Chris and Asja Randell Join Wave of Millennial FranchiseesPinot's Palette
“It is a mistake to try to look too far ahead. The chain of destiny can only be grasped one link at a time.”
— Winston Churchill
Chris and Asja Randell tend to agree with Churchill. After all, his philosophy explains how an Estonian woman planning to take over her parents’ private school wound up co-owning a paint and sip studio in Texas.
Chris and Asja, whose Pinot’s Palette® studio in Garland, Texas, opens this month, met at college in Abilene, Texas. Asja was pursuing a studio art degree, with plans to return to her native Estonia and join the family business. But meeting Chris during her senior year of college caused her to significantly adjust her plans.
However, it wasn’t a simple step from college sweethearts to married franchise owners. Asja ran into numerous roadblocks in getting her Green Card and Work Permit. She was forced to return to Estonia, and the couple maintained a long distance relationship for six months.
Once reunited stateside, the newlyweds sought to become franchise owners. With Asja’s art degree and Chris’ experience in the business world, the paint and sip industry seemed like a perfect fit. Asja was already teaching art classes to children as a volunteer at the Dallas Museum of Art, so the couple thought, “Why not make money doing it?” Researching different paint and sip franchises led the couple to Pinot’s Palette.
“We felt that Pinot’s Palette offered the perfect combination,” Asja says, “We fell in love with the little steps they gave franchisees to make sure they’re successful.”
And a meeting with the Pinot’s Palette corporate team in Houston only reinforced the couple’s esteem of the company.
“We were really impressed with the corporate culture,” Chris adds. “It’s very laid back but very much a culture focused on excellence.”
A New Awakening
The couple brings a unique element to that Pinot’s Palette culture of excellence, that of Millennial Entrepreneur. Though Chris and Asja may be some of Pinot’s Palette’s youngest franchisees, they’re not alone. In fact, Millennials represent a quickly rising demographic in the franchise industry, which was once dominated by older, high net-worth individuals. As an article in Entrepreneur explains, many Millennials exhibit reluctance to enter corporate America along with increased social consciousness and desire for better work-life balance, all factors that are driving the generation to franchising. The International Franchise Association has taken notice and targeted Millennials with a program called NextGen in Franchising, which offers information and guidance on franchising.
While Millennials carry skill sets – like tech savviness and social networking prowess –that give their franchise a boost in business acumen, they often struggle against the stereotype that their generation is lazy or self-centered. But Chris and Asja aren’t concerned about these stereotypes.
“We love to work hard and have fun and no one’s opinion will stop us from doing that,” Chris says. “Regardless of who you are –your age, race, height – there will always be prejudices that you have to ignore and push through.”
Creating Community and Culture
Chris and Asja haven’t encountered many naysayers as they set up shop in Garland. In fact, they’ve been surprised by the warm welcome they’ve received from the community as well as by fellow Pinot’s Palette franchisees.
“Honestly, everybody has been really nice,” Asja says. “Coming from Europe, everybody in the U.S. seems nice, especially in a suburb in the South. Our experience has been amazing.”
And the couple has made sure to reciprocate the community’s warm welcome by networking as much as possible.
“The Garland Chamber has been wonderful about making sure we are successful in connecting with who we need to connect with,” Asja says. The couple points out that it’s never too early to start going out into the community and meeting people, observing that networking is often easier before a studio opens and decreases owners’ available free time.
With ready connections in place, the couple is eager to embrace the influx of business once their studio opens. Asja, who understands the challenge of finding a job fresh out of art school, is excited to provide employment for so many artists. And she looks forward to “seeing people’s eyes light up” as customers leave the studio with a painting in hand. As an artist, she sees her role as “bringing finer arts to the masses,” including her husband.
“It’s comforting for Asja to see someone completely terrible at art like me go to a class and do a painting,” Chris says. “She sees that you can have zero confidence in art, but have someone walk you through a painting so simply you can leave impressed with yourself.”
Along with expanding his artistic talents, Chris is most excited about creating a corporate culture that treats employees well. “I’ve always wanted to own a business and be in a position to treat people really well. I think it’s so cool when you work at a place and form camaraderie with fellow employees, so that it’s not just a place to get a paycheck.”
Chris acknowledges that this concept of treating others how he wants to be treated is one of his many “old school ideas” that he will combine with Millennial-savvy as he and Asja grasp the next link in what they hope is a destiny of success.
“We are excited to have a successful business, but we wouldn’t be doing this unless we knew we would have fun and help others have a blast at the same time,” Chris says. “We hope our employees and customers will love being in our studio as much as we do.”