This month we talked to Mandy Jakich, a self-taught practising artist, teacher, art educator, and the founder and CEO of Creative Matters.
We were keen to hear about the passion behind Creative Matters, to hear more about what they offer and their vision for the future.
Mandy has over 25 years teaching experience at primary and intermediate schools across Auckland. She also worked for four years at the Auckland Art Gallery as an art educator where she “designed and delivered visual arts programmes to primary, secondary and special needs children, as well as professional development courses for teachers.”
In mid-2015, Mandy started Creative Matters, with a vision to share her passion and knowledge of visual art with teachers, teens and adults, and support as many people as possible to feel the joy of being immersed in the creative process.
Creative Matters offer after school classes where students explore artists, ideas, styles and art movements. There is a strong focus on the creative process and experimenting. Mandy says this helps students to take risks, build their confidence and skills with different artistic techniques – including sculpture, drawing and painting – as well as supporting them to think imaginatively and critically, and problem-solve.
They also offer holiday programmes, which run Monday to Friday where students work on a creative project. Layer by layer, through trying and sharing and reflecting, kids embrace the creative process, try something new, and feel ownership and pride in their final work.
Initially, Mandy taught all the workshops herself. Now, at the time of writing, she has 15 contractors, made up of 13 artist educators and two administrators.
“Booking was a bulky, drawn out process.”
In the beginning, all Creative Matters bookings were taken by email. It was a lot of back and forth between parents, and on average there were four conversations before bookings were finalised. Parents or caregivers had to fill out a paper enrolment form which they were required to then scan and send back, or return in person.
This was okay when classes were small, but the numbers steadily grew, and Mandy simply couldn’t cope with the mountain of emails.
She reached out to another provider and asked what they did to support their business processes.
This was in 2016, and when she was recommended to Enrolmy.
Now the Creative Matters database has over 4,000 children on it and their classes run across Auckland, from Chatswood on the North Shore, to Helensville in the west. She says Enrolmy is a “really good resource for emails and [its] database”.
Mandy is passionate about reaching as many kids as possible – Enrolmy enables that to happen. She particularly appreciates how many processes are now automatic, saying that it would be virtually impossible to run her business at the size it is now, or grow their number of programmes without Enrolmy. She says:
“[There’s] no way that I could manage that if I didn’t have that automated. I wouldn’t be able to grow the business and go into different areas. That’s massive.”
Creative Matters take advantage of several Enrolmy features including Xero integration and the email templates. She says that the email templates allow her to:
“Communicate really easily in my own voice. I do all the emails – quite a few times a term before different events. It feels good because I feel like I’m talking to my audience in an authentic way. I’m talking from the heart.”
Another benefit of Enrolmy is the way Mandy now has oversight of all her business:
“I like it because I can keep an eye on it. I log in a few times a week and just look at numbers. I look at the payout schedules and get a feel for what’s happening. [I also go on Enrolmy] if I ever need an email address. And I know the day-to-day admin is [being handled by the] team.”
Mandy has also noticed that they don’t need to spend much time worrying about whether the money is coming in, because since using Enrolmy:
“I [mostly] don’t have people not paying or late payments. There’s not a lot of chasing.”
Creative Matters goes way beyond after school classes and holiday programmes. They also offer online classes, private tuition and children’s art parties. Determined to make as much of an impact as possible, they also offer visual arts professional development for teachers. Right now, they’re sticking to Auckland, but Mandy won’t rule out running classes further afield in the future. Although their vision is expansive, it’s entirely realistic because they have the right reputation, people and systems supporting them.
“I know I can grow because I’ve got Enrolmy sorting all that stuff. It’s easy. It’s manageable.”