WAUKESHA — With more students coming from further afield to take classes at Otto’s Fine Art Academy, owner Melissa Hillmer decided it was time to expand with a second location in downtown Mukwonago.
Established in 2004, Otto’s has seen steady growth over the years, although it experienced a slump during the pandemic, Hillmer said. She purchased the K-12 Further Education Art School, located at 312 W. Broadway, in 2018. She had been a student at the school beginning in 2004 under Monica Otto and has been teaching there since 20212.
“Since Otto’s took over in 2018, our classes have really picked up. We of course had a crisis during COVID, but we picked up right away, which was a huge blessing,” Hillmer said. am really passionate about our program and when I queried families’ zip codes and where they came from to come to our weekly classes, we had many families coming from over 30-40 miles away. t was time to open another site to reach more families and create better access to our program for students who already travel great distances.
When Hillmer started looking for a location for her second academy about a year ago, she was looking at different cities in southeastern Wisconsin. She was looking for her next location to have a similar feeling to downtown Waukesha with a sense of “community, walkability, access to parks that kids can visit during our summer camps. When I visited downtown Mukwonago, I was immediately sold,” she said.
Hillmer said Mukwonago’s location on Fox Street will be similar to downtown Waukesha. She would like to add more adult course offerings in the new location. It currently offers two in Waukesha.