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Exit plan from health care leads to homegrown cooking business

One family’s lifestyle and labor of love brings culinary classes to Farmington
Measure and Make, owned by Katrina (picture) and Christopher Sharp, opened in Farmington in March, and offers a variety of cooking classes for children and adults. (DelSheree Gladden/The Journal)

After working as a paramedic for 17 years, spending the pandemic as an AirCare flight nurse and giving birth to her fifth child two years ago, Katrina Sharp was ready for a change.

Her exit plan led to a family endeavor to open Measure and Make.

The jump from the medical field to culinary classes might seem unexpected, but a glimpse into the Sharps’ busy schedules clears it all up.

Katrina and Christopher Sharp, and their five children, are an active bunch, running between work, dance classes, sports, school activities and family time. Getting dinner on the table means everyone pitches in.

As her children have grown, Katrina included them in meal prep and cooking. She said she relies on her older children on busy nights to help with meals and feeding the younger children when she and her husband are working or chauffeuring children to and from activities.

The need for her children to help out in the kitchen wasn’t the only source of inspiration for the business. Katrina said her youngest daughter is a big fan of Blippi, a television personality who teaches children about how things work. Episodes about bakeries and restaurants got Katrina thinking.

If children enjoy watching shows that teach them about how food is made, they would likely enjoy learning to make food.

Katrina began researching what it would take to start teaching cooking classes in Farmington. She researched chains and similar types of businesses in other areas to find out about types and costs of classes, socioeconomic demographics of the area and the likelihood of community support.

When she pitched her idea to friends and community members, enthusiasm for the concept was immediate.

Cookies made by spring break cooking camp students. (DelSheree Gladden/The Journal)
The transformation of a space

Turning the idea into a reality first required a location. Katrina and Chris had never rented commercial real estate before, but she said they got lucky and found a great location in Star Plaza and a supportive landlord.

After signing a lease for the space at 3836 E. Main St., Suite B, a five-week sprint to remodel the space began.

Formerly a party supply store, the space had been empty since 2018, which Katrina said left it in desperate need of cleaning an updating.

Her husband Christopher is a retired firefighter and now works in construction management. His experience was vital to their efforts to remodel the space, Katrina said, as they completed the vast majority of the work on their own.

Outside of hiring professionals for tape and texturing, plumbing and electrical work, the family spent late nights and weekends ripping up carpet and replacing flooring, painting and installing new equipment and components.

“It was a lot of late nights,” Katrina said. “Oh my gosh, my kids practically lived down here. … We were here from sunup till one or two o'clock in the morning.” She said it was a “true labor of love” for her family.

Aprons for students were screen printed by Nick’s Print Shop. (DelSheree Gladden/The Journal)

Aside from a few delays – they needed a fire suppression system before the could install a stove – Katrina said the process went surprisingly smooth. She hopes to never replace flooring again in her life, though.

The Sharps’ involvement in the community has shown them the important of supporting small businesses. They chose to work with as many local businesses as possible, printing their aprons at Nick’s Print Shop and relying on local artists.

A painting of the Measure and Make logo takes up the majority of one interior wall. The mural was painted by Diné artist Luke Paul, whose work can also be viewed on area businesses such as Lauter Haus, The Grass Station and the outdoor mural on the corner of Orchard Avenue and Main Street.

“He came in and he did this with a rattle can in two days,” Katrina said. “Wow. He didn't draw it out first. He literally stood back and watched and … he came up with this in two days. That's impressive.”

The Measure and Make mural was painted by Dine artist Luke Paul. (DelSheree Gladden/The Journal)
The classes begin

Measure and Make opened during spring break this year, holding youth cooking camps throughout the week, then following the camps up with individuals classes on cooking air fryer chicken, making leprechaun gingerbread houses and decorating cookies and cupcakes.

Classes will be offered on a membership basis and as individual classes. The spring break camps were all ages, but Katrina said the membership classes will be divided into age groups so the classes can be tailored to skill level.

A variety of individual classes will be offered, including Mommy and Me classes for parents and preschool children, date night classes with BYOB adult beverage options, multi-age classes and kids-only evenings classes that will allow parents some free time.

They also plan to bring in specialty chefs to guest-teach classes and offer a more diverse array of classes.

The schedule of classes is still a work in progress, Katrina said. Each time the offer a class they evaluate how well it worked as far as ages, time and day, and how they can balance the parents’ time requirements for dropping off and picking up children from classes. They plan to adapt as they move forward.

Katrina said that one aspect of the classes that she’s fielded questions about is that for most classes they have a drop off-and-go policy for children participating in classes. Some parents questioned that policy, but Katrina explained that the policy comes from a safety mindset.

Because they cannot background check every parent or guardian who might want to stay and watch a class, the adopted the policy that only students signed up for the classes may stay for the class.

She said her and Christopher’s background as first responders has made safety a top priority and their goal is to provide a “safe, fun place that they can come and do something, and it’s different.”

One exception to that policy is when families or groups book the space for birthday parties or private events. Only the birthday child’s parents may stay for a party, but it is up to the group renting the space to decide who may attend private events.

The work stations can adjust to comfortable heights for children and adults. (DelSheree Gladden/The Journal)

Trying to market the new business has been a learning experience, Katrina and Christopher both agreed. Not an avid social media user, Katrina said she’s been learning how to make promotional videos for Facebook and manage business accounts on various social media platforms.

Christopher added that not being part of a chain makes it more challenging to build brand awareness, but that they are seeing that word-of-mouth from friends and students’ families has been effective in getting the word out. Like everything else they have accomplished, they both plan to keep learning and developing their skills.

Future plans for the business is to make it successful enough that Katrina can run the business full-time. Not only was working AirCare through the pandemic exhausting in multiple ways, the stress it caused her family has begun taking its toll as well.

Katrina said that because of a near-death experience her older children had involving an airplane, they fear flying and feel stress every time she leaves for work. Christopher also worries about the risks of flying and hopes to see Measure and Make become her main career in the future.

The demonstration area at Measure and Make allows students to watch how various dishes are made. (DelSheree Gladden/The Journal)