Dots and Doodles: Inspiring Joy Through the Art of Teamwork

Creativity meets community.

In Wexford, Pennsylvania, Dots and Doodles has been inspiring creativity and fostering a love for art since 2013. Founded by Laura Hilger, her mother, and her younger brother, this vibrant art studio offers a wide range of activities for all ages. From paint-your-own pottery and canvas painting to birthday parties, workshops, and summer camps, Dots and Doodles has become a beloved destination for anyone looking to explore their artistic side and connect with their community.

As the business grew over the years, so did the number of challenges of managing a young team and keeping everyone connected. That’s where Homebase came in. By streamlining payroll, scheduling, and communication, Homebase has helped Dots and Doodles save time and focus on what matters most – creating a warm, supportive environment where both customers and employees can thrive.

The challenge:

As a small, family-owned business, Dots and Doodles’ team is made up of mostly high school students, some who had previously taken classes at the studio. Laura recognized the importance of providing a flexible work schedule that could accommodate their school commitments, extracurricular activities, and social lives. She also saw an opportunity to coach these young employees, teaching them valuable work skills and helping them grow both personally and professionally.

“I always tell people I have one kid, but then I have 14 other kids that I take care of on a day-to-day basis,” Laura laughs. She recognizes that her role as a small business owner extends beyond just managing a team – she’s helping to shape the lives of these young individuals.

However, as the studio grew, Laura found herself spending more and more time on administrative tasks like scheduling, tracking time-off requests, and processing payroll. These tasks, while essential, were taking her focus away from what mattered most – fostering a great work environment, developing her team’s skills, and building strong connections with the community.

The solution:

Only one year into the business, Dots and Doodles turned to Homebase for help with scheduling and time tracking. “We initially started Homebase in 2014 as a way for employees to clock in, because before that… we just trusted when they were there, which is kind of crazy now that you go back and think about it,” Laura recalls. Using Excel spreadsheets to calculate hours and juggle schedules meant Laura was more focused on time-consuming tasks instead of the studio’s core mission of spreading joy through art.

The everything app was easy to use making it a hit with the team, who loved being able to see their schedules, request time off, and see their pay all in one place. “The fact that everything is on an app, it sends you notifications… that’s probably our most valuable tool,” Laura explains.

Knowing she could count on Homebase to support her “family” at work, the real game-changer came when Dots and Doodles was introduced to Homebase Payroll. With schedules, timesheets, and payroll all in one place without entering data manually, Laura suddenly found herself saving hours of time and stress every week. 

“I’m not a numbers person. I’m not an accountant,” Laura says. “So when we were finally able to add payroll, the happy dances I was doing were incredible.” With Homebase, running payroll is a breeze and stress-free. “It takes minutes as opposed to hours before.”

The impact:

Since adopting Homebase, Dots and Doodles has seen a significant improvement in efficiency and team connection. Laura’s team appreciates the transparency and flexibility that the app provides when they can see who they’re working with and request time off, while she has more time to focus on creating a positive, supportive workplace culture. 

Messaging in Homebase has proven invaluable for keeping the team informed and connected, whether it’s announcing a staff meeting or sharing fun updates. “I send messages through it a lot,” Laura says. From staff meeting reminders to tie-dye party announcements, Homebase keeps everyone informed and connected.

Laura doesn’t just use Homebase to keep her team in the loop – she also relies on it to help her young staff stay on track and on time as this is often their first job. “I think the notifications that they get to like show up to work on time, I think that is really helpful because they’re young,” she notes.

Best Practices:

So, what’s the secret glue to Dots and Doodles’ success? For Laura, it’s all about fostering a family that makes everyone feel like they belong and a workplace that fosters growth and development. It’s the little things, like remembering customers’ names and favorite projects, that make a big difference.  When it comes to her team, Laura is all about empowering them to own their role in making the studio a happy place to be.

“Everyone is happy to be there. It’s a happy place to work, which is really fun,” Laura beams. And it’s not just about the warm fuzzies –  Laura’s team is genuinely invested in the studio’s mission to make people feel good about themselves and proud of their creative masterpieces.  

But how do you keep that positive energy flowing? Laura’s got a trick up her sleeve: staff meetings that are slightly business and mostly pleasure. We’re talking gingerbread house contents, laser tag adventures – the works! “We expect them to work as a team when they’re on shifts together,” Laura explains. So, why not have some fun together, too?

When you step into Dots and Doodles, you can feel the love radiating from every paint-splattered surface. “Our studio is so special because of the people that we attract,” Laura gushes. “They’re awesome people. They love coming to work. We love working with them. It kind of goes back and forth. The energy feeds off each other.” And that is the magic of a truly unstoppable team.

How to paint your own success story.

With Homebase by their side, Dots and Doodles has blossomed from a small studio with big dreams into a vibrant art hub that pulses with creativity, joy, and unlimited potential. For Laura, this is the essence of being a small business owner – pouring your heart and soul into something you love and watching it flourish.

“I like owning a local business because I love what I do every day, and it’s different every day,” Laura reflects.

“The more time you can spend with customers, the better your business will do.”

But it’s not just about the customers; Laura is equally invested in her team’s growth and success. “I think I’m most proud when I see people succeeding in their roles and then being proud of themselves,” she shares. “The more confidence you have in them, the better they’ll succeed.”

By partnering with Homebase, Dots and Doodles has been able to focus on what truly matters – inspiring a love of art in their community and creating an unforgettable work experience for their team. Homebase has given them the gift of time, allowing them to pour their energy into building a warm, welcoming environment where everyone, from budding young artists to seasoned creators, feels valued and inspired to let their imagination soar.

“I would recommend Homebase because I think as a small business owner, time is like your most valuable commodity,” Laura emphasizes. “And to have anything that saves you just a little bit of time is so helpful.”

For small business owners looking to streamline their day-to-day operations, manage their team effectively, and create a workplace that feels like a second family, Dots and Doodles’ journey is a shining example. By embracing the power of Homebase, you too can start crafting your own success story, one brushstroke at a time.

As Laura wisely advises, “Do your best to serve the mass number of people you can.” With Homebase in your corner, you’ll have the tools and the time to do just that – and create a business that not only thrives but also makes a lasting impact on your community and your team.

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