It’s my pleasure to share with you the inspiring story of Cathy Deano and Renee Maloney, as they pursued their dream to open up a positive, enjoyable business to help those in the midst of the depressing environment that Hurricane Katrina brought to their area.
Cathy and Renee met while planning a fundraising event for their then kindergarten children’s school. As their friendship developed, they decided to turn their “what if” conversations into reality by establishing Painting with a Twist — partly to reinvent their own lives, as well as fill what they saw as a void for lighthearted entertainment where people could go to forget about life’s troubles and just have fun.
At Painting with a Twist, people come together to experience a “getaway” that includes friends, paint and the option to bring a favorite bottle of wine and snacks. As the pioneer in the art entertainment industry, Painting with a Twist prides itself on making art accessible to everyone. With local art instructors as guides, friends gather for an evening of creativity and camaraderie as they create one-of-a-kind pieces of art and, often, discover a new found talent.
Franchise Chatter (FC): Can you share with us the story of how Painting with a Twist got its start?
Cathy Deano (CD): Initially friends devoted to our kids and our community, we (Cathy & Renee) decided to start a business that transforms a fun night out with friends into a work of art.
We also wanted to do something to lift the spirits of people where we lived after Hurricane Katrina. Not only was New Orleans ready for a change, but so were we.
Inspired by the experiences and stories of step-by-step painting instruction turned fun social gathering, we created an art studio devoted to just that. Corks n Canvas opened in Mandeville, LA in 2007. Three additional Corks n Canvas locations soon followed in the New Orleans and surrounding area. Requests for more kept coming.
People wanted to take this concept back home with them; thus was born the franchise name Painting with a Twist, and the first franchise was sold in early 2009. To date, we have sold 60 franchises.
FC: For those unfamiliar, please tell us about your concept for Painting with a Twist?
Renee Maloney (RM): At Painting with a Twist, people come together to experience a “getaway” that includes instructional art with friends, wine and a lively instructor to produce individual works of art. Customers enjoy a pleasurable, innovative environment, where they will experience first hand the excitement of creating their own work of art. There is also a good chance they will leave with an extra boost of confidence!
CD: If you love art, and would love to introduce people to their creative side, this is the business for you. It is fun, simple to run, and requires a relatively low investment. All of our art is produced and copyrighted in our corporate offices. We have staff artists whose sole occupation is creating new art for our franchises. Our paintings are interesting and have stood the test of customer satisfaction.
FC: Can you describe the ideal franchisee for Painting with a Twist?
RM: Energetic, devoted and willing to “work” the business.
FC: What is the ideal neighborhood and territory for Painting with a Twist?
CD: We thrive in many different demographics and locations but our target is women ages 25 to 65 (with the majority of them in the 35 to 55 age range), with incomes of $35,000 to $150,000.
RM: Word of mouth is important — getting the word out to the community and educating them on our concept. Social Media is a huge resource, as well as local resources including the Chamber and local networking events.
FC: What are some of the things you are doing to help your franchisees become profitable?
CD: We offer continued support. For example, a corporate representative will make periodic visits to the studios and offer tips and tricks for success. Franchise owners are also required to submit quarterly profit and loss statements, at which time we review their financials and guide them on where they can be more cost effective.
FC: Can you tell us a bit about the initial investment and ongoing expenses needed to open and operate a Painting with a Twist franchise?
RM: In order to open your doors, you will need about $60,000, which includes the $20,000 franchise fee. We recommend another $10,000 cushion.
RM: With our ongoing commitment to give back to the community, Painting with a Twist locations proudly sponsor a monthly fundraising class, also known as Painting with a Purpose.
Proceeds from Painting with a Purpose events are donated to local non-profit organizations. Painting with a Twist has donated thousands of dollars to local non-profit organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, Multiple Sclerosis and Odyssey House.
We are committed to giving back to the local community, one painting at a time. Since January 2011, Painting with a Twist locations have donated over $76,000 to their local communities.
FC: What are your goals for Painting with a Twist in the next few years and how do you plan to grow your business?
RM: This is an attractive business because the investment is low and you only need five things in stock: canvases, acrylic paints, brushes, napkins and cups. Our goal is to continue to sell franchises at a manageable pace. This way, we can keep our service lines of communication open with our franchisees, which they really appreciate. We realize we are becoming “big business,” yet are striving to keep the “small community-based business” atmosphere in all our dealings.
CD: First and foremost, choose a franchise that resonates with you. You have to love your product! And the obvious, gather any and all information regarding investment, ongoing expenses, time involved and legalities. Make sure your franchise is a fit for you financially as well as personally.