Yellow Door Art Studio - A Small Business Journey for a Mom & Artist

A joyful woman in a pink jumpsuit and blue eyeglasses smiles widely while embracing a young girl and boy against a colorful, paint-splattered background. The girl, to her left, is in a white t-shirt with pink paint stains, and the boy, to her right, wears a white shirt with a name tag. The group radiates happiness and creativity, reminiscent of The Scout Guide values of community and local vibrancy.

If you have not had the pleasure of meeting Lauren Mandal, the creative owner of Yellow Door Art Studio, now is the time.  Lauren shares how her small business journey has helped her achieve a manageable and joyful mom work life balance.

TSGBC: Why did you decide to start your own business?

Lauren: Since I began teaching, creating my own studio space has always been my dream.  As a child, I thrived on creativity, but was not always a fan of structured art lessons. Yellow Door Art Studio was created as a judgment free zone where children and adults use amazing art supplies to express themselves and bring their dreams to reality.

Owning my own business also gives me the opportunity to create a lifestyle that works for my family.  I have 8 year old twins and Yellow Door provides me with the opportunity to be flexible with my time. To me, family time is priceless.

TSGBC: When you enter Yellow Door Art Studio, you immediately feel the joy of creativity.  Where did you get the inspiration for your studio and for the activities you offer?

Lauren: I am inspired by literally everything, which is both a gift and a curse. When Yellow Door began to become a reality, I took my time in bringing it to life.  Studies have shown that harsh lines tend to give a sense of danger and as an artist I am drawn to organic shapes, color and soft lines. My goal was light and carefree; therefore, no harsh lines allowed.  Each morning when I unlock the studio door, I feel like I am entering a whimsical world designed to welcome artists of all ages. 

TSGBC: Do you have a current favorite Yellow Door Art Studio activity or class?

Lauren:  Of course, I love all of the classes offered!  In my Mixed Media class, students are introduced to lots of new materials, such as clay, rocks and paints of all different types.  I love my large mural group activities where students simply have fun expressing themselves.  

In my Wearable Art class and summer Fashion Camp, my students’ ideas truly come to life designing what they feel comfortable in. At the end of the semester we celebrate with a Runway Show that rivals Fashion Week in NYC.  What could be better than bubbles, mood lighting and super proud parents cheering you on?

TSGBC: As a mother, artist and small business owner, what routines do you follow each day to keep your personal life and business life on track?

Lauren: Oh, that is a thing? Routines are definitely more for my business life. My office manager, Nicole, keeps me on track. Also learning to link my google calendars, business and personal, together has been life changing. As for my home life routine, my husband and I are a team.  My morning and nighttime routines with my children bring me pleasure. A benefit of owning my own business is that I can manage my time and allow myself to recharge my battery when needed.  My husband is also an artist and a small business owner of Lighthouse Tattoo Parlor. Art is our life, which makes combining date nights and work easy breezy. 

TSGBC: How does Yellow Door Art Studio look different now vs when you first started?

Lauren: I started my first studio in my garage and now have a magical studio in Westwood.  Just as Covid emerged, we moved homes and no longer had extra garage space. I pivoted and began to paint playgrounds and bring color to the spots where we were all spending so much of our time. And so now, I needed a place to store my paints. I searched for a flex space where I could create a studio like the one I had in my garage and store my supplies.  I was fortunate enough to find my current space and the rest is history. 

TSGBC: Where do you see Yellow Door Art Studio in 5 years? 10?

Lauren: I set a goal to create my own studio and a work life balance. This meant I could no longer teach in a typical school setting. I am proud to say I have achieved this goal. My next goal is twofold. I plan to open a second location, Yellow Door Art Bar, which I envision as a storefront with beautiful window displays. I also aspire to be known as the top Playground Painter in the US traveling north to south creating spaces of joy everywhere I go.

TSGBC: What is the biggest lesson learned in your career and running your own business?

Lauren: I think every job I have ever had has prepared me for owning my own business. Whether it was working in Starbucks and Trader Joe’s, or teaching in multiple camps and schools, life experiences can’t be replaced.  I learned from colleagues and bosses how to be an empathic leader, accept criticism, learn from mistakes, self advocate and celebrate small victories. 

TSGBC: Who was your role model or entrepreneurial inspiration?

Lauren: The amazing world of small business owners sharing their stories and journeys through social media is what helped me get the confidence to take the leap into entrepreneurial life.  Social media accounts displaying life behind the scenes and the daily struggles to get things done gave me the fuel to keep going. I knew I was not alone.

TSGBC:  What advice would you give to a young entrepreneur?

Lauren: Don’t give up and be creative. Make your business your own and make yourself stand out.  Build a trustable team that knows your vision.  And most importantly, DO NOT undervalue yourself.  Trust me when I tell you that nothing feels worse than lowering your price because you felt you needed or wanted the job and then feel undervalued. Offer an amazing product and people will come to realize you get what you pay for.

TSGBC: What advice would you give to parents of aspiring artists?  How do you fuel the creative mind?

Lauren: This is an easy one. Ask your children about their artwork. Don’t just say “you love it.” Ask what inspired them, what they were thinking about and what they enjoyed in the process. You will be amazed at where these conversations lead.  

TSGBC: Fun Fact – If you won the lottery tomorrow, what would be the first thing you would do? 

Lauren: I would go on an amazing vacation with my family. When I was feeling recharged, I would invest in expanding my business. I don’t think I will ever retire, but I would surely love no-stress finances in my future.

Yellow Door Art Studio / @yellowdoorartstudionj / 24 Booker Street, Westwood, New Jersey / 201-620-9030