Y’all have been so sweet to this Beaumont photographer! I got a lot of great response from the first installment of my new series, Southeast Texas Small Business Stories! It was hard choosing the next candidate for sure but things just kind of happened that paved the way for this chick, so I’m super stoked to introduce to you Ashley Hebert! Ashley owns and operates both the Beaumont and the Lake Charles branches of Painting with a Twist.
Painting with a Twist pairs instructional art with friends, wine and lively instructor to produce custom, individual works of art. Seriously, the minute you set foot into the studio, you feel your spirits lift. Or at least I did! Painting with a Twist started in Mandeville, Louisiana as Corks N Canvas, and have grown to include over 300 franchise locations. I’m super excited that we have something like this in our backyard, y’all! Turns out, Painting with a Twist is the largest employer of aspiring artists in the US, which I think is AMAZING. There is literally nothing else like Painting with a Twist out there for the arts industries, and as I’ve dug a little deeper, I’ve been super impressed by their business model and their ability to create this place that nurtures and rewards creativity.
Ashley is originally a Lafayette girl who moved to Beaumont 7 years ago with her husband and their son, Addison. Before Painting with a Twist, she was a teacher at Central High School with a tiny newborn baby in a brand new city in a brand new state. One night she came across the website for Painting with a Twist, and within no time at all, she had gathered up her sister and they hit one of the original locations located in Lafayette and had a great time! Her wheels instantly started turning, thinking how the business was right up her alley and it was something that Beaumont could really use to not only support local artists but also to encourage and cultivate a true community within our city limits. One of the cornerstones of Painting with a Twist is their dedication to giving back to the community, and she saw the opportunity as a way to give back to the community that had taken her and her family in when they were new to town. Ashley’s mom is an artist, and she grew up witnessing firsthand how closed off the art world can be to newcomers, so when the opportunity made itself available for her to allow open access to artists and the art world in an environment that had nothing to do with how well connected you were, she took it.
“Everybody needs art. I really believe that,” she told me. “Whether its art therapy for kids who don’t speak or people who have been through a trauma, or people who are just going through something in life who just need to throw some paint or throw some pottery on the wheel or whatever – this business has kind of been a gateway. So many of our customers have only ever painted here, but they leave here and go to the craft store and buy their own stuff and do their own thing. A lot of times we hear back from them and they say, ‘Hey, look what I did and it all started because I came here.’ And that’s maybe somebody who might not have ever stepped foot inside an art museum, but because they were able to come and have fun and do a $35 painting, now they have confidence and they feel like maybe they belong in that world too. And I think that’s cool.”
Y’all. That whole quote just gives me the warm fuzzies like you wouldn’t believe.
In the art industry or really any creative industry, there are so many people who will tell you no. That you can’t, that it isn’t practical, that it isn’t a “real” job. It made (and makes) me so happy listening to Ashley be such a positive voice for art and artists and aspiring creatives everywhere. Ashley says her favorite thing about going to work each day is the people. “The people is what makes the art come alive,” she said. “Without the people, you don’t have the art and then you don’t have anything.” She considers her artists an extension of her family, and strives to be the positive voice that every artist needs. If you’re a creative, then you know that we’re our own worst critics! A lot of the customers don’t recognize Ashley’s face, but they do know her artists, so she strives to support them however she can, which she says creates a circle of life kind of effect.
If you haven’t visited Painting with a Twist yet, what are you waiting for?!
Painting with a Twist is located at
229 Dowlen Road, Ste 3B
Beaumont, Tx 77706
(at the corner of Dowlen and Phelan in the World Gym shopping center!)
You can even view their monthly calendar for their different projects and schedule your visit online for convenience!
I have a working list based on suggestions from friends and family, but I would love to hear your thoughts. Do you know someone who is crazy passionate and made their dream a reality? Nominate your favorite local small business in the comments! Or, if you are a small business owner and you would be interested in a documentary session, shoot me an email and let’s chat!
Tell me: What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?
Jo Truncali is a Beaumont photographer specializing in authentic portraits for happy, hip families. Serving all of Southeast Texas and Southwest Louisiana, including but not limited to The Woodlands, Conroe, Beaumont, Lake Charles and surrounding areas. Available for travel worldwide.