Painting the Town Red: How Jen Jones Learned How to Boost Her Business
We first metJen Jones in OWN IT. We loved her story of why she started her business and how she's currently tapping into our amazing community here to get answers and grow her business. So, we asked her to share more about how it all began.
After Jen and her husband moved across the country to spend several months taking care of her husband's terminally ill grandfather, the couple soon found themselves in debt. A year and a half later, thanks for Jen's part-time work hosting jewelry parties, they paid off everything they owed. That's what really pushed Jen to quit her day job and focus full-time on growing her business.
Jen knew she loved bringing people together to have fun and relax, but jewelry and fashion were never really her thing. She noticed a lot of painting party studios popping up and was struck by the idea of creating a mobile version she could take to people’s houses. There was only one problem: she didn’t know how to paint!
Ever the resourceful entrepreneur, Jen went out and bought supplies and learned everything she could about painting from YouTube videos. Today, after falling in love with creating art, she successfully runsLive Laugh Paint Partiesin Southern California.
We'll hand it over to Jen to share the rest of the story...
My husband and I had just moved to California when I startedLive Laugh Paint Parties. The only two people I knew were our real estate agent and our loan officer, so I told them about my business and they both arranged parties with me!
After that, they shared some networking groups with me and that's how I made more bookings. Being new to the area, I also knocked on my neighbors’ doors to introduce myself and invited them to a party I hosted in my home.
I learned very early on that people get really excited once they're painting, so I would always gain a couple more bookings through referrals each time. The business grew organically, and now I host three to four parties per week.
I only do private at-home parties, so there are no overhead costs. I bring everything that’s necessary for the participants to create their own masterpieces including the table covers, easels, canvases, brushes and paints.
When did you know your business was going to work?
I really knew things were starting to work after a series of events.
I met a woman named Christine, who said she was going to tell the whole world about Live Laugh Paint Parties within 20 minutes of starting paint. I thought she was just caught up in the moment, but she later hosted her own party and maxed it out at 20 people! We’re now great friends.
I knew the business would work when so many other people shared Christine’s enthusiasm. I realized I was providing more than just a fun time — I was giving people a way to release their stress and relax, plus providing a chance to come together with friends in the comfort of someone’s home.
What has been the biggest surprise so far after starting your own business?
It’s surprising how challenging the behind-the-scenes work is. I didn’t realize how much effort goes into creating a painting, finding the best supplies, forming the right connections and running the day-to-day operations.
When the business was smaller, it wasn’t a big deal. I was a sole proprietor for the first year, but I recently incorporated the company and it's become more challenging — albeit fun — as it's grown. I’ve definitely learned a lot!
How do you price your services?
I started out by comparing my prices to the offerings of other local paint studios and at-home party painters. I’m raising my fees soon, though, because I’ve realized I’m also teaching people a new skill, not just throwing an event.
I total my costs plus my time and pay special attention to the price of supplies. I started out buying from the local craft shop, but I bought so much every week that I eventually negotiated a 10% discount with the store manager.
I later found an online wholesaler who provided my supplies at a much more reasonable price when I bought in bulk. Now, I’m in negotiations with manufacturers in the United States and overseas.
I also learned that I had to pay a little more for 1,000 brushes instead of stretching myself too far to afford 5,000 brushes, despite the fact that buying more equals a bigger discount. It's really helped with mycash flowto realize that it's more important to not stretch myself financially, even when it seems like I'm getting a better deal in the long run.
How have you tapped this small business community to help you grow and expand your business?
I logged into a Shop Talk live chat in OWN IT (former community) thatLeslie Barberwas co-hosting. I chatted with the other members about how I was hoping to expand my business, sharing the fact that independent contractors would soon be helping me host more paint parties.
Because of this, I would need to buy a large amount of supplies, potentially from different manufacturers, and have them stored at a fulfillment center. From there, the provisions would be shipped to contractors as necessary.
My question for the other small business owners here concerned how to find a place to store and ship the extra supplies. We had a great mini-brainstorm happen during the chat, and then Leslie even called to talk to me offline for 30 minutes. She gave me some great tips based on her own experiences. She understood where I was with my business and referred me to a fulfillment center that I’m now in negotiations with. She also shared with me what to look out for, like finding out who’ll be responsible for lost or damaged goods.
It was amazing help that I was able to crowdsource from everyone here, and I absolutely love QB Community for allowing me to learn from other people who've been here before!
What would you like to learn today from a community of other small business owners and self-employed professionals?
I'd like to discuss painting techniques and the technical aspects of being a painter with other artists here in QB Community.
If you want to talk shop or network with me, please let me know! I'd love to know more about how you work and what you're learning.
Calling all artists here in QB Community!
If you, like Jen, are a working artist or you run a small business that requires you to be creative day in and day out, we want to hear more from you!