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She went from marketing exec and part-time singer to opening her own art studio — while leaning on her Northeastern MBA

Sophia Moon said the foundational business skills she learned while earning her MBA gave her “an extra bolster” to help her create Essem Art Studio.

Sophia Moon posing in an art studio.
Sophia Moon opened Essem Art Studio in Boston in 2017. Photo by Janelle Carmela

It doesn’t matter if you’re 3, 13 or 30. Everyone needs a creative outlet. 

Sophia Moon knew this in 2018 when she opened Essem Art Studio, a studio in Boston offering programs for artists of all ages.

Moon herself is an artist. She started out her career moonlighting as a singer after spending her days doing marketing for banking and telecommunication companies. She  was driven to get her MBA so she could combine her experiences in marketing and music and get into brand management. 

But after graduating from the D’Amore-McKim School of Business at Northeastern University with her master’s degree in business administration, she decided she wanted to do something different, especially after having her daughter.

“I remember vividly being in my third trimester with my daughter being like ‘There’s no way I’m going to continue to go to the recording studio and stay there for eight hours at the time and till two, three in the morning, writing songs,’” Moon said. “That lifestyle really didn’t fit where I wanted to move forward to. I remember panicking, super pregnant, and deciding there are other things I can do to be creative.”

Sophia Moon painting in an art studio.
Sophia Moon opened Essem Art Studio in Boston in 2017 where she teaches art classes to people of all ages. Photo by Janelle Carmela

Moon decided to dive into visual arts, taking painting classes and creating so many works that her house was filled with them. She decided she needed studio space for not only herself, but to share with her community.

Originally, Moon had the idea of running a studio that served as a co-creating space for other creatives.  But when that didn’t hit its stride, she started hosting art classes for toddlers. From there, Essem Art Studio grew into something for all creatives of all ages.

“I wanted to do something fun in my community,” Moon said. “I wanted to create a program that I didn’t see and that was an art studio for kids. I started dabbling a lot more in my visual arts as well and … I wanted a space where I could create and have a creative space in the community.”

Signing a lease on a studio space was a risk, Moon said, but the foundational business skills she learned during her MBA gave her “an extra bolster” to help her pivot her plan to create a thriving business.

“It’s easy to say get an MBA, and you can be the next executive at a Fortune 500 company,” Moon said. “There’s something to be said about getting an MBA … to start your own business. It doesn’t have to be a large thing. It can be great and small.

Today, Essem Art Studios is a community hub in her Boston neighborhood of Charlestown, one that provides programming for everyone from toddlers to senior citizens.

“The theme of the story is like when something didn’t stick, I pivoted,” Moon said. “I found that finding fellow creatives wasn’t really working out. So I pivoted and started hosting our classes and they really took off.”

Essem Art Studio offers studio programs for children ages 15 months to 7 and beyond, catering to everything from sensory art to budding artists. The studio is also running mini summer camps exploring mediums such as pottery and clay as well as adult art night and pottery classes. Moon teaches all the courses herself. Each week has a different theme (for example: flowers) for the projects that are adjusted based on the age group.

“Having a place where you can go where the stakes are low, (where) you have a sheet of paper and have paint in front of you and are just letting yourself get back in touch with a part of you that is curious, I think that’s empowering,” Moon said. “Whether it’s for a toddler or for an adult who lives a corporate life … I inherently believe all humans are creative. Whether you express that is on you, how much you express it is on you. But there’s something to be said for that, making creative choices and then feeling like there’s something you can actually control.”