“When we open the doors, it is so exciting to see generations of families come in. Nothing makes me prouder than that,” says Brandon Gist, owner of Wine and Design in Newport News.
Originally from Vauxhall, New Jersey, Gist obtained his degree in criminology at Davis & Elkins College. He was originally involved in the automotive industry but quickly realized this was not his passion. He wanted an occupation that filled him with joy and excitement and found it within Wine and Design. “People are always celebrating, which is what I most enjoy,” says Gist. “It is memorable, and I feel like I am here for a great reason.”
Wine and Design is a franchise with 72 locations created by Harriet Mills, its founder. Mills pitched the business idea on the well known TV show, Shark Tank, where television personality and panelist Kevin O’Leary invested in the business. This all led to Brandon Gist opening a franchise in Newport News.
“It’s a great place for birthday parties, date nights and even workplace events,” Gist says. “When booking a painting slot, you can choose among a pre-penciled canvas, free paint or the splatter zone. An event can range from painting a customized portrait of one’s beloved furry friend to a messy paint war with family or coworkers.”
Many types of private events can be planned, including early decisions on paint choices with sketches on canvases before the gathering. Other events include after-school art classes, art camps or mommy-and-me classes.
There are also special events called “pay it forward,” where customers come in and paint for a specific cause, and 30 percent of each ticket will be donated to the chosen organization. There was recently a class where people submitted photos of their pets and learned how to paint them, and funds were donated to the SPCA. Other “pay it forward” donations have included debutante balls and breast cancer awareness month.
Wine and Design offers a program called “art buzz for kids,” intended to spark children’s imagination and encourage their creativity. There are after-school classes, summer camps and individual classes for specific groups. These friendly children’s programs are for ages ranging as young as three years old to teenagers. Gist says, “A lot of these children are very, very talented.”
The Wine and Design location can accommodate as many as 80 people. If there are large groups of more than 80, Gist arranges to split them into separate sessions to ensure everyone can equally appreciate their experience.
Fun times are enjoyed by patrons, who come in to paint mason jars, make chunky blankets, hold trivia nights and offer other creative ideas. “It’s a way that we can incorporate everyone and by all means we very rarely say no to an idea,” Gist says.
Gist hopes to implement a scholarship fund to offer financially struggling students. He also plans to expand the business. The flexibility and creativity of this business keep it popular. Gist says there is a positive energy surrounding everyone who walks in the door.
“Wine and Design is good for my mental health,” Gist says with a smile. “Coming here is relaxing and offers a great environment.”
TO THE POINT:
Wine and Design
Address: 882 J. Clyde Morris Blvd., Newport News, VA 23601
Contact: Brandon Gist, owner