In the spring of 2022, Amber Leibee of Eureka Springs, Arkansas, decided she wanted to turn her enthusiasm for art into a career.
She was a passionate watercolorist, but she had been working as a nurse for more than fifteen years, and was starting to feel discontent. Her husband Lloyd could tell that she needed a change of pace, and insisted that she take some time off to go hike the Appalachian Trail.
As she hiked the trail and reflected on what brought her joy, Amber decided to take the plunge and try to turn her love for art into a full-time business. She quit her nursing job, and she and Lloyd rented a booth in a cooperative to sell art supplies.
While she was determined, Amber didn’t have a background in business–could she actually turn her passion for art and art supplies into a viable career?
That’s where CO.STARTERS stepped in.
Through the local organization Main Street Eureka Springs, Amber signed up for a CO.STARTERS Core cohort in August 2022. Over the course of ten weeks, the program taught her business fundamentals in the context of her Eureka Springs community. CO.STARTERS helped her calculate cost ratios, and guided her through the process of obtaining a business license.
“CO.STARTERS gave me the basic understanding on how to start a business,” Amber said. “More importantly, I gleaned the confidence to move forward and open my business, which has been a life changing experience.”
Shortly after she graduated from the program, Amber leased a storefront for Adventure Art, which officially opened on October 5th, 2022. The shop started by selling journals, canvas art bags, and easels, and expanded to include delightful handmade watercolors in a rainbow of shades. “When I couldn’t find the products I wanted as an artist, I made them,” Amber explained.
"CO.STARTERS gave me the basic understanding on how to start a business. More importantly, I gleaned the confidence to move forward and open my business, which has been a life changing experience." - Amber Leibee, Adventure Art
Since opening in the fall of 2022, Adventure Art has become a community cornerstone. Because of Eureka Springs’s emphasis on art, the shop’s two-hour watercolor classes have drawn flocks of natives and tourists alike. Adventure Art’s Instagram page is full of gorgeous handmade watercolor swatches, and people of all ages proudly showing off the paintings they created in Adventure Art’s classes.
Adventure Art has exciting plans for the coming months, including a new easel design and a couple of local partnerships. They’re releasing a beautiful, leather-bound art journal in collaboration with Little Mountain Bindery, a bookbinding and journal shop in the nearby town of Fayetteville.
Amber and Lloyd are also partnering with Main Street Eureka Springs to bring a chapter of the national program Urban Sketchers to the city. Eureka Springs’ Urban Sketchers chapter launched in late February 2023, and is the only nonprofit chapter in the state of Arkansas. Once a month, locals and state residents alike gather to sketch a different location in downtown Eureka Springs.
Through Amber’s passion and determination, and the help of CO.STARTERS Core, Adventure Art has become a flourishing local business. Amber has used art to enrich her community and build something beautiful. Art has brought Amber joy and fulfillment, and Adventure Art has offered her a way to share that joy with the city of Eureka Springs.