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Enterprising Spirit: Paint-and-sip studio owner has kept customers creating despite shutdown

Jackie Casey, owner of Pinot's Palette takes a break from preparing pick-up painting kits to be used in livestreamed painting classes to pose for a photo with them on Thursday at Pinot's Palette. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)
Jackie Casey, owner of Pinot's Palette takes a break from preparing pick-up painting kits to be used in livestreamed painting classes to pose for a photo with them on Thursday at Pinot's Palette. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

When Jackie Casey went to her first paint and sip class at a Pinot’s Palette in Arizona, she was less than excited. In fact, she was preemptively embarrassed about her art skills.

But after a glass of wine and a few hours, Casey was proud of her painting.

“It’s really empowering, and for me it’s almost therapeutic,” Casey said of making art.

She brought her boyfriend back for a class not long after. When he saw how much she enjoyed the class, he encouraged her to start her own location of the franchise.

Now, six years later, Casey owns two Pinot’s Palette locations – one in downtown Spokane and another in Coeur d’Alene.

“It seems like most adults don’t really dabble in art,” Casey said.

To make creating art more approachable, Pinot’s Palette offers sip-and-paint classes where attendees have a drink and follow along as an instructor teaches them step by step how to paint an image.

“It’s just amazing what you can do when somebody walks you through it step by step,” Casey said. “I see people coming in who were just like me. They’re super nervous or don’t know what they’re doing here, and at the end you can just see in their faces that they are so proud of what they made.”

Casey made the “tough decision” to close her Coeur d’Alene store before it was mandated and closed her Spokane location when Gov. Jay Inslee issued the “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order.

“It was a really hard decision to make to lay off all of my amazing, loyal, hardworking artists,” Casey said.

Pinot’s Palette’s 18 local artists not only instruct classes but also paint some of the original paintings that they then teach others to recreate.

To keep the business afloat, Casey decided to offer online classes for customers to keep busy at home, an idea inspired by a Pinot’s Palette location in Ohio.

While Pinot’s Palette is a franchise, Casey owns it entirely and said the headquarters is “more for guidance” than anything else.

“We actually had quite a few people doing those (home painting projects), which was really fun and surprising,” Casey said.

With their own supplies, colors varied and each painting was unique, Casey said.

Once curbside pickup was allowed, Casey began offering live classes. Customers can pick up a painting kit and join a class where an instructor teaches live online.

If the customer misses the live time, they still have four days after the event to watch the class. Customers can also buy paint kits for classes that are already available online and complete them over the course of a week.

A perk of online classes is that anyone of any age can participate, Casey said. Normally, classes in the studio are for those 21 and older because of the full bar. All ages events are held monthly at a different location. The online classes have allowed customers to get their kids to experience a class.

“A lot of families have been doing them together,” Casey said. “A lot of families have been incorporating them into their home-schooling.”

Casey was able to reopen her Coeur d’Alene store recently at reduced capacity, limiting classes to 10 participants. Reopening that location allowed Casey to bring back seven of her staff members. She hopes more will be able to return when the Spokane location reopens.

Once Washington moves to Phase 2 of the state’s reopening plan, Casey aims to open her Spokane studio to classes of about 20 people rather than the typical 60.

“We’ll just start slow,” Casey said. “We want our customers to feel comfortable coming in here.”

And online classes have been such a success, Casey doesn’t plan to stop any time soon.

“A lot of our customers have been asking us to continue this even when we are open and everything is back to normal,” Casey said.

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