A Growing Family BusinessPinot's Palette
Mother-Daughter Team Brings the Paint and Sip Concept to Kansas City
Deb Nemec knows a good opportunity when she sees it: Four years ago, she visited a paint-and-sip franchise during a trip to Austin, Texas. It was her first experience with the concept, and the she thought it was something that would be a big hit in her community.
“There was nothing like that in Kansas City,” she says. “Kansas City is a very artistic city, and people are always looking for something new to do.”
At the time, Nemec and her daughter, Kelly Flowers, were also looking for something new. Nemec had recently left a job that she’d held for nearly three decades, and she was ready for a change of pace. She wanted something fun and flexible – something less “corporate” than her previous position. Flowers was working for a communications company that published trade magazines. She found the job less than exciting.
A paint-and-sip studio seemed like a good fit for both women – but Nemec thought she could improve on the idea. Although Nemec loved the general idea of painting lessons paired with cocktails, she admits that she left the Austin studio (which, as she’s quick to point out, was not a Pinot’s Palette) with a mental checklist of things that could be improved.
“As much as I enjoyed myself, I told Kelly we could do so much better,” she says. “The studio we visited gave you plastic cups, and I remember thinking that I’d want to use real wine glasses. There wasn’t any music, and the walls weren’t very colorful. It was not very inviting.”
Nemec started doing research into the paint-and-sip industry with the intent of starting a completely new, independent paint and sip company. When she came across the Pinot’s Palette website, however, she began to have second thoughts about striking out on her own.
“They had it all together,” says Nemec. “I thought, ‘Wow, would I want to compete against Pinot’s Palette if they came to Kansas City?’ The answer was a pretty quick no. We did more research and decided that maybe we would join them instead of trying to beat them.”
Nemec and Flowers contacted Pinot’s Palette corporate headquarters and arranged to travel to Houston to attend “Discovery Day.” They were impressed by the company’s professionalism and by the level of support available to new franchisees.
After Discovery Day, Nemec and Flowers signed a contract to open the first Pinot’s Palette in Kansas City. They opened their studio, which is located in the upscale suburb of Leawood, in April of 2013.
An Opportunity for Growth
Nemec and Flowers always planned to open more than one Pinot’s Palette franchise. The original idea, says Flowers, was to open a second studio after the Leawood location had been open for about two years. But just a few months after the Leawood studio opened, the women’s real estate broker called with some exciting news: A new location had just opened up in the trendy suburb of Prairie Village, and it would be perfect for a Pinot’s Palette.
“It’s a lively community with a slightly younger demographic. It’s the type of area where people are out and about, walking with their kids and dogs,” Flowers says. “Plus, it’s closer to the Missouri side of Kansas City, and we had a lot of people asking when we were going to open a studio on that side of town.”
Flowers and Nemec looked at the space and decided that their broker was right: It was perfect. They signed a lease and started build-out on their second studio, which is scheduled to open the week of May 19.
It’s been a busy year for the mother-daughter duo, but they’ve managed to keep things running smoothly. Early on, they decided to divide up their responsibilities: Flowers handles most of the marketing, and Nemec oversees operations. They recently hired a manager to handle many of their Leawood studio’s day-to-day tasks. They say the key to their success is communication and honesty – and the fact that they’re mother and daughter doesn’t hurt, either.
“When you work with your mom, you can be more open and blunt about your vision,” says Flowers. “Even if you don’t see eye-to-eye on everything, your mom still has to love you at the end of the day.”
Nemec agrees. “It alleviates a lot of stress when you’re able to be forthcoming,” she says. “You have to be able to talk. You have to have an agreement ahead of time to be open and honest with each other.”
Another New Addition
Although Flowers shares her mom’s philosophy of open and honest communication, she recently found a good reason to be less-than-forthcoming: When Flowers found out she was pregnant, she decided to arrange an elaborate surprise at the Leawood studio to reveal the big news.
First, Flowers arranged to have one of her artists create a “special canvas,” and then she arranged to have her husband come to the studio. He hadn’t been to a class yet, so Flowers told her mom that he was just coming in to see what it was like.
At the beginning of the class, Flowers pretended to drink wine with her husband, and the artist introduced the evening’s painting. Nemec wasn’t paying much attention until she heard her name.
“I heard the artist say, ‘We have a really exciting painting we want to feature, and Deb, you’re really going to like this one,’” Nemec says. “I remember thinking, ‘What is she doing? This isn’t part of the normal introduction.’”
When Nemec looked up, the artist revealed the night’s featured painting. It was a canvas painted with the words “Baby Flowers 2014.”
“And then I told her we weren’t really there to paint,” Flowers said. “Her jaw dropped and she just started crying. It was a pretty fun way to reveal the news.”
Nemec agrees with her daughter. “Kelly got me good,” she says. “I had no idea.”
Life has changed a lot for the mother-daughter duo since the day they first visited a paint and sip four years ago. Deb’s Nemec’s instincts were right: The Kansas City community welcomed Pinot’s Palette with open arms. Today, Deb Nemec and Kelly Flowers are successful Pinot’s Palette franchisees with a growing business – and a growing family.