Learning + Libations = Business Success

It’s been nearly a decade since Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans. In that time, two enterprising women turned a community building activity into a national franchise.

Perhaps you’ve heard of Painting With a Twist®. The business, which pairs instructional art with friends and spirits, has more than 220 locations in 30 states. Earlier this year, Forbes chronicled the rise of the “drinking while painting” niche and Painting With a Twist®’s success.

In June, I joined a group of girls for a class. I paid $35, picked up a fruit salad and a bottle of wine (refreshments are actually BYOB), and showed up, curious to see what all the fuss was about.

In short: it was fun. A most enthusiastic woman — whom I suspect hit the sauce before our arrival — showed us step by step how to mix paints, sketch out planes, and use shadows to create depth. Music played in the background and we took trips to the potluck table while waiting for paint to dry. (It’s faster than you think.) And to my delight, the still life we worked on featured mason jars filled with hydrangeas.

When it was all over, the instructor passed out “frequent painter” punch cards. After the 10th punch, you receive a complimentary class and a free apron. And if you happen to post a photo from the class and tag it on social media (i.e. offer free advertising), you get double punches.

Behold, our not-so-lifelike hydrangea paintings!
Behold, our not-so-lifelike hydrangea paintings.

Here’s what the founders, Cathy Deano and Renee Maloney, said about their success:

“Painting with a Twist® is more than just a fun night out — it’s a hands-on, relaxing activity where our guests can connect on an emotional level. After creating their own beautiful paintings, guests feel like they have truly accomplished something and conquered any fears about art.”

I’ve spoken to a number of florists who’ve brought in extra revenue with design classes, though I’ve never heard anyone mention punch cards or rewards for social media posts. I’m hoping those tips, which I imagine contribute mightily to Painting with a Twist®’s repeat business, will have the same effect for any of you who teach flower arranging.

And I’m sure your hypothetical pupils will have the same takeaway I did when I tried to wield a paintbrush: This is hard. I really appreciate what a professional can do!