After graduating from Virginia Tech School of Architecture + Design in 1998, Ginger Huebner had to reconcile an artist’s soul with her new profession. Fast forward a little more than a decade, and Huebner, now holding a Master’s in teaching visual arts, has found her calling as an arts educator. She established Roots + Wings School of Art & Design, and the reach, as the business’s name suggests, has been deep and wide.
Roots + Wings offers a visual-art preschool and classes for school-age kids and teens, plus auxiliary on-site programs at local campuses and “creativity camps.” Adults can choose from weekly classes, custom lessons, and one-off workshops; there’s also professional development for teachers. From a humble start renting a few rooms in a church, Roots + Wings grew swiftly, tripling its size when it purchased its own building in East Asheville two years ago.
The DIY maker movement of the past decade has helped nurture a culture of creativity. But Huebner makes it her business to guide students toward unique outlets.
“[Our classes] pull people in without intimidating them, and allow for end results that aren’t all exactly alike,” she says.
Why was an art school a good business venture for Asheville?
Asheville is this creative place where people come for art, but when I moved here with my family [architect husband Scott Huebner, daughter Mia, and son Felix], I realized there wasn’t a lot going on for locals — adults or kids — to get involved in creating together. As a young mom, I saw so much potential that wasn’t being explored in schools. And every preschool had a waitlist, no matter the quality of the care. I saw an opportunity to create something more accessible that really engaged people of all ages — especially kids.
Now you have a waitlist, too. Did you feel you had the skills to make all this happen?
As an artist, I wasn’t even sure I was wired for business. [Then] I signed up for a business-development course, and by the end I had a business plan and a bunch of stuff I wanted to do.
How much of your job is marketing?
I’m learning it’s important to hand some things off. I have two people working with me on marketing now, and it’s been great for us because I’m really not good at promoting myself.
How do you emphasize base skills in the age of digital illustration?
The digital world is mind-blowing. It’s changing faster than any of us really can understand. [In architecture school], we all eventually used computers to draw [renderings], but it always started with a sketch. I understand the power in working through your hands to discover line, shape, and form … I love helping others make this critical connection.
Do you ever get adult students who are shy about developing their skills?
We had a private workshop event for a group of doctors and their partners over the holidays. Many people wandered in saying ‘I’m not creative’ or ‘I’m not an artist.’ I did monoprinting with them [applying ink to plexiglass with brushes, combs, and sponges, placing paper over the glass, and peeling it up to make a one-time image]. You never really know what you’re going to get — none of the work was the same. This group had so many “wow” moments.
What’s your best business advice?
It might not be quick. It takes time. … Asheville is a powerful place for entrepreneurs because people here really wrap their arms around local. Yes, it still takes work to get them to know who you are, but Asheville wants to work with you. … If you stay true to your heart, you’re going to be rewarded in ways you cannot imagine.
Roots + Wings School of Art & Design, 573 Fairview Road Suites 1, 2, and 3; Asheville. For more information, see rootsandwingsarts.com,