Some people think Jessie Sterling has too good a time running her business. She won’t deny it.
“For me, it’s always been something I do for fun,” Sterling, owner of Paint the Towne, said. “It’s a business but I love it.”
Paint the Towne hosts parties and classes where participants get the materials and instructions to create their own works of art. Since opening her first tiny Paint the Towne in 2010, Sterling has traded in that location for a larger spot and opened two more in Wichita.
Paint the Towne is a finalist for the Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce 2019 Small Business Award in Tier 1 — companies with one to five employees — along with Affinity Automotive and Keating & Associates. Sterling, who is Paint the Towne’s only full-time employee, hires 13 people on a part-time basis to help lead the sessions.
Sterling opened Paint the Towne after leaving her job as an elementary school teacher to have a baby, modeling her business after one she saw in Texas. Paint the Towne holds regularly scheduled classes that anyone can attend, but birthday parties, bachelorette parties and other private get-togethers comprise most of the business.
Prices range from $15 per child for a one-hour party up to $25 per adult for two-hour sessions. Participants can bring their own food and beverages, including alcohol, while choosing from animals, team mascots, landscapes and other subjects to paint. Paint the Towne accommodates about 80 people at its east-side location, 60 out west and 24 in Clifton Square.
“We get a lot of repeat customers,” she said. “For adults, the fifth time they do it, it’s free.”
Sterling said competing for the chamber’s small business award has been valuable since it caused her to revise some parts of her original business plan and set new goals.
“For me, it was more about investing in myself and the business,” she said.
Sterling worked alone during her first three years in business. Since then, she’s steadily added employees, hiring them based more on their personalities as “people that you enjoy being around” than incredible artistic talent.
“I really owe most of my credit to them. It’s my idea and design but they’re the ones that put it out there.”
Not that Sterling has given up leading sessions herself.
“Teaching is probably the funnest part for me. I try to take myself seriously as a business person but actually I enjoy being around people.”
Paint the Towne
Address: 8037 E. Peachtree Lane; 7011 W. Central; 3700 E. Douglas, No. 90.
Owner: Jessie Sterling