Color Me Mine Brings Creativity to UWS Amidst Covid-19

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The inside of Color Me Mine’s storefront is full of vibrent colors and holiday spirit.

Elizabeth Alton

Amidst a collage of grey buildings on Amsterdam Avenue, a small storefront serves as an entry to an artist’s haven that bustles to life when you step inside. It’s home to Color Me Mine, a paint your own pottery shop. The inside is colorful and the walls are lined with pottery, accompanied by a display of paint waiting to be dished out to customers. During the pandemic, the store has provided an oasis of creativity and fun for weary Upper West Siders. 

Color Me Mine is nearing it’s one year anniversary on December 28th, having opened their doors just three months before the country shut down.

In the middle of this pandemic, art provides a way for people to stay entertained while spending most time at home. Art is about more than your painting skills. Color Me Mine’s flyer says, “No Talent? No Problem!” as it’s the experience of creating that counts. 

Trailblazers in the “paint it yourself” concept, Color Me Mine was founded in 1991. The first location was in Los Angeles, California, but today there are over one hundred and forty locations around the world. Color Me Mine’s current president Micheal Mosslin, took over the franchise in 1998. After looking for a gift for his wife, an artist, he decided to create something for her, and he loved the result. After all, what’s better than a homemade personalized gift?

Because Color Me Mine is a franchise, each location is managed by an individual instead of a parent company. The Upper West Side Location is owned by Claudia Martinez. For her, the franchise is about more than just ceramics and paint.

“You can create something beautiful, but it’s not really about the product, it’s about the experience,” Martinez said. “[Color Me Mine] is a great place for bonding, to sit down and relax and forget about whatever happened before and try to make the best of your time with family and with friends. Usually people here don’t use their cell phones and it’s like a time off from everything.”

While the experience of creating art together can be a chance to bond with family and friends, it’s also a chance to focus on self care.

“I have a lot of people coming alone too,” Martinez said. “Some of them with their headsets and just really are able to shut down their problems or whatever is happening outside and just relax and do something for them.”

Martinez and the rest of the staff were forced to improvise when the pandemic started to seriously affect New Yorkers in March. As a small business, they were hit hard. 

“One of the things we did is that immediately we opened up a website and our pottery was put online, so people could still see the product and shop online without having to leave their houses,” Martinez said. 

They also started marketing toolkits and delivering the pottery and paint supplies directly to customers’ homes. Customers would then drop off their projects to be fired in the kiln and picked up after.

For a few months they offered outdoor seating, thanks to a permit from their building. Because of the colder weather, Color Me Mine is now offering 25%  indoor seating at capacity.

“What has been nice is we’ve started to have some private parties,” Martinez said. “So somebody can rent the whole place, and we can just close the doors and the place is theirs for the group, for their family.”

Despite everything that’s going on, Color Me Mine has still allowed Upper West Siders to bond with the people they love as we continue to live through this pandemic. 

“I get chills, it’s extremely rewarding, because it means that we are creating something beautiful in the middle of such a difficult situation for family and friends, and strangers,” Martinez said.

Art provides a chance for people to bond no matter who they are, or what circumstance they’re in. Overall, family and friends are the most important things, and Color Me Mine provides a way for people to spend time with them.

“One of the first experiences that I had that was really rewarding was when I had a family with like three or four generations in here, so it was the babies who were doing handprints on their plates, and then there the mom and the dad that were creating a plate… and the grandpa was here creating a seder plate,” Martinez said. “So we have multiple generations, and that to me is one of the best things.”

When options for spending time with people outside of your socially distanced bubble are limited, spending time at a place like Color Me Mine can be game changing. The chance to share a creative experience with someone is always special – but particularly during a pandemic. Places like Color Me Mine provide a fun experience and way to spend time together when options are very limited.

Color Me Mine is located on 277 Amsterdam Avenue. To learn more about Color Me Mine, you can also check out their website and Instagram page.