When Emile Stewart was in fourth grade, she started her first business: Handmade Holiday Cards.
From bubble letters to block letters, she laid out her designs on a table in front of her grandmother's antique shop in Bridgeport for sale.
Now, 20 years later, Stewart is still focused on building her career in hand lettering with Wildflower Art Studio's first commercial space at 715 N. Locust St. after years of building a loyal following in Denton and online.
"When I studied art in college, my professors told me, 'You can't do lettering on your art, because that's not art.' So now, since I continued to do it, there's no one else to teach hand lettering," she said. "It's not serious art, but it's really fun."
The home-based business started as a way for Stewart to sell her cards and prints online, plus host art camps on her summer breaks from teaching high school art.
In 2013, she decided to switch her focus to Wildflower full time, adding more classes and items to her online store. The focus is lettering: Different ways to write and design words, from classic calligraphy to hand lettering with various styles of pens and markers for a number of effects.
By 2015, the demand for her lettering classes was so high that she decided to make kits. For $42.50 to $48.50, people can buy a kit with all the supplies they need, as well as guides and practice materials to learn how to do various styles of lettering. There's now four kits available, and the studio has sold more than 10,000 of them.
"It was really about getting the workshops out to people who wanted to take them," Stewart said. "I would have emails from all over, and now we ship these all over the world. This allows me to send off my workshops to anyone around the world in a little box."
Whenever Stewart has hosted classes, they consistently sold out. The draw of the classes and the kits is that people get the tools to go out on their own and continue to create outside of the classroom setting, she said.
Stewart, who graduated with a master's in art education from Texas Woman's University in 2010, said she's watched her business blossom as more people value taking time to create art.
"I think creativity has been undervalued and people are starting to realize that is an important component to mental health," she said. "The right side of your brain needs that exercise, just like we need physical exercise, you have to exercise that creative side of your brain and I think people are starting to realize that."
The surge led Stewart to the new studio space earlier this year, and she'll host the first event at the studio Saturday.
Now, in addition to the adult classes, she'll be able to host private events, such as birthday parties, and restart children's art classes. She used to teach them out of her home, but starting in January she will host classes at the studio for kids from kindergarten to 12th grade and teach everything from sketching to sculpting.
"The kid classes were the deciding factor because I really miss teaching them," she said. "I think there's a need in Denton for a quality kid's fine art program ... so I'm really excited to get that going again."
JENNA DUNCAN can be reached at 940-566-6889.
IN THE KNOW
Wildflower Art Studio is only open for private events and scheduled classes. Register ahead of time or buy kits at www.wildflowerartstudio.net. The following is a list of upcoming classes:
Beginning watercolor for adults, 10:30 a.m. to noon Saturday; $65
Children's holiday painting party, 1:30 to 3 p.m. Saturday; $35
Beginning hand lettering for adults, 6 to 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 8; $65
FEATURED PHOTO: Emile Stewart poses for a photo at the front desk of her new art studio, Wildflower. The studio, located at 715 N. Locust St. just north of the Square in Denton, offers classes for calligraphy and other penmanship arts. Jake King/DRC