POR: Anne Hart March 15, 2009
“This valley is a great place and I wouldn’t go back or live anywhere else.”
Anne Hart came to the Grand Valley six years ago without intentions of opening her own business, but fate surprised her by opening a door she never would have expected.
After 20 years, Hart retired from a credit union in Laramie, Wyo. She and her husband moved to the sunnier skies of the Grand Valley to be closer to their children and grandchildren.
“People talk about the cold and wet and I just laugh,” Hart said after commenting that winter in Colorado was “a breeze.”
They bought a house and her husband spent time working in his garden. He often commented that this would be a good place to open a new business with no real intentions of doing so.
They were enjoying retirement.
But Hart lost her husband all too soon.
“Rather than just sit at home and do nothing ...” Hart said remembering his death, “I mean there’s only so many times you can clean the house before you have to do something.”
She remembered his advice to open a new business and began researching online for an opportunity.
“I had a lot of art classes in college. Art has always been a passion for me,” Hart said. A paint-your-own pottery studio seemed to be the perfect business both personally and for the growing family-friendly area of Fruita.
Hart and her daughter took a few pottery classes and visited similar types of similar businesses in the Denver area.
“We basically taught ourselves,” Hart said.
Stroke of Genius was opened one year ago in the Kokopelli Shopping Center at 455 Kokopelli Blvd. in Fruita.
Its bright walls and clean floors are guarded by a teacup Chihuahua named Sadie who barks a loud welcome to visitors.
“She’s a 4-pound dog who thinks she’s a St. Bernard,” Hart laughed as she shushed her.
Greenware of all shapes and sizes line the walls waiting for bright color glazes and unique designs to adorn them. Customers can customize cookie jars, cups, plates or ornamental pieces.
“This place keeps me very busy now,” Hart said.
Hart dips each finished piece in a clear glaze, a two-step process, baking the finished pieces nearly every other day.
Her new business has introduced her to all kinds of people whom she would not have met otherwise in her retired life.
She’s developed a caring relationship with many of her regular customers but finds the younger ones among her favorites.
“I love to hear moms and dads and kids laughing and telling each other what a good job they’re doing.”
Hart spends lots of time researching and trying new painting techniques so she can help her customers create spectacular pieces of art. She layers colors and uses stencils to create artistic designs.
Hart can help even the most non-artistic person create a great piece by using a custom glaze that will crack or slide to make an interesting texture and design.
“I’m not here to make money,” Hart said, adding that she just wants to enjoy her work and have it enjoyed by others.
She pointed out several colorful close-up photographs of dahlias hanging in the corner of the studio, flowers her husband grew in his garden that serve as subtle reminder he is always with her.
“He’d be happy with what I’m doing now,” she said.