As local artists look to grow their businesses, Napa Makes offers a variety of resources to help them receive the exposure they deserve. Among the resources they provide are a Business Concierge Service, a Small Business Startup Guide and a list of places to sell, which include:
- Browns Valley Market
- Hudson Greens & Goods
- Jeffries General
- Makers Market
- Monthly Makers Market Fair
- Napa Farmers Market
- Napa Yard Market
- The Bennington
- Visit Napa Valley Welcome Center
Best of all, creatives looking for a space that provides high quality supplies and hard-to-find items need not go far! Located on Main Street, Color Theory Art Supplies is your one-stop shop for all artisan needs. Whether you need advice to improve your technique or you’re looking for a like-minded community to be a part of, owners Kirk and Ashlee Gillepsie offer all that and more at Color Theory. Keep on reading to learn more about their story of planting roots in Napa.
Kirk and Ashlee first met across the counter at the old Napa Valley Art Supplies on Industrial Way. He was a product representative visiting his accounts, and she had been working at the store for five years. Both artists themselves, they bonded over a shared love of quality products. Eventually, she came to work for the same company and took over his position as he advanced in the organization. Selling to art supply stores all over North America and Canada, they both watched the industry consolidate and shrink, disappearing from downtown environments altogether. When the opportunity arose to buy Napa Valley Art Supplies in 2019, they took a leap of faith and undertook the task of bringing everything they’d learned about quality products and diversification to the small store in North Napa.
When their rent almost doubled in 2022, they began looking at places downtown, ultimately signing a lease at the former toy store on Main and Caymus—moving in a whirlwind 9-day period. They put their newborn baby girl, Fin, on a blanket in the middle of the store while they worked feverishly to get settled in. They opened their doors in July of 2022.
They love fielding questions like “What do you have to keep a four-year-old and a seven-year-old busy on a rainy day?” and “What kind of art project can I teach five women in three hours?” During the fires in 2020, they put together art kits and donated them to evacuation shelters. They offer curbside pickup and are happy to order products they don’t have when a customer requests them. Color Theory is staffed completely by artists who are always ready to help.
Full of optimism about their new location and with a strong desire to bring creativity downtown, the move has been troublesome for the Gillepsies.
“We’ve lost people who think it’s too hard to park downtown, and we’ve lost professionals who got so used to ordering online during COVID,” they said. “We’re also finding it difficult to attract tourists who don’t stray too far from First Street.”
Bottom line: they need the support of their community. Next time you think about ordering online or popping out to Michael’s, think of Color Theory first.