Innovation in Franchising: Mollie Noe Brings Creativity to Paint and Sip BusinessPinot's Palette
Louisville Franchisee Keeps Customers Coming Back with One-of-a-Kind Events and Creative Craft Projects
Pinot’s Palette franchisee Mollie Noe already has big plans for her Louisville studio’s holiday décor. After keeping things simple during last year’s holiday season, she’s going all out this year with white Christmas trees, thick cotton batting to emulate snowdrifts, and “snowflakes” made from marshmallows and fishing line.
Turning her studio into a festive winter wonderland in time for the busy holiday season will take some work — but Noe isn’t worried. She’s no stranger to creative craft projects or over-the-top holiday decorating.
“I was raised in a family where we started celebrating Christmas the day after Thanksgiving,” says Noe. “And now, I do the same thing in my studio. Customers like it, though – they can come in and get their Christmas on early.”
Noe’s holiday plans don’t end with festive décor, though: Anyone looking to celebrate at Pinot’s Palette won’t be disappointed by the array of unique holiday events and activities on Noe’s studio calendar. Innovation is an important value at Pinot’s Palette, and Noe has created a variety of special classes that take the paint and sip concept beyond the canvas.
Doorhangers, Bourbon Barrels, and “Mommy and Me”
By offering something a little different during the holiday season, Noe is able to differentiate Pinot’s Palette and also give customers more choices. One of Noe’s most popular holiday classes gives customers the opportunity to paint their own holiday doorhangers. The wooden doorhangers – which measure about two feet by two feet and are shaped like Christmas ornaments or pine trees – are a festive and fun alternative to the traditional Christmas wreath, Noe says. Customers paint their doorhangers with acrylic paint and add personal touches like their initials or last name. For a small fee, they can finish their creations off with a custom bow, made with festive ribbon that Noe stocks especially for the event.
Noe offered the class for the first time last year. She says she got the idea for the class after seeing similar items selling for $45 to $50 each at craft festivals and crafting websites.
“I saw these doorhangers everywhere,” she says. “I knew they were made with acrylic paint and I knew that people were buying them at craft fairs and on Etsy. And I thought that for the same price we could offer a do-it-yourself one that would be much more meaningful. I just knew people would love to do this.”
As it turned out, Noe was right. People loved her doorhanger class. In fact, it was such a hit last year that she plans to offer it twice this year, and the entire Pinot’s Palette system has picked up on the idea, as well, where new ideas from franchisee partners are encouraged.
But the holiday festivities at Noe’s studio aren’t limited to doorhangers: Other events on the November and December calendar include “Mommy and Me” classes where moms and kids can paint coordinating winter scenes and a special offsite event featuring customizable “Elf on the Shelf” paintings.
Noe says she’s pleased – but not surprised – by the success of her unique holiday classes. She learned early on that her customers enjoy stepping outside the box from time to time.
“I try to offer specialized classes on top of the standard canvas,” she says. “People enjoy our regular classes but they always want more; they want to know what else we can do. I’m always looking for new and cool ideas to try out in our studio.”
And Noe doesn’t limit her new and cool ideas to the holiday season: Her studio’s calendar features a regular rotation of special events that allow customers to paint everything from wine glasses to the tops of bourbon barrels (she gets pristine, unused barrel tops through a family connection in the whiskey industry).
“Pinot’s Palette’s success comes from our network of franchisee partners, hands down. Ideas like Mollie’s, if successful at one studio, we take the idea nationwide,” said Craig Ceccanti, Co-Founder and CEO of Pinot’s Palette. “Being a Pinot’s Palette owner means you are part of an innovation hub where we are constantly improving our offerings.”
But the innovation doesn’t stop there, Noe also offers occasional drink specials, such as $5 “bottomless” mimosas and bourbon specials. Because of the way Kentucky liquor laws work, her studio was one of the first in the country to have a bar. Noe says her focus on offering things like bourbon and high-quality craft beers have helped attract men to the traditionally woman-focused business.
“When we started offering bourbon on the rocks in addition to wine and beer, we had more and more men coming in. Our date nights are huge,” she says. “I think it’s because even though men are coming to a more feminine event, they can at least get a double shot of bourbon on the rocks. They love that.”
Shared Experiences; New Ideas: The Pinot’s Palette Franchise Council
It’s been a busy year for Noe and her studio. In fact, she recently expanded her 48-seat studio and added 16 new seats. In November, she held a special class to celebrate her studio’s two-year anniversary. The sold-out event featured a special painting and catered food that included handmade chocolate bourbon balls for all 64 attendees.
And things probably won’t slow down for the Louisville franchisee any time soon. In addition to coming up with creative new events and spending a lot of time in her studio, giving feedback to her artists and mingling with customers, she still finds time to be an active member of the Pinot’s Palette Franchise Council. Noe was appointed to the council in 2014 and she runs the “New Studio Forum,” where she serves as a point of contact, a sounding board, and a source of advice for new paint and sip franchisees. She enjoys hearing different ideas and she likes helping newcomers navigate the build-out process.
“It’s great because you get to share their experiences,” Noe says. “During the process, you have these highs and lows and you make all of these big decisions. It can be nerve-wracking. But I get to say, ‘It’s going to be okay.’ Plus, it’s cool to hear what different owners are doing because it gives me new ideas, too.”
And at Noe’s studio, it’s all about new ideas.