From Boots to Arts


Congratulations to Tana and Tommy Davis on the opening of Prairie Horizons Studio for the Creative Arts!

I first met 1SG(R) Tommy Davis in September of 2016, when he was attending Boots To Business at Fort Riley. At the time, Tommy was getting ready to retire after 21 years in the army.

Tommy and his wife Tana had recently purchased an historic building in Chapman, KS with the dream of opening a business that would make a positive contribution to the small community while also connecting with Tana’s zeal for creative arts. The exact details of what the business was going to be, however, needed to worked out. After Boots To Business, Tommy, Tana and I met to discuss their goals for the business and to review their business plan.

Tana is a professional illustrator and painter, but is passionate about teaching and has a master’s degree in education. Prairie Horizons offers creative arts classes and workshops and has a gallery where Tana and other artists can exhibit and sell their works. The gallery doubles as an event space where people can host private parties.


At this studio-gallery, the term creative arts is practically all-encompassing. Drawing, painting, photography, sculpture, quilting, crochet, jewelry-making, music, drama, poetry, creative writing and more are to be featured.


Tana’s vision for Prairie Horizons is that “it will become both a place where students of all ages can nurture their creativity and a place where regional artists can showcase their skills and connect with local communities.” Tana hopes that someday, she and her teachers will be able to reach out and bring their classes into small communities that do not have the resources for arts education in their schools’ curricula.


Tommy is currently finishing a degree in literature and administration and will help Tana with the business side of Prairie Horizons as well as being a presence at the studio. Opening the studio allows Tommy and Tana to work together and combine interests, talents, and efforts – though, Tommy likes to joke and say that he is just happy being his wife’s employee.

According to Tommy, attending Boots to Business gave him an opportunity to “focus on all of the things that were going to be involved in starting and running the business, such as understanding cash flow,” and also an opportunity to” learn from each of the different facilitators.”

Boots To Business is an intensive entrepreneurial training program offered through the SBA in partnership with its resource partners.

At Fort Riley, Wichita SCORE mentors and business advisors from the Kansas SBDC at Washburn University work with the SBA to help soldiers transitioning from the military learn about starting and running their own business and to connect them with the resources that they need to succeed should they choose that path.

Since the studio just opened a few days ago, the Davises are getting used to their new routine … that and getting to work on marketing their new business! Through Washburn University, Tommy and Tana have access to the business advisors and resources of the Kansas SBDC to help them as they get their business off the ground.

Good luck with your new venture, Tana and Tommy!


Business Advisor Mary Ann Reiderer and I will be participating in the upcoming Boots to Business training, June 7-8, 2017 at Fort Riley. For registration information, email



Laurie Pieper, Ph.D.

Business Advisor

Washburn University

Kansas SBDC


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