We had the good fortune of connecting with Kat Barrow-Horth and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Kat, is your business focused on helping the community? If so, how?
As fine art dealers, my husband Reed and I founded the non-profit Comic Kids because we felt a need to create a philanthropic organization for children in the arts. We’ve seen repeatedly how arts programming takes a back seat to other school subjects and how children, particularly in underserved communities, aren’t given the same opportunities to learn about the arts. Reed and I were both children who had our noses in sketchbooks and found that while society may appreciate the arts, young artists are often encouraged to find “practical” career paths. Through high school and college, we both continued to pursue the arts by majoring in Art History, Studio Art and Design, and learned “creative types” are the ones that make and produce music and movies, design buildings, cars and electronics, design and create clothing, advertisements and even the chairs we sit in. Denying children quality art programming limits their potential for creative thinking. We founded Comic Kids to teach children the skill of creativity by learning to draw their favorite comic and cartoon characters, as we felt it was such a natural fit for children to grow a love and appreciation for art while working on something relatable to them. This endeavor was personal for my husband who grew up in the military with little exposure to art. His love for comic books led to his college career in art illustrating and eventually, a 25 year-long career as a fine art dealer and curator. Comic Kids opened in 2020 as a 501-c3 non-profit in Miami and while the year was obviously challenging for all, we taught hundreds of children art through virtual classes by partnering with other non-profits such as Big Brothers Big Sisters and The Beaux Arts Society. We have seen our children’s self-esteem blossom as they learn fundamental art skills through comics and cartoons, and our mission is to broaden our reach to provide this programming to more children in underserved communities throughout Florida and North America.

Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
We founded the non-profit Comic Kids in 2020 as a way to encourage underserved children to learn to draw using comics and cartoons as a vehicle to promote creativity. While the year 2020 proved to be challenging for many businesses we had several advantages starting during a pandemic. The backstory is important. My husband and I had opened our company, Robin Rile Fine Art during the economic collapse of 2008. We learned very quickly the necessity to keep our business model “lean and mean”, to not spend frivolously or over-extend ourselves. After years of perfecting our online art sales model, we chose to go fully digital in 2008, opting not to open a physical gallery and instead sourcing investment-level artworks through both buyers and sellers remotely. Because our costs were low and our business was virtual, we had a flexibility to travel while working. We went to Europe for three months, then six months in Canada, and so on. Comic Kids was in its nascent business-development stages when the pandemic struck. So, we were able to launch virtual art classes quickly, maintaining the same “lean and mean” mindset we had in our fine art business. As small-business owners, we are used to wearing a lot of hats as we handle all aspects of our businesses ourselves including sales, marketing, bookkeeping, logistics and social media. Based on what we learned in 2020, Comic Kids will remain a digital model as it has potential for tremendous growth at low cost. In 2008 we felt as if we were jumping into a swimming pool not knowing if there was water… But we jumped anyway. The same thing happened in 2020. As entrepreneurs, it is imperative to learn the skill of being bold, and above everything, have a positive belief that one can succeed.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
If my best friend was visiting the area, I would take her to restaurants, coffee shops and strolls in all corners of the city. No visit to Miami is complete without seeing the beach, Coconut Grove, Coral Gables and Little Havana. On South Beach we would visit the charming and historic Savoy Hotel south of 5th street for a day at the beach and a cocktail by the pool. No visit to Miami is complete without a gorgeous sunset view from the Mondrian Hotel or some swanky seaside bites at The Standard. For a beautiful sushi dinner, we would visit the SLS Hotel and for a gorgeous view of South Beach, Juvia on Lincoln Road. During the day we can take a boat out by the beautiful homes on Star and Hibiscus Islands, docking at Monument Island for a quick swim. Heading back to the mainland we could swing into The Wharf for their casual and hip outdoor vibe, eating pizza and donuts from food trucks while listening to trendy music by the Miami River. Coconut Grove is always a favorite for a nice bike ride under the Ficus trees of Main Highway and ceviche and cilantro soup while sitting outside at Jaguar. In Coral Gables, we could have a fresh lunch by the pool at the historic Biltmore Hotel then go for a massage in their spa and a walk through the tree-lined neighborhoods that surround the Biltmore. A picnic at Alice Wainwright park off Brickell is always a nice treat. And to end her trip, we would visit Ball & Chain for a night of dancing and Cuban food on Calle Ocho. I can’t wait until we can all go out again!

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
The person I would give a “Shoutout” to is my dad, Dr. James Barrow. I lost him a few years ago but he was one of the most pivotal and encouraging people in my life. While he was an introverted bibliophile (very different from myself), he always supported my artistic proclivities and wild antics both as a child and into adulthood. My dad loved to read my stories, correcting my spelling and grammar the whole time, but always telling me how envious and proud he was of my natural ability to weave a tale. He allowed my teenage angst to run rampant as I decorated my entire bedroom with collages and hand-written poetry on the walls. Years later, he left me a journal with copies of these writings he had collected. My father was a physician and though I attempted to follow him by starting pre-Med at Tulane University, he told me he believed that my happiness would be found in the arts. A few months later I called my parents to tell them that I was going to pursue Interior Design rather than medicine. Though I was fearful of their disappointment, a few days later I received an Interior Design book in the mail with a note of support from my dad. I still have the book 20 years later. I wish I had realized more as a child what a cheerleader my dad was and had shown him how grateful I was for his guidance and the incredible lessons he bestowed upon me as a child. The last conversation I had with him before he passed, I read him a long note of all the amazing things he had done for me throughout my life. We were both crying and holding one another’s hands then he said to me with a smile through his tears, “I’ve had a good life.”

Website: https://www.comickids.org/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/comic_kids_org/?hl=en
Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/artdealerdiva/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/comickidsorg
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCduwfBqfzbdG7LVY7M33IVA

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