“Red or white?”
That’s the big question you’ll need to answer at Wine & Design, a painting-centric social and creative hub in the Glen Lennox Shopping Center. But it’s not an inquiry into the color of your paint. It’s about your wine selection.
The idea at Wine & Design is simple. Owner Roslyn Sloop-Troutman and her team supply canvas, paint, brushes, palettes, smocks and a particular work of art for all to follow. Guests bring their favorite wine, craft beer and snacks, along with a sense of adventure – and a sense of humor – to the party. Will the experience turn you into a Rembrandt? Maybe, maybe not. But creating a Louvre-worthy masterpiece is not the point. Rather it’s exploring something new with friends (or soon-to-be former strangers) while enjoying conversation, velvety sips, and smiles.
Wine and Design was founded in Raleigh in 2010, and it has become the nation’s third-largest franchise in a mushrooming “paint ‘n’ sip” industry that has splattered Wine & Design studios across the U.S. map like an over-caffeinated Jackson Pollock. A feature spot on the investment show “Shark Tank” boosted exposure and interest and added to the frenzy. “Chapel Hill was the eighth studio, and how there are 80, from New York to Hawaii,” says Roslyn.
Seven years ago, Roslyn was a mom to two young kids, teaching middle and high school social studies in Raleigh. As a Christmas present, a student’s mom gave her a certificate for a free painting session and she found it an eye-opening experience. “It’s really a blast. The first time I tried it, I saw how much fun folks were having and I thought, ‘Hey, I could do this!” So she did, and she hasn’t looked back. Besides the daily public painting parties, the studio also hosts private groups and painting camps for kids and will take the show on the road for corporate team bonding or family gatherings.
“Attendance increases each day as the week gears up,” says Roslyn, and by Friday and Saturday the studio welcomes 20 to 30 sipping painters (or painting sippers) in groups, couples, and adventurous singles, all scratching the itch on what Forbes magazine referred to as “Americans’ insatiable desire to find something different, affordable, and enjoyable to do with their friends, family, or co-workers.”
Wine & Design wasn’t always based at Glen Lennox. “We moved to Glen Lennox three years ago from Carr Mill Mall. Our regular customers followed us here, and being on Highway 54 has increased business, too.”
That won’t surprise anyone familiar with the Glen Lennox Shopping Center. Having opened its doors in 1952 as one of the first centralized “modern” shopping centers in North Carolina, second only to Raleigh’s Cameron Village, it has long been a focal point of social activity for the community. One of the first tenants was Glen Lennox Beauty Salon, which, like Wine & Design, quickly became a community hub. Today that very storefront is still a social magnet, but the draw is not beehives and bouffants, it’s painting, talking, laughing and enjoying adult beverages at Wine & Design. With repeat customers making up 25% of every Wine and Design class, chances are that the studio won’t revert to a beauty salon any time soon.