Painted Zebra provides outlet

PZ5112010When customers walk into the pottery studio at 3941 Mid Rivers Mall Drive, they are greeted with walls covered in paintings and bisques lining the shelves. Many see this place as a creative environment where there can create their on masterpieces. The Painted Zebra offers people of all ages the opportunity to paint pottery and make something unique.

Mike and Kay Hagen, the owners and founders of The Painted Zebra, had always toyed around with the concept of opening an arts and craft type store. Their idea started when Kay received a gift from her daughter, Dawn. It was a mug painted at a “paint-your-own-pottery” store in Houston.

This sparked the idea to open St. Louis’ first paint-your-own-pottery studio.

“The opportunity presented itself to us one day, and we just jumped on it,” Mike said.

The Painted Zebra has been providing a place for people of any age to paint their own ceramics and express their creativity for 12 years now. The Painted Zebra can be found at two different two locations: the original, in Kirkwood and their second one located off Mid Rivers Mall Drive.

There are many things that bring people to The Painted Zebra: birthday parties, wedding showers, dates and fun with friends. Most are looking to make something special and individual. They get something they can’t buy from a store and something they can keep for a long time. The Painted Zebra is great place to just hang out and paint or create a personalized gift for someone. Not only does The Painted Zebra offer ceramic painting, but customers can also enroll in painting classes.

“The fact that they create it themselves and made it keeps them coming back for more,” Mike says.

According to Gwen Lane, employee of seven years, The Painted Zebra means different things to different people. For kids, it’s a very exciting experience. Most of the kids who come make animals. The older customers, on the other hand, usually pick from the tons of other bisques available, including plates, vases, bowls and much more.

“Everyone sees and wants something different,” Lane says. “There is something for everyone.”

The painting process is very simple. First you pick out a bisque, the unfired ceramic piece. There are nearly 300 bisques to choose from. Next comes painting. Many glazes -paint for the bisques- are available to give your bisque personality. The Painted Zebra offers idea books to help decide what designs you want to paint. After the bisque is painted, it’s left in the store for the employees to glaze and finish it. It takes less than a week until the finished product is ready to be picked up.

“You get to customize something,” visitor Brittany Kabacinski says. “You have the chance to use your creative mind.”

The satisfaction that employees get from their customers are what Mike and Lane like the most. Lane finds that the people who visit are very enjoyable and she loves to see how their artwork turns out.

“People come back and tell me how much they enjoy it and that it’s their favorite place to come,” Mike says. “[That] makes it worthwhile.”