It was a warm summer day and Cathy and I sat on two streetside bar stools outside a little eatery down the street from her Daikanyama art studio. Her positive, grateful and adaptable personality shines through as soon as we start chatting and she quickly opens up to me about her life experience in Japan and how she came to be ArtBar's CEO.
Originally from the United States, Cathy stepped away from her family and career in software engineering and project management, to move to Japan after getting married over 20 years ago. Initially living in Kamakura, a seaside city about 60 kilometers outside of Tokyo, Cathy spent her initial years in Japan dedicated to her family and raising her two sons. After a 15 year “hiatus” from the working world, and separating from her husband, Cathy was determined to reclaim her independence. Luck behold, timing was on her side and she came across the opportunity to bring New York City’s “Paint and Sip” concept to Japan through ArtBar. Initially, she was introduced to ArtBar as a guest and then later as an artist.
Today, Cathy is in all essence, ArtBar’s CEO, and she has taken the founders’ initial concepts and made them a reality. Marketed initially to Tokyo’s expat community, ArtBar now has a huge mix of both Japanese and international clientele and operates three unique studio spaces in Tokyo. ArtBar hosts a variety of private group painting seminars, corporate events, children’s art lessons and collaborative events throughout the city. And Cathy is the driving force behind all of this. She is always thinking of new ways to partner with different businesses throughout the city and what events she can take part in to grow the ArtBar community further.
Cathy’s dedication to growing the business is quite clear as she jokes, “I sleep with my laptop…” Starting her mornings promptly by 6:00am, checking emails and planning out her day, she quickly gets her 2 sons’ breakfasts and lunches together before they are off for school. Focusing her mornings on administrative tasks she can do remotely, she preps for a regular lunchtime call with her team and then spends the afternoons and evenings at one of the three ArtBar locations getting ready for classes, meeting with team members and vendors and making sure all locations are running smoothly. Cathy is incredibly responsive to client enquiries and is always available to chat about an upcoming event or come up with new ideas and activities to keep clients coming back. Cathy loves teaching classes herself and says “I get the satisfaction each night that everyone leaves happier than when they arrived.”
Cathy takes her personal time in the car ride home, listening to music or her favorite podcasts. “Music is the one thing I cannot live without… [It’s always playing in my home, work and car...The soundtrack of life is so diverse and fun...” she says. After having dinner with her sons, Cathy will usually plug back in to work for a few hours to update the company’s website and follow up on client enquiries and anything pending from the day.
Cathy- It’s been a true pleasure to get to know you. Thanks for always offering me advice and helping with my own venture and thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me and sharing your business insights! Your work and dedication to growing ArtBar and the team you have built is an inspiration to all of us! I love seeing all the different events you do and look forward to visiting ArtBar myself for a painting session soon!
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Stay inspiring, stay chic.
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