The Story of Dark Sky Murals
In The Beginning...
It all started in 1969, high up in the Sequoia National Forest of California, at about 2:30 AM.
I was camping with my family in our favorite camping location, high up in the Sequoias, a place where my father had grown up and had helped his parents run a pack station during the summers. Dad was 13 years old when he would take groups of people back into the back country on horseback… and then go back for then at a pre-determined day and time.
Well, on this particular night, when I was about 8 years old, I climbed into my sleeping bag with a belly full of freshly caught trout, wild blackberries and two perfectly prepared S’mores. We liked to get into the sleeping bags early so that we could wake up just as the sun was starting to lighten the eastern sky. Dad was always up before anyone else and he’d always have a roaring fire going for my brother and me to run to on those chilly mornings high up in the mountains. We’d have a quick bacon and egg breakfast, head down to the lake, and have our lines in the water before most of the other campers were even out of bed. In fact, we’d have 5 or 6 trout on the stringer before anyone else ever wandered down.
So back to the story. We went to bed early - and then at about 2:30 that morning… something woke me up. There was no moon out and all of the camp fires and lanterns from the other campsites which surrounded us, had all been out for hours. It was extremely dark out. I can remember as vividly as if it were yesterday, opening up my eyes and WOW!!! I was overwhelmed by the starscape that was above me in the sky. I had never seen a night sky like that… ever! It was amazing. I remember just staring up into the heavens and not being able to comprehend what I was seeing. You see, I grew up in the city and the starscapes, or night skies, that you see there are filled with only a handful of stars. And, when we were camping, I always went to sleep while campfires and lanterns were still burning around us and I never even noticed the night sky. Well, what I saw that early morning, back in 1969, would make an impression on me that would stay with me for the rest of my life, and ignited a passion in me that turned into a hobby, at first, and then a successful business later on.
I love the night sky. I now have learned to go camping at times when others are working, or in school, when I can lie down on a sleeping bag, unhindered by surrounding light from other campers, and stare into the thousands of stars that are out there. And, what an awesome thing it is to see the Milky Way when it is so bright that it seems to jump out at you and even cast a shadow. If you haven’t experienced a night sky like that… may I suggest that you get away from the city lights and drive out to a remote location and find one? You won’t be sorry.
Turning My Passion Into A Hobby...
Back in the early 80’s a friend showed me some sticker stars that they had put on their child’s ceiling. They knew that I loved the night sky and so they shared what they had done to their child’s room with me. I had seen those stickers before and thought that they were a nice idea, but it never went further than that. But on this night, as I looked at this ceiling and then would have to cover my eyes, every 15 minutes or so, so that they could recharge the stickers again, I started wondering if someone could take that same concept (glowing stars) and make a ceiling look more realistic.
So, I bought some glow-in-the-dark paint and literally destroyed a couple of ceilings in an apartment that we were living in at the time. It must have been at least as nice as the sticker stars were, though, because some friends asked if I could paint a ceiling for their little boy. I did. To me it was terrible, but they seemed to like it.
One trait that I have, which is both good and bad, is that I am persistent when I want to learn something or do something. And, I wanted to paint a realistic night sky. The problem in this case was that I had no artistic talent. Still don’t. But, I stuck with it. I’d paint a mural on one of mine or a friends ceiling and then sit back and stare at it. I’d try to find a few problems with it and try to figure out what I should do the next time… that would make it look better. I’d also tell the people I would paint for to be brutally honest with me… and some were. They’d say, “You know, I like this about the mural, but it would be nice if this or that were done differently,” and then they’d tell me what they thought would make the mural better. I listened. Then I’d go home and try to make that happen.
Then, when I’d figure out how to make those changes… I’d move on to something else and start the process all over again. Well, it took about 15 years of playing with the murals until I got to the point that I was really happy with the way they looked. I was starting to get fewer suggestions, of ways to improve the murals, and more “ooohs” and “ahhhhs” from people.
Turning the Hobby Into A Business...
About the same time that the murals were starting to look like a real night sky, I was starting to get really burned out on another business that I had been working for about 18 years. I had sold that business and had gone to work doing mortgages. But, the paperwork involved with that business just about drove me crazy.
While driving to an appointment one day, I was thinking about what business I could do? I liked working for myself and knew that I wanted to do something on my own… but what? Then it hit me. Why not turn the mural painting hobby into a business? I mean, people seemed to like what I had been doing for them, so why not see if others would pay me for it? I could at least do a better job than the sticker stars could do for people. So, I went for it. I put a few ads out in some different places and got a call from a lady. Wow, now what do I do?
I set up and appointment and met with the lady, who showed me the room that she wanted painted for her daughter. I measured the room and then threw out a price. I think that it was for about $250 and I couldn’t imagine someone paying that much for something that I had pretty much just given away up until this point. Well, she said “yes”, and then was thrilled as she handed me the check after I’d finished. That was awesome! I then took that money and put out more ads… and I was in business. For the first time in my life I was having fun and getting paid well at the same time.
Today that room, that I charged $250 for back then, now goes for $800… and people are still thrilled with the work… and even have me back out to paint other rooms for them. The reason that I can get $800 now for a room, that I used to get $250 for, is because I never stopped improving the look of the murals. In fact, we just added a new paint, new tools, and added something new to our murals just these past few months. It’s exciting to be at the top of our field.
Others Want To Copy Us...
For years now, I have gotten email after email and phone call after phone call, from people who have been trying to do this on their own, or who had purchased a “how-to” kit from some other company (I never knew that there was anyone else doing this kind of a business until I started getting calls from their “painters”).
They all would tell me that they liked the idea of this kind of a business but said they could never get their murals to look right. Or, they couldn’t believe that this was my only business. They almost all told me that it was hard to get business… and if they did get it, it was only after they’d agreed to do the murals for around $1 (one dollar) per square foot. They all pleaded with me to re-teach them to do the murals the way that I did them, or at least the way that they had all heard that we do them. I really didn’t like that idea. I mean… I had spent years getting my murals to look incredibly realistic, and they wanted me to just hand it to them for nothing… after they had already paid someone else to teach them. I suggested that they go back to the company that they had gotten their information from and get help from there. I had seen some of the work that that company could put out and it wasn’t bad. Not as realistic as what we offer, but still nice.
Then there were others who wanted to come and work for me. Well, I have had employees in the past and I didn’t like that. There are so many regulations for this and that and taxes on this and that… that I was very happy working on my own. “No thanks” I told them. But, I kept the thought of training others to do this business in the back of my mind while I kept plugging away on my own.
The Decision To Help Others Break Into This Business...
Well, as I said, I kept the idea of sharing what I had learned with others… but it had to be done right, or I wasn’t interested.
Because of a worsening lower back problem, I decided to give the idea more thought. If I were to offer instruction and help people in this business, I wanted offer a quality product. I know that I have the best, most realistic murals anywhere…and I wanted to offer a business package that was comparable.
- A quality instruction manual (the instruction manual is the most important thing that they will get from us. It is the step-by-step instruction on how to do this business, how to paint the different room themes, how to paint a nice Milky Way, how to paint the stars so that the mural doesn’t look like a big sheet of peg board
- I wanted to have all of the forms that they would need
- I wanted a good lead generation system
- I wanted to have a professional looking web site available to them
- I wanted them to pay no royalty fees
- I wanted them to keep the money for their work
- I wanted to make the price of entry easy for more people
- I wanted to be available to answer questions that they might have
- I wanted to be able to show them a good track record of doing this business
- I still wanted to keep painting too
Well, that has all happened and we are slowly starting to get the word out that we are ready to teach people. But, we are not going after it too hard. Why? Well, because that is not my main business. I still like to get out there and paint. Plus, I will not push this business on everyone that finds us. I want only the best people to join us… those who are serious and who will do what it takes to be successful. I would rather have 10 people working hard on their businesses, than 100 people who don’t have what it takes.
So, if you have found this site, and you decide to come on board with us… then you can rest assured that you will be one of a select few to offer the best product in your area for a while.