Sheri Penxa and Hope Kinney couldn't have imagined that a couple of nights out would turn them into artistic entrepreneurs.
But that's exactly what happened when the pair discovered Painting with a Twist, a nationwide entertainment franchise that mixes creativity with social networking.
On Friday, Painting with a Twist of Sarasota will have its grand opening at 5543 Palmer Crossing Circle in Sarasota. On Saturday, they open to the public.
Established in 2007 in Louisiana, Painting with a Twist offers an artistic take on entertainment by providing clients the opportunity to reproduce specially designed paintings while socializing with fellow "artists" over a bottle of wine.
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For fees ranging from $35 for two-hour and $45 for three-hour sessions, Painting with a Twist provides each client with a bare 16- by 20-inch canvass, paints, brushes and instruction by a professional artist. Clients bring their own wine or another beverage of choice.
At the end of each session, "painters" each go home with a personal piece of artwork.
Since 2009, nearly 80 Painting with a Twist locations have been established nationwide, including 12 in Florida.
Penxa and Kinney were introduced to the concept last summer when Penxa's daughter, Nicole -- the wife of Kinney's son, Kyle -- invited the women to a girls' night out at the Painting with a Twist in St. Petersburg.
"We left with our masterpieces which now hang in our houses," Penxa said. "We loved the experience so much that we returned the next month."
Shortly after that second visit, Penxa and Kinney decided to pursue Painting with a Twist franchise opportunities. By October, the pair were well on their way to establishing a location in Sarasota.
According to Penxa, neither she nor Kinney is an experienced entrepreneur. Both worked for Head Start of Sarasota -- Penxa as finance director, Kinney as vice president in charge of programs. But both women believe that the concept will appeal to plenty of prospective clients, espe
cially women seeking options for outings such as bridal showers, birthday parties and girls' nights out.
Penxa also thinks the venue will attract church groups, clubs and local businesspeople interested in offering innovative team-building events.
"The concept provides an alterative for adults to have a fun, inexpensive night out that can fit into all budgets," Penxa said. "We feel Sarasota and Manatee County are a perfect fit."
Jean Kabongo, assistant professor of strategic management and entrepreneurship at the College of Business at the University of South Florida's Sarasota-Manatee campus, thinks the women's instincts are correct. According to Kabongo, Painting with a Twist's concept is consistent with current business trends toward offering innovative services to specific clientele. Meanwhile, clients appreciate the concept's "feel-good" aspect, Kabongo said.
"Clients like the experience of creating their own work of art in a fun, innovative environment," Kabongo said. "I also believe that clients like the idea that painting in enjoyable social events helps boost their self-efficacy."
Aside from Painting with a Twist's unique client appeal, both Penxa and Kinney were attracted by Painting with a Purpose, the franchise's philanthropic component. Through that program, local non-profits in Sarasota and Manatee County will receive between 50 and 75 percent of the proceeds from specific events that take place at the Painting with a Twist of Sarasota studio every month.
The first event is slated for March 27 and will benefit the Neuro Challenge Foundation, a locally based organization that provides Parkinson Disease education and research support.
"Giving back to the community is very important to us," Penxa said.
Meanwhile, studio patrons may benefit in unexpected ways, says professional artist and Painting with a Twist of Sarasota instructor Truman Adams.
Along with a single painting at the end of an evening's entertainment, Painting with a Twist clients may come away from the experience with a new appreciation for painting and an interest in doing more of it on their own.
"All the artwork we use is designed so that anyone can render it, and my job is to help people do that," Adams said. "But just by doing this one piece, some people may discover that they like painting, and they'll go out and buy their own canvasses and paints and keep at it; who knows?"
To learn more about Painting with a Twist, visit www.paintingwithatwist.com/sarasota.