Q&A with the Marie Jeffrey and Melissa Schalk of Mobile Masterpiece

Marie Jeffrey and Melissa Schalk want to help you create a masterpiece. When they both realized that the community had a need for someone to bring the painting experience to locations convenient for their clients, they created what is now Mobile Masterpiece. The duo brings the canvas, paints, and the instruction to locations that their clients choose, or to events that they have been hired for.

Jeffrey is a longtime artist who attended Central Michigan University, earning her degree in Fine Arts in 2016. She teaches others, and works in many different mediums. Schalk has been painting since she was quite young, and prefers working on canvas. She attended Western Michigan University, and brings her business degree to the table when managing Mobile Masterpiece.

Both women are mothers of small children and love chasing them around. When they aren’t on the go with their kids, they are on the go with their business, bringing creativity and arts to you.

Marie and Melissa sat down with us over coffee and waffles to discuss the finer points of owning and operating a new start up, with a twist on the classic paint and pour event.

Q: What made you two decide to put this business together?

A: Melissa – I went through some changes with my full-time job. Marie and I had talked about creating Mobile Masterpiece (MM) before, and it was really Marie’s idea. At that point, we hadn’t done anything with it yet, but when my job changed, we wanted to do something different that was also on the creative side.

Marie – I had taught a painting class at my sister’s house originally and that led to a demand for teaching larger classes. I couldn’t do it alone, and it was this perfect culmination when Melissa’s schedule became more open. We had the same path just line up perfectly and we said “Let’s do this!” I was teaching in a charter school and had also been substitute teaching since 2012.

A recent group with their new painting.

Q: How did you two meet? You have this great friendship that seems to really help drive your business model.

A: Melissa – We met at Central Middle School in sixth grade. Marie was a troublemaker! We were in art classes together, but we were really close. Then I moved away.

Marie – We kept in contact over the years, but when Melissa moved back from Grand Rapids, we reconnected. We were pregnant with our boys at the same time and they are only a month and a half apart in age.

Q: You’re both new entrepreneurs. What has become your favorite aspects of this new venture?

A: Melissa – After being in the business world for the last seven years, I love the fact that we can be our own bosses, and have control over the product that’s going out. We get to help guide the way our clients feel at the parties, and what they are creating... It’s really great to have that opportunity to guide the experience.

Marie – Coming from a teaching background where you often have to help kids do a project they may not be interested in, and then transitioning to a business where people actually sign up and take that painting home has been fun. Clients are excited, enthused and want to create with us, it’s so much more stress free and fun.

Q: What makes the experience of taking a class with Mobile Masterpiece unique?

A: Melissa – One thing we like bringing to the table is that our paintings look difficult, but they really aren’t. It’s a lot of easy brush strokes that look detailed. We really want to be bringing newer, fresh ideas that you would want to put on your wall and in your home. Something you will be proud to tell everyone you made.

Marie – We both have a lot of experience and knowledge that allows us to share with others that dig into the how-to. Things that Melissa and I have known for a long time, we can share with others who may not have that knowledge. Then our students can leave with that experience and use it in their own artistic ventures!

Mobile Masterpiece comes to your home, business or event with all the supplies you'll need.

Q: What are some of the biggest challenges you face as you start ramping up the business?

A: Melissa – Getting our name out there for sure. We are trying to focus on getting our work out there, collaborating with local businesses. Our business thrives off of word of mouth.

Marie – Really, we have everything else ready to go.

Q: What are your personal outlets for creativity? Do you have any specific media you prefer working in?

A: Melissa – I really wanted to explore something on the creative side. I love business, but it doesn’t always light my soul on fire, so this is a great way to utilize both of those talents and let them work together with Marie’s. I also paint, run a shop on Etsy and I do a lot of art for family members. I haven’t always had the time and space to do that recently, so now especially with this business, I feel like my artistic side is opening back up.

Marie – Since graduating college, on top of teaching I still pursue my own work. I have digital work that I’m involved with and I commission paintings on top of Mobile Masterpiece. This business helps me sustain that work, and it’s already thriving.

More information on Mobile Masterpiece can be found on their website and on Facebook.

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Read more articles by Andrea Foster.

Andrea Foster is a writer for Catalyst Midland, and in her full time job an environmental educator for Little Forks Conservancy. She is a mother, a partner, an activist and a feminist. In her spare time she enjoys volunteering, kayaking, hiking, knitting, curling up on the couch with her cats and projects that benefit her community.