By: Ali Elizabeth Turner
Maria Troupe has worked for a multi-national DOD contractor for aeons, and as someone who once worked for the same company, I will take some space here to thank her for how she looks out for our troops. However, that is not the purpose of this article; rather, it is to tell you her story of diving head first into being a franchisee for a company whose concept was first showcased on Shark Tank. It was founded by a woman named Harriett Mills, was picked up by Shark Kevin O’Leary, and ten plus years later, Wine & Design remains in the Tank’s Top Ten of successful franchise ventures. We are blessed to have a Wine & Design located at 12060 County Line Rd, Suite G, in Madison’s Publix shopping center, and here is Maria’s story.
Maria was looking for an entrepreneurial opportunity and did a ton of research. She became aware of the Wine & Design/Shark Tank story, and after looking into a number of national franchise possibilities, decided that if it was good enough for “Mr. Wonderful,” Kevin O’Leary, it was good enough for her. A number of things intrigued her—the fact that as a franchise owner she did not need to have an art background, the abundant opportunities to build community through the use of art, being able to give to charitable organizations, helping kids to get their “art buzz” on through art camps, improving the morale of corporations, and more.
The Madison, AL Wine & Design opened in September of 2020, began to build well, and then COVID hit. They never had to close their doors, for which Maria is grateful, and found creative ways to keep going during the pandemic. That included having people pick up supplies and have the classes held virtually, having smaller class sizes, and practicing social distancing. Now that we are post-pandemic and summer is here, Maria is wanting more people to know how Wine & Design works, how it can provide everything from creative education to bridal showers to team building events, and why, from the Shark Tank perspective, it is one of their “GOATs,” or “Greatest Of All Time” investments.
There are over 1500 different proprietary templates available for people to use to help guide them through their painting process. Sometimes a theme is selected for a class, or for Open Studio, a person can choose their own. The artist on duty will draw just a few sketches on the canvas, and then help people select paint and teach some strokes. Most paintings are completed in just one session. Maria will be the first to tell you she does not consider herself to be all that artistically inclined, but upon showing me some of the pieces she had done, I beg to differ. There is also a DIY night where you can paint wine bottles, glasses, acrylic pours, and other items with a design of your own, or with a little help. There is also an opportunity to make your own “chunky blanket,” which is woven together with soft, giant loops, and Wine & Design has been known to help get those creations to people who are undergoing chemotherapy. This past year, Wine & Design partnered with other businesses and gave blankets to Clearview Cancer Center.
One of the most successful aspects of Wine & Design’s services is team building. A friend of Maria’s who owns a Wine & Design in the Seattle area regularly puts on events for Microsoft that have upwards of 200 attendees each time, and are very popular. It has been shown that when people create together and support each other in the process, there is a deepening of team spirit and an increase in morale and productivity. “We can go to your place of business to do events; you don’t have to come to us,” she told me. Some of the most successful team-building events are with businesses or organizations that are not thought of traditionally as being all that “art-oriented,” and Maria gets great satisfaction in seeing people break through when they paint something about which they are pleased. She knows from experience how meaningful it can be.
Sometimes, people will come to Wine & Design for a first date or a date night change-up from “dinner-and-a-movie.” People come for baby showers, birthday parties, bridal showers, or just by themselves. There really is something for everyone. Some people come over and over again to get instruction and to improve their skills, others just for the fun of it along with the satisfaction of experiencing the creative process and make something that reminds them of a good time.
Whatever your reason, it’s your time for Wine & Design. Call, go online, or stop by the shop and book your session today. This is your chance to sign up, show up, sip up, and paint!
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner