Entrepreneur

Why Painting With a Twist's Founders Replaced Themselves as CEO

After 10 years, the founders knew the business was ready for the next stage of growth. But they weren't sure they were the right people to lead the charge.
Source: Alessandro Lecis and Alessandra Panzeri
Alessandro Lecis and Alessandra Panzeri

Chris Hatten’s days were long and soul-fraying. This was back in 2012, when he worked at a residential treatment facility for children who had experienced deep trauma, and then spent his evenings worrying about his bills. “I was stuck,” he says. “I didn’t know what else I could do.” One day, on a whim, he walked into an art studio called Painting with a Twist that had recently opened in a renovated fire station behind his home in Skippack, Penn. The window was filled with colorful artwork; a promotion offered a blank canvas, two hours of painting with an instructor, and a finished product at the end of the night. Wine was welcome, even encouraged. 

Hatten joined the weeknight class, and a sense of calm washed over him as he painted. “I tuned everything out,” he says. So he kept returning. Before long, he’d done 100 paintings and become a well-known regular. And in 2015, he decided to go all-in: He walked away from his job at the treatment facility and became a Painting with a Twist franchisee, opening a studio in Bethlehem, Penn.

Painting with a Twist had gotten used to success stories like Hatten’s. The brand was created by two New Orleans women, Cathy Deano and Renee Maloney, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. They wanted it to be a space where people in their community could escape from their daily worries, and that ethos, which clearly connected with Hatten, also easily connected in towns and cities across the country. In less than a decade, the

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