Colorado small business advocate and entrepreneur brings creativity to Colorado Springs
Tracy duCharme does not fit the traditional profile an entrepreneur. Tracy’s background is in the arts, and her experience with illustration and graphic design inspired her to open a branch of Color Me Mine, the world's leading paint-it-yourself ceramics franchise studio chain, in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Before opening her business in 2009, Tracy worked as an artist, teaching workshops and creating glasswork in a studio set up in her barn. But once Tracy’s children started getting older, she decided to go back to work full time.
She says, “Living in Colorado Springs did not offer many attractive professional opportunities in my field, so I decided to create my own job!”
At Color Me Mine, customers choose pre-fired white clay ceramic items, such as figurines and plates, and use the studio’s paints to design their project. Once the customer is finished with their artwork, Color Me Mine glazes and fires the pottery piece overnight.
Over the past few years, Tracy has been a valuable advocate for small business issues at both the state and national levels. Tracy has spoken out on behalf of her employees, as well as her fellow entrepreneurs, on issues like minimum wage, taxes and healthcare.
“Most of my nine employees are young adults, one of whom has autism, but a few are moms supporting families. I am very interested in what we can do policy-wise to support financial security for low wage, part-time workers in the form of family leave and healthcare options,” she says.
Since Color Me Mine’s primary customers are groups and large parties, Tracy knows the success of her business relies on an opening and welcoming environment. That’s why she’s also been vocal about some state lawmakers’ efforts to make it easier to legally discriminate against LGBT customers and employees. Tracy’s activism has made her an essential part of our policy efforts in Colorado, and we’re happy to have her as the newest member of our Small Business Council.
In addition to running her small business, Tracy continues to draw and paint in her spare time, and she also enjoys maintaining her ranch with her husband. Attending to llamas, chickens, honeybees, giant dogs and barn cats is a labor of love for them.