our program manager. Jill is our studio and marketing manager. Nora is our education director. Somer is our social media manager. Our amazing instructors + assistants are Lydia, Amy, Eugene, Aubrey, Sarah, and Eda.

Each specializing in different areas and mediums, they bring this knowledge and enthusiasm from their respective crafts—be it illustration, fiber arts, woodworking, or painting—to Minni each time they teach. We love being able to offer a place for individuals to share their backgrounds and experiences while encouraging students to explore their own creative expression.

 

project and teacher

HELP US GROW!

Why are we asking for funding? 

  • Partnership funding: this includes hiring a mobile team and offering subsidized or free programs, materials and supplies 
  • Build out costs for second location: covering furniture, cabinets, paint, supplies, plumbing, electrical, retail fixtures
  • Employees: increasing hours, salary and benefits for our current team as inflation and cost of living is at its highest 
student makes artwork outside SOWA Instructor speaks with Minni Students

WITH GRATITUDE

Thank you, thank you, thank you! 

We are eternally grateful for your support of Minni in our first four years in business, for spreading the word about this project, and for helping bring this vision to life. By contributing to this campaign and sharing the campaign with your friends and family, you are bringing the joy of making art and design to children (and adults) in our community. 

 

 

The Campaign FAQs

Q: How long have you been in business?

A: Minni's original location opened May 2018. 

Q: Is Minni a franchise?

A: No. We are a small business started in Boston, MA.

Q: When will the new location open? 

A: Our goal is to offer classes and summer programming starting this July! 

Q: Can I make an anonymous donation?

A: Yes!

Q: Can I donate my reward or part of my reward?

A: Yes! Thank you for your generosity. We'll follow up to find out if you'd like to pick up, ship or donate your rewards. We already work with partner organizations that can identify families in need to donate rewards or private events. 

Q: What if you don’t make your goal? 

A: IFundWomen allows me to keep all contributions towards my business development even if I do not reach my goal!

Q: I can’t donate money; is there another way to help? 

A: We appreciate you sharing our campaign, sending love and support, or just hearing from you! Feel free to email us at hello@minni.space

Q: Do you work with schools?

A: Yes! Minni is proud to work with a number of schools across the Boston area. Our unique art and design concepts complement existing arts curriculums and enhance early childhood programs. More information can be found on our school partnerships page

Q: Do you work with any other groups or institutions? 

A: Yes! Minni is proud to work with a number of educational and cultural institutions across Boston and surrounding towns. We collaborate with each of our partners individually to determine the right programming for that relationship. More information can be found on our About page.

Q: What is the age range for Minni programming?

A: We offer classes and workshops for a variety of ages! Our primary focus is programming for kids ages 1.5-12 years old. However, we offer workshops and events for adults as well! 

Q: Is Minni eco-conscious? 

A: Yes! We steer clear of plastics and consciously create with natural and recycled materials. We also work with groups like Spring Forward to integrate climate change awareness into our curriculum.  Additionally, this Summer vacation, we are debuting our Waste Free Wonders curriculum! This week long program focuses on making art with reclaimed materials and reinforces the importance of reusing and recycling. 

Q: Can I join the Minni team?

A: Yes! With this expansion, Minni is hiring for a number of positions, including instructors, assistants, marketing and events management. Please check out our careers page for a detailed description.

 

Margot Fried
06/25/2022
Sponsor-a-Student Personalized Tile
$100
Amelia Larsen
06/23/2022
The Works
$500
Rowena Tuttle
06/23/2022
Monetary Contribution
$150
Grace
06/23/2022
Pencil Case + Colored Pencils
$25
Lynette gay
06/22/2022
Custom Private Event + The Works
$2,500
06/22/2022
Custom Private Event + The Works
$2,500
Fabbrucci Family
06/22/2022
Minni Artist Hat
$50
Kristina Velez
06/19/2022
Limited Edition Tote
$125
Alyssa Tang-Bortnyk
06/19/2022
Monetary Contribution
$25
06/19/2022
Stealth Artist Hoodie
$100
Monetary Contribution

Thank you for any amount of contribution!

15 Supporters
Select this reward
25.00 USD
Pencil Case + Colored Pencils

In addition to supporting your favorite community creative space, you also get a Minni pencil case and a set of our favorite Prismacolor colored pencils to celebrate our expansion!

5 Supporters
Select this reward
35.00 USD
Artist T-Shirt

In addition to supporting your favorite community creative space, you also get to tell the world that you are an artist with our signature Minni t-shirt, printed in New England. We’ll share our three secret lessons on how to make it your own! (ie. tie dye, block printing, etc.)

Available in youth and adult sizes.

3 Supporters
Select this reward
50.00 USD
Minni Artist Hat

In addition to supporting your favorite community creative space, you also get to tell the world that you are an artist with our signature orange Minni artist hat, embroidered on a cotton baseball cap. 

Available in youth or adult size. 

 

2 Supporters
Select this reward
75.00 USD
Stealth Artist Hoodie

In addition to supporting your favorite community creative space, you can quietly and stealthily tell the world that you are an artist with our signature Minni artist black-on-black hooded sweatshirt. Printed in New England on the softest hoodie we could find.

Available in youth and adult sizes.

8 Supporters
Select this reward
100.00 USD
Sponsor-a-Student Personalized Tile

Your personalized tile will become a piece of Minni history! Showcase your little one’s masterpiece as part of a permanent graphic tile installation at Minni Beacon Hill. In addition to supporting your favorite community creative space, your contribution will sponsor a student in one of our public school partner programs. Each tile provides materials for one student for a semester of Minni classes. 

13 Supporters
Select this reward
125.00 USD
Limited Edition Tote

In addition to supporting your favorite community creative space, you’ll receive a super awesome canvas tote designed and made between three female-founded small businesses and made proudly in the U.S. Illustrated by the duo who created our mural, thecollab and manufactured by our friends at Moop.

65 Left
10 Supporters
Select this reward
500.00 USD
The Works

In addition to supporting your favorite community creative space, you’ll get a limited edition tote bag, artist t-shirt, pencil case and pencils, personalized tile in our graphic mural and tickets to our soft opening.

7 Supporters
Select this reward
1,000.00 USD
Private Event + The Works

In addition to supporting your favorite community creative space, we’ll host you and your closest pals for a private event. Choose from a tie-dye party, candle making or leather marbling for 1.5 hours. You’ll also receive a limited edition tote bag, artist t-shirt, pencil case + pencils, personalized tile in our graphic mural, and tickets to our soft-opening.

6 Supporters
Select this reward
2,500.00 USD
Custom Private Event + The Works

In addition to supporting your favorite community creative space, we’ll host you and your closest pals for a private event. We’ll work with you to customize the theme of this 2 hour event. You’ll also receive a limited edition tote bag, artist t-shirt, pencil case + pencils, personalized tile in our graphic mural, and tickets to our soft-opening.

2 Supporters
Select this reward

Rewards

Monetary Contribution

Thank you for any amount of contribution!

15 Supporters
Select this reward
25.00 USD
Pencil Case + Colored Pencils

In addition to supporting your favorite community creative space, you also get a Minni pencil case and a set of our favorite Prismacolor colored pencils to celebrate our expansion!

5 Supporters
Select this reward
35.00 USD
Artist T-Shirt

In addition to supporting your favorite community creative space, you also get to tell the world that you are an artist with our signature Minni t-shirt, printed in New England. We’ll share our three secret lessons on how to make it your own! (ie. tie dye, block printing, etc.)

Available in youth and adult sizes.

3 Supporters
Select this reward
50.00 USD
Minni Artist Hat

In addition to supporting your favorite community creative space, you also get to tell the world that you are an artist with our signature orange Minni artist hat, embroidered on a cotton baseball cap. 

Available in youth or adult size. 

 

2 Supporters
Select this reward
75.00 USD
Stealth Artist Hoodie

In addition to supporting your favorite community creative space, you can quietly and stealthily tell the world that you are an artist with our signature Minni artist black-on-black hooded sweatshirt. Printed in New England on the softest hoodie we could find.

Available in youth and adult sizes.

8 Supporters
Select this reward
100.00 USD
Sponsor-a-Student Personalized Tile

Your personalized tile will become a piece of Minni history! Showcase your little one’s masterpiece as part of a permanent graphic tile installation at Minni Beacon Hill. In addition to supporting your favorite community creative space, your contribution will sponsor a student in one of our public school partner programs. Each tile provides materials for one student for a semester of Minni classes. 

13 Supporters
Select this reward
125.00 USD
Limited Edition Tote

In addition to supporting your favorite community creative space, you’ll receive a super awesome canvas tote designed and made between three female-founded small businesses and made proudly in the U.S. Illustrated by the duo who created our mural, thecollab and manufactured by our friends at Moop.

65 Left
10 Supporters
Select this reward
500.00 USD
The Works

In addition to supporting your favorite community creative space, you’ll get a limited edition tote bag, artist t-shirt, pencil case and pencils, personalized tile in our graphic mural and tickets to our soft opening.

7 Supporters
Select this reward
1,000.00 USD
Private Event + The Works

In addition to supporting your favorite community creative space, we’ll host you and your closest pals for a private event. Choose from a tie-dye party, candle making or leather marbling for 1.5 hours. You’ll also receive a limited edition tote bag, artist t-shirt, pencil case + pencils, personalized tile in our graphic mural, and tickets to our soft-opening.

6 Supporters
Select this reward
2,500.00 USD
Custom Private Event + The Works

In addition to supporting your favorite community creative space, we’ll host you and your closest pals for a private event. We’ll work with you to customize the theme of this 2 hour event. You’ll also receive a limited edition tote bag, artist t-shirt, pencil case + pencils, personalized tile in our graphic mural, and tickets to our soft-opening.

2 Supporters
Select this reward