They ordered webcams on Wednesday before everything started closing on Friday, March 13. By Monday, they had everything in place to begin offering all of their spring break classes as planned.
That was crucial because spring break and summer classes account for most of their annual revenues. The first week, House and Driscoll worked with two other employees and House’s daughter, Katy Rose, pouring paint into to-go ramekins from BBBop and Oddfellows restaurants and packaging other art supplies.
“We thrive in a creative challenge and working with what we have.”
Locals picked up their packets, but some were shipped to customers in Vermont, Maine and Washington state, adding shipping deadlines to the mix.
The school not only served clients in other states, but they also added classes for out-of-town teaching artists.
Oil and Cotton also picked up a contract with the Kessler School to teach art classes as part of their curriculum during the school’s closure.
While many of us are Zoom-ed out by now, online learning encouraged some people to sign up for classes who might not otherwise.
Jessica Brice of Lake Highlands started enrolling her 5-year-old son, Luka Bifano, at age 2, but she never found the time to sign up for the adult classes for herself. She’s already taken three since online classes were introduced.
“It’s so nice because my son can play in the same room, and I can put my earbuds in and follow along with the teacher,” she says. “I really hope they continue with them because we are still social distancing and not ready to go out yet.”
Oil and Cotton stayed online only for summer camps through June, but they plan to begin offering in-person camps at 50% capacity in July. Their summer camps normally start filling up during spring break, and they’re usually sold out by May. That hasn’t happened this year. By early June, all but one still had seats available.
Online learning hasn’t been so bad for Oil and Cotton except that it takes away their X factor.
“We do all the cleanup,” Driscoll says. “You can drop your kids off here, we keep them busy doing something creative, and we clean it all up. At home you can’t do that.”
Besides the big party for their 10th anniversary, Oil and Cotton was poised to purchase their own building somewhere in Oak Cliff this year.
“We were ready to invest in the longevity of this business, and buying a building is a big part of that,” Driscoll says.
The pandemic has paused those plans for now, but they intend to make them happen one day.
“This is a super exciting time from a creative standpoint,” House says. “We thrive in that situation of a creative challenge and working with what we have.”