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Meet Lisa Martin and Clare Hoerl: Carroll Biz Challenge finalists

COB51 Art Studio on East Main Street in Westminster competes in the Carroll Biz Challenge.

Lisa Martin and Clare Hoerl, co-owners of Create Outside the Box in Westminster, knelt beside their students during an after-school session Nov. 3, encouraging the fledgling artists to explore their creativity.

"Carroll County seems to be hungry for art. We are a full service art studio offering all forms of fine art to all ages and abilities," said Martin, of Westminster.

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Martin and Hoerl's Create Outside the Box, or COB51 for short, is one of five finalists in this year's Carroll Biz Challenge that will compete in the Live Finale next week. The abbreviated name comes from their location at 51 E. Main St. in Westminster.

The fourth annual Carroll Biz Challenge showcases Carroll County entrepreneurs during a show similar to "Shark Tank" for local start-ups on Thursday, Nov. 19, at the Carroll Arts Center, according to Carroll County Chamber of Commerce President Mike McMullin. The winner will receive a $5,000 grand prize to apply to their business costs. One finalist will win the $500 People's Choice Award and one of the original 25 applicants will be awarded the $2,000 Downtown Award.

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Martin said the duo applied to the challenge because they wanted to reach out to the community.

"It's a great way to get the word out," she said. "We are self-funded. We don't have business loans or outstanding debt. If we win, the prize money will help with advertising and marketing."

Jason Stambaugh, a member of the Biz Challenge's advisory panel, said the finalists were scored on overall creativity, product and service clarity, market potential, competitive landscape, sustainability, strength of the management team and community contribution.

"They have a really cool art and creative concept that fits very well with Main Street," Stambaugh said of COB51.

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Carroll County Economic Development's Deputy Director Denise Beaver is also a member of the advisory panel.

"Owners Clare and Lisa are passionate about art and about sharing their love of art with others," she said. "They are community-oriented and community-minded; when you combine their passion with their energy and enthusiasm for this new venture, it is bound to be successful."

Martin said COB51 has been open since July.

"We had the idea sometime last year. I'm a self-taught artist and my sister-in-law, Clare, is an art teacher at St. John School in Westminster," Martin said. "We've always dreamed of having a studio. When we found this spot, we knew it was time."

Cheerfully decorated in orange and blue, the studio houses art lessons in drawing, painting and marbleizing. The team also hosts special events including birthday parties and fundraising nights.

"COB51 was created and opened out of our love for art and our desire to share art, in all its many forms, with Carroll County," Martin said.

Hoerl said the venture has turned out even better than she envisioned.

"It's forever evolving," she said. "That's what is cool about art, it's forever changing."

Hoerl said she loves teaching art, and the studio enables the duo to teach art to more people.

"We're reaching the community and sharing our gifts, talents and passion with everyone," Hoerl said. "I enjoy making students feel good about themselves. We help push them beyond their comfort zone. We enjoy inspiring people to move beyond what they think they can do. They gain confidence, and they're so happy when they leave with their piece."

Dante Tapia Pujals, 9, takes art lessons at COB51.

"It's exciting because we get to paint and do whatever we want. It's so much fun," said Dante, of Westminster.

Sophie Schwaab, 10, also looks forward to lessons at COB51.

"I just like painting. They have so many different colors available. I'm really happy when I'm here," said Sophie, of Westminster.

For organizations that hold fundraisers at COB51, Martin said the studio donates up to 20 percent of its net profits directly back to the organization. They have most recently partnered with the Carroll Hospital and Change Inc.

"We're not just here to be in business. We're not expecting to be millionaires. We're not looking to franchise. We want to impact Carroll County and make art and creativity available to everyone," Martin said. "A lot of people think they have to already be an artist. You don't. We want to open people up to the experience. Art is so important. It makes people happy."

To register for classes at COB51, contact Lisa Martin at 410-491-1172 or visit http://www.cob51.com.

410-857-7873

twitter.com/MichelElben

Carroll Biz Challenge Finalists

During the week, the Times will profile each of the finalists for the 2015 Carroll Biz Challenge.

Monday: Andrew Wetten of Carroll County Farm Fresh

Today: Lisa Martin and Clare Hoerl of Create Outside the Box

Wednesday: Ryan Herbstsomer of Autumn Summer Woodcraft

Thursday: Scott Jendrek of Patapsco Distilling Co.

Friday: Chef Jeffrey Perri of the Culinary Academy of the Deaf

If you go

What: The Carroll Biz Challenge Live Finale

When: 5 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 19

Where: Carroll Arts Center, 91 W. Main St., Westminster

Cost: $25 adults, $10 ages 7-12, free age 6 and younger. Purchase tickets by Nov. 17

More information: carrollbizchallenge.startuplocal.biz

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