Painting it Forward – Memphis Pinot’s Palette Franchisee Gives Back

Painting it Forward – Memphis Pinot’s Palette Franchisee Gives Back

Before Kristi Bauer became a Pinot’s Palette franchise owner, she was a full-time marketing professional, trying to balance her career with her strong desire to help others.  She found opportunities to give back through participation in organizations like Habitat for Humanity.  She sponsored kids through the Christian Children’s Fund.  At work, she eagerly stepped up to organize holiday toy drives for kids in need.

“I’ve got a philanthropic streak,” admits the longtime Memphis resident.  “I’ve always been interested in giving back.”

Bauer left her corporate job after she opened her Pinot’s Palette studio in June of 2012.  She describes herself as a very hands-on owner and she enjoys focusing on “all Pinot’s all the time.”  She also enjoys the fact that being a Pinot’s Palette franchise owner has provided her with unique opportunities to put her “philanthropic streak” to good use:  Since opening her studio a year and a half ago, she has partnered with various charity and nonprofit organizations to host fundraising events.

“I made it a goal for my studio to do something to give back to the community at least once a quarter,” says Bauer.

So far, it’s a goal that Bauer has had no trouble achieving.

Pinot’s Palette and Fundraising: A “Win-Win” for Everyone

Bauer’s first-ever opportunity to give back as a Pinot’s Palette franchisee came just three months after she opened her studio’s doors.  The event was the Art Tasting, a company-wide charity event that encourages studios to partner with their choice of local charity for an evening of food, wine, and hands-on art activities.  The event was a success – and word began to spread that Bauer’s studio was an ideal setting for fun and unique charity events. Shortly after the Art Tasting, Bauer began receiving inquiries from a wide variety of nonprofit and charity organizations throughout the city.

One of those inquiries came from the Streetdog Foundation, a Memphis-based animal rescue and foster care organization.  Bauer, an animal lover, jumped at the opportunity to help.

“They asked if I’d be willing to do a fundraiser for them, and I said ‘certainly,’” says Bauer.  To organize the event, she took inspiration from the popular Pinot’s Palette “Project Pet” event, where attendees create unique paintings based on photos of their pets.  The fundraiser was surprisingly easy to organize: She simply raised the event prices a bit and agreed to donate half of her net proceeds to the organization.  The Streetdog Foundation took care of nearly all of the publicity via social media.  On the day of the fundraiser, Bauer’s studio was packed.

“It was a win-win,” says Bauer, who says she was able to present the Streetdog Foundation with a check for over $1500.  “They didn’t have to do anything but put the event on their Facebook page, and I was able to write them a check for one fun afternoon.”

The event turned out to be a “win” for Bauer in more ways than one:  Of the 72 Streetdog Foundation fundraiser attendees, only about 15 or so had ever set foot in a paint-and-sip before.

“That event opened me up to an entirely new market,” says Bauer.

Trying Something New

Every new Pinot’s Palette franchisee faces unique challenges:  In some locations, it’s finding just the right location.  In others, it’s figuring out exactly how to navigate the local liquor laws.  And for Bauer, it’s getting people out of their comfort zones.

“Memphis is a great town – it’s got a lot of soul and a lot of personality,” says Bauer.  “But it’s also a town where people can sometimes be reluctant to try something new.  I’ve discovered that doing fundraisers helps me get people in the door who might not try us out otherwise.”

Bauer says that after a charity event such as the Streetdog Foundation fundraiser, she typically sees an upswing in class attendance and private party bookings.  Once people get in the door, they’re always pleasantly surprised at how much fun they have.

“It’s a conversation I have a lot.  People will come in for a fundraiser and tell me, ‘I can’t even draw a stick figure’ – and then they have fun, and word gets out. Sometimes, they come back and bring friends – or they tell their boss about it and they end up booking a corporate event or a party,” she says.

And Bauer’s customers aren’t the only ones who are trying something new.  Bauer says that being a Pinot’s Palette franchise owner has helped her branch out and connect with people and organizations from all walks of life.  And her efforts to “give back” have led to some great fundraising partnerships with a variety of organizations, including children’s charities, service organizations, and student groups.

“Before I started this business, I felt like I knew everybody in Memphis – but the truth was, there were a lot of people I didn’t know,” she says.  “You tend to float around in the same circles.  But being a Pinot’s Palette franchisee has opened the doors to entirely new groups of people.  It’s been very rewarding, and I feel more intimately involved in this city than I have before.”

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