Smart Meetings

Artistic Abandon has been featured again! The magazine, Smart Meetings, even included a picture of Emily teaching. One of the fun things you can do as a paint and sip studio is team building events. There are so many options for customizing it for each company that comes in for a painting class! We’ve done everything from small doctors’ offices to huge tech companies and everything in between. It’s a great way for coworkers to get together and use a part of their brains that doesn’t always get tapped, and it’s a fairly level playing field: generally, the boss has no more painting experience than the entry-level employee, so it puts everyone on an equal footing as they get to know each other a little bit better.

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We’ve Been Featured!

Hi everyone, sorry for the long gap in posts, but I’ve been hard at work on a variety of projects. I thought I’d pop over to share some fun news with you: Artistic Abandon has been featured in the February/March 2017 issue of Professional Artist magazine! Here’s an excerpt of what they had to say:

“Emily Page taught for Painting with a Twist, and when she decided to open her own paint-and-sip studio, she wasn’t happy with the franchise deal the corporation offered her. She had created many example paintings for the company, so she thought she’d just make more. And, she could contract someone to build a computer system for her for a lower price than the franchise would offer for their systems, she said. And in her heart, it just didn’t feel right to franchise.

‘It didn’t really seem to me like a very good deal,’ she said. ‘I watched franchise owners get frustrated at wanting to try something different and being told by corporate that that’s not the business model.’

She opened Artistic Abandon (artisticabandon.com) in Raleigh, N.C., five and a half years ago. There are a couple things that set her studio apart from the franchised ones: The painting library is ‘less cartoony, more like real paintings,’ and the teaching style is more comprehensive. ‘I figured out how to break it down in a much more step-by-step method,’ she said.

Independent studios have some unique challenges. The franchises have the name recognition, and they can put locations anywhere, and sometimes they don’t separate them out very well, Page said. It can be hard to compete, especially in the beginning. And, if new owners don’t partner with other indy studios, they will probably have to pay more for art supplies because they won’t have access to bulk pricing.

Her advice to artists looking to start a paint-and-sip of their own? ‘You have to have patience. It is a customer service job…If you’re not willing to repeat yourself a bunch of times, it’s not the job for you.’ She also warns artists to make sure they understand the liquor laws in their county. Contact the state department of alcoholic beverage control to find out what can and can’t be done.

A couple years after opening Artistic Abandon, Page was approached about franchising her business. ‘It seemed hypocritical. If I wasn’t willing to do it [join a franchise], it seems unfair for me to offer it,’ she said. So, instead, she started a consulting business – kind of like franchising lite – to help artists and non-artists alike open their own studios…

She’s helped seven studios open so far. She offers tools, including a library of paintings, guidelines and suggestions. The studios have banded together to get wholesale prices on materials. Unlike in franchising, the studio gets to pick its own name and doesn’t pay a royalty fee.

In addition to running and teaching at her studio and consulting, Page makes what she calls her ‘real art,’ original paintings, to sell through emilypageart.com. She said during the first couple years of having her paint-and-sip, her art took a backseat, but now that the studio is established, she’s able to spend more time making art, and, maybe more importantly, marketing it.”

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Franchiser Is Trying to Re-brand at Franchisee’s Expense

It’s come to our attention recently that one of the major paint and sip franchisers is revamping their brand, making changes to everything from their logo to the look of their franchisees’ studios. What I find really disheartening for those franchisees is that they invested their hard earned money into designing and decorating their space, and now their corporate bosses have decreed that they should redo all that hard work and spend more money to do it. To change over, they’ll need to purchase new aprons, wall decals, and other promotional materials to include the new logo. They’ll have to pay to change the interior decor of their studio spaces. To be fair, corporate has agreed to offset some of that expense to existing studios, but they won’t eliminate the amount completely or make up for the days studios will have to close for the renovations. And all of that comes after they’ve paid exorbitant buy-in and royalty fees to open under that brand name in the first place.

But even putting that aside, corporate’s need to redo their look tells us that they’re not doing as well as they claim they are. If they had strong paintings and their staff had been trained how to teach properly so that customers could do better paintings, they wouldn’t need to pump money into a re-branding effort. Clearly, their customers aren’t getting a good enough painting experience, so they’re trying to make up for it by glitzing up their spaces.

As a studio owner and artist who opted not to go the franchise route, I hurt for those franchisees who have been so let down.

How Soon Can We Be Open?

A question we get a lot is what the time frame is for opening a paint and sip studio. Honestly, it varies pretty wildly. We helped a studio open within a month of them signing with us, and we had another that took almost a year. The biggest factor is finding a studio space and the state of the space you decide to rent out. If it requires a large build out that requires pulling permits, it can take several months. A lot of times the build out is fairly simple, but contractors get stuck waiting for the city to give them the permit. So when you look for a space, obviously, the less you have to do, the sooner you’ll be able to open.

The other aspect that takes some time is hiring your artists. It takes a unique person to teach this kind of event, because they have to have good people skills, a sense of humor, be a little bit of a showman, and be able to not only paint well, but paint quickly, and explain exactly how they’re doing it. Finding artists that fit that criteria can take a little time, but it’s worth it because it will help set you apart from other studios that are less concerned about the quality of their instructors.

The rest of the prep work for opening can go fairly quickly, but again, it’s entirely up to how much time you’re able to devote to it and how fancy you want to get with it all. You can choose to do your own website, or our tech guy can do it for you. You can go with the furniture we recommend, or you can choose to have it specially made. Because we’re consultants and you’re not franchising, we give you all of your options and you’re free to choose what route you take with everything, so there are no rules and there is no set time frame.

On average, I’d estimate that the studios we have helped have opened within about 4 – 6 months of signing the contract with us.

Testimonials

Here are some testimonials from a few of our clients:
“When I first met Emily, I immediately knew that I had made the right decision in hiring Artistic Abandon. Without her advice and training, I would not have been able to have a successful business only a few months later. They are very attentive and respond to my needs promptly. Emily’s honest and sincere approach in providing clear-cut advice, assistance, and counsel has been instrumental in the opening and running of my studio.” – Caroline Mullins, Honeysuckle Studio, Blacksburg, VA

“I am so glad that I found Emily and the Artistic Abandon team. I was in the process of purchasing a franchise but wasn’t comfortable with all the royalty fees, franchise fee, and the list goes on and on. We decided to do some research and came across Artistic Abandon which is the best thing I could have done. They have been so helpful from beginning to end even traveling to train the artists, helping with marketing, lease negotiations, and any questions that may come up. It is definitely well worth the investment and not having to worry about all the monthly fees the franchises charge. The best part about it is that you can make the business your own without all the restrictions. They just guide you in the best way! I love Emily and Sebastian. They are amazing!” – Aliyana Thornton, The Art Bar Virginia, Suffolk, VA

“We were very happy with the services Emily provided. It was a fraction of the price we would have paid if we had gone with a franchise company. We tweaked the forms and policies she provided to fit our needs. The studio training for my employees was great and we use her policies and procedures for our daily operations…Emily was worth the cost for having a successful opening, and just having someone to brainstorm with was priceless.” – Harry and Brenda Jackson, Tickled Paint, Salisbury, MD

Making It Your Own

One of my favorite things about teaching sip and paint classes are the people who decide to go off on their own a little…or a lot. I love when they want to make it their own, and I’m totally an enabler. The weirder, the funnier, the better. If someone wants to add a dementor, or a fraggle, or Van Helsing into their painting, I am happy to draw it for them. If they want to change it up on their own, absolutely! Some are spectacularly bad, some are decidedly good. I’ll let you decide which is which. The image on the left if the image that was being taught, the image on the right is the customer’s version:

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I’m Giddy

This weekend, I had the honor of training the staff for a studio we’re helping open in Blacksburg, VA. I really love doing the consulting work both because it reminds me that I really know what I’m doing in terms of how to give customers a great experience so that they want to come back, but also because I’ve been very lucky and worked with some really great new studio owners.

It feels good to help smart, talented, funny, and creative people become entrepreneurs who don’t have to be bogged down being just another employee at a job they hate. They get to be their own bosses in every sense of the word. By not franchising, they really are their own bosses: they’re saving a ton of money both in the initial franchise fee and the crazy monthly royalty fees; and without a corporate office telling them what they can’t do, they’re free to get creative and try all sorts of new stuff that will help them sustain their businesses for years to come. They’re figuring out how to become an integral part of their unique communities without a corporate overlord who knows nothing about their area telling them that it won’t work. I’ve been so proud and so impressed with them, and sometimes I have to pinch myself when I think about how I’m helping them become their best, most adventurous selves.

I’m proud to raise a glass in their honor and I look forward to adding more people to our sip and paint family!