Bringing Culture to the CommunityPinot's Palette
Pinot’s Palette Provides a Creative Outlet for Art Lovers of All Skill Levels
In the late fall of 2012, Robin Haynie was gearing up to open her Pinot’s Palette studio in Tyler, Texas. Like every other new Pinot’s Palette franchise owner, she had completed extensive, “boot camp”-style training at the company’s corporate headquarters. She knew the company’s day-to-day operations. Construction on her studio was complete. Everything was going smoothly, and there was only one major step left: Hiring artists. It was a step that Haynie says was more than a little intimidating.
“To be honest, I was scared to death,” admits Haynie, who co-owns the business with her husband. “I’m not an artist. I don’t come from an artistic background. I wanted to make sure I was bringing the right people in.”
Despite her concerns, Haynie says she had faith in the screening and hiring process put in place by company co-owners Craig Ceccanti, Charles Willis and Beth Willis. She says her doubts quickly disappeared when she realized just how much talent there was in her community. Applicants ranged from fine-art students at the local junior college to veteran art teachers from area public schools. Some worked more “corporate” day jobs in fields like graphic art or advertising. But all of the most successful applicants had two important qualities in common: a love of art and strong customer service skills.
Today, nearly a year after she began her search for artists, Robin Haynie’s studio is a resounding success. Her artists – many of whom have been with her since the beginning – are now trusted team members who enjoy a supportive and collaborative working environment. And Haynie – once so concerned about finding the “right” artists for her team – is enjoying every moment of being a Pinot’s Palette franchisee. One of her favorite parts? Writing “big checks” when one of her artists contributes to the franchise’s nationwide Master Painting Library.
A Win-Win for Artists and Franchisees
The Master Painting Library (MPL) is arguably one of the most unique features of Pinot’s Palette. On the surface, it’s a simple concept: Artists from Pinot’s Palette Studios across the country are encouraged to create two to three new paintings for their studio’s calendar of classes each month. Paintings that prove to be especially popular with customers earn a place in the MPL, which is a company-wide library of paintings available to every franchisee. Every time an artist’s painting is used – in any studio — she is paid a “painting reward.”
The result of the MPL system? Artists have extra incentive to produce new paintings, and franchise owners across the country have access to fresh paintings that meet the company’s high standards for quality.
It’s a win-win for everyone, says artist-turned-franchise-owner Ashley Gardner.
Before she became a Pinot’s Palette franchise owner, Ashley Gardner spent three years working for the company in a creative role: She was hired as an artist at the company’s original Houston location, and during her time there, she created several paintings that are still among the company’s top sellers. As the company began to expand into new cities and states, Gardner was promoted to corporate artist trainer. Today, as a new franchise owner in her home state of Oklahoma, Gardner encourages her artists to produce new paintings often. One of her studio’s most recent MPL contributions is “Oklahoma Strong,” which was created as a fundraiser following the devastating tornado that hit Moore, Oklahoma this past spring.
Gardner says she draws on her own background as an artist to help keep her team inspired to create fresh, new paintings. Being an artist and a franchise owner is a definite advantage, she says.
But franchise owners don’t need an art background to inspire their artists. Just ask Robin Haynie, who keeps her artists productive by turning the painting submission process into a supportive, workshop-style environment. Every time one of her artists submits an idea for a new painting, Haynie takes a photo of it and emails a copy to her other artists. Everyone offers constructive criticism and suggestions for improvement. It’s a system that has worked out quite well.
“I think it creates solidarity and a little bit of healthy competition,” Haynie says. “My artists don’t see each other all the time, so they might not always know when someone has submitted new paintings. This way, they always know, and they might say, ‘Wow, that artist has brought in three paintings this month.’”
Bringing Culture to the Community
Robin Haynie isn’t the only franchise owner who felt apprehensive about hiring artists. Colorado franchisees Kim Fain and Tony Curtis had their doubts about finding the right people, too. Fain and Curtis have HR backgrounds, but neither of them knew much about art. Like Haynie, they wondered if they’d find any high-quality candidates after they placed an ad for artists.
They were amazed at the response they got. “We have a college right in town, and we had so many applicants – graduates as well as fine art students – that we had to take down our ad a few hours after we posted it,” says Curtis.
Curtis and Fain opened their Fort Collins studio almost a year ago, and it has been a great success. They have a talented team of artists, and they have customers coming in for classes from other cities and other states. They say their favorite part of being Pinot’s Palette franchise owners is being able to make art accessible to their community.
“The majority of our customers are not artists,” says Curtis. “They come to our studio, and some of them are a little frightened – but by the end of the night, they are artists. They’re awesome, and their paintings turned out great. It’s a fun place to work.”
Robin Haynie shares this sentiment. She says that when she opened her studio in Tyler last year, there was a “collective sigh of relief” from her community. “Something was missing – but nobody knew what,” she recalls. “When we were kids, we all painted and drew – but then we stopped. And now, we can do it again. At Pinot’s Palette, there is no expectation that you have to an amazing skill. People are just thrilled to have the opportunity to do this.”