Needle felting an adorable wool alpaca takes teeth. Special needles, with tiny barbs on the end, agitate the wool and create a dense, solid mass perfect for sculpting. And at The Salty Owl Studio in Kalamazoo, Michigan, owner Mackenzie Hatfield helps veteran felters and newbs alike have a blast being sweet and spiky.

Or salty. As Hatfield tells us, the vibe in her classes is “accepting and nonjudgmental and for sure fun. And also salty — I have a pretty dry sense of humor. I incorporate that into my teaching style. Humor breaks down barriers and loosens people up.”

Housed in a 19th-Century church in downtown Kalamazoo, The Salty Owl Studio hosts four to six art events per month. That’s not counting their participation in the monthly Art Hop, where venues come alive with galleries, improv shows, classes, and more. Regardless of the programming, The Salty Owl is a place where people are welcome to be creative and experiment, whether they’ve identified as artistic or not.  

“I believe everybody’s creative,” Hatfield says. And with Eventbrite Boost, she’s able to spread that message: “More visibility is good. The more people that come in, the more I can grow.”

Taking events ‘out of the box’ and going virtual during the pandemic with Eventbrite 

​​Hatfield has already grown her business. She first conceived of The Salty Owl Studio as an art-based subscription box. “I marketed it as Family Night in a Box,” she says. Geared toward families with older kids (think ages nine and up), Hatfield’s goal was to bring families together around “a structured, intentional, activity.” 

When the pandemic hit, she supplemented the subscription box. “I cast my net really wide and started teaching virtual classes on art forms that I’m really passionate about — needle felting in particular.” 

Eventbrite was the obvious choice for ticketing those classes for its ability to reach a wide audience and the ease of setting up events and adding them to Facebook. “Especially during COVID,” she says, “where things were closed, and people weren’t going into cafes to sit and look at flyers.” 

And when Hatfield discovered Boost within the Eventbrite platform, she was all in. “It took that pressure off, that I could just engage with a single platform.”

Why marketing is ‘magic’ with Boost, helping to expand The Salty Owl Studio’s community

Eventbrite Boost is an all-in-one marketing solution designed specifically for busy event creators. Boost can help you sell more tickets with email and social media campaign tools — without leaving Eventbrite.

The single-platform approach has allowed Hatfield to streamline her marketing efforts and funnel her creativity into The Salty Owl Studio’s curriculum. She likens it to “taking a pan off the stove and opening up that burner.”

And Boost has yielded some important insights about the audience the The Salty Owl Studio serves. “There’s one small town that just keeps popping up. And I never would have said, ‘Okay, you know, the small town of, you know, 6,000 people, let’s target there.’ Boost expanded my community from the downtown area, which is fantastic.”

The audience-targeting intel goes beyond geography. Hatfield has also experimented with matchmaking with different interests to reach even more attendees. 

When asked about her favorite Boost features, Hatfield admits: “This is really telling that I’m having a hard time remembering each individual step, and what I might like about it. Boost feels super-streamlined. I just kind of go on autopilot, and [my marketing] just happens. So, it’s magic.”

Boost’s value when it comes to brand-building for eclectic, niche, smaller businesses 

For a creator with eclectic events like The Salty Owl Studio, Boost has been a boon for exposure.

“The more people see your brand, the more they’re going to want to engage with it,” Hatfield says. “It’s a good hub for off-the-beaten-path types of events that aren’t headlining bands and really popular things.” 

For Hatfield, the platform has made life as a business owner easier. She recommends Eventbrite Boost as cost-effective, especially to “folks like me, baby businesses, either in chronology or scale.”

Most importantly, Eventbrite Boost has helped Hatfield grow financially: “I have lots of people come in that say, ‘You know, I’m not crafty. I’m just here for girls’ night,’ and then leave buying kits and coming back. So that’s what I want: For people to touch on that creativity inside them and let it out.”

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