Painting With a Twist giving with a passion

The business was inspired by Hurricane Katrina.

West Chester resident Cheree’ Gallant, owner of two local Painting With a Twist locations, in Mason and Cincinnati (west), loves giving back to the community through their monthly Painting With a Purpose fundraising classes.

Since Cheree’ and her husband, Steve, opened the Mason location in 2012, they have been able to give back more than $40,000 to support area nonprofits including organizations like Mason Food Pantry and the Dragonfly Foundation.

With more than 350 franchise locations across the country, Painting With a Twist was founded in Mandeville, La., by Cathy Deano and Renee Maloney. The business was inspired by Hurricane Katrina and maintains its strong focus of being involved in the community and giving back.

In the local market, Steve and Cheree’ are committed to that same vision. Other causes they have donated to include Parkinson’s Foundation and Susan G. Komen, among others. Nationwide, Painting With a Twist has donated over four million dollars to nonprofit organizations across the country.

We talked to Cheree’ to find out more about Painting With a Purpose and why she believes in giving back to local nonprofits.

Q: What is Painting With a Twist?

A: With each Painting With a Twist class, guests have a chance to create a fun, art experience in a party-like atmosphere. With step-by-step instructions, there are two-hour and three-hour classes available for adults as well as classes for children and teens. Participants can also support area non-profits through a monthly, Painting With a Purpose fundraising class that is devoted to supporting worthy causes. Twelve times a year, 50 percent of the proceeds from each Painting With a Purpose class are given to a local nonprofit.

Q: Why do you believe in giving back?

A: Painting With a Twist was started as a charity effort. It was never intended to be a big business, and now, there are over 350 franchises. We have two locations, and the Mason location was one of the earlier franchises…Once a month, we do a program called Painting With a Purpose, and the idea is 50 percent of the class proceeds go to a local nonprofit and all the funds stay local. So, as an organization, nationally, we've donated nearly $4 million since the start of this company to local nonprofits, collectively. For us, locally, with the Mason and Cincinnati-West locations combined, my husband and I in six years have donated a little more than $40,000 to the local community. I think that's significant. And, if you were to ask me what I love the most about it, that was the reason why I started Painting With a Twist, because of the idea that I could have a built-in give back as part of the business, it felt like an exciting thing to do. Each month, we have a host nonprofit, and they get a chance to honor and celebrate the thing they are the most passionate about. We get to do it 12 times a year. That's exciting.

Q: What kind of feedback have you heard from Painting With a Twist participants?

A: The number one thing people say is 'I can't believe I just did this.' This was so great. They got value out of it. They got the relaxation, they got a time with their friends, and they are pleasantly surprised with the results.

Q: As far as your role, what you do?

A: Mostly, I take care of the staff. Most all of them have full-time jobs. They paint for me part-time, so there's quite a few of them. They do it, and I've asked them before, 'Why do you want this additional job?' And, it's because of their love for painting and their love of teaching. It's not that they don't appreciate the extra money, because we all work for that reason, but they do it for their love of painting, and being in the environment. They tell me they always leave happier than when they came in. Even as workers, they don't feel like it's a job, they feel like it's fun…They look at it as an opportunity to paint and be around painting, and they share their love of painting with people who don't know yet that it's a great thing to do. So, my biggest responsibility, is managing the staff, and making sure they are good with their schedules and that they are doing a good job with the quality of art they turn in. They have to paint every painting they teach in advance.

Q: How have you seen the business grow and evolve since you first opened the Mason location?

A: When we opened, we were offering five or six classes a week. Now, we offer around 20 classes a week. It's definitely growing. We now have enough support from the community, and that support allows us to offer a variety of classes. When we were starting out, we offered one children's class a month. Now, we offer five to six children's classes a month. Then, as far as the adult classes, we went from 20 a month to over a hundred a month. You have to have the support from the community to justify having that many classes, but it's definitely grown. I attribute that to multiple things. I think the studio is beautiful. The artists are so great at what they do in helping people be successful, and then there's the art. We have over 7,000 copyrighted paintings in our art gallery. So, there's a huge variety of things to choose from. It's not just the same paintings being repeated.

Q: Do you ever have an opportunity to sit down and paint?

A: Occasionally I do. It's a great experience to sit down and it reminds me every time I do, why the customers love it so much, because much like the customers, if I'm left to my own, I can't really do the same caliber of painting that I do if I'm sitting in a class.

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