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Alaska artist, educator adapting business amidst "hunker down" order

 Image courtesy of Sara Squartsoff.
Image courtesy of Sara Squartsoff. (KTUU)
Published: Apr. 4, 2020 at 12:11 PM AKDT
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A Wasilla-based artist is keeping her business alive by adding a bit of color to the coronavirus quarantine.

Before COVID-19 forced folks to hunker down Sara Squartsoff taught in-person painting classes, called "Paint Nights with Sara". She had just moved into a new studio to teach larger classes when health mandates forced her to shift classes online.

"We knew right away that we were going to have to do things differently," Squartsoff said.

She noticed stores were selling out of painting supplies as parents rushed to keep their children occupied and navigate new distance learning programs.

As part of her new business model Squartsoff builds art supply kits, which she ships out from home, for families to paint along with her online videos.

Squartsoff says revenue is down significantly, but quick adaptation has kept her business resilient as the coronavirus forces a statewide economic slowdown.

"It's been hard," Squartsoff said. "But even though we've lost 50 percent, we're still

doing

50 percent. So it's something. Something's better than nothing."

Squartsoff has sent 60 painting kits to families around the state and even to the Lower 48. One of these kits went to Jennifer Cloud, a new customer living in Wasilla.

"It helps a lot, having a digital connection to people outside of the house," Cloud said.

Cloud has been working remotely, full-time, for close to three weeks. Her 6-year-old daughter, Mirabelle recently started a distance learning program. Cloud says having the outlet of online painting classes keeps Mirabelle occupied while the family copes with social isolation.

"You can just play the video and then paint along with her," Cloud said. "So it's pretty creative, and it's detailed enough where I don't have to sit there and do it with her if I don't need to -- she can follow along and do her own paintings."

Squartsoff premiers a new painting tutorial every Monday on her Facebook page,

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