NAME: DAVID BRANDT
Job: Artist and owner, Sips n Splatters at 15 S. High St. in Belleville and 27 Executive Plaza Court in Maryville (409-3098/www.sipsnsplatters.com)
Outlook: "We call it art and wine therapy."
You provide the wine and David Brandt will give you the time, space and art supplies to let you get creative and away from your everyday life. The artist says he doesn't lead an art class at his Sips n Splatters in Belleville and Maryville, he throws a painting party. He recently sat down with business writer Will Buss at his downtown Belleville art studio to talk about his business:
Q. How did you come up with this idea?
A. "I went to art school at (Southern Illinois University Edwardsville) and studied art history. Hundreds of years ago in Europe, the artists would throw art parties and their friends would bring wine, and it was just a really fun, vibrant atmosphere."
Q. When did you get started?
A. "We're going to be three years old. I started it in my loft in November three years ago. We opened this location (in downtown Belleville) two years ago in August. We opened the Maryville studio a year ago in July."
Q. Where was your loft?
A. "Right behind the library. I lived in a third-floor loft. I was actually working as a sales manager in corporate America and started it part time on my days off. I quit my job when we opened this place two years ago."
Q. How do you conduct this business?
A. "We don't do art classes. Commonly, people think we do art classes. It's not a class setting at all. In fact, it's a party. It's 100 percent party. We give you everything you need to know in about a three-minute speech at the beginning, and that's all you need. The next three hours belong to the customers. They bring their own wine and snacks and they do a painting. It's three hours that is mostly visiting, talking, painting, drinking wine and we have awesome music playing in the background. It's just a really amazing atmosphere."
Q. When are you open?
A. "We're open mostly at night and Saturday and Sunday during the day as well. We run two parties on Fridays."
Q. What supplies do you provide?
A. "We provide the canvass, the brushes and the paints and all they do is bring their own wine and beer and snacks."
Q. How have local consumers responded?
A. "When we opened this place (in Belleville), we literally got run over. It was just unbelievable and it's become like a craze in downtown Belleville and then in Maryville, and now we're looking for a third location in St. Louis. We plan to have three locations in St. Louis. We also have been working with a franchise attorney. His name is Eric Riess, who is a very well-known franchise attorney. We've been working with him for about five months to begin rolling out franchises at some point."
Q. What did you set out to do when you started this business?
A. "Honestly, making people feel loved. That's kind of what we do. The art and the party is secondary to just making people feel loved and also forget about your troubles. When you come in here, you don't think about the kids or the spouse or the job or the boss. You forget about everything that bothers you and you just have fun, and I think that is the key to our success. We give people a place to come where whatever is going on in their life, some people have been diagnosed with cancer or have lost family members, we all have something going on. We all have a horrible boss or an illness or something, and this is a place where people can come and forget about it."
Q. Do you know of any other businesses that also do this?
A. "There are other companies that do this that have as many as 75 locations. It's really a very new concept, but it's spreading."
Q. Are there any others around here?
A. "There is another company in St. Louis that is doing this. They have two locations over there now. But our business model is different from theirs. Every other company that does this is a class. It is set up as a class with an instructor. Ours is the only company in the country that we make it a social party, first and foremost. We call it art and wine therapy."
Q. What do you enjoy most about it?
A. "Loving the people. That was my mission when I started it, to show people love, and I think that's the biggest enjoyment for me."
Contact reporter Will Buss at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2526.