Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Jeanne Winrich, Owner of Viva Art, located in New Albany, IN, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

We started out as a Paint and Sip art studio but have migrated into so much more. Not only do we offer instructed paintings nightly, but we also have a Candle Creation Station and a Black Light Splatter Paint room.

We also offer wood crafts and door hangers. Our customers are of all ages and genders. We host private parties for adults and children ages five years and up. We have a children's art camp during school breaks, too!

Tell us about yourself

I started as a part-time instructor in 2015. My children were in high school, so I was looking for a fulfilling part-time job that would not interfere with their many activities. I loved the job and became more and more involved in the business as time went on. I was promoted to manager in 2018, and for the first time in 5 years, the registrations began increasing again. However, 2020 was a big blow for this business, and my bosses wanted to close the studio down. My husband and I offered to buy it, and they accepted.

We have customers that visit us weekly as their escape and creative outlet. Our employees truly love coming to work every day. I didn't want to see this go away. It motivates me to work hard every day for very little financial return because I know that for our customers and employees, this studio is about more than just painting a canvas. It's about challenging yourself to create something you didn't think possible, escaping the daily stresses of life, and doing something for yourself.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

My biggest accomplishment has been creating a happy workforce. My employees love coming to work every day. Unlike most small businesses, I have not had a problem with employee turnover. We have been able to retain and maintain the same staff since 2020. And having happy employees reflects in the way they engage with the customers.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

The hardest thing has been riding the economic dips. We are a business that people come to with their discretionary spending. If they are focused on putting food on the table and gas in the car, they are not spending their money on a painting class. I do my best to keep the employees working and try to pivot when trends are changing. But constantly evolving to stay relevant can be exhausting.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. If you're going to start a business, be sure you love what you are doing. It will take a lot of time and a lot of perseverance. But if you love what you do, it may be exhausting, but it will also be rewarding.
  2. Don't hold on to ideas simply because they are yours or because "it's always been done like that." Try new ways of doing things, try out new product ideas, and reach out to new audiences. Commit to it fully. Give it a chance, but if it's not working, let it go. Don't let your pride keep you from moving on to a better idea. Remember - it's not a failure. You learned something from experience.
  3. Trust your employees and delegate. You can't do everything, so it's important to hand some tasks over to your employees. Give them some creative licensing and see what they come up with. They might surprise you with a solution you didn't think of! Plus, it makes them feel more engaged and loyal to the business if they feel valued.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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