All Work and All Play: Asheville Plays Brings the Fun
Even before starting Asheville Plays, Weaverville residents Arica and Hans Carlos were passionate about recreation and play. “I’ve always believed in the power of play and how important that is, and the magic of making memories…Giving people the chance to come together and play, when you see it in action it is just so inspiring and necessary,” says Arica.
The two met while working in the hospitality industry in Florida, Hans as a restaurant manager and Arica as a recreation director. They discovered a common mission for both owning a business as well as bringing play and enjoyment together for adults and children. They realized Asheville, with it’s dynamic for successful small businesses and community support, would be the ideal place to relocate.
An Innovative, Engaging Form of Play and Business
The premise behind their work revolves around play and engagement. Their business plan started with a haunted trail designed for family fun and enjoyment during the Halloween season. It quickly grew into a team and corporate team building experience, into game rentals, and the latest addition to the business: a mobile, 30-foot pirate ship escape room experience.
With this has also come an expansion of their team. What began as a two person show now has a third full-time employee with a creative director, on-call contacts for team building events as well as actors hired for the seasonal experiences.
Learning the Ropes with Mountain BizWorks
Maneuvering a unique business like Asheville Plays is no easy feat. Arica and Hans utilized a number of resources from Mountain BizWorks to bring the business to where it is today. Shortly after moving to Asheville to launch their business, one of the first resources they used was the Foundation Course, which proved tremendously helpful in developing a business plan and understanding the ins-and-outs of running one. The technical assistance and coaching experiences, from marketing to finances to operations, were also able to bring them to where they needed to be. Utilizing coaching, they did a financial analysis and figured out they were better off not transitioning into a brick and mortar model.
From here stemmed their unique idea to develop a mobile escape room experience, crafting it on their own from a 12-foot trailer, hard labor, and loads of creativity. Years later, when it was time to expand, they received a loan from Mountain BizWorks to support their newest and latest creation, the 30-foot pirate ship escape room, entirely mobile, to allow them to attend events and meet guests where they’re at.
“The consultation, coaching, and ongoing support [from Mountain BizWorks] has been most valuable! All of it helped – taking the time to see the value… and helping to invest and work through the process, develop the business plan, all of it,” notes Arica.
Her reminder to budding entrepreneurs rings loud: “Things will happen over time. Show up with 100% and regardless of how much you make now or what it is, eventually, it will pay off!”
Bringing More Than Entertainment to the Community of Asheville
Now that it’s in full swing, Asheville Plays contributes greatly to the community. Their haunted trails allow families an opportunity to create new memories as well as to establish fun, engaging traditions year after year. They bring a safe and entertaining way to celebrate the holidays and entertain the spirit of Halloween. Their game rentals and mobile escape experience, often big targets for tourists, help support the hospitality industry in the area by giving people a reason to come to town. This in turn supports the local economy through various hotels and event planners by offering a unique experience to visitors and locals, alike. And lastly, their corporate team building experience allows businesses and other groups to build bridges of camaraderie between teammates.
They are part of the beautiful cycle of small businesses in Asheville, not only finding their own success, but sharing that success with the community as well. As Asheville continues to grow, businesses like Asheville Plays are what make it the thriving vision of communal success that it is today!