My how time flies when you're having fun... its hard to believe that just five years ago I started Vino & van Gogh up in my dining room. I can't tell you just how thankful I am to have built a fun, community-centered, business out of creating art.
In my dining room, from The Greenville Daily Photo Blog!
When I started teaching the painting classes, I was a newlywed, had just turned twenty-six, and was dabbling in all areas of art: teaching the classes, making jewelry, and painting. I really did not have firm direction as to where my art-making would take me, I just knew I LOVED making things, and loved sharing creativity with others.
I quickly realized that the art classes had huge potential, and took them on the road. Businesses like Sobys, Nest (our future location!), AugustaTwenty, and Palmetto Olive Oil were some of the local spots that offered up their spaces for us to set up shop and our painting classes.
Paint Party at Augusta Twenty
After about six months of hosting Pop Up Paint Parties in different spots, I decided I needed a real brick and mortar spot. I am forever thankful to Keith Jones of NAI Earle Furman for introducing me to a vacant studio (and what is now SIP in downtown Greenville) for a 'Pop Up Art Shop' during the summer of 2012. The air conditioner broke the second week, it was in an obscure location, but people kept coming.
After our summer downtown, I knew the permanent spot for the art school needed to have accessibility for handicapped participants, be an easy drop off location for kids, have great parking, and preferably proximity to food. We found our cozy spot in Augusta Village, and have been happy campers ever since.
I love that kids can drive their scooters to the studio for art camp. I have many adults that pop over on their golf carts for classes. A stop to our neighbors at Le Grande Bakery before our children's after school classes is always a treat for the little ones. Customers love that they can pop over to Augusta Grill for a glass of wine or an appetizer before they start painting.
We are in a perfect location for our business and could not be more grateful for the Augusta Road Community and greater Greenville Community for embracing, supporting, and loving our small creative business. We have had the wonderful privilege of being featured in TALK Magazine, The Greenville News, The Greenville Journal, and also teaching classes at Artisphere.
Last but not least, the customers who have been so supportive have been the icing on the cake. We have had the opportunity to blow out birthday candles with your children year after year, toast your birthday party celebrations, and paint with you while enjoying a carefree night out with your friends.
I am so thankful for the friendships that have been made over a little paint, a little wine, and some laugher.
Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for your support. Cheers to the next five years!
The Top Ten Things I have Learned:
1.) Do what you LOVE
2.) You do not always have to have a strict outline for how a business 'has to be' or a huge business plan. A one page business plan is an excellent starting point.
3.) Be flexible always. Part of being an entreprenuer is failing and then learning from those failings.
4.) A good manager realizes that anyone who works for them will not always do things the exact same way they do, and that is totally ok.
5.) With that said, hire well so that you do not have to worry about your employees work habits.
6.) You will never make 100% of your customer base happy. A solid 5% will always be upset about something.
7.) In a service based business, if a customer does complain, invite them to lunch to discuss why they are upset. (I never have had a customer take me up on this!)
8.) Social Media is the best form of advertising.
9.) Cross-market your brand with other established, well-liked brands.
10.) Work hard. I have decided I am definitely not the best artist/business owner. But I may be one of the hardest working ones out there.